This week we spotlight travel bloggers Angie and Jeremy of Living the Dream as they prepare to embark on a year-and-a-half round-the-world journey.
When, why and how did you start Living the Dream?
Living the Dream started in mid-2008 as my (Jeremy’s) solo travel blog to chronicle a long-term trip I was planning for 2010. As luck would have it, Angie came along before that trip and we started becoming very serious in our relationship. Rather than going on a 14 month solo trip around the world, leaving Angie behind, she was awesome to let me go for 5 months. That trip covered Japan to Singapore and everything in between.
At the end of that trip Angie came out to Singapore and we traveled in Thailand for 2 weeks before going home. I proposed to her there, and we returned home to start our life together. Now that Angie has finished her PhD (which is why she didn’t travel with me in 2010), we’re finishing my trip plus extra for her on our next grand adventure.
How did you get the name and what does the name mean to you?
On my first trip out of the country, another traveler on my tour said the phrase ‘Living the Dream’ periodically whenever something amazing came up. Something about the phrase struck a bond with me in such that all my travels are Living the Dream. We’ve adopted it as our mindset, and it has been with us ever since.
How long have you been together?
We started dating in early 2009 and were married May 2012! Seems like forever though. For the first year and a half we were dating long-distance. Then I was traveling in Asia for 5 months when we were REALLY long-distance. She stuck around, so I proposed and we haven’t been apart for more than 2 weeks at a time ever since.
What are the best and worst things about traveling and blogging as a couple?
There could be tons of best and worst things depending on the couple; luckily I think our worst points are rather limited. My least favorite part about traveling with Angie is that she can be kind of grumpy in the morning before coffee. Her least favorite part about traveling with me is that I’m pretty pushy with trying new things (scuba diving, etc) and tend to not give up on trying to get her to test something out.
In terms of blogging; it’s great doing it as a couple. For the first few years, I was doing it all solo, so bringing in a new author who happened to be my wife was exciting. We now have clear roles as to what we write about which allows us to have our enthusiasm and expertise shine at their best.
What keeps you the most jazzed about blogging?
I think there is uniqueness to it all, even though there are other travel bloggers out there. Every destination or trip has its own unique perspective, challenges, and great stories that come out of it. As long as we keep traveling, we’ll have great stories and advice to share with those who want to read us.
Then there is also the personal side of it. It’s a great log of all the traveling we’ve done. Many years from now we’ll be able to share our adventures with friends and future family in ways that were never imagined before. So just in case we become boring one day, we can remind any future kids that yes, we did in fact do something awesome once.
How do you divide up the blogging duties?
I cover most everything on the site since it was mine from the get-go. Angie will be jumping on to do food reviews, her series Angie Eats, also on food, and periodically will be writing about topics she’s interested in and some accommodation reviews. For the most part she’s going to focus on a new blog we’ve been working on called The International Food Project and trying to freelance to make some money. I’ll continue covering all the topics we write about, destination articles, general travel, budgets, advice, etc.
You’re about to embark on a round the world trip. How are you financing it?
We’ve been saving for the last 2½ years to make it happen. I’ve been working as an engineer and Angie was getting a modest graduate student stipend that we were able to save from, plus a little bit of income from our websites.
It was a bit easy for us in the sense that we just lived like graduate students and were able to save most of our excess income from my job.
Right now we have enough money to keep us on the road for about a year to a year-and-a-half based on my estimates. We’re going to be freelancing and doing odd assignments here and there that may allow us to extend out our travel a few more months. Right now my target is for 450 days or so, but 500 would be nothing to complain about.
Where are you headed first?
We land in Paris, France on June 11th!
The first two months of our trip are booked entirely because we’ll be in Western Europe during absolute peak season. The downside to that is we had to book in advance to get good deals, but the plus side is that we get out of the expensive countries very quickly!
Right now we’re spending roughly two weeks in France, two weeks in Switzerland, five days in the Tyrol region of Austria, 2½ weeks in Italy, and just under two weeks in the Greek Islands. After that we’re flying to Turkey and won’t be planning anything until we get there. We hope to bounce around Turkey, Egypt, and Eastern Europe a bit, hitting Oktoberfest at the end of September. After that, who knows, although we’d like to do more Eastern Europe, India, and Nepal.
Is there a set amount of time you plan to spend in each place or does it depend?
It depends on what all there is to do in a city or region and how much we like it. Typically we’ll spend two to six days in any city and move around to another nearby place within just a few hours train/bus ride away and repeat.
Although, if my last trip was any indication we will probably start slowing down after three to four months spending a few more days to just go slow and relax more. I suspect that by the time we hit Central America at the end we may stay at some of the beach destinations for a week at a time just to be lazy before ending our trip.
Are you targeting cities, off the beaten path places, a combination?
This is a problem that we come into a lot. We love off the beaten places more than anything, and have already caught ourselves several times only planning major cities because they are the places everyone goes to. We’re trying to force ourselves to go to the smaller locations more and more and definitely getting better at it.
