24 Oct Expert Travel Tips & Advice from The Working Traveller
We’re new to both long-term travel and travel blogging, so we need all the help we can get. Thankfully, the guys over at The Working Traveller, who have years of travel experience and run a successful website, have agreed to answer some of our questions.
Travel Tips from The Working Traveller
How, when and why did you start The Working Traveller – what’s the ethos behind your site?
The Working Traveller pre-dates the internet, having been around since 1992 when it began as a black and white, A5 sized, photocopied magazine I put together in college. Since then it has been the magazine section of one of our other sites, the Overseas Job Centre, until I decided I wanted to learn more about WordPress and resurrected the name as the stand alone site we have today.
The latest incarnation is the blog of all the sites in our little group under the PAYAway banner and slanted towards gap years and working abroad as a way to keep on travelling for longer. We also write about our own travels here and, because it is our way of working abroad, sometimes provide a glimpse behind the blogging and website editing curtain.
I originally started The Working Traveller, somewhat ironically, as a way to avoid getting a real job and make enough money to go travelling. Though it succeeded on both counts it’s a lot harder to travel and keep a publication going when you are tied to a large photocopier and the postal service – it is far easier now with just a laptop and a wifi connection.
Where have you travelled to and how many years have you been on the road?
We’re not permanent nomads as we have an apartment in Turkey where we live between trips, replenish our finances and work on our websites. We took our first extended trip together ten years ago, taking in South America, Australia, New Zealand and Southeast Asia and have lived for short periods in Peru and Greece. We have also explored parts of Eastern Europe.
Last year we travelled around the Middle East including riding out the revolution in Egypt, and visiting Jordan, Lebanon and northern Iraq. In January we will be back in Southeast Asia where we are most looking forward to seeing Myanmar and, fingers crossed, will make our way home via Iran – though that’s by no means certain.
From your experience, what’s the best country/countries for budget travel – where could our money go furthest?
You should find your money goes pretty far in Indonesia. The same goes for Bolivia if you make it there. We’re also both huge fans of Egypt, which is lucky because it is the cheapest country in the region.
We want to keep to a £1,000 per month budget (for two people) while we’re on the road – do you think that’s possible and what’s your top money-saving travel tip?
Outside of the developed world it is very possible. Deirdre doesn’t often drink and is disciplined in her spending so manages to travel very cheaply with ease. I, on the other hand, am a sucker for shiny things, good restaurants, taxis and booze. At least once every trip, usually more often, I get ‘the money talk’.
As long as you eat and drink local, avoid imports (including/especially spirits) and don’t buy every piece of crap shoved in your direction like I do then you should come in under budget in most countries.
Expensive, once in a life time activities and side trips will push expenses up considerably though. We’re realistic in what we can and can’t do. Expensive three day ticket to Petra: tick. Hot air ballooning over the site: maybe next time.
We’re planning to work while we’re on the road, do you have any tips on how to juggle work and travel?
When travelling for a long time you will find sooner or later the travelling rhythm changes and merges into living abroad for a time. If you can plan that this happens in countries like Australia, New Zealand, North America or Europe and you have the right paperwork then the money earned here will go far travelling the rest of the world. Cheap countries where English teaching jobs can be found are also a great place to stop awhile.
Where have you volunteered and what’s been your most rewarding volunteering experience?
Deirdre volunteered with South American Explorers – a non profit organisation providing travel information – in Cusco but I generally have enough to do to keep our sites going. We hope to visit NGOs for one of our sites promoting free volunteer work abroad during our upcoming trip to Southeast Asia so perhaps we’ll discover somewhere my limited skillset fits in.
We’d like to do some volunteering but are wary about choosing an ethical placement – how would you advise choosing a volunteering placement?
Wait until you are in the local area and plug into the expat grapevine. In places like Siem Reap or Chiang Mai, for instance, other volunteers will be able to pass on where is a good place to work and where is best avoided.
We’re new to travel blogging, do you have any tips for us?
Firstly, keep at it. There are a lot of voices shouting for attention in the travel blogging world but most will fade away in time (to be replaced by others), disappointed that the reality doesn’t match the dream. We have been blogging for over two years now and are under no illusions we are still part of the long tail.
On a more practical note, scheduling is the travel bloggers’ best friend. Keep a store of articles ready for the inevitable times when the island you are on lacks wifi, you are having too much fun, or travelling too hard and fast to write. There may also come a time when you just want to give it up. Every travel blogger suffers a dip in their enthusiasm and having a stock of back up articles can ease you past that point.
What are your plans for the future – do you intend to travel forever, or do you think you’ll ‘settle down’ at some point?
At the moment we take a longish trip every second year but I hope that we are one day soon able to move into a rhythm of travelling six to 12 months and six months settled somewhere. I can see us still backpacking into our dotage – perhaps recovering from a hip operation between trips.