The 9th interview in my inspirational traveler series is with Aaron and Helen from Addictive Backpacking, enjoy.
Why don’t you introduce yourselves and your blog?
Hi, I’m Aaron, 29 years old and my better half is my fiancé Helen, soon to be turning the big 3.0. with both of us being from the North West of England. Together, we are the faces behind Addictive Backpacking.
Addictive Backpacking is a budget travel blog providing backpacking travel tips, travel videos, budget travel advice and encouraging Wanderlust. We are both hugely addicted to travel – hence the name!
What have been some of your earlier travel experiences leading up to your current trip?
When I was a kid my family couldn’t afford to go on holidays so I never really got to see outside of the UK, I think this is where my travel addiction stems from and after saving up at 17 and jumping on a 18 hour coach to Amsterdam I finally got to see what was out there!
Helen,also didn’t really have many travel experiences apart from the ever popular week in Spain every year!. After a few mini trips we decided we wanted to travel long term.
Our first “big trip” was in 2011, after waiting for Helen to finish her Masters degree (she’s the smart one!) we left the UK for over a year.
The trip included Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Singapore and Australia where we used our working holiday visas to work for 4-5 months to save up for our final legs in NZ and North America.
For how long did you save up for your current travels and how much did you set out with?
For our “big trip” we decided about 12 months before to start saving up the pennies. We both worked around 50-60 hour weeks. We did not go out socializing at all!, quite difficult but the end goal was worth it and the biggest contributor to our savings was moving in with Helens parents which enabled us to save a lot of money in a short period.
In total for that trip we set off with £16,000 in the bank between us, we topped this up in Australia – helped by the excellent wages compared to the UK to see us through the expensive last legs in New Zealand and America.
What was your most and least favourite country that you visited on your last big trip and why?
Wow, favourite country is a really difficult question to answer it’s like asking a mum who their favourite child is! I suppose with a gun pointed to my head I would say Vietnam with Hoi An in particular, just a beautiful old town with amazing beaches and great food, we came for 3 days and stayed for 14 in the end.
I Have to cheat a little and say how much I enjoyed Australia as well, long term I could imagine living there, I think it is so similar to the UK in terms of people and culture but with amazing weather.
My Least favourite country, I would have to say Cambodia only due to getting serious food poisoning and missing most of it, sat on a toilet passing blood and vomiting at the same time is no fun, but as a quick fire dieting technique, spot on!. So the title least favourite is a little unfair and we will go back again in the future, I managed to do one day at the amazing Angkor Wat before falling ill and found the people and the food (apart from the obvious) really nice.
Having travelled long term previously what are some things that you are doing differently this time around?
From the beginning of our first trip to our current trip I would say we have changed almost everything. For our first trip we took way to much stuff, clothes, electrical items, padlocks, steel bicycle locks, kitchen sink, you get the idea!, we have now come to realize that you can get any of these items in pretty much any part of the world and normally cheaper too. Check our packing list video for our latest trip!
Our mind set has also changed, now a lot more relaxed and planning day to day rather than weeks in advance with transport and accommodation (depending on the location), in China the trains are often booked up in advance at busy periods so leave it to the last minute at your own risk, you may find yourself standing for 18 hours. We find that day to day planning works for us as you don’t know who you will meet, or you may fall in love with a place and want to stay longer!
What are your plans for your current big trip? What countries do you plan on visiting and for how long?
Our current trip is coming to the end now, unfortunately!. We have spent 4 months away this time, visiting Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong, China and Dubai on the way home. We have had a great time with China being a highlight as it was our first visit, it wont be the last though, the country is so large I think there will always be a reason to go back!
What would be your preferred method of travel this time around? Slow and overland or fast in a plane?
We love traveling overland as you get to see parts of a country you would never see otherwise!, although sometimes the driving skills seem equal to that of a upside down drunk driver who is blindfolded with his hands tied behind his back, (ok maybe that’s a little harsh on drunk drivers). We love taking the train, for the views and also the money we save on accommodation for a night. There are some great train journeys in China, or do as we did and jumped on a train in Hong Kong and got off in mainland China.
Sometimes though we will fly instead if it is cheaper or a better fit for our plans.
Finally what advice would you give to other people considering the idea of long term travel?
The first piece of advice I would give is to go with your guts, do what you want to do and how you want to do it!. I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to travel, there will always be someone who has travelled to more places than you so we just go at our own pace instead of ticking off places.
Finally, and most importantly if you are thinking of traveling then STOP THINKING! about it and do it, save up and get it booked.
I have met many people who have told me they regret not traveling, I am yet to meet anyone who does regret it, we certainly don’t!
A huge thank you to both Aaron and Helen for their answers. I hope that you enjoyed the interview and if you would like to know more head on over to Addictive Backpacking.