Category Archives: Interview

Three days after their wedding, Derek and Shanna set of on their one year long honeymoon. During that year, they visited 40 different countries in Asia, South America, Africa and Europe.

Derek and Shanna on their one year long honeymoon

Derek and Shanna on their one year long honeymoon


They also started their blog, www.oneyearonearth.com which is really packed with inspiring information and answers to the question why travel, so check it out. Be prepared though, you might want to take out your suitcases and start packing! They’re back in the USA now since some time, and we asked Derek a couple of questions.

Q: So would you like to tell us a bit about yourself and your travel history?

Derek: I’m a 37-year old lawyer originally from Nashville, Tennessee, but now live in Washington, DC. My family traveled frequently when I was younger, but only within the US. I took my first overseas trip when I was 21, and I was hooked. When I was 24, I did a 7 month RTW trip. I returned a little over a year ago from a one-year RTW trip with my wife. In between those 2 RTW trips, I’ve taken 2 or 3 mini-trips a year (1 to 2 weeks each). To date, I’ve visited 71 countries.

Q: You’re now back from your long journey, why did you want to go in the first place?

Derek: I’ve had a passion for travel for many years now. Once you’ve had a taste of it, you’re smitten for life. Ever since I returned from my first RTW trip, I had been trying to figure out a way to do it again. Luckily, I met my wife who agreed to quit her job with me and hit the road for our honeymoon.

Q: What do you think are the biggest advantages with having traveled? Has traveling influenced your life in any major way?

Derek: Perspective and enrichment. For those who haven’t seen the diversity in the world (whether race, culture, religion, food, political beliefs or income levels), it’s virtually impossible to understand your place in the world. Only travel provides this.

Q: When we travel around as a family, the absolute most common question we get from people is about money and how we can afford to travel and live the life we do. So if we ask you the same question, what would be your answer?

Derek: For most Americans, a trip around the world is quite possible if you make it a priority in your life. Thousands of people of all budgets, occupations and means are currently backpacking somewhere on the globe at this very minute. Those people made major adjustments in their daily expenses, often spending months, years and even decades saving the necessary amount to hit the road. A trip around the world can be amazingly affordable if you’re willing to travel cheaply. Just think–instead of buying a $20,000 car, you could take off for a year and finance a life-changing journey around this beautiful planet.

One tip to help with the financing: if you’re getting married, why not register for parts of your trip instead of for, say, dishes? We used a site www.travelersjoy.com that allowed us to enter various activities (say, scuba diving in Thailand) and the dollar amounts that went with them. Our family and friends could then select those activities as gifts for us. We think they really liked having the opportunity to contribute to our trip instead of to our kitchen cupboards, and the money they contributed on the site allowed us to splurge when we otherwise may not have been able to.

Q: We like to talk about the “But’s” – obstacles that show up when people are considering to travel extensively. What we mean by But’s is the little voice inside your head that starts telling you that you don’t have enough money or time, you can’t leave your job, the kids have to stay at home and go to school, that it could be dangerous or something else. Is this something you are familiar with for your own part and if so, how did you overcome your own But’s?

Derek: I’ve been an anti-“but’s” person for many years. I’m not sure how that came about or if it was innate. I’m the one convincing others that they can do it (whether travel or something else).

And here is a film from their fantastic honeymoon:

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No matter how much (or little) you have traveled yourself, it’s always interesting to hear other travelers share from their journeys and the insights they have gained from them. I think that a world traveler, whether it’s someone like Marco Polo or your next door neighbor, who leaves everything behind and takes the time and effort to go out into the world, always has something interesting (often a lot) to share. Either about the trip and the destinations but even more the things he/she has learned about him/herself and about other people.
wade-petra-desert
Or as Wade says in this Interview: “Simply listening to an old traveler share their thoughts on traveling and life is perhaps the greatest of gifts” and he continues “what is interesting is the wisdom and insight that you gained from these experiences…” We really think he has a lot of wisdom and insight to share and are happy he agreed to do this interview with us, so do read on!

Q: Tell us a little about yourself and your travel history.

Wade: I grew up in the farm country of New York State, and began traveling at the age of 18 when I was kicked out of high school in ’99. I went on tour around the USA with a musical group, then found myself in Florida for a short stint then Connecticut, then Florida again. In 2000 I traveled abroad for the first time, going to South America. For the next two years after this — 2001, 2002 — I found myself traveling in South America for most of the year, going to Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay.

