As they continue to explore every inch of the world, having sold all of their possessions, Peter Korchnak and Lindsay Sauvé have completely redefined the meaning of “home”. Home is not where the heart is, and it’s not where you lie your head; rather, home is where your toothbrush is.
And Peter and Lindsay’s toothbrushes have some extraordinary travel tales to tell!
What do you love the most about travelling?
Peter: Freedom. I’m free to do whatever I want, whenever I want (with the budget I have).
Lindsay: It’s thrilling to wake up in a completely new environment and know you have a whole city, town, mountain, or national park to discover. From the food, to the transportation, to the people and their language, I love the sometimes complicated act of figuring what a new place is all about.
What inspired you to start travelling?
Peter: Funny you should ask! I wrote an entire blog post about that. In brief, among the greatest sources of my inspiration to travel I count Jules Verne novels, a 1984 edition of The Pocket Atlas of the World, and the evening newscasts on Czechoslovak Television. Train trips with my parents and the Czechoslovak ice hockey team’s gold medal in the 1985 IIHF World Championship also contributed.
Basically, I’ve traveled and wanted to travel since I was a boy.
Lindsay: My parents are not big international travellers, but my maternal grandparents and my stepmother’s mother traveled a lot and they would send me postcards from countries like Egypt, Russia, and Hungary—places that were not typical destinations for Americans.
They certainly inspired my curiosity about the world. As far as our recent trip, when we decided to save for a trip around the world, I started reading a great blog called The World is Not Flat by a couple from Seattle. I read practically the entire blog and it was a major inspiration.
What is Where Is Your Toothbrush? all about?
Peter: Lindsay and I met in 2002 while traveling (I was studying for my master’s in the Netherlands while she was backpacking around Europe and visiting her childhood friend who was my housemate). Travel is in our relationship’s DNA, so to speak.
As we struggled with an expensive mortgage in Portland, Oregon, where we lived before traveling, we realized we don’t have to be tied to a house in order to feel at home—we can be at home anywhere, the same way we had been when we met. From there it was just a short mental skip to home being where out toothbrushes are.
Lindsay: We enjoy experiencing the world in the same way we experience our home—through people, food, music, and nature. We decided to travel with this in mind and we strive feel at home wherever we are.
Where have your toothbrushes been to date?
Peter: Our toothbrushes kicked off this first Where Is Your Toothbrush? World Tour in Boston on June 17, 2013. Then they went to the Netherlands, France (Paris only), Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece, Turkey, back to the Netherlands (my sister who lives there had her 2nd baby), Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, Argentina, and as of this writing we are in Chile.
We’ll be returning to Argentina in a couple of weeks and proceed up to Bolivia, Peru, and Mexico. We’ll be back in the U.S. in late June.
Lindsay: And though I have to return to work in July, you’ll find our toothbrushes camping and hiking in the Oregon Cascades this summer.
How do you afford to travel – are you rich?
Peter: It took us 7 years to make the dream of the year long round-the-world trip happen. First we downsized. After we finally ditched the house with its expensive mortgage, luckily without a loss, we moved into a tiny apartment, and reduced our possessions, selling, donating, or giving stuff away.
And we created and stuck to a budget that included the trip as a line item and that reduced our expenses to a bare minimum.
Lindsay: Soooooooo rich! No, we work for non-profits (Peter), and a community college (Lindsay), so we did have to buckle down to save enough to travel. We just prioritised travel over everything else—a nice car, our own house, stylish clothes.
What continues to amaze me is how much less money we’ve spent traveling for a year compared to what we spent living in the U.S. per year.
How did/do you budget for long term travel? Do you earn money while on the road?
Peter: We’re working to get our website to the point where we can make some extra money from it. I have also earned some money with freelance writing, which I’d like to do more of as well. But mostly we plan to live in the U.S. to work and save for our travels.
Lindsay: Will work to travel—it’s our new motto. Fortunately, after our first year abroad we’ve learned some ways to travel for even less. With more advanced planning, it’s possible to stay places for free through house-sitting, volunteering, and working abroad. So, this was just training for the next trip!
Do you have to be incredibly lucky to travel?
Peter: You do have to be incredibly lucky to live in a place where travel is even in the realm of possibility (the developed world, for the most part). In the realm of elements you can control, I believe in the motto, “The harder you work the luckier you get.”
I wish that at any point I could just pick up and leave but travel doesn’t just happen. You have to earn the privilege.
Lindsay: Yes, as Peter said, we’re lucky to be privileged and have the opportunity. But given the opportunity it’s really just about deciding on this versus that, and then working towards what you want.
