There are hundreds of reasons to travel the world – for the adventure, the perspective, the education, the challenge, (just to name a few), though there is one couple currently traveling the world to keep their relationship going.
She’s American and he’s from Australia – their story sounds strangely familiar to my own! Despite living on opposite ends of the globe, Jenn and Jack make their long distance relationship work through travel. Both thrill seekers, food lovers, adventure finders, and a couple who attract misadventure, Jenn and Jack use travel as their excuse to stay together.
A fun loving couple who just wants to explore the world together, this inspiring duo decided that long distance shouldn’t be an obstacle which prevents a relationship, and that with enough creativity and motivation, it’s possible to mold any dream into a reality. After-all, if it’s important to you, you will find a way. This is their story.
What do you love the most about travelling?
Jenn: I love the freedom of exploration. I love learning about new cultures, trying new foods, meeting different people, seeing places you only dreamed of! Travelling gives you this new sense of change and confidence you have never had before. I love it, travel is a part of me-it’s a part of us.
Jack: I would have to say the unexpected twists and turns of travel is what I love the most. The thrill of waking up and not knowing where you will be by the end of the day is a wonderful and exciting feeling. I believe that everyone should break out of their daily routine and experience life in all its weirdness!
What inspired you each to start travelling?
We both have international families so I think that really sparked a love for travel from when we were both very young.
My family [Jenn] is Moroccan so I was able to travel to France and Spain every summer to see my cousins. Jack is part British so he lived in London for 12 months to see his moms side of the family. And that’s how we kick started our passion travel!
What is ‘Who Needs Maps’ all about?
Who Needs Maps is all about an Aussie (Jack) and an American (Jenn) trying to make a long distance relationship work through travel. We write about experiences, tips and tricks as a travelling couple, and how we travel to keep the relationship going!
You’re [Jenn] from LA, he’s from Melbourne, where did you two meet?
We met when I studied abroad in Melbourne. We never really thought anything of it, I mean what are the chances I would go back to Australia and he would ever come to the States?
Well, he came to America to study abroad, and out of all places, it happened to be in LA at MY school! Has to mean something right?!
How do you make a long distance relationship work?
Lots and lots and lots of trust and communication. And yes, travel. We both relocated to each others hometowns, we met in the middle to backpack Southeast Asia, and we talk and skype every single day.
It takes a lot of dedication but it can be magical when it works.
Together you spend a lot of time flying back and forth from Los Angeles and Australia – what are your tips for surviving a long flight?
A sleeping pill and some white wine! You also have to time your sleep with the time difference of where you are landing that way you can avoid the jetlag. I think there is an app for that actually!
Tell us about some of your joint travels to date?
When Jack was in the States, we covered a lot of California, Vegas, Mexico, and NY. When I lived in Australia, we traveled through a lot of small beach cities like Airlie Beach, Byron Bay, Stradbroke Island, Lorne, and White Haven Beach.
Our more memorable travels were when we backpacked Southeast Asia. 3 months, 8 countries, and our first time really travelling together for a long period of time. Southeast Asia was unreal- it was beautiful, full of adventure, and truly put our relationship to the test.
Related: Tips For Traveling With Your Spouse
Pros and cons of travelling solo v travelling as a couple?
Traveling solo pushes you out of your comfort zone so you’re more adventurous and more inclined to chat to others, make friends from strangers etc, though when traveling with a partner you are comforted that you have someone you know, so perhaps don’t need to try as hard.
But then again, travelling as a couple just ensures you have someone with you at all times, meaning you have someone to share experiences with, keen to do almost anything, who offers a bit of protection and care and who you know is good company since you came with them!
I met Jack as a solo traveler, and I honestly don’t think I would have been as confident and open to have met him if I already had a friend with me.
Do you find planning a trip as a couple difficult?
Not at all! Mainly because I tend to do the planning, and Jack just goes with the flow. He’s pretty cruisey! So I do all the research and Jack is just my yes man!
We don’t really plan too much, just set out where we’re going and pre-plan a list of things we would love to do, but we don’t hold ourselves slave to a schedule.
Lots of couples have conflict – it’s normal. How do you deal with conflict while travelling?
Haha, yes we bicker ALL the time! Totally normal, just another day in the relationship. There is no point of getting mad over who’s right and wrong, where to eat, what happened on that day, losing something, because at the end of the day, we are travelling. TOGETHER!