In 2001 I began working as a field archaeologist in the USA, which is the profession that would make me my travel funds for the next eight years. The pattern was thus put in place: I work for a few months in the summer, traveling around the USA from archaeology project to archaeology project, then travel abroad for the rest of the year.

In 2003 I went to Europe without much money and plans to work. I picked up a job as a gardener in County Cork, Ireland, and collected enough funds for a round of vagabond travel through England, France, and Spain. Somewhere while hitchhiking on this trip I went broke.

2004 was the year that I traveled to Asia for the first time. I went to Japan, studied Buddhism and Japanese tattooing with Global College for a while, then stopped studying Buddhism, went on a hitchhiking trip around the country, traveled the 88 temple pilgrimage around Shikoku Island, returned to Kyoto, tried and sort of failed to build and live in a little hut in the northern hills that surround the city (rainy season, not a good time for trying to sleep in a structure that has a construction tarp as a roof — my hut making skills were not very highly honed at this time haha). I soon ran out of money and returned to the USA to make up another season of travel funds as an archaeologist.

In January of 2005 I traveled to Hong Kong with plans to tramp overland to India. I went through Southern China, Laos, Thailand but took a flight to Calcutta. This was my first time in India, it blew my mind — as could be expected. Went up to Darjeeling and hiked pretty deep into the mountains around the Nepal border, then returned south and traveled across the north to New Delhi.

2006: Returned to China, traveled to Central America (Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras) returned to India, then returned to China again. Met up with my parents in Hunan Province as they adopted a Chinese baby, went to Zhejiang University in Hangzhou to study Chinese.

2007: China to Mongolia then hitchhiked back across China to Vietnam, then went to Thailand. Worked in archaeology in the USA, and then traveled to Morocco, Spain, rode a bicycle down the coast of Portugal, then stayed for a month or two in the south of France.

2008: Returned to Morocco, then Central America (Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico). Worked as an archaeologist at great site of Copan in Honduras. Traveled to Eastern Europe, rode a bicycle through the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary. Went to New York City, got together with the woman that I would marry and make a baby with.

2009: Traveled back to Hungary with my pregnant girlfriend, went through the Balkans to Turkey, went to Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Israel, Egypt. Returned to USA, got married in Maine, had our daughter, Petra, traveled out to Arizona to continue archaeology fieldwork. Now we are looking at returning to Central America and traveling to Cuba, the Dominican Republic etc . . .in early 2010.

Q: Why do you travel (in the sense of, what kind of needs or desires does traveling satisfy?) / Why did you start to travel in the first place?

Wade: I have no idea. If I knew the answer to this question then I would probably have no reason to travel any more. Or, more simply, I travel because I enjoy it. I love the stimulation, I enjoy concerning myself with my daily existence. A person can go through an entire life in a developed country like a zombie: if you need something you just pay for it, you go to work to get the money to pay for it. Traveling strips down the living process to its bare elements: you concern yourself with finding food, shelter, and water. It is a basic way of living, a simple way of life. Perhaps I am a relatively self centered person, but I really enjoy placing myself at the sharp end of my existence, thinking about myself and what I need to survive (or maybe any other way of living that is more complicated than obtaining food, water, and shelter just confuses me).

Q: What do you think are the biggest advantages with having traveled or with being a traveler? Has traveling influenced your life in any major way?

Wade: After traveling for a while it becomes a process, a way of living that is ingrained in your general psyche. It becomes a serially processional way of life where one place leads to another, one knowledge skill set leads to learning another, one type of experience becomes the driving impetus to seek another. The stimulation that traveling provides is endless: you will never run out of places to go, things to learn, or people to meet. In this way, the traveling life is a futile one to lead, as you will never get to the end of it — it just keeps going on and on and on.You will never arrive, so enjoy the journey.

Travel changes, makes, and builds you as a person, and once the ball is in motion it becomes difficult to stop. As Chatwin once wrote, “Travel does not merely broaden the mind, it makes the mind . . .” Traveling is a process of building the self. The external landscapes through which you roam is just the kaleidoscopic backdrop to the real action — the real action is the changes in perception and first hand knowledge that happens within you as you travel. It does not matter an ounce if I am in the jungles of Amazonia or riding a bike in Portugal or working on an archaeology project in Arizona, the travel process — the internal process of blending observation, impression, and experience, figuring out yourself and the world you live in — is the same. The place is merely the background, the map is merely the impetus for finding those empty moments for pondering which can really make a life thick.