How do you make yourself feel at home wherever you go?
Peter: I do things I like to do. I write, I walk around the place and hike in the woods and run, I go see live music, I read a book at a cafe or park, I sample local craft beers. That’s actually the spirit of Where Is Your Toothbrush?—feeling at home anywhere by living the life you want every place you go.
Lindsay: I really enjoy cooking, so one thing we’ve done to feel at home is rent apartments or stay in hostels with kitchens so we can cook. It’s really pleasurable for me to shop for ingredients in a local grocery and prepare a locally inspired meal and enjoy it with some local wine or beer.
Also, while I adore cities, I’m always more at home in nature. Living among forests and mountains, like here in southern Chile where we are now, makes me feel right at home
Where have you felt the most at home?
Peter: That’s a tougher question than it seems. Every place has offered something to make me feel at home: friends in Serbia, mountains in Bariloche, Argentina, a peaceful running route on Santorini island… Home is actually not just where my toothbrush is, it’s where I get to experience the kind of life I enjoy and especially where my heart is. I feel most at home where I am with Lindsay.
Lindsay: There have been various places we’ve clicked with. In Serbia, there were really great friends we visited with who made use feel incredibly welcome. While in Greece, we developed such a great routine and were staying at an excellent place. Most recently, in Bariloche, we stayed at an excellent hostel and spend a week studying Spanish and met some great people. There have been different reasons we’ve felt at home in very different locations.
One thing which you don’t like about travelling?
Peter: Travel messes with my body. Adjusting to different cuisines every few weeks taxes my digestive system. Sleeping in a different bed even more often (50 beds in 10 months so far) disrupts my rest. And all the new stimuli overwhelm my senses. I find I need to rest more than I used to.
Lindsay: I don’t like people thinking I’m an idiot, which is inevitable when you travel. People will perceive you as incompetent or stupid because you are a tourist, don’t speak the language, and don’t understand simple directions. It’s good in a way, because it’s humbling and teaches empathy, but it’s never nice.
Biggest cultural shock you have experienced while travelling?
Peter: Every day on the road is a culture shock! Sometimes no matter how much research you do, you encounter surprising situations. Who knew that on Koh Samui, Thailand, songthaews (pickups converted into share taxis) function as buses during the day and after 6 pm as taxis with double the price?
Lindsay: In some countries it seems okay, or it’s just overlooked, to litter. It was shocking and depressing to see gorgeous beaches in Thailand covered in garbage.
Funniest or most embarrassing travel moment?
Peter: Seeing Christopher Walken look-alikes in Bratislava, Slovakia and in Santorini, Greece, and in Bariloche, Argentina. They’re everywhere!
Lindsay: I gave the OK sign (thumb and index finger forming the letter O) to a helpful man in a supermarket in Istanbul, Turkey, who subsequently stopped in his tracks and glared at me. It’s actually an insult in Turkey.
Three things you can’t travel without?
Peter: Other than the obvious like the passport or money/credit cards, I can’t travel without earplugs, a headlamp, and a notebook.
Lindsay: Yoga pants. On the 23-hour bus ride from Buenos Aires to Bariloche, I said a tiny prayer of thanks to my yoga pants.
Which destinations are at the top of your bucket list?
Peter: Antarctica, Burma, China, Greenland, Iceland, North Korea, Russia (especially Siberia)… Wait, I’m starting to list all the places I have yet to visit!
Lindsay: I want to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mexican to Canadian border in the next five years and ride the Trans-Siberian Railway.
Most practical piece of advice for those planning travel?
Peter: Forget the internet. If you need anything, ask people, be it fellow travelers or expats or locals.
Lindsay: Don’t pack too much. I travel with one small 28-liter backpack and a purse. You don’t need as much as you think you do, and unless you plan on taking taxis everywhere, multiple bags are a serious burden.
Why should people travel?
Peter: They shouldn’t. It takes a lot of work and time to make it happen. Being on the road is a huge hassle, too. Everywhere you go you have to figure everything out from scratch: how to get there and around, where to eat, what the money looks like, what to see and do and places to avoid.
You’re tired all the time from all the stimuli firing at you and from all that change, and you’re always confused because you don’t understand the local language and customs. Better stay put. Really.
Lindsay: Because the world is a lot friendlier and safer than we’re told. Thanks to mass media and the internet, people are easily to be duped into thinking that the world is full of violence, crime, hate, and disasters. The world is a lot different than how it’s portrayed, and it’s humbling and inspiring to see it for yourself.