Amy and Andrew
Where are you from?
We’re both from the UK and we lived in London before we left to travel the world.
Why do you travel?
There are so many reasons we travel; to experience and learn about the history of different countries and cultures, to meet new people whose lives are different from our own and simply to have fun!
How do you decide on where to go?
Coming from the UK we had already travelled a bit in Europe so for our ‘big trip’ abroad we wanted to venture further afield. So, in March 2013 we flew all the way around the world to New Zealand, followed by Australia; now we’re making our way slowly through South-East Asia.
How do you overcome your travel fears?
We’ve found that the best way to overcome our travel fears is simply to plunge in and face them head-on. Before we left the UK we agonised over whether we were doing the right thing in leaving our comfortable lives and spending all our savings on travel but those fears dispelled once we headed out into the world and realised how fulfilling and beneficial travel can be. The same goes for the things we do while we travel; Amy confronted her fear of heights by tackling a skydive and Andrew faced his fear of needles to give blood in Cambodia.
What is the cheapest you’ve spent per day and where?
Our cheapest country so far has been Laos; while we were there we spent just £31.28 per day for two people – an absolute bargain! We weren’t exactly skimping on food or activities either; Laos is just a really cheap country to travel in.
How do you save money to travel?
It took us two years to save up around £30,000 for our current trip while we were living and working in London. To save the money we moved to a cheaper flat, sold a lot of our belongings and opened high-interest savings accounts. While we lived frugally, taking home-made sandwiches to work and avoiding big nights out, new clothes and expensive gadgets, we still set aside money to spend on the odd meal out, drink with friends or trip to the cinema. Drawing up a detailed list of our monthly income and outgoings, as well as setting up direct debits directly into our savings account really helped us keep on track with our saving, as did staying focused on our goal by planning our trip and reading travel blogs.
What is your favorite travel gear or gadget?
Amy loves to read and write so her Kindle, notebooks and laptop are essential travel items. Andrew finds his iPhone invaluable for taking pictures and video, tracking our daily expenses, listening to music on long bus journeys and playing his beloved football game.
How long did it take from when you realized your dream to travel to actually making it happen?
The idea of a big, ‘round-the-world’ trip really became a tangible possibility for us when we spent a month backpacking around Thailand in 2009. We fell in love with travel and met people on year-long or extended trips who made us realise we could do the same. It was four years before we actually took the plunge and left the UK; we spent those years working in our chosen fields (teaching for Andrew, online journalism for Amy), enjoying London, paying off some of our student-related debts and finally saving for our trip.
How did your friends and family react when you told them that you’re traveling the word long-term?
While most people were interested in and supportive of our trip, for a long time we think many of them doubted it would actually happen. Once our one-way flights to New Zealand had been booked though and the reality sank in people started asking questions like, ‘Aren’t you worried you won’t find a job when you get back?’ and ‘Wouldn’t it be better to invest your savings in a house?’ Amy’s mum freaked out a bit worrying that we’d never return to the UK; luckily she’s now gotten used to our travelling lifestyle and supports us fully.
What is one of your most memorable adventure stories?
We will never forget trekking the Batad rice terraces in the Philippines; the place is so remote you have to hike an hour up-hill from the nearest town to get there. We hired a local, Adi, to guide us on the toughest trek we’ve ever done up to the top-most tier of the rice terraces and down to a spectacular waterfall. We saw some of the most beautiful views we’ve encountered on our trip so far.
What is one challenge you faced traveling? How did you overcome it?
Andrew has found adjusting to not working full-time a big challenge; he has overcome this by working instead on our travel blog and is planning to teach again in Taiwan later this year. Amy is a fussy eater and a vegetarian, so has to overcome her daily food fears in Asia by forcing herself to try new dishes.
What is a guilty pleasure you seek out on the road?
Cheese! It was one of our staple foods back home but people just don’t eat cheese in Asia. All we can usually find while we travel is processed cheese slices so when we do spot some real cheddar we splurge on it, even if it means going over our daily budget.
Have you volunteered abroad? If so, what was your experience? What was the impact?
So far we’ve volunteered for the Dog Rescue Project at the Elephant Nature Park in Thailand. We spent our days walking, feeding and socialising with the park’s rescue dogs; we also spent a fair bit of time scrubbing pens and cleaning up dog mess! It was great to meet other volunteers and live and work in the northern Thai countryside surrounded by elephants. I feel we made a small but positive impact to the daily lives of the animals; simply taking a dog for a walk can make an immediate difference.
What is happening in the world, where you are currently (at the time of this interview), that isn’t being reported in the media?
We’ve been travelling through Cambodia for the last few weeks and have noticed lots of children begging on the streets and in temples. We see many tourists giving these children money or sweets when actually organizations like Child Safe Tourism ask people to refrain from giving to child-beggars as it only perpetuates the problem and keeps children out on the streets where they’re vulnerable to abuse. It would be great if there was an awareness campaign in the media to highlight this problem and advise tourists how they can help children without encouraging them to beg.
What advice do you have for aspiring travelers?
Just get out there and do it. Strap on a backpack, buy a one-way ticket somewhere and go out into the world; I promise you will be amazed by the places you see, the people you meet and the experiences you have.
About Amy and Andrew from Our Big Fat Travel Adventure
In March 2013 Amy and Andrew quit their lives and the rat race in London to travel the world indefinitely. They started their adventure in New Zealand and Australia and are now traveling slowly through South-East Asia; the couple love to blog about their adventures and hope to move to Taiwan later this year to teach English.
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