It is my impression that this is the benefit of traveling.

I often have difficulty answering people when they ask me what I saw when traveling to a certain place — “Did you go here? did you see this? did you do that? — as I am usually just out walking around daydreaming and talking to people in the streets. What can I say, “No, I did not go and take pictures at the UNESCO site, I just talked to some old guys playing cards.” As far as I am concerned, travel has little to do with seeing places, it has to do with living places.

Q: When we travel around as a family, the absolute most common question we get from people is about money and how we can afford to travel and live the life we do. So if we ask you the same question, what would be your answer?

Wade: I work. But I try to get into professions that would allow me to travel full time while making up the bean money to travel some more. So I work in archaeology, teaching English, farming, and I have been on the verge of being able to live and travel off of the proceeds from my website, www.VagabondJourney.com.

Now that I am traveling with my family — a wife and a baby — I need to make three times as much money. One parent needs to be with Petra at all times, so that leaves one parent to earn most of the income. As Petra is breastfed, I do the working. I put in 6 months of working this year on an organic farm in Maine and on a couple archaeology projects in Arizona, but I fear that the money I saved will not last as long as it usually does. I think that if we travel slowly, or funds should last us for the entire next year, but I cannot be certain.

My new traveling circumstances call for much more money than I have previously needed, but I also have additional help for Vagabondjourney.com. We aim to convert the website into a family business of sorts, and hopefully it will soon be able to completely fund our travels. My wife now writes a travelogue at, www.vagabondjourney.com/mommytravelblog and also handles the publication of travel photos, and maybe someday Petra would like to take photos and write as well.

Trying to live off of a website is always an uphill battle — 5 to 8 hours a day, everyday — but I have been slopping through the muck and am beginning to get to higher ground. I hope that by this time next year, my family’s travels will be completed funded by ad revenue, reader contributions, and product sales from VagabondJourney.com

Q: What do you experience people are most interested in learning from you as a traveler?

Wade: Honestly, I have no idea. If I did I would probably not be struggling to make a living off the website haha.

It is my impression that talking about traveling is a futile endeavor when in conversation with people who don’t travel. It is just a good way to get a few blank stares and to be regarded as an arrogant dipshit. For some interesting reason traveling seems to be held as a higher way to live, and I fell as if am preceived as being priviledged because I travel. This is nonsense, I make less money than just about any sedentary person that I know in the USA. The only difference is that I choose to live frugally and travel.

It seems as if some people are interested in learning about the rudiments of traveling — how to save money, how to travel cheaply, how to find work when traveling, how to trade labor for free accommodation — so I began the website to simply explain how I travel. I am unsure how many people really take these tips and use them, but I do know of a few. The how to’s of traveling is probably the most practical and beneficial contributions that I can make as a traveler, though the deep knowledge that comes from traveling is also good to be shared.

Read more about how to travel at, www.vagabondjourney.com/how-to-make-money-for-traveling

I cannot say how much I continually benefit from listening to the the thoughts and philosophies of the old salts that I occasionally meet on the road. Simply listening to an old traveler share their thoughts on traveling and life is perhaps the greatest of gifts that I have been given while traveling. Part of the advantage of traveling is meeting other travelers and observing how they live, how they carry themselves, what they talk about.

There is no quicker way to annoy your conversational audience than by beginning every statement with “Once when I was in . . . .” or “One time in . . . ” A friend of mine named Motorcycle Bob www.whereisbobl.com/journal once wrote something like “Nobody is interested in anyone’s travels, they are interested in their travails.” Nobody really cares about the great eco resort that you found in Costa Rica or what happened one night when you were drunk in a bar in Thailand, what is interesting is the wisdom and insight that you gained from these experiences, and these insights very rarely begin with “One time in . . .”

It is my impression that traveling is not only an action that takes you farther, but also further, deeper. Deeper into yourself, perhaps, further into building the blocks of a life well spent: a life of memories, learning, understanding. A life of decoding the riddles of what makes you happy — this is the prime directive of travel.

