Today marks a special milestone. On this day one year ago we were boarding a plane to Los Angeles about to embark on a once in a lifetime world wide trip. If you’re new to the blog let us give you a little background…
Why did we leave?
It was a long term plan to see the world. It was actually back in 2012 that we talked about travelling and decided it was something we wanted to do before settling down, getting married, having kids etc. At this point we were both 25, working full time and had recently bought our first buy to let property.
We didn’t want to travel on savings, work whilst travelling, nor come back with lots of debt. So at this point we decided to plough all our time, money and effort into property investment and after 3 years, we finally had enough regular income to quit our jobs and hop on a plane!
Where have we been?
The country count is up to 14 so far. We started in America and then in the following order (which completely changed from our original plan) we ended up being in Cambodia 1 year later.
- Sri Lanka
- New Zealand
Where else do we plan to go?
As we write this we’re currently in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Our loose plan from here will go something along the lines of…
- UK (for 3 weeks)
- Bahamas (if the budget allows it!)
- Costa Rica
Q & A
Rather than just waffle on about how amazing our year has been. We thought we’d share some of the answers to questions we’re commonly asked by fellow travellers and friends and family back home. So here goes, 25 most asked questions and answers from each of us (we’ve made sure we answer differently from one another by the way!)….
1. Where is your favourite country?
Nick: Thailand, hands down!
Hayley: Damn, we said we would not duplicate answers so after Thailand, my second favourite country has to be Japan.
2. What is your favourite city?
Nick: Aah I know Hayley will say NYC so I will go with Hong Kong. The best skyline in the world and so much to do, it’s a fantastic place!
Hayley: This is a tough one. Every city has something different but in terms atmosphere and variety of things to do I think it has to be New York. Plus they have a Cheesecake Factory which partially confirmed my answer.
3. What is you most memorable moment?
Nick: Hayley waking me up in the middle on the night, whilst sleeping in the car, to see the most spectacular night sky I think we may ever see. With no moon the sky was jet black with the milky way perfectly visible. An absolutely spectacular momment and one I will probably chase to replicate for the rest of my life!
Hayley: That’s a hard one, there has been so many. I’ve changed my answer 3 times now but I think I’ll settle on my first ever skydive at Fox Glacier, New Zealand.
4. What country surprised you the most?
Nick: Probably Australia, I didn’t think it was be so sparse, there really is nothing in between the major towns and the highway is something we would class as a country lane!
Hayley: I went to China naively thinking it would be like Japan. I couldn’t have been more wrong, it was a complete contrast in so many ways!
5. What has shocked you the most?
Nick: Probably the rich/poor divide in India, the rich seems to go about their day totally ignoring the children rummaging through garbage piles searching for food!
Hayley: I was expecting to see poverty and low standards of living in India but what shocked me was the manners of people. Many people (not all) were extremely rude and had a complete disregard for other people and the environment. If you’re going to India expect a very dog eat dog mentality from the people you’ll meet on the streets and don’t bother politely queuing for things, it’s often who can push the hardest (which was never me :)!
6. Do you have any regrets?
Nick: Not spending more time in Indonesia, we should have maximised our visa and explored the minland, we definitely will be going back, what a missed opportunity.
Hayley: The freedom of having a camper van to travel Australia was great. In hindsight we wish we had done the same thing in New Zealand. But instead we hired a car and ended up sleeping in it for half our trip because it was Chinese New Year and hotels were either booked up or over £150 per night!
7. What has been your most used possession, excluding phone laptop and camera?
Nick: The portable twisted and pegless washing line that we use twice a week because we don’t have many clothes!
Hayley: Back home we watched a lot of TV series. Just because we’re travelling we haven’t stopped and we rarely go a night without watching an episode of something or another (it’s Arrow and Blacklist at the moment!). So I would have to say our little Sony bluetooth speaker which sounds great and barely takes any room in my backpack. (Thanks Nat, great present)
8. How much have you spent?
Nick: As we woke up this morning we were up to £30,023.90. Not bad seeing as we are more flash-packing than back-packing.
Hayley: As above. But in terms of money I’ve spent, outside of our travel budget, I would guess around £300 and that’s been on presents for people back home, clothes and little things like topping up my phone.
9. What is your best money saving tip?
Nick: Get a credit card that does not charge you for withdrawals or purchases abroad, I cant imagine how much this has saved us. We once blocked both cards and got charged $6 for taking money out on a backup card. Top Tip, take at least 3 credit cards and 2 debit cards! Ours are Halifax Clarity cards but I think the Post Office also do one.
Hayley: Using Hotels.com has been a big money saving for us. For every 10 nights you book you get one free so over 365 you can imagine how much that has helped. In Asia Agoda.com tends to be cheaper but Hotels.com will always match the price so we have usually managed to stay loyal to them and get our free nights along the way.
10. What is the cheapest country to travel in?
Nick: It has to be Vietnam, a nice 3* “ish” hotel can be had for £15, and two people can have a nice meal for £5. The transportation is easy and very cheap. Vietnam is also such an amazing country with amazing people, I would go back.
Hayley: After Vietnam I would probably say India. I remember when my Dad met us out there, all three of us were eating a main meal for under £10! The accommodation is also pretty cheap with basic hotels costing as low as £10-£15 and public transport is next to nothing.
11. What is the best hotel you have stayed in?
Nick: The One Farrer Hotel & Spa in Singapore. It is possibly better than Atlantis in Dubai, the bed was totally out of this world!
