There are different ways to travel for an extended period of time. You can save up money for a while and then quit your job like I did, travel and work various jobs along the way, or find a more permanent job that involves traveling. For Canada’s Adventure Couple, Dave and Deb, travel is their full-time gig. As most of us would say, “they’re living the dream.” Which is true, they really are. The couple, who both used to work in the film industry, became inspired by travel during their trip to Thailand back in 2000. From then on, travel defined them more than their careers, and they searched for ways to turn their passion into a lifestyle. Since their first trip to Thailand, they have climbed, paddled, hiked and biked their way through 5 continents doing everything from cycling across Africa, to driving across Mongolia. Not to mention, their adventure travel blog is on top of the charts, and I can truly say the couple inspire me each and every day.
You call yourselves Canada’s Adventure Couple, so what’s the most extreme, out of the box, adventure you’ve ever been on?
I would have to say that our cycling race from Cairo to Cape Town was the most extreme adventure we have been on. Cycling 12,000 km over the course of 4 months was really intense both emotionally and physically.
However, the Mongol Rally this past year was also very much an out of the box adventure. Taking on the challenge of driving a tiny car overland from England to Mongolia with no mechanical skills and was a challenge enough. Doing it with two other people that we barely knew was also a little crazy! Who spends 5 weeks in a cramped car with strangers? We do!
Did you develop the travel bug as individual travellers or as a unit? In other words, did one of you introduce the world of travel to the other?
We found our love for travel together. We used to plan regular vacations like everyone else and then one year a friend that I worked with suggested we go to Thailand when I asked where we should go on our winter vacation. This was back in 2000, so Thailand wasn’t quite as popular as it is today. We didn’t have any desire to go there, but when she brought her photos into work, I was sold. It looked incredible. I came home that night and told Dave that we have to go to Thailand for our vacation. Since it was so far away, we decided to go for longer than our usual week or two. We ended up booking 5 weeks in the country.
It completely changed our lives. We found that when we came home, we were constantly talking about our time in Thailand, and we both couldn’t wait until the next winter to book our trip to somewhere else exciting and exotic.
Over the years, we both became addicted to traveling and looked for several different ways to make travel a career. We thought about leading tours, being dive masters, opening a bar on the beach and hosting a travel show. We took writing/photography courses honing our skills and looked into travel writing and the rest is history.
What is the most interesting thing you have done that you never thought you’d find yourself doing?
Both of us agree on this answer: Getting paid to do what we love. We always knew that we were adventurous and up for anything, but we both always thought that we would be stuck working for a living to make enough money to enjoy our time off. We were envious of those people who loved their jobs. We never felt fulfilled professionally and always yearned for something more. Now we are fulfilled in all aspects of our lives and we never thought that would be possible for us.
What’s one place you would return to over and over again?
France. It has it all. Between fine dining, arts, entertainment and a great cultural identity, it also has trekking and climbing, awesome outdoor activities and adventure. With all that and its fabulous coastline, wine region and stunning landscape, France really is an amazing country to visit again and again. It’s also so central; it would make a great home base. Hmmm, now I’m thinking…
What’s one place you would never go back to even if someone paid you?
If someone paid us, we’d go anywhere;)
Which place changed you the most?
It has to be the first place we travelled independently and that is Thailand. We have had incredible moments in life since then, but that trip in 2000 was definitely a life changer. We were introduced to a different way of living. We didn’t realize that people travelled for months at a time. We didn’t know that there was a life outside of careers and work, and we didn’t know that life could be filled with adventure.
Before Thailand, weekends consisted of dinner and a movie or meeting friends at a bar. Once we came home from Thailand we took up rock climbing and mountain biking and we bought snowboarding memberships and took up scuba diving. We made life an adventure at home. We also became interested in different cultures and religions and became interested in the world. We never paid much attention to life outside of North America before then. So yes, that trip changed us immensely.
If you were to choose the country you were born in, which one would you choose? In on the words, which culture do you identify yourself with the most?
We definitely identify with being Canadian. Like most people out there, we think our home country is the greatest country in the world. We love being Canadian and embrace everything Canadian.
Do you travel continuously as global nomads? Or do you have a home base from which you head out on your world adventures?
We don’t have a home base, but we were lucky this year to house sit for my parents while they are in Florida for the winter. We had a lot of business to do in Canada and needed to be here for a few months so it was cool to have a place to call our own for a while after going steady for over two years. It’s funny though, we travelled nearly two weeks out of each month we were home so it wasn’t exactly what you would call relaxing.
I remember talking with the both of you just over a year ago at one of the first Toronto Travel Massive meet-ups. It was right before I left to travel for 9 months and just started up Hopscotch the Globe. This is when ThePlanetD was just starting to emerge into the travel blogging community. Now you are both successful, globally known travel experts. What did you do to get to where you are today with ThePlanetD?
I think it is constantly keeping our eye on our goals. We work very hard. I also think that having a strong circle of people to collaborate with is important. Travel blogging doesn’t work if you don’t have the support of others. It is important to have a community of people that you respect and trust to work with. We feel that we have made connections with people that we admire and enjoy working with.
We also adapt. When we see things aren’t working, we are willing to make a change. We went into this as a business from the onset so we treat our blog like a business. We take advantage of every situation that comes our way and pursue opportunities. We don’t wait for things to happen, we make them happen.
Is constantly traveling together and blogging together ever a challenge for the two of you? If so, how do you make it work?