Q: We like to talk about the “But’s” – obstacles that show up when people are considering to travel extensively. What we mean by But’s is the little voice inside your head that starts telling you that you don’t have enough money or time, you can’t leave your job, the kids have to stay at home and go to school, that it could be dangerous or something else. Is this something you are familiar with for your own part and if so, how did/do you overcome your own But’s?

Wade: I don’t think that I have ever really had any of those “but’s.” I wanted to travel, so I began traveling. If someone really wanted to travel, I would hope that the desire would be stronger than any doubt — if it is not, then I must question the strength of the desire. When a child wants a puppy, there are no “but’s” because they know that they really want a dog. No matter how much warning you give them — “puppies are messy, they are a lot of work” — none of it will register, because they really want a puppy, there is no question about it. This is the same with the desire to travel: if you really want to do something, no matter what it is, there are no but’s. If you really want to travel, it is my impression that you will automatically create the pro-active logical mechanisms necessary to erase all doubts, like a child who wants a puppy.

It is my impression that when you really want something there are no “but’s,” you just do it — somehow, someway, you see the paths rather than the obstacles.

Q: To a lot of people, the dream of a long journey remains just a dream. In what way do you think you are different from all the people who haven’t made it a reality?

Wade: Because I really wanted to travel. It is my impression that if someone really wanted to do something, that they would do it. If you really desire something, you will find a way to get it. I don’t think that I am any different than people who don’t travel, I just really wanted to travel whereas other people seem to place things like having a home, job, an education, health insurance, a car, retirement, security in front of their desire to travel. This is OK, there is nothing wrong with this. It is probably a much better decision to want some sort of life security than to tramp around the world with no thicker safety net than what you can fit into a rucksack and the paltry assumption that you can take care of yourself.

I have a hard time believing people when they say that they really want to travel but they can’t because . . .

If they really wanted to travel, they would be doing it. There is nothing extraordinary about traveling or people who travel. The traveler is just the cheap ass hermit who decides to save his money rather than hanging out in bars, going out with friends, buying smart phones, or doing anything that requires money. The traveler is the jackass who is eating rice and beans rather than the fellow sitting in Starbucks drinking super espresso lattes and eating $5 pastries. It is simply a matter of priorities, a question of mutually exclusive possibilities:

If I want to travel I can’t go out to the bar with friends, I must find a way to live rent free, I must work all the time to save money.

If you really want to do something, if you really want to travel, you would sell your house this very minute, divorce your couch potato husband, quit your job, and go. The world is a plane of infinite possibilities — you can do anything you want — and it is my impression that most people in the first world fringe, at a deep level, are doing what they really want to be doing — whether it is traveling or having a sedentary sense of security.

Q: Do you have any advice to people who want to, but are still only dreaming about going out into the world for a longer journey?

Wade: Everything always works out. The great thing about leaving is that you can usually return to the same place where you are standing right now. Have faith that you will figure everything out when you need to, and rest your mind about planning. Nothing ever works out according to plan anyway, so why waste the mental energy bothering with it. The adverse consequences of traveling that you may foresee are merely illusions. You are not nearly wise enough to foresee the future, so stop trying — go forth and see what happens.

It is my impression that the human capacity for planning for the future is a very rudimentary development that usually only serves to provoke fear and to hamstring any desire that we may have for change. If anyone thinks about their future they get scared — “what if this happens, what if that happens.” You know what? “what ifs” rarely ever really happen. Humans tend to be intelligent enough to make the most of their situations when they are in the moment, and often have the ability to sidestep any “what if’s” when they need to be sidestepped. You will be alright.

Fear is an emotion that is reserved for the potential occurrence of future adversity. When in a moment of adversity, fear is rarely ever felt. I know that I have often felt fear about future possibilities — about being robbed, about getting lost, being cold etc . . — but every time I have been in such a circumstance, fear is the last thing that I felt, as I was much too busy focusing on how to get out of the bad situation to be scared. Fear is a survival instinct only in the fact that it keeps you sitting where you are, it keeps you way out of danger. When in a bad circumstance you automatically figure it out, and usually leave the moment saying, “Wow, that was not that bad after all.”

When given free range, fear will keep you sitting right where you are forever and ever and ever. It is amazing that many people would rather be comfortable, hemmed in by fears of future occurrences, than to really find out what the future may hold. There are no “what if’s” in a moment of adversity, so why leave yourself hampered with “what if’s” when the horizon is clear and the sun is shining?

