Looking to meet a traveler this Tuesday? You’re in the right place!
I’ve always been fascinated by long term travelers – those brave enough to trade their house and possessions for a life of full time travel! As such this week I chatted to Michael and Nicole from Suitcase Stories, who, 15 months ago, did exactly that!
It’s now been over a year since they gave up their careers, their house, their possessions, and booked a flight out of Australia. Having lived a nomadic lifestyle ever since, and with no end in sight, you can bet they’ve got one or two suitcase stories to share!
You’ve been on the road for a while now – what do you love the most about travelling long term?
There are so many different things we love about traveling it is hard to pick the one we love most. I think it’s probably the freedom to do what you want to do. In our old life we had a list of rules we needed to live by, mainly dictated by work and owing people money (mortgage, car repayments etc). This meant we were limited to what we could and couldn’t do. Now if we want to go to England, we book a plane, if we want to chill out on a Florida beach, we do just that.
What inspired you to start travelling long term?
It had been a dream of Nicole’s for a long time but somehow life always got in the way. Then her mother passed away and as you do when tragedy strikes, we re-evaluated our life. We realized life can be a lot shorter than you expect and I would much rather be rich with experience than with money.
What is ‘Suitcase Stories’ all about?
It’s our story. What we have done so far, what we have seen, what we have learnt and how we go about traveling. One of our specialties is that we complete a lot of housesitting while we travel. On our site we let our readers in on some secrets to housesitting that will help them get a sit, be a good sitter and travel a lifestyle similar to ours.
One thing which you don’t like about travelling long term?
Not much! Because we house sit so much we can get the best of both worlds. I imagine if all we did was hotels / motels / hostels, it could at times get tough, but with the house sit it allows us to get the luxuries of having a house as well as having pets in our lives (which is a big thing we miss from back in Australia). It also helps us save a heap of money! Without it I know that at times we would struggle with having space to kick back and relax.
How do you afford to travel long term?
Fortunately we were able to save a decent amount before we left, which got us off to a great start. For over a year we saved our asses off. Before we left we sold the majority of our possessions, which added to our savings.
On the road we save predominately by house sitting. There are so many saving you make by house sitting, with the major one being you don’t pay for any accommodation. We also don’t have expensive tastes. We are quite happy to chill at a beach rather than go out to pubs spending a heap of money.
You’re both advocates for house-sitting – why? What’s the most unique house you have ever had the opportunity to stay in?
There are numerous reasons to house sit. We have dedicated a heap of pages and posts on our website about it. To summarise briefly, the main reasons are:
1) Saving money
2) Living in a real house and aspects associated with that (extra room, kitchen, TV etc)
3) Having pets in our lives
4) Getting the use of the car
5) Getting to live as a local
We have lived in some incredible places. The most unique would be a Spanish Farm House. It was small, half way through being renovated and in the middle of nowhere. It was great, as it got us out of our comfort zone and we had a great time.
How do you stay healthy travelling long term?
It’s very difficult, particularly when we aren’t in a housesit (another benefit of housesitting!). In a housesit you cook your own meals, which of course means you can make them as healthy as you want them to be. On the road it is hard. We do counter it by walking a lot, particularly when in a big city. We have had many days where we will be out for 6-8 hours walking. That burns off the calories!
Biggest cultural shock you have experienced while travelling?
We haven’t had anything that has completely blown us away, as we travelled a fair bit before we left. One that was a pleasant culture shock was seeing some really poor places with so many smiles. You automatically think that when you go somewhere where they don’t have a big screen TV they will be unhappy. But we have driven though tiny towns in Mexico, where kids are laughing and playing in the street. It just goes to show you don’t need money to be happy.
The greatest challenge you’ve faced while travelling?
Sometimes, particularly in the early days, giving up the luxuries in life was difficult. Nicole is the first to admit she use to be a bit of a princess and in her old life and didn’t mind a facial or a new handbag. But as time has gone by we have both settled and it is no longer an issue. In fact Nicole doesn’t even look when we go past a handbag shop now. I never thought I’d see the day!!!
Funniest or most embarrassing travel moment?
There have been plenty of language barrier issues. We are both terrible at learning languages, although we try hard, and I’m sure our Aussie accent doesn’t help. We often get the wrong meal at a restaurant or just give up trying to get something because they have no idea what we are talking about.
Three things you can’t travel without?
2) Contact lenses
Which destinations are at the top of your bucket list?
Everywhere! Our list is very long, but a couple from near the top are (in no particular order):
Why should people travel long term – is it achievable?
There is no specific reason one should travel long term. You should travel long term because you want to, for whatever reason you want. Most of the time the reason for traveling is going to be personal. That is why it is so rewarding when you do it.
Is it achievable? Of course it is, but you have to want it. We are living proof!