I firmly believe that if you want to stand out among the thousands of other people doing the same thing you are, your must have a unique story or catch. In the travel field few people epitomize living life to the fullest more than Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil. Anyone can fly across the world and sit on a beach for a few weeks. This couple cycled across Africa. Lots of people take pictures of beautiful mountains, these two summited Mount Kilimanjaro. I have a lot of respect for people who chose the hard way in life. It shows amazing self-discipline, sacrifice and in my view, quality of character. Dave and Debra offer some insights to their lives in this interview.
Please tell me about your current life now. Where do you live?
We are currently living in Toronto, Canada. We both freelance in the film business. Dave is a rigging gaffer (head of lighting) and I am a make-up artist. After each travel we come back to Canada to work and save for our next adventure. Our trips vary on the number of movies Dave does each year. If he is busy, we are home longer until he finishes a film. I do more smaller studio work, so I can leave whenever I want.
We have been lucky because we enjoy our jobs. We can come home and work on a feature film during the summer and then leave during the winter months for exotic and warmer locations. After living this way for the past 6 years however, we have found that it is becoming more and more difficult to adapt when we come back. We change dramatically each time we travel and we have less in common with friends and co-workers every time we come home. We don’t care about material things as much anymore and trying to fit in with everyone else is almost impossible. When others are talking about buying a new house or car, we are daydreaming about where we are going next. We aren’t excited over the hot new reality show that is taking place on an exotic island; we would rather go to that exotic island. So, we have decided to leave at the end of this year and become full-time travelers. It has been a long work in progress, but we are finally ready to make the switch.
You two do some seriously adventurous travel, climbing mountains, cycling across Africa, etc., where do those interests come from?
We have always been active, but oddly enough, we got into extreme sports when we bought our first house. We were so paranoid about becoming “suburbanites” that we took up every sport we could think of to keep us out of the house. We started scuba diving, rock climbing, mountain biking and snowboarding. We got really into it. Ironically, owning that house turned us into adventurers. We have since sold our home, but the adventure has continued in full force.
How do you earn an income?
We have been very fortunate to work in the film business. This has given us a lot of freedom and a good income to travel. But last year while we were competing in the Tour d’Afrique we started to realize that we could make money as full time adventurers.
I think that by being in the entertainment industry, we understood how to gain publicity and use the media to our advantage. We started acquiring quite a following, which led to us writing a series for the Toronto Star, a national newspaper here in Canada. Dave’s photos were published as well. His job as a rigging gaffer helps a lot with photography. He understands light, texture, framing and the technical aspects of the camera because of it.
We are still learning about making a living while traveling, but we have had articles published and are working at generating an income from our blog. We think that with the publicity and experience we gained from Africa, that we will be able to make it happen. You have to be willing to put everything into making it happen and to not be afraid to submit to magazines and newspapers. Luckily we both love writing and photography, so submitting and sending out queries comes naturally.
What sacrifices and risks did you make in order to live like you do today?
It is a risk every time we travel. We wonder if we will be replaced in our jobs. Sure, we are freelancers, but out of sight out of mind. Someone can always come along and replace you. However, we have found that each time we take a chance the rewards outweigh the risks.
We no longer own a home and we are a single car family. Others may look at this as a sacrifice, but we love the freedom. Freedom from car payments, mortgages and clutter. We sold most of our contents and now we have a clean minimalist home decorated with statues and artifacts from our travels.
I would say the biggest sacrifice is not having a permanent home base. When we go away, we put everything into storage. We don’t have to worry about expensive rent and utility bills and we end up living on less that what we would spend by staying at home for 6 months. But each time we come home, we have to find a place to stay and have to unpack everything again. It can be a hassle, but we find it is worth it.
You have managed to get a lot of press and publicity, how do you get media interested in your adventures?