Q: What is happening next? Are you traveling at the moment or do you have any travel plans?

Wade: I am traveling in the American Southwest with my wife and three month old daughter. We should be going to El Salvador in early 2010 and then over to Guatemala, Belize, Mexico, Cuba, Dominican Republic and on and on in early 2010. If you are interested, you can read about these travels at www.vagabondjourney.com/travelogue or my wife’s blog at www.vagabondjourney.com/mommytravelblog

To us one of the most obvious answers to the question why travel is the opportunity to meet with all kinds of interesting people. Seeing and doing things might be interesting and fun, but what always affects us most and stays strongest in our memories is meeting with different people.

Joel and Louise tell us why travel is important to them…

Joel and Louise tell us why travel is important to them…


Some years ago we had (again) traveled from Sweden down to Southern Spain and were staying at this camp site outside of Marbella www.campingmarbella.com. We have spent a couple of winters there but this time we had just landed there for a few days. Marbella is very international, people from all over Europe come here, but also from much more faraway places. It’s actually a bit like a melting pot which some loves and some don’t.

Anyway, one day we discovered this small campervan close to our own trailer. It was a bright yellow VW and what especially attracted our attention was the American flag attached to it. We realized this was not any of the ordinary northern European “going to Spain to survive the winter” visitors and we started talking to them.

It turned out the car belonged to an American couple, Joel and Louise Goodman and they were on a 2 year journey around Europe. They seemed to really have the time of their lives, traveling around with their mini home, exploring Europe. We had many interesting conversations with them, about their travels (this was far from their first), their family back home and their homeland before they continued their trip further north, to Granada and the Alhambra.

We have followed their journey since on their blog www.goodmansjourney.com . After their 2 years in Europe they went back home to the US, sold their house and bought a big (well to us Europeans, HUGE) motor home and started their “Tour of the Americas”.

We asked them if they were willing to answer a few questions why travel has become an important part of their life and these are their answers:

Q: Tell us a little about yourself and your travel history.

Goodman’s: We are now 69 years old, married for 49 years, have 3 daughters, 7 grandchildren, retired for the last 6 years, sold our home and belongings in Seattle and decided to travel. Now how could we do this on a budget? We bought a well used VW Campervan via the internet in the Netherlands and set out to see Europe. After 2 years and living small, we were able to explore and love 29 European countries. Arriving back in America, we purchased a large motor home and set out to see “The Americas”, from Alaska to the Panama Canal and everything in between.

Q: Where are you traveling at the moment?

Goodman’s: We are traveling in “Mainland” Mexico. We toured through the Mexican Baja for 4 months two years ago and now we are totally enjoying as much as we can see in the rest of Mexico.

Q: For how long will you be away this time?

Goodman’s: 6 months.

Q: What are you planning to do on this journey?

Goodman’s: Meet and enjoy the people of Mexico and those who travel into it. We also want to learn and see as much about this close neighbor as we can. The music, food, drink, beaches, mountains, and so much more await us.

Q: Why do you travel / Why did you start to travel in the first place?

Goodman’s: Having taken a couple of one or two week “vacations” and enjoying the journey, the peoples, the histories, and the “love of travel caught us and wouldn’t let go.

Q: What do you think are the biggest advantages with being a traveler/having this traveling lifestyle that you have?

Goodman’s: Getting to know what is around the corner or across the seas..

Q: Has traveling influenced your life in any major way?

Goodman’s: It dictates it !!!

Q: To a lot of people, the dream of a long journey remains just a dream. In what way do you think you are different from all the people who haven’t made it a reality?

Goodman’s: We just did it…The decision to be changed and allowing it to happen.

Q: Do you have any advice to people who want to, but are still only dreaming about going out into the world for a longer journey?

Goodman’s: Don’t over think it, “Just Do It”

We just want to thank Joel and Louise so much for answering our questions and we’re looking forward to one day again meet them somewhere in the world!

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She left the USA 2004 to volunteer for the peace corps in Bulgaria. This was just the start of a long journey that later took her and her husband, to South Korea, where they now teach English. She has a blog www.notanothertourist.blogspot.com where you can read all about their long journey. We asked some questions about her traveling life and her experiences of being a traveler.

