Welcome to the first post in my new series of Inspirational Travel Interviews. Every now and then I hope to bring you an interview with some of the internet’s up and coming travel bloggers as well as some of the more established travelers out there. I will try to ask questions that readers would want to hear, but if there is anything else you would like to know then feel free to leave a comment below the article. If you are a traveler and would like to have an interview showcased on Travel on Inspiration then please get in touch with me here.
My first inspirational travel interview is with Eric and Stephie from thewanderingsoles.com.
1. How about you start by introducing yourselves and your blog? What do you hope your readers will gain from visiting your site?
The Wandering Soles is the name we go by on our blog, and we are Stephie and Eric, a young couple from a suburb of Toronto, Ontario.
Stephie is a 22-year-old university graduate whose travel resumé rivals some travelers twice her age. She has been to a number of countries as a tourist, student, and volunteer. Stephie hopes to spend her life doing what she loves: traveling the world, helping others, and learning new things along the way.
Eric is a 22-year-old university graduate who understands the importance of travel and is eager to learn where it will take him. He doesn’t have as much travel experience as Stephie but is just as passionate about seeing the world. He believes that life is meant to be enjoyed, and by traveling he intends to experience as much cultural and natural diversity as this world has to offer.
Our blog is focused on travel, however what sets us apart from the many other blogs in this genre is that we are documenting not only our final, year-long journey, but also all the details and lead up to the trip. We are not travel experts, we have no coding or web design experience, and we don’t get any kickbacks for recommending travel products or services. We hope our site helps people see that even the average individual can make an ambitious dream come true.
Here’s a picture of us. It was taken by our very friendly tour operator on the drive home from the Garden Route Game Lodge in South Africa. Next year we are planning on starting our trip where we left off, so to speak; our first stop being Cape Town.
2. So what has now inspired you to travel long term, why the change from the usual 2 week vacations?
There is a lot to say here, especially since there are two of us, but we’ll try to keep it short and sweet.
We each cultivated a love for travel before meeting each other, a passion which has only brought us closer together.
While the travel bug bit Stephie at a very young age, as she visited places like China, Thailand, Fiji and Ecuador, Eric chalks up his love of travel to having spent several summers away from home in his teen years – and not really missing home.
We both see the undeniable merit in travel; it can change your world, alter your perspective on things. We welcome that challenge to our perceptions. The world is so big and we want to see as much of it as we can, experience different cultures, customs, and ways of life. A two week trip just doesn’t cut it for that.
The other reason has to do with regret: We figure that it is far likelier we would regret NOT doing this trip rather than regret going through with it. Sure, we could use the money for a down payment on a house or pay for a nice wedding, but this is our dream. And we are ok with postponing all that in order to make that dream come true. To us, it’s either do this now or do it when we’re older, retired, and our kids have gone off to college. And who knows what life and the world will be like then? What if we don’t have enough money to retire early? What if one of us is not in good health by then? Besides, there are so many destinations and attractions that have exploded into touristy nightmares over the past 10 or 20 years – that will surely only get worse in the next 50.
3. You mention you could have used the money on a house or wedding, if you don’t mind me asking how much to you plan on saving up for your travels and what are some of the ways you are trying to save extra?
Our dream trip is ambitious. We want to visit a lot of places, and we want to do as much as possible in each. We haven’t come up with a definite budget yet, but right now our savings goal is set at around $30,000 to $40,000 for everything.
As for our saving methods, we are lucky enough to live with our parents and so saving is a whole lot easier than if we had rent to worry about. Stephie has had a full time job for about a year now and has been saving diligently. Eric just finished university and has started a part time job, but is trying his best to save as much as possible. Apart from the occasional beer and a date night every couple of months, we basically ask ourselves “Do I really need this? Will I use it for the trip? Would I rather spend $50 on this item or have an extra day in Cambodia next year?” In almost a year, Stephie has gone out for lunch 3 times at work. Eric limits his social outings and has been taking as many shifts as he can at work since he’s a bit behind Stephie in the savings process.
Stephie also set up a savings account with a financial consultant so that her money is taken straight out of her account and it’s as if she doesn’t even realize. It’s going to feel great at the end of it all when we see the fruits of our long year of waiting and saving!
4. Wow, that’s some great dedication. You mentioned Cambodia, could you tell us what other countries you plan on visiting and if you have a proposed route in mind?
