My second in the series of inspirational travel blogger interviews is with Trish from Eternal Wandering, you can check out my first interview with Eric and Stephie from The Wandering Soles here. Trish along with her husband, are two career breakers volunteering and working their way around the world. I was lucky enough to grab a small amount of their time and you can check out the interview below.
1. Why don’t you start by introducing yourselves and your blog? What do you hope readers will gain by visiting your site?
Eternal Wandering chronicles the travels of two career-breakers who walked away from the corporate world to explore other cultures.
Our site showcases volunteer and non-traditional travel, coordinated through platforms like Help Exchange and other tools that connect people with experiences. I write posts about our travels, produce city guides (we call them wander guides), review products and places and much more.
I’m Trish and I am the blogger and social media voice. My husband is the chief navigator, currency conversion guru and map-reader extraordinaire.
I would love for Eternal Wandering to be a destination for those who want non-traditional travel opportunities but don’t know where to start. My goal is to show glimpses into many cultures only seen through immersion.
2. Why did you both decide to take a career break? Was it something you had been dreaming of for a long time or more spontaneous?
The decision was a long time coming in one way or another. The first conversation Ryan and I ever had was about travel. We share the passion to see new places and learn about new cultures.
When we got engaged we knew we wanted to do something different. The idea of going on our honeymoon to Hawaii for a week then directly back to work was not what we wanted. We both desired a change after feeling prematurely professional. Our careers were in different industries but we both focused so much energy into climbing the ladder that we desperately needed to do something big to break away.
We researched the peace core, taking jobs in some exotic city for a year and other unusual ideas. We actually even went so far as to visit Ethiopia to look into a potential job opportunity in Addis Ababa. The choice for this trip came down to the fact that there were so many places we wanted to see. We both had really fond memories of backpacking through Europe in college so we thought we’d take it one step further and do an around the world trip.
3. As you have called it a career break, do you plan on returning home and into your old jobs when your trip is over?
In late 2013 we will return home and work. Our work will be different though. We will continue to work in our trained fields (Trish in public relations and Ryan in finance) but we plan on working as consultants. This will allow us the freedom to set our own schedules and not be constrained to work from a particular office or location. We are building in the ability to travel as a priority. Neither of us thinks we will ever return to our old lifestyle.
4. So when did your travel start, what countries have you visited so far and which are still on your to do list?
We started in the fall of 2012. Ryan and I were married in early September and left shortly there after. Since that time we have visited: Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. We head to Bali later this week then to Spain for the Camino de Santiago. We will visit many countries in Eastern and a few in Western Europe until September when we will head back to California.
5. What has been your best experience to date and your favourite country visited overall?
This question is so hard to answer especially for two people. Ryan will say his favourite experience was when we volunteered at the turtle sanctuary in Nicaragua. I absolutely fell in love with Patagonia in Chile. But then again I had an incredible experience in Argentina and everywhere in South East Asia….so there you go!
6. Inversely what have been your worst experiences on the road and one country you couldn’t wait to see the back of?
I couldn’t wait to get out of Honduras. People all have opinions and I’ve met some travellers who love the country. We didn’t go out to the islands that I hear are lovely especially for diving. We stayed inland and I never felt relaxed. San Pedro Sula has the number one murder rate in the world. Tegucigalpa is pretty high on that list as well.
The moment we left the bus station we saw graffiti that read “assassinate the gringos.” I didn’t feel like they were interested in having tourists in their country. I also had a bad go with food poisoning, which is common because the sanitation standards are practically non-existent. The roads were horrible causing everyone on the buses to be sick. There is hardly any infrastructure that makes travel a positive experience.
After visiting countries like Laos or Costa Rica where locals are genuinely kind and happy to have you it’s hard to put places like Honduras high on our priority list.
7. How many countries have you volunteered in so far and how to you go about finding these amazing volunteering opportunities?
So far we have hit 14 countries just on this trip. We will likely visit 20 by the time we are done. We utilize the website Help Exchange to coordinate our volunteer experiences. There is another website called WorkAway.info that is similar. Many people also use WWOOF, which mainly focuses on organic farming. For our purposes Help Exchange works best. It provides a variety of opportunities from a turtle sanctuary, to a chocolate factory, hotels and schools to animal rescues. You pay a one-time fee of about $30 US dollars and you have access to the site for 2 years.
8. If you don’t mind sharing it with us, what was your planned budget for your trip and have you managed to stick with it?
We have stayed slightly under our planned budget by using a few techniques available for travellers who have some patience, resourcefulness and don’t require high-end luxury.
Volunteering helps keeps our costs very low and provides an unforgettable experience. Typically while we volunteer all of our food and lodging costs are covered. The bulk of our budget goes towards transportation. We have become quite resourceful finding low-cost ways to get around.
My husband is extremely crafty piecing together flights and overland itineraries. For example, he recently researched flying from Paris to San Francisco. The set price was around $1,200 per ticket. He then researched buying tickets piece by piece. Paris to New York was only $400. Then New York to San Francisco on a discount carrier was only $200. So we had a cumulative savings of $1,200.
We also utilize AirBnB and GlobalFreeloaders. If you put some time into non-traditional travel research you can save a great deal. We love to eat from local food carts, which are usually extremely cheap. A few other ways we keep our prices down are to travel through countries that are not expensive. We didn’t visit Australia, Hong Kong or most of Western Europe on this trip because they are just more expensive. Central and South America and South East Asia are really reasonable.
9. You have a great feature on your site called ‘Local Voices’ where you interview a local in each of the countries you visit. Which interview has really opened your eyes?
The most moving Local Voices interview I’ve done was just recently while in Laos. I interviewed a young man who had been wounded by bombs left over from a war that happened before either of us was born. As an American this was horrifying and fascinating. We didn’t learn about any conflict with Laos in school so I tried to gather as much information as possible. You can see the entire interview here: http://www.eternalwandering.com/local-voices-peter-kim/
10. What would you say to someone contemplating long-term travel?
Use the internet to connect with people who have done or are planning something similar. This makes you feel part of a community vs. an outlier. Check out Meet, Plan, Go if you are doing a career-break. They can help with everything from Travel Insurance to advice on how to re-enter the workplace after travel. Use twitter to look up travel bloggers and read through the wealth of knowledge and information people have already gathered for you.
Also, don’t let people scare you away from places without doing your own current research. I couldn’t believe the number of people who said that we would get kidnapped in Central America like Costa Rica was the same as Panama or Honduras was the same as Belize. The US State Department websites are a great place to research where is actually safe based on current information.
I just want to end by saying a huge thank you to Trish for providing such a great interview. If you are travel blogger either currently preparing for your trip, in the midst of your travels or even if you are now at home and would like to be interviewed and featured on this site, then please contact me here.