Have you ever wondered about those couples who are travelling the world together? How do they finance their travels and leave their jobs, friends and family behind? Have you written the idea off as something only other people do?
Traveller24 caught up with Natasha and Cameron of The World Pursuit while they were in Namibia on their HashtagAfrica adventures in order to get the lowdown. The couple were just your typical nine to fivers living in NYC who had finally had enough of the daily grind. They packed their bags and set out on an unknown adventure for an indefinite amount of time.
The fact of the matter is that there is no secret, nor are there special skills required to achieve this goal. The only things required are an open mind, a willingness to travel, tolerance, flexibility and a savings plan.
They want to encourage as many people as possible to do the same, so take notes and start planning your travels now!
1. What were you both doing before leaving the States?
We both lived in New York City working full time in the film industry. Cameron was an engineer for a production equipment rental house, while I was a producer at an audio sound studio. We lived together in a one-bedroom apartment in the Bronx and spent about half of our salary on living expenses.
2. How much pre-planning did you do before you left?
Before Africa, we were venturing around Eastern Europe for ten months. We started in Latvia after we found an amazing airfare deal from Miami. We had our first three nights of accommodation booked at that was it. We arrived in South Africa from Europe and had little on the itinerary besides going to Kruger National Park, Swaziland, and the Mozambican Coast. We don’t plan very far in advance.
SEE: 10 Ways to get the lion’s share of Kruger
3. You mention having saved money to travel, but also that you plan on travelling full time, how will you earn your keep?
Combined we saved up $50 000 before we left NYC. This took us a little over a year to do and was surprisingly very easy. We lived very basic yet still comfortable lives. We cut out cable, ate all of our meals in, and only went out for a movie/drinks/restaurants about once a week.
We didn’t want to eat up all of our savings while travelling, so we began a travel website, The World Pursuit, to document all of our travels on. So far, we earn enough money to sustain our travels on this site though affiliate sales, product sponsorships, brand partnerships, and advertising.
4. Will you return to the States from time to time, or only after you've filled your boots?
We have plans to return to the States to see our family and friends every year or so, but we have no immediate plans to live there. We would like to base ourselves somewhere abroad – just have to find where in the world that is!
5. What do your friends and family back home think about this endeavor?
We had travelled quite extensively before this trip around Europe, Asia, and Australia. I don’t think either of our parents are really phased by much anymore. However, our parents are also very proud of us, not everyone builds their own business, travels around the world, and stands on their own two feet by 26 & 27. Saying that, I do believe they would like us around a tiny bit more.
6. What were your main reasons for starting a blog/website? Is it funding your travels? If so, what's the most important piece of advice you'd give to someone wanting to do the same or learn how to do it?
We wanted to keep a portfolio of our photography online. We also feel we have a lot of useful travel advice that other travellers may want to know about. While we have managed to turn our website into a source of income, we still love getting emails from readers telling us that our site has helped them or inspired them to travel in some way.
For those wanting to follow in our footsteps, I would say that it is much harder than it looks. We are constantly searching for reliable Internet and sometimes spend all night in front of a computer, but don’t give up with it and to keep working for a goal!
SEE: 5 Apps guaranteed to stretch your travel budget!
As a couple
1. What advice would you give couples wanting to do the same?
You must learn to work together. Set a goal and work toward it together. Start off with a common savings goal. Many people think we are rich, but that is certainly not the case. We worked the entirety of our time living in NYC toward saving every cent we could. We both worked on weekends and late into the night with an end goal in mind. Set a travel goal and once you reach it together, then set another.
2. Do you think you might settle down in one of the countries that you are visiting? Or do you both eventually want to settle back home?
Although the US is a vast and beautiful country, we would prefer to live abroad when the time is right. We’ve kicked around the idea of Japan, Italy, and Cyprus as a more permanent base while we still travel for a good portion of the year. As photographers and writers, many countries allow for artist residencies, so we’re able to get a proper visa in many countries around the world.
SEE: How Far From Home Couple: How to see the world with your favourite person
3. What are the challenges of travelling as a couple? How do you overcome them?
The biggest challenge is not having your own personal space. Every car ride, hotel room, or activity is shared, so we are generally around each other 24/7. It’s hard to break away from each other at points, but sometimes just stepping out separately to go get coffee or a walk alone can really help.
4. Any advice to other couples in order to make it work together?
Don’t give up and learn to compromise with decision-making! Some say that if you can travel together, you can get through anything, and I like to think that is true.
5. What's the most trivial thing you fought about?
We fight about a lot of stupid things, but travelling can do that to you as you have so many decisions to make together. About ten minutes ago, we fought about whether the window should be open as I was cold and Cameron was hot.
6. What's the best thing about travelling together?
It’s great to have someone to share special moments with. We can always look to each other and say “remember that time we watched a herd of elephants take a bath?” or “remember that time we almost died hiking the Drakensberg Amphitheatre in icy conditions?”
7. What is the most surprising thing you've learned about one another along this journey?
I suppose we have learned that we can make it through just about anything together. Traveling 24/7 with each other really tests a relationship and shows you all sides of a person.
8. Have either of you ever wanted to part ways?
Not permanently. However, there have been times where we just want to travel to different places or want to travel on our own for a bit and just have some alone time.
