I often hear people say they wish they could travel more. This is usually followed by how family, career and money prevent them from realizing their dreams. Others like Caz and Craig Makepeace, couldn’t imagine letting anything get in the way of their travel experiences. Marriage, a child and more than a decade of travel haven’t reduced their wanderlust Caz shares her family’s story in this interview.
Please tell us about your travels.
I started travelling in 1997 three days after I graduated from University. I backpacked Indonesia for a few months before relocating to London to live for two and a half years to teach. I travelled Europe and lived in Dublin for a summer before returning home. This is where I met and married Craig. Three days after we married we took off for a five year honeymoon. We lived in Bangkok, Dublin, Western Australia, and Raleigh, North Carolina. In this time we also backpacked through Asia, Africa and the USA. Our daughter was born in Queensland, Australia and when she was nine months we moved back to the States. We took her to Fiji, Puerto Rico and places within the US. We are now back in Australia and are exploring more of our own beautiful country.
I have always wanted to travel long term so that I could learn more about the world and experience other ways of living. I never felt comfortable with traditions or certain societal beliefs, as I was never sure why I should be thinking or believing in these ways. What else was out there, and how were others thinking and believing? I felt I needed to discover all these ways before I could say what was true for me. The world is so big and so beautiful, how could I ever let the one small town where I grew up define my existence?
How long do you typically stay in one location?
It depends on how we are travelling. If we are relocating to a new country, then we typically stay from 1-2 years. If we are on the road travelling then we can stay anywhere from one night to several months. We never really plan this ahead as we know we may turn up in a place and either love it or hate it. We really want to be flexible enough to base our length of stay on that.
Do you usually work in each location?
Yes. We have always travelled on working holiday visas. I worked in London for two years teaching. Craig and I both worked in Dublin for a year. He worked in construction and I worked in a restaurant/ pub and teaching. We both taught English in Bangkok for 6 months and in Broome Western Australia on a pearl farm. We lived in the States for four years. I was teaching and Craig worked in construction and for Delta airlines.
You are both over 30 years old now, so how do you deal with work visas?
Being part of the Commonwealth it has always been pretty easy for us to get working holiday visas in countries like the UK, Ireland and Canada (which we never got to) To get the necessary visas for Thailand and the US we joined cultural exchange programs who organized it for us.
It was really depressing for us both to turn 30 as we knew that was the end of our work visa opportunities. There are still work opportunities available but it is a little more challenging to find them now. That is one reason why we decided to have our own online business, so we could become location independent and not have to worry about work visas. We can travel where we want and work from our laptop. Within the next couple of years we would really like to permanently relocate to the States, and so we face an extremely big challenge in finding the right documentation to give us the ability to do that.
Please tell us about your site yTravelBlog.
We started y Travel Blog in April 2010. As travellers we were always about sharing with others; it is how we found out many places to visit on our travelling adventures. We also knew that our experiences weren’t there just for us to have, they were there for us to share with others. It was a natural progression for us then to turn to a travel blog as a way of sharing all we had learned through travel, and how we did it. We wanted to make a difference and somehow help those who were looking to live the same life as us. We wanted to create a place that not just gave them information, but the inspiration they needed to actually go out there and live their dreams themselves.
You have built a large following in a short time, can you share your secrets?
I think our success is in large part to us being ourselves and totally loving what we do. This has brought such a positive and fun energy to our work which is quite contagious for others to want to be around. We have always been focused on building community and helping others. I think this really helps you to grow exponentially. Guest posting has been a really beneficial strategy for us in getting our name out there and helping to spread our brand deep and wide. Writing good content and using Facebook has also contributed to our quick success. People want to hang out in places where they feel valued and where they can receive valuable information.
You are very active on Facebook and Twitter, please tell us about how you use those sites.
For us social media is all about being social. It is about communicating with other people. We like to view our social media strategy like we would that of a party. It’s about having conversations with others, having a laugh, and making our interactions fun. We spend a large majority of our time on our Fanpage community. Facebook is one of the most important parts to our blogging business. This is where we can build our community, interact with others and share useful information. We share our posts through our fan page but we make sure that we share others just as much.
Twitter is also another tool we use to meet and interact with those within our community. Twitter has been great for building business relationships, we don’t really find this is a worthy tool for meeting and interacting with just travelers who are our main readership base.
Does your web site make any money?
Not a great deal yet. We make a little each month off advertising and we do receive quite a few sponsored press trips. Being avid travellers we always love this benefit. For us we have never been focused on making money. We have always been focused on building our brand, providing good content and building a community. We know that if we do this well, our platform will grow and with that will come a wide variety of money making opportunities. You have to think out of the box, think big, and be really patient.
What are your future plans for the site?
For it to continue to grow, and for us to continue to have a positive impact on those who read our blog. Our plans are for the blog to lead us to opportunities that will allow us to do this full time. We want to continue travelling, sharing, and having fun with our community.
How do you fund your travels?
We have always funded our travels in a variety of ways, mostly from savings. I often worked two jobs, Craig would work overtime and we took on boarders in our house to help pay the bills.
We look for ways to spend wisely so we have more money to save, one of the biggest ways is to cut down on luxury items. We only spend money on what we need, preferring to spend our money on memories rather than materialistic goods. Working in other countries is a great way to travel the world as you don’t need to save a lot and you can spend the local currency that you earn while there.
What are the advantages/ disadvantages of travelling as a couple?
Travelling has certainly helped build a very strong foundation for our marriage, and it definitely helps us get through any challenging moments. Couples’ travel means you are placed in situations that foster teamwork, co-operation, support and the ability to compromise, the basic ingredients for a partnership that works. Travelling will make you or break you as a couple. You are with each other 24/7 and have to withstand some challenging and foreign conditions. It really allows you to get to know a person.
Now that you have a child, has your travelling changed?
We definitely take less risks and make more careful decisions. We stay in hostels less and more hotels and apartments that have private rooms. There are certain activities we love to do, like hiking, rafting and mountain climbing that are not so easy to do anymore. And we also have to make room each day for kid friendly activities and ample trips to the playground.
Will you settle down in one country once your daughter starts school?
We would never settle down just so she can stay in school. If it works out at the that it is best to settle for awhile,then that is what we will do, but if other travel opportunities arise that we think would be more beneficial to her and her education then we would have no hesitation packing up and leaving. As a teacher, I am not concerned at all with my child not having a traditional schooling experience.
How do you deal with health care, travel insurance, doctor visits, etc?
Prevention is always the best way to deal with any of this. We always make sure we maintain a healthy lifestyle and a happy emotional state. We rarely have to visit the doctor. If we do we just find out where the nearest one is where we are at and take it from there. We always make sure we have adequate travel insurance to cover us in case anything major were to occur.
Have you had any major problems while travelling?
We have been pretty lucky in our travels. We have had barely anything major happen in 14 years of travel. We’ve had things stolen, been sick, missed flights and lost our passports but nothing really out of the ordinary. And it all has worked out in the end so it’s never anything to worry about or to potentially fear.
Do you have any regrets of not staying in one place and pursuing a more traditional career?
Never ever. This kind of life could never have given me as much joy and happiness and would not have taught me as much about myself and life as what my travel experiences have.
If you could go back to 1997 when you started full-time travel, is there anything you would do differently?
This is such a tough question as I know that if I changed just one thing, then I would not be where I am now and I may not have my beautiful daughter and my wonderful marriage. But, putting that aside I think I would have stayed in some places longer, and others less and I would never have allowed myself to believe that travel was over for me, as I did for a short period of time in 06. This was when my life spiraled downwards for awhile because I thought my passion in life was gone.