Hayley: For me I’d say the Peppers Soul Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast of Australia. The view from the balcony was amazing!
12. What has been the worse hotel you have stayed in?
Nick: The “Osaka male assisted housing” that I had to sneak Hayley into after I checked in. It was a box with a dirty futon on the floor. £5 a night though, not bad for Japan.
Hayley: There has been quite a few! One that sticks out though is Zostel in Agra (near the Taj Mahal). In fairness it was about £12 a night but is by the far the worst £12 a night place I’ve stayed. Freezing cold shower, mould all over the walls, a funky smell and no window. Worst of all was the temperature at night, I remember sleeping in loads of clothes with my head under the covers trying to stay warm.
13. How do you travel so light, ie only hand luggage?
Nick: Simply buy a small bag and only take what you can. We started out with so much crap we ended up not needing. A lot went back with my parents when we met them in Canada, and then loads more in Thailand. We now travel really light, we get asked this a lot so maybe we can make a video on it, you really don’t need much!
Hayley: Washing our clothes every 3 or 4 days helps us travel light. It also helps that we’re generally in temperatures about 30 degrees so we only need summer clothes. I think I have 3 pairs of shorts/skirts, 4 dresses, 5 tops, 2 pairs of trousers, a shirt, a waterproof (ish) jacket, a set of gym clothes, trainers and flip flops. The rest of our stuff consist of tech and toiletries. The bulky hair straighteners and Beats headphones got sent home shortly after leaving 🙂
14. If you had to relive a day what day would it be?
Nick: For our 7th anniversary Hayley surprised me to a sailing lesson in the Gold Coast. Sailing a 37ft yacht in 22 knot winds was something I’d do again, I cannot wait to go sailing around Europe!
Hayley: We spent a day in the life of farmers whilst in Hoi An in Vietnam. It was a lot of fun and I wouldn’t mind being a farmer Coutinho for another day.
15. What’s your most memorable meal?
Nick: Happy Chappy, Bali – The best Chinese on the planet, we went 3 times! To think I did not like Chinese when we left the UK, now its my favourite.
Hayley: The Gallery, Koh Tao, Thailand – Chicken and Cashew nuts has been my staple meal throughout Asia and having probably eaten near on a hundred of them, this was the best in the world! Part of the reason we’re going back to Koh Tao (apart from diving) is to eat here again!
16. Where is the best skyline?
Nick: Hong Kong.
Hayley: He stole my answer again! I’ll go with an unusual answer that most people wouldn’t pick. The view over Osaka (Japan) from the Umeda Sky Garden building.
17. Did you get sick in India?
Nick: No I got sick in a 5* luxury hotel the day we landed from India, perfect timing for the Deli Belly.
Hayley: I made it 3 weeks and finally got ill on the last day. I wont go into detail but wow, they have some super bugs over there!
18. What is the best book you have read since you left?
Nick: The Harry Potter series. I had been putting it of for a long time, and to be honest I am happy I waited. Reading it as an adult give you the mature perspective but also allows you to reminisce about your school days. I am a complete book worm and it is the best set of books I have every read.
Hayley: The Amazing seller by Scott Volkner. This finally inspired us to have a go at setting up a business and selling on Amazon (something I now wish we did as soon as we left the UK!).
19. What one thing do you miss the most from home (excluding family and friends)?
Nick: Haha, you have to ask? Climbing 10 times a week.
Hayley: I don’t miss the routine of work life but I do miss the routine of being able to watch what I eat. As everyone knows, healthy food costs so much more than unhealthy food. This isn’t just the case in the UK, it’s a problem everywhere and seen as we’re watching the pennies it’s meant a lot of bread, cereal, noodles and anything sugary and carb filled! Needless to say this hasn’t been kind to the waistline!
20. Best beach?
Nick: Nacpan beach.
Hayley: I have to break the duplicate answer rule here. Nacpan Beach was unbeatable.
21. Most magical / beautiful place?
Nick: Milford Sounds (New Zealand) when its raining.
Hayley: Being underwater off of Apo Island in the Phillipines surrounded by giant turtles and beautiful coral was one of the most magical places I’ve been.
22. Best hike?
Nick: Tongariro Alpine Crossing – 20km over an amazing active volcanic landscape.
Hayley: I agree with Nick on this one but my favourite until we went to New Zealand was The Trail of 6 Glaciers in Banff, Canada.
23. Best temple?
Nick: Todaji in Nara, Japan.
Hayley: Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine, Kyoto, Japan.
24. How have you changed since leaving?
Nick: I now love Chinese food and also realise how fortunate people born in to first world country’s are, I don’t think I could ever moan about anything ever again.
Hayley: I have a new appreciation for what I have and how privileged we are compared to many others across the world.
25. What is your favourite thing about travelling?
Nick: Back in the UK my mind wondered so often about far flung places in the world, what are the people like, how do they live and what is their culture. I also thought a lot about how safe would it would be to travel there. Travelling has changed my perspective on the world so much I cannot put it in to words or explain it to someone who has not done the same. Another huge surprise was just how much you learn about your home, Europe is a very unique place especially the UK.
Hayley: The fact that it constantly challenges my concept of what ‘normal’ is.
And most importantly, because everybody loves cats, who’s been your favourite cat?
Nick: Koh Tao cat! He can ride motorbikes after all.
Hayley: Krabi Kitty! He was 5 weeks old and the most adorable little fluff bundle I’ve ever seen.
If you have anymore questions you’d like us to answer feel free to leave a comment.