9. Would you consider travelling on your own and then meeting up if both of you don't want to do the same thing?
Yes, of course! We have both travelled on our own and it is very rewarding. You meet even more people than we do while travelling solo as you don’t have the security of falling back on your significant other. After we leave Africa, we have kicked around the idea of splitting up for awhile. Cameron wants to do a long-term trek across Nepal, while I would much prefer a long yoga retreat in Northern India.
1. Where is the most challenging place you've visited and why was it challenging?
Our strength was tested in Morocco earlier this year. The country is wonderful and there are so many truly unique places to visit. However, we found the touts and general attitude towards foreigners to be quite deceiving. We spent about six weeks there and almost cracked under the constant scams and harassment from people.
We also faced many bureaucratic challenges as we tried to purchase a car in South Africa, as well. There are many rules and stipulations to buying a car in the country as a foreigner. There is also a lack of information and you’ll get different answers from different people. So, I suppose as far as government and bureaucracy goes – that was our most challenging to date.
2. Where were the most hassle-free countries? In Africa? Or anywhere in the world?
I would have to say Namibia is the most hassle-free African country we have been to so far. Things are pretty westernized and apart from the roads eating tires, there really weren’t a lot of worries for us.
The most hassle free country in the world that we have been would probably have to be somewhere in Europe. If I could loop most of the continent into this I would. Travel in Europe is generally very safe, transport is easy and efficient, many Europeans speak English, and WiFi can be found on every corner.
SEE: Visa free EU travel: Travel, SA passport popularity to rise
3. What country would you highly recommend and would want to repeat?
Cameron and I have come to agreement that Mozambique is absolutely amazing. We spent just over three weeks there and I almost cried as we left. The people are incredibly friendly, the food is some of the best in Africa, and the beaches are just untouched and empty.
SEE: An all-girl getaway in Mozambique fit for a Queen
4. What's the most interesting food you've tried?
It would have to be when we went to a Berber market in Morocco, bought a cute bunny rabbit, slaughtered the rabbit in accordance with halal tradition, and then made lunch for an entire Berber family.
6. You've had many African adventures thus far, what are some of the most memorable and why?
So far we have traveled around South Africa, Lesotho, Namibia, Swaziland, Mozambique, and Morocco in Africa within the span of almost six months. I am currently writing this from the Okavango Delta in Botswana as well. We’ve had so many amazing experiences and this continent has already left an imprint on our hearts.
However, making it to the Maletsunyane Falls in Lesotho was breathtaking. And we had the place entirely to ourselves.
SEE: Do the longest abseil in the world under a waterfall
7. You've got a list of African countries to visit, are there any 'must-visit' ones and/or specific events you're hoping to get to?
The smaller ones like Malawi, Rwanda, and Uganda are really calling our names. We are very excited to get to Malawi as we have heard great things about the friendly people and Lake Malawi. Then of course we are interested to spend some time in Uganda and Rwanda as we’ve heard similar things about the people, the mountains, and of course the famous mountain gorillas. We have been kicking around the idea of going to the DRC to hike Mount Nyiragongo, but have to keep checking the current situation there, as it may not be safe.
8. What type of accommodation do you mostly stay in?
It varies between Airbnb, hotels, camping, and African lodges. When we are somewhere for more than a week, we prefer to find an Airbnb so that we can cook our own food and feel more at home. In the African bush, we are fully equipped to camp and then throughout Africa, we have partnered with many high-end lodges through our website.
SEE: 3 Interesting things about SA's 10 most wish-listed Airbnb stays
9. Cameron mentions that you guys are adventure junkies, what's the craziest adventure you've been on? Do you have any that you know about and are aiming to do?
Our craziest adventure is buying a car in Cape Town to drive it through Africa. Many people do overland safaris and have the security and knowledge of a guide through Africa, however we are planning it all ourselves. Then there are things like bungee jumping off the Bloukrans Bridge or canyoneering, which were an absolute thrill.
After it all
1. What do you think you'll do after travelling through Africa?
We’ll take probably two months off and visit family back home in Michigan and North Carolina. This gives us time to catch up on work and plan our next big adventure. We’ve talked about motorbiking around central Asia or driving from Alaska to Patagonia. There is just so much of the world we want to see, but we don’t know what to do in what order!
2. What items have you learned you cannot do without?
We cannot do without our computers for obvious reasons, and our phones keep us on the grid in case we have any issues. However, on a non-technological scale, I cannot go without my face lotion, sunscreen, and chapstick (especially through Africa) and Cameron won’t be caught without his buff headband.
3. Do you miss anything (other than family and friends) from home?
I have found that it’s actually very easy to find anything I need abroad. We were both pretty active people before we left America and it is sometimes a struggle to stay moving while traveling, so we both miss the gym very much. However, the other day we were seeing friends with cups of Starbucks coffee in their hands. Although we aren’t fans of the Starbucks by any means, we found ourselves missing that familiarity.
4. What reasons would you give someone trying to decide if they should do the same?
It’s a big world out there, but when you travel you see just how connected we are all are. I don’t believe life should be lived in one place and if you have the desire to travel, you should work to make it happen!
There is a lot of personal growth that comes from travel. The rigours of travel test you often, and you learn to empathize with just about everyone in the world.
Follow their adventures on Facebook and Instagram.
What to read next on Traveller24:
- #AfriTravel: Why travel is booming across these African cities right now
- SA couple quit jobs, travel the world and document their trip awesomely
- 13 Cool gift ideas for globetrotters