Seoul Trip

In the N Seoul Tower


Q: Would you like to tell us a bit about yourself and your travel history?
Not Another Tourist: I should preface that I am not the most adventurous girl in the world. I have always been interested in traveling, but I have some (okay, many) strikes against me. I am a super picky eater, I get motion sickness easily, I really hate to fly and the physical act of traveling for a long time. I’d never even peed outside until I got locked out of a house when I was 27 years old. I will shriek until you have removed the giant spider hanging above my bed. But I have always wanted to shed that persona. So I took to traveling in smaller steps. In university I jumped at a chance to use my Spanish skills and to help out on a service project in Guatemala for a week and then chose a study abroad summer internship in Greece. After graduating with a degree in Sociology and following my passion for working with kids, I moved to the opposite side of the country for two years to work in youth development-centered non-profits as an AmeriCorps Volunteer. Following that, I took a bigger step to become a Peace Corps Volunteer for two years in Bulgaria, where I coincidentally met and married another Volunteer. We decided we loved the simple ex-pat life so much that we got certified to teach English. Although the thought of living in Asia seemed intimidating (spicy kimchi and seafood is just about my worst nightmare), we took jobs in South Korea and have been here for over two years (and I really enjoy it-sans kimchi and fish- for the record). Although I have spent a fair amount of time living abroad, I haven’t been able to travel to all of the places I would like… yet.

Q: What do you want to share/express with your blog?

Not Another Tourist: My blog is basically my reflections on what it’s like to live, work and travel wherever I am at the moment.

Q: Why do you travel?

Not Another Tourist: I was that child who was obsessed with learning about other cultures and languages. However, I couldn’t afford to be an exchange student, and didn’t get out of the country until university. I always wanted to know how other cultures looked at life and how it compared to my own. Growing up I thought American culture was so boring (probably because I was used to it) and I always felt that seeing and learning about the way other people lived would be really exciting.

Q: What do you think are the biggest advantages with being a traveler? Has traveling influenced your life in any major way?

Not Another Tourist: One of the greatest things about traveling is that you get to become like a child again. You are totally helpless in a new place and have to observe and learn as you go. You have the unique opportunity to wrap your head around new ways to do everything from using the bathroom to getting along in a group. So the biggest advantage of being a traveler is opening your mind to a whole new way of thinking and living. When you start to see the parameters and roles that are defined for people in other cultures, you begin to see similar or opposite parameters defined in your own culture. You begin to realize there is no “us” versus “them” and that everyone has a different way of doing things.

In essence, the further you go away from home, the closer you get to finding out who you are. I often joke with my friends that the frustration of cultural misunderstandings are part of the fun. When I can’t understand or don’t like how things are done overseas, it’s a cultural misunderstanding and it’s easy to let it go, but when I can’t understand or don’t like how things are done in America, I lose my patience with people’s inability to intelligently function.

Q: When we travel around as a family, the absolute most common question we get from people is about money and how we can afford to travel and live the life we do. So if we ask you the same question, what would be your answer?

Not Another Tourist: Money was my biggest freak out, too. After four years of being a professional volunteer, I had no savings. When we decided to move to Korea for work, my husband (also penniless) and I had to budget enough to pay for a TESOL certification course, a plane ticket and a safety net of about $5000 before leaving the country (just in case things fell through and we’d have to return home before our first paycheck).

Everyone has their own standard of living, so you have to budget for what you really think you will spend according to your needs. For example, if you are planning a round-the-world trip are you going to travel and stay in hostel dorms every night if you are couple or do you want to stay in a double room, or have even nicer accommodations? If you want to live overseas, are you willing to live like the locals and live cheaply or will you require a lot of western and/or imported amenities which will eat away your savings and paycheck? You may also have to factor in extra costs like medical insurance or how you will pay off your car insurance or student loans, etc. I would strongly advise paying off any outstanding debt before leaving unless you know you will have a steady income while overseas to keep up with payments.

With that said, living a fairly normal, extroverted life teaching English in Korea is quite profitable for people who can manage a budget.

Q: What do you experience people are most interested in learning from you as a traveler?

Not Another Tourist: I think most people are interested in hearing the differences between how things are in one place versus another. I think they really are interested to learn that not everything is done the same way as they are used to and I think they also like to find out that old negative stereotypes aren’t always what they seem.