It can be a challenge for sure, but we are very open and honest with one another. We talk about everything and when there is a problem we don’t stew and worry about it, we talk about it. We also don’t take it personally when we are short with one another. Tensions can run high when you are in a foreign land where nobody speaks your language and you only have each other to rely on. Put the added burden of having to work in that environment and you will snap at times.
We’ve always been able to fight well, but we are great at forgiving and moving on. We can have a heated discussion one minute and then be relaxing and ordering a coffee the next like nothing happened. You have to be willing to let things slide and let go after having a disagreement.
Do you find it hard to balance travel with work?
Lately, yes. We work much better when we are on the road full time. But since we’ve been in Canada, we find that we are working constantly. This year has been very busy and it seems that every waking moment has been about work. The travels that we have been on since returning from the Mongol Rally have been all work related and then in between travels has been all about catching up on work. We were traveling straight for nearly 2 years and we had many goals and items on our “to do list” that we put on the back burner for all that time. The past few months have been about checking off that to do list and catching up on the back log of work before we head out on the road again.
What kind of opportunities has traveling and blogging given you?
It has been an amazing ride. We have become the travel experts for CTV Canada and we’ve been featured in a lot of traditional media. We have also partnered with some amazing companies like Intrepid Travel and American Express. Sometimes we can’t believe that we are sitting at an event and chatting with the CEO of an international corporation.
But, what has been the most amazing thing have been the travel opportunities. We have been on several trips of a lifetime! We’re heading to Antarctica at the end of January with Quark Expeditions, we took on the most amazing extreme adventures in New Zealand with The Flying Kiwi, we discovered Alaska with Princess Cruises, and have explored dream destinations like Jordan, Fiji, and an undiscovered Thailand with their tourism boards.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to start a travel blog and make a living from it?
Make sure that you love it. It sounds like a fantasy to travel the world and blog about your time doing it, but there is a lot of work involved. You have to love it to make it a success. I love writing every day, and Dave loves taking photographs and doing post processing. We enjoy engaging with our community through social media, and we enjoy meeting with companies and talking shop over lunch or dinner. But most of all, we love travel. We love all travel.
What are your future plans for ThePlanetD?
We want to take ThePlanetD as far as it will go. We have an exciting year ahead of us with Intrepid Travel where we’ll be leading a custom tour, we’re speaking at conferences and we’re doing more TV appearances. We still want to host that travel show in the future, and we still have epic adventures planned. Most of all, we want to make ThePlanetD a sustainable business that we can keep working at for the rest of our lives. We finally found our calling and we’re not going to let it go.
Any ideas on what your next big adventure will entail?
This year is going to be a little different as we have a lot of micro adventures lined up as opposed to one large adventure. We are excited because we have partnered with some amazing companies to showcase some of the most exotic destinations on earth.
We are heading to Antarctica at the end of the month with Quark Expeditions where we’ll be kayaking and camping on the continent and after that we are heading to the Galapagos for our first trip of the year with Intrepid Travel. We are then off to TBU in Umbria and then heading to Kenya with Bliss Tours. We have two more trips planned with Intrepid where one of them will be our custom tour and we have a few other trips and events that we can’t announce yet. We’d love to, but we can’t.
I really think that 2012 is going to be epic, and we are so glad that we had a few months to get our blog and lives in order to really enjoy the next 12 months. We are going into it with the right attitude to not take anything for granted.
Do you think you will ever settle down in one place for an extended period of time, or is that out of the question?
We do want a home base and have already started talking about where we are going to have one, but we’ll always travel. We know that we will always spend our time on the road, but we want somewhere to lay our heads between travels that we can call our own. A place that has our stuff in it and our bed. That is the plan for the near future to have a home base but to still keep traveling.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to travel but doesn’t think they have enough money to do so?
If you don’t have the money, don’t do it. I think too many people are traveling on credit these days and there is nothing positive about coming home from a life changing experience to a mountain of debt. We saved for our first long-term trip and it changed our lives, and we could enjoy it because we didn’t worry about money when we came home.
However if you have a travel budget you can do a long-term trip for very little money. There are great money saving tips on our blog where you will be amazing at how little you need to see the world. If you travel independently you can make your budget last for a month compared to a week- long package tour. Be creative and look for ways to stay for free and make your money last:
What advice would you give to someone who has been dreaming of quitting their job to travel but dreaming is all they are doing?
If you take the plunge and quite your job, make sure you have a plan. You need to make sure that your finances are in order and that you know what you want to do once you quite your job. It took us 5 years of brainstorming ideas and trying to figure out what we wanted out of life before we quit our jobs once and for all. It sounds romantic to just throw your job away and travel the world, but you could get yourself into trouble if you quit without a plan.
Instead, start small. Take an extended vacation to see if you even like long-term travel. Go somewhere for a month or so and see if it inspires you. After you have decided that yes, you love traveling look to see if you can sustain your travels. Will you have to work as you go or do you have enough of a nest egg to fund your round the world adventures.
Just be sure that you know what you want and that it is right for you. Travel isn’t a magic remedy to fulfilling a void in life if you are not happy. However, it can inspire you to change your life and live each day to the fullest. However you could always make your life richer right in your own backyard. As we said, after we took our first trip in 2000, we made life interesting at home and found our own happiness eventually leading us to become full time travels. We enjoyed life in Ontario as we took up exciting hobbies and sports. After we changed the way we lived at home, we still felt that something was missing and it was the fulfillment in our careers and that is when we realized that enjoyed travel and being together more than anything else.