By Nicole Brewer
Greetings globe-trotters! I hope the upcoming holiday season is treating you well and that you are surrounded by loved ones and friends. I know the holiday season can be a little difficult for us single globe-trotters out there around the world so I wanted to share a little spirit of love with you today. Last month in Dublin, Ireland at TBEX I meet a wonderfully nice couple named Jess and Hai. We delighted on a nice meal together and when asked the general question…where are you from/where do you live? Their answer surprised and intrigued me when they said, well everywhere and nowhere.
You see Jess and Hai are nomads, traveling the globe together as a couple. They were kind enough to answer a few questions with me about their lives together as nomads trotting the globe. Check it out here and don’t forget to follow their blog Notes of Nomads. I’m looking forward to linking up again with the nomadic couple once they trot to Germany soon. Cheers and happy holidays!
Can you tell me a little about yourselves?
Our names are Jess and Hai. We are a married travel blogging couple from Melbourne, Australia.
Jess grew up in a small town in country Victoria and moved to Melbourne to pursue her university studies. She was always interested in travel and story-telling, but probably didn’t realize how much until she was bitten by the travel bug proper post-graduation. Hai was born in Vietnam but his family immigrated to Australia when he was very young, and most people say he has the stronger of the Australian accents between the two of us! He always had creative aspirations, which ultimately led him to the field of photography, and travel provides him with infinite inspiration for his work.
While we are from Australia, we have been lucky enough to feel at home in many countries around the world. Japan has been a big part of our lives and we lived in Tokyo for four years. Mid this year we decided to pack up our lives again to begin our next RTW adventure. That was five months ago and has been a journey that has taken us from South-east Asia all the way through to Europe where our backpacks are currently located.
You could say we are perpetual travelers, nomads. That was really the inspiration for our travel blog Notes of Nomads where we share our travel stories and what we have learned along the way. Our travels have taken us to almost 40 countries so far and we don’t have any plans to stop!
When and where did you guys first meet?
We first met at a department store in Melbourne where we both worked part-time in the electronics department during our university studies. That was back in early 2003 – wow, we just realized that was more than 10 years ago!
When did you know it was love and how/when did you decide to travel the world together?
Not sure if there was an exact moment, but we definitely knew something was there when we got to know each other more and more at work and eventually starting dating in 2005. At that time we were both in a place of wanting change and to discover new places so the idea of traveling together kind of came about naturally.
It started off with talk of visiting just a few places over perhaps 2-3 months, but after looking into the costs we soon realized that purchasing a “round-the-world” ticket would be a much more economical option. So we then began planning a six and a half month adventure that ultimately took us to nine countries and five continents. That’s when travel became something we knew we couldn’t stop doing.
Have you had any challenges traveling as a couple and, if so, how did you overcome them?
We’d probably say the general challenge traveling as a couple is the sheer amount of time you spend together. It can either make or break a relationship. When you travel, you see your partner in all kinds of situations – at their highest, lowest and most stressed. That’s why we say travel is the ultimate form of pre-marital counseling! Guess it turned out OK in our case because we got engaged at the end of that six and a half month trip!
One of the challenges that can influence your travel experiences as a couple is that people tend to view you as that, a couple. This of course is not necessarily a bad thing, but it can mean that sometimes people are less inclined to approach you. They may think, “Oh, they have their own thing going on.” Or “They probably already have plans together tonight.” It just seems easier to start talking to that solo traveler in the hostel kitchen and, well, nobody likes to feel like a third wheel.
The way we counter that though is by making a conscious effort to actively engage with other travelers rather than just falling in to the ease of always having each other to talk to. Once you break down that barrier, you’ll find that you’ll open yourself up to all kinds of opportunities.
What was the craziest experience you both had traveling together as a couple?
It depends how you define crazy! Lots of experiences come to mind, like searching for anacondas in the Amazon, touching an alligator in the wild and bungy jumping in Japan.
Many of our most memorable journeys are the uncomfortable ones – like spending two days on a bus to cover just 300km in India, our climb of Mt. Fuji from the base and hiking in the Himalayas for seven days. We remember them because they weren’t easy and we overcame whatever obstacles came our way – one of the reasons why we love the challenge of travel so much!
Do you have any words of advice for the solo travelers that would love to have a fellow loving, traveling partner?
Well, you’re certainly off to a good start by traveling! We know lots of couples who have met on the road. Talk to lots of people along the way and you never know where you’ll find a connection!
We think that as far as maintaining a relationship while traveling (and really any relationship), communication and understanding is key. If you really know that person well you tend to pick up on their little intricacies and changes in emotion, and knowing that you can try to give that person what they need.
Traveling isn’t always glamorous so having someone to share all these varying experiences with and support you is really nice. At the same time you have to understand that the other person isn’t super-human and can’t always read your mind, so learning to communicate well is important.
It’s awesome traveling as a couple – just don’t lose sight of the things that make you unique as individuals. Personally, we like being independent within our relationship. We spent more than half of 2011 apart as a married couple as we had different travel dreams we wanted to pursue, and that was totally OK. We’re not saying that is something that all couples should do nor that it’s necessarily desirable. Every relationship is different. We love being together and miss each other when we are apart, but we love each other enough to allow the other to pursue whatever it is that makes them happy.
Having your own space to do things for yourself, whether it be for a few minutes a day or for much longer periods of time, is important and is perhaps one of the aspects of your “home” life that gets somewhat diminished when traveling, particularly for extended periods of time. So our advice would be to find that happy medium between couple and “you” time, whatever that may be for you.
Collaborating on our website together is perfect for us – Jess can pursue her writing while Hai concentrates on photography. Sometimes we agree and sometimes we don’t, but that is the greatest collaboration of all because we are being ourselves and our work is always better for having considered a different point of view.