Q: We like to talk about the “But’s” – obstacles that show up when people are considering to travel extensively. What we mean by But’s is the little voice inside your head that starts telling you that you don’t have enough money or time, you can’t leave your job, the kids have to stay at home and go to school, that it could be dangerous or something else. Is this something you are familiar with for your own part and if so, how did/do you overcome your own But’s?

Not Another Tourist: I didn’t come from a family with a ton of money and I wasn’t in the right field to have a high paying job, so I spent a lot of time in college trying to figure out how I could make that into a reality without relying on my parents for money or compromising my interests and passions career-wise. I was willing to step outside of my comfort zone and make some sacrifices to get where I am. I think most people think they are stuck because they are comfortable and they make up excuses because they are afraid of the unknown.

We were lucky because we didn’t have too large of a student loan to repay (only $25,000), we didn’t have a mortgage, we didn’t have children and we weren’t tied down in any other way. We shopped at thrift stores, took advantage of low priced meals at happy hours and passed on the big party nights out. We had to work desk jobs for a year to save up to get overseas again. What makes us different is that for us, it’s not really too much of a sacrifice, because we achieved the end result and we are happy where we are.

We are also not heartless, running away from home or wandering aimlessly. We miss out on the holidays, birthdays, weddings, first crawls and special moments with our friends and family. But these days, technology makes it so much easier to stay in touch either via social networking sites, blogs, email, free video-chat, etc. I, along with many other friends who live overseas, continue our education in a variety of ways, either enrolling in local schools or through online programs.

For us, the prospect of a lifetime sitting at a desk crunching numbers and stressing about deadlines was never going to cut it. No amount of luxury outside of the work week would be worth it. Having the latest cell phone and designer bag to carry it in isn’t what makes me enjoy life. Walking down the street smelling wood smoke and bargaining for a good price on fresh apples is way more appealing to me. In other words, living a low-maintenance lifestyle enabled us to get here faster, which helps you get used to life overseas anyhow, because the majority of what you can get back home is not available in most countries. You learn to enjoy the simple things and smaller feats you’d never think about back home.

Q: Do you have any advice to people who want to, but are still only dreaming about going out into the world for a longer journey?

Not Another Tourist: In order to make your dream into a reality, you simply have to put it into motion, even if it is just setting up a weekly or monthly budget, sticking to it. Tracking your progress provides tangible motivation. Money was a big thing for me, mainly because I didn’t have any. I joined the Peace Corps because it was one of the few ways to live and work overseas and not have to pay for all of the travel or medical expenses. Similarly there is a lot of opportunity to teach English overseas and the pay scales go up according to certification and experience.

Once I’d figured out that I wanted to start teaching English abroad, I sat around for a few months daydreaming and saying, “maybe in about a year we will have saved enough money” until one day I met a temp at my office who’d quit a high paying job to go live in Spain for a few months. She said it was the best decision of her life and when she told me how little her start-up costs were in doing it, I wanted to figure out exactly how much it would cost to get what we wanted. So I researched by looking online forums, connecting with friends already teaching abroad and then mapped it out. I discovered we could achieve what we wanted much sooner than we’d initially thought. I handed in my 30 day notice the following Monday.

My co-workers thought I was nuts because I hadn’t actually signed a contract for my next position at that point. But I wasn’t worried about it because I knew that I had a realistic plan and I was only on the first step and that was the only way to get to the second step and so on. And just as we had planned, we were certified and teaching in Korea six months later. There were many people along the way who said, “Wow, I WISH I could do what you are doing…” My reply was always simply, “If you truly wanted to be doing what I am doing, you would be doing it right now, too.”

Q: What is happening at the moment and where are you?

Not Another Tourist: At the moment, we are in our third year of teaching English in South Korea. Originally we had planned to stay two years in Korea to eliminate student debt (which we successfully did within the first six months) and continue on teaching English in various countries until we found one we couldn’t bear to leave or found another calling. However, the recent economic downturn and discovery of our true callings (still in education, just not entirely ESL based) changed our minds. We now have plans to continue teaching here for a while and a new financial goal to save up to pay for both of us to attend graduate school in the US and cover all of our living expenses and then some. In the meantime, we are using our free time to study and cultivate ourselves for our future fields as well as having an enjoyable time living and teaching in Korea.

Thank you so much for answering our questions and we hope to hear from you again in the future, from somewhere in the world!

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