Right now we’re mixing both. In Switzerland, for example, we’re hitting Geneva and Zurich but are also going to the smaller villages of Lauterbrunnen and Zermatt. Mayrhofen, the town we’re visiting in Austria is so small you can hardly find it on the map. In Greece we were going to do the typical Santorini -> Ios -> Mykonos route but talked ourselves out of it for the sake of hitting more unique islands. Instead we’re now going to spend six days in Crete, two days on Santorini (too expensive), and three or four days on the small island of Milos. Like I said, it is difficult to get out of that mindset, but we’re getting there!
Are you traveling backpack style, budget, luxury or a combination?
All of the above! We’re living out of a backpack, on a budget, but like to stay in nicer places if we can. At the very least, a private room as often as possible. We’re still being thrifty like I was as a solo backpacker, but our budget is a bit higher to cover our food addictions and frequent urges to splurge on a nicer room. In the end we still want to travel as long as we can and we’ll make cuts here or there to make it happen.
How did you decide where to go?
For the most part we just want to go everywhere.
We looked at this trip as finishing the itinerary I started in 2010 but adding places Angie wanted to go to, hence why Europe is on the list now. We have a few major dates hanging over us on when we need to reach specific places by that helped us fine tune our ideal route. After that, it is more just looking at where we are, neat places nearby, and deciding we want to go there.
For example, we may have a friend coming to visit us in Egypt after we go to Turkey, so we’ll have to set those dates soon which will help us define where we may go in Turkey. We booked an apartment in Munich several months ago for Oktoberfest to get a good deal, so we’ll have a few weeks after Egypt to roam Eastern Europe somewhere before needing to be at Oktoberfest. We want to get to Nepal to do Everest Base Camp trek before it starts getting colder in December, so we’ll have a couple months to roam around before heading that way.
What’s to from Asia?
The second half of our trip is going to have us flying into South America and heading down to Ushuaia to hopefully catch an Antarctic cruise (wish list). From there any direction we can go is on our way home. The plan is to head north through South America, Central America.
What’s the last stop?
There really won’t be a last stop unless we are running low on money, in which case it would likely be Mexico if all planning works out well. And perhaps a US road trip back home to our parent’s house in Ohio.
What excites you the most about travel?
I think there is just too much to name. New scenery, cultures, and food are just a few brief highlights. There is something to be said about discovering things that are new and different to what you’re used to. Part to relax, part to learn, but mostly to just enjoy this amazing planet we live on. After all, Earth is much nicer than your cubicle.
What are the most important things to you on a trip?
The food. We find out about a culture with the food they eat. Not in fancy restaurants or overpriced tourist joints, but the places where real workers eat. From the hole-in-the-wall joints to the counters with no seats, anywhere that is local and authentic gets our attention. Finding it, well, that is the hard part.
After that we do the standard museums and nature that everyone does, as well as seeking out fun adventure activities. Any time we can get out to a smaller village that is fun to explore just because it exists rather than the need to visit is something we always find to be a highlight.
Is being in your comfort zone important to you?
I can’t say that I care too much about my comfort zone in the sense that it would stop me from going places. My minimal requirements (hot water, air conditioning, internet most days) are easily met just anywhere in the world these days. After that, lets go! I’m still working on getting Angie to be gung-ho about it, but she doesn’t have a choice with a few of the itinerary stops I have planned!
Some of the weirdest things I’ve done in particular are eat a scorpion in China, paraglide off a mountain in Austria, and go up to the very tops of churches with thin railings (not a heights person). But considering my comfort zone is pretty open, those things didn’t bother me so much.
What’s your most memorable travel experience or favorite trip ever?
I think the first glimpse of Petra is one for the awe-inspiring note. But for all those who are wondering why, instead of ruining it, I think you should just go to Jordan and find out for yourselves.
Is there a place that each of you is looking forward to the most?
Angie is looking forward to Turkey the most on this trip. Her family lived there when her dad was in the military but she doesn’t remember from being too young. We’re going to Cappadocia during the peak of Perseid Meteor Shower which will be another nice perk. I haven’t stopped talking about it since I saw it in the desert of Wadi Rum, Jordan a few years ago.
For me, I change too much. Right now I’d say Eastern Europe just because Montenegro, Macedonia, Slovenia, and Albania do not get much promotion. From the photos I’ve seen, it is stunning. Other than the photos, I really don’t know what I’m getting myself into from wanting to go. Adventure!
Is there a place that didn’t get into your itinerary that each of really wish could have? We’re trying to fit two places into our itinerary that just haven’t matched our budget yet. The first, for Angie, is an African Safari. The second, my choice, is an Antarctic expedition. Although we’re tentatively saying we’re doing these things, it is really going to be a stretch because of the financial situation. These are not cheap trips even with those on a shoestring.
For regions we had to ignore altogether, well, we really want to go to Norway, New Zealand, and Morocco, but it looks like those will have to be for another trip.
Jeremy and Angie Jones are a traveling couple who write for the Living the Dream Network of travel sites. These sites include Living the Dream, International Food Project and more. Jeremy and Angie are heading off on their next long-term trip in June 2013 to explore the world for one to one and a half years beginning in Paris, France.