Working in film and television has taught us a lot about how to gain publicity. We decided to take on the challenge of the Tour d’Afrique, a 12,000 km cycling race from Cairo to Cape Town because we knew that this could be a story that people were interested in. Anyone can cycle Africa on their own over several months and anyone can backpack around the world. We wanted to become full-time adventurers, so we knew that we needed a hook. We signed up for the Tour to set ourselves apart from the rest of the people traveling out there. We marketed ourselves as an Adventure Couple with an extreme New Years resolution. People loved it and soon we were being called Canada’s Adventure Couple, making television appearances and doing radio interviews.
You have a television program in the works, please tell me about how that came about and the work involved.
We had a great showing in the TDA (Tour d’Afrique). Deb was women’s champion and Dave was 5th in the men’s race. We worked hard to keep our profile up while in Africa and when we came home we did the TV circuit again. We kept the momentum going by scheduling meetings with production companies to pitch our idea to. We were taken more seriously in those meetings because we had been on television, we had articles written about us and we had just won the world’s longest cycling race. We settled on a company that we felt would be in our best interest and signed a deal for development. They are working on distribution as we speak.
We came up with the idea and concept, and we signed on as producers and hosts. Our executive producer brought a distributor on board and we had to come up with episodes and a break down of what would take place during each episode and destination. They have the credibility and connections to now take it to networks, getting meetings with people that we could only dream of talking to. It is very exciting.
How much savings would an average person need to be able to travel and live like you do?
Usually, we travel on a medium sized budget, which is geared towards our destination. When we traveled in Asia we survived on roughly 50-100 CAD a day for 2 people. Before we leave we make sure to have everything planned out. So for an 8-month trip to South East Asia we would roughly need $20,000 CAD for on the road, which includes all meals, hotels, transportation and excursions.
We also have fixed expenses at home like investment and storage that are included in a separate budget. We do still plan for the future even though we travel extensively. We have planned for retirement and keep a regular investment strategy.
We don’t have a problem saving this amount of money because we don’t have many expenses in Canada. People here in the west can blow $20,000 without even realizing it. With a bit of effort it is easy to put money away. Eat out less, don’t go crazy shopping, don’t buy every new gadget that comes out and don’t buy a new car. We have saved thousands of dollars by having the same car for 6 years. We live in the city, what do we need a $500/month car payment for?
What advice would you offer for others hoping to travel extensively and find ways to fund a nomadic lifestyle?
Our biggest advice is to take the plunge and do it. So many people tell us that they wish they could do what we are doing. It is not difficult. People are afraid to do something different from what society sees as normal. But it is the people who are living outside of the box that have far more interesting and fulfilling lives.
Traveling to places like Asia, Central and South America is a great way to make your money last. We can travel for weeks at a time on the same budget that people spend on a 10-day trip to Europe. There are many ways to keep going on the road. Teach English, write for newspapers and magazines or bar tend. We always have believed that if you want something in life, you can make it work.
We won’t be popular for this one, but stop worrying about your job. Today’s economy has proven that your job isn’t safe anyway. Travel makes you a far more interesting person and you will be able to come up with more unique and interesting ways to make money when you come home because of it. If you are using kids as an excuse, go to SoulTravelers3 blog and see that it can be done with children as well.
Do you have any plans to settle down and have a more traditional life?
We don’t plan on ever settling down. We tried it once and didn’t like it. For years we have been splitting our time between careers in Canada and traveling abroad. Now we have found ourselves drawn to full time travel as more time passes and at the end of this year we are leaving with an open ended return date.
We sometimes dream of a having a cabin in the mountains that we can come home to every few months to rejuvenate, write and visit our families. It would be ideal to have a cozy permanent place to keep our furniture and artifacts from our travels, but to have a large house in the suburbs or a condo downtown? No way. Maybe in a few years after we have established ourselves as writers, photographers and full time adventurers, we will be able to keep a permanent place wherever we want. Because we will be able to work from home, it won’t matter if where we are and we will be able to travel for several months and then come home whenever we feel like.
If you had to choose only one place to live in the world, where would that be and why?
We are still looking for that one place in the world to settle down. I guess that is why we keep traveling. However, I think that we will always keep Canada as a home base. We do love our country. It has free health care, a high standard of living, it is beautiful and our families are here. If it weren’t for the winters, it would be perfect.
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