We have thought a lot about our itinerary since we decided to do this trip together. Our main issue is that we want to go everywhere (we’re sure you can empathize). Since we can’t exactly afford to do that, we are starting with our main priorities: Africa, Asia and the South Pacific. Our first stop is South Africa, from where we’re hoping to make a trip to Madagascar, see the dunes in Namibia, then pay a visit to a friend doing Peace Corps in Botswana. We are also trying to fit in Victoria Falls, probably as a short trip rather than a full-on stop in Zimbabwe or Zambia. We’ll end off in Kenya for a few weeks for the Africa part of our tour.
Then we’re heading to India, where Stephie’s ancestors are from. Since Stephie has family in India and we want to really be able to immerse ourselves and see the country, we’ll be spending at least a couple of months there. As for the rest of Asia, we’re hoping to see as much as possible. The countries on our proposed itinerary are: Nepal, Japan, China, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia/Singapore, and the Philippines. Phew!
Finally, we’ll end in the South Pacific. Stephie has already visited Fiji as a volunteer and has been desperate to go back ever since. One of Eric’s bucket list items includes skydiving in New Zealand. And our last stop will be in Australia, where Eric has an Aunt that has promised us an amazing time.
5. What is going to be your preferred style of travelling, slow and mostly overland or quickly with a lot of flights?
As you have probably guessed from the sheer amount of places we want to visit, our traveling style probably veers more on the “quickly with a lot of flights” side of the spectrum, although we will be doing some overland travel as well. But we are also fans of finding balance and compromise, and we believe we have done so with our itinerary. In places like Singapore, Tokyo, and Namibia where there may be one major thing we want to do or where our budget simply doesn’t allow us to stay for longer than a few days, our visit will max out at under a week or so.
At the same time, there are other places like Botswana, India, the Philippines and Australia where we’re hoping to spend several weeks, if not a month (several months in India’s case). We also have to keep reminding ourselves, however, that this could all change. We’re planning on waiting to book some of our flights as we go, so our minds might change when we’re on our trip, and we may end up having a very different looking adventure than we planned out – you never know! It’s kinda part of the fun.
6. That’s an impressive list of countries. In the places you don’t have any family what will be you main choice of accommodation? Hostel, Hotel or even apartment rental if you are staying for months?
Yeah, and hopefully our travels will continue throughout our lives.
As for accommodation, our budget most likely dictates a need to stay at hostels. We have looked into apartment/house rentals, but it seems that this option usually requires a longer stay in the same place, a month or even more. The problem with that is that even in places where we’re staying 3 weeks or a month (like Kenya, India, New Zealand and Australia), we hope to be moving around quite a bit. We’ve purposely opted to stay longer in countries where we want to see more than just one city or region. Apartment rentals don’t really allow for that as you’re committed to touring around that property’s area. This isn’t to say that we’re not open to options outside of hostels, if they fit our budget and travel style.
7. You mentioned Skydiving before, are there any other must do items on your bucket list that you plan to tick off on this trip?
We were actually asked about our bucket list as part of the Liebster Blogging Award. We’ve definitely thought more about our respective bucket lists since deciding to do this trip, and we’re hoping to cross off a few things:
- Sky dive in New Zealand
- Immersing ourselves completely in a foreign country and culture
- Camp under the stars on a secluded island in the South Pacific
- Go on a real, wild safari in Southern Africa
- Visit India and see Goa
The bottom line of our travel philosophy is probably that we want to avoid being too ‘touristy’ about it. Sure, there are a few things like the Sossusvlei sand dunes and the Taj Mahal that we just can’t pass up; but we don’t want to travel just to ‘see the sights’. We want to experience the locale, get to know the people, and see what life is really like in other parts of the world.
8. Apart from the obvious family and friends, what things will you miss the most at home on your trip? Is there anything you just can’t live without and will be taking with you?
There are obvious sacrifices we’ll need to make when traveling light for an extended period of time. We’ll be wearing the same couple outfits for a year and we’ll only be in sporadic contact with our network of friends & family. But really, when we take a step back, there’s no one thing that we’d say we “can’t live without”. Sure, we’ll be taking our camera and a computer device to keep the blog updated. Yes, we hope to bring quick-dry clothing and comfortable shoes. But…even if we didn’t have any of these things (for whatever hypothetical reason), it wouldn’t stop us from travelling. We don’t think anything would.
9. What would you say to anyone contemplating the idea of long term travel?
Simple: Life is short. The world is big. Get up and go.