We aren’t always blessed with time since we find ourselves constantly apart; so a little fight just gets put behind us, we kiss, and make up. We are travelling the world after-all, so we decided that a little fight can’t stop us.
If we can make our long distance relationship work, we won’t let a bit of conflict interfere with the time we actually get to see each other.
Related: Traveling With Your Partner
How has travelling changed you each as a person?
It has changed us completely! We think it makes you more open minded, more welcoming, more adventurous, we are willing to take more risks and try new things.
Travel has taught me more about life than school has. You don’t get these experiences from reading a text book, you have to learn through living them. Social cultures, tolerance and acceptance, networking, open mindedness- these lessons have all came form travelling.
What is the one thing you know now that you wish you knew when you started traveling?
I wish I knew how different we would feel after coming home. I think that this was the biggest shock to us; reverse culture shock. The realization that we had returned home from a life changing adventure, though nothing at home has changed except for us.
Those who haven’t traveled will never understand that feeling, the need to constantly be on the move and to constantly travel and explore. I didn’t realize when I first left to travel that we would feel more foreign in our own hometowns than in another country.
What advice do you have for others who want to do what you do?
Just do it! There is no time to wait. You will make an excuse every time for why the perfect time isn’t now – for why you shouldn’t go. But you’re always going to have that job, or no friends to go with, or no money. These are all just excuses, and if there is one thing we havent learnt, it’s that things do just fall into place once you start to travel.
So our advice is that there is no better time to travel than now, excuses be damned! There will never be a perfect time to go, but when you go it will be perfect.
How do you afford to travel – are you rich?!
Hahaha oh, man, I wish! We’re both budget travellers, though we both work our BUTTS off to do what we do. We have full time jobs, which makes it hard to travel full time though we still make sure we get our travel in.
I work at festivals so that allows me to travel all over the US, and Jack does digital marketing so he can essentially travel the world and work from his computer! It’s a good life.
One thing which you each don’t like about travelling?
I think Jetlag really gets me for some reason, my body clock kind of sucks to adjusting to new times so I feel like I waste a whole day just trying to adjust to new time zones.
Jack says he hates when his travels end. A typical travellers answer I’d say!
Biggest cultural shock you have experienced while abroad?
I think China was a huge shock to the both of us. There was no personal space, everyone loved listening to music and videos out loud, spitting happened everywhere and anywhere, and those squatter toilets, what an adventure that was!!
But again, we don’t travel to stay within our comforts zone; what was a big culture shock for a day turns to be the experience of travelling another country.
Three things you each can’t travel without?
I love having my GoPro with me, I love taking pictures and recording our time abroad. I have to take millions of pictures and I love looking back on them.
We also thought that bringing a sleeping liner with us while traveling was a smart choice. It was just a touch more sanitary on the overnight buses and cheap hostels.
And of course, our phones. We loved skyping our friends and family from tropical beaches and showing off how sweet life is!
Which destinations are at the top of your bucket list?
The next time we both decide to quit our jobs, we will definitely be taking off some time to explore South America. And if there is any chance, Antarctica will be on there! But that’s being really hopeful for hat one!
Most practical piece of advice for those planning travel?
Never compare your trip to someone else’s and expect the unexpected.
If you compare and expect things you will wind up disappointed that it didn’t turn out the way you wanted. This is YOUR trip, so make it YOUR own. Accept all the unplanned things into your new adventure.
Why should people travel?
Because it’s life changing. It’s cliché, but you return 100% a totally different and better person after travelling.
Not to mention, you see incredible places you could only dream of, you meet people that become lifelong friends, you have a home in all countries from meeting other travellers, you learn tolerance, acceptance, change and freedom, and you become confident and open minded. Everyone should travel.
What are your future plans? Will you both continue travelling, or will you eventually aim to settle somewhere?
Well we are running out of visa options, if Jack can’t get sponsored employment, then it’s either distance, travel, or relocation to some other Commonwealth Country!!
Visas can be a pain, but if it doesn’t work out with the visas it just means we are meant to be somewhere else. At this point, who knows!
I’m already lucky Jack was able to get a 1 year working visa for the States. If he has to go back, it will be our calling to drop work and travel South America! Watch this space.
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