Bored of that dull 9-5 grind? Traveling the world is your ticket out. Think you can’t afford it or don’t have time? Full-time globetrotters Lesh and Jazza told us all about how they manage to travel the world on a shoestring budget, the most dangerous thing they’ve done, and why sustainable travel is the way to go.
Your blog,Nomadasaurus, follows all of your travel adventures. What do you think sets it apart from other travel blogs? And how did you come up with the name?
There are so many travel blogs out there, some great, most mediocre, that it really is hard to break away from the rest. I believe what makes NOMADasaurus different is the high quality of photography and writing we try to put out there, along with our current adventure of backpacking overland from Thailand to South Africa without flying. We also really try hard to get involved in the local culture and customs, and love documenting the stories of the average people we meet and their way of life outside what we are used to in our home countries. It is this ability to get ‘underneath the skin’ of every destination we visit that sets us apart.
As for the name, it came to us on a road trip down the South Coast of Western Australia - A play on words between being a nomadic dinosaur and being a thesaurus for different ways of travel.
You’ve been traveling the world together since 2008. How did you decide that full-time travel was the life for you?
It really has been an easy decision for us. When we travel we encounter different cultures, experience new destinations, meet wonderful and interesting people and learn more about ourselves from being in unique situations. When we don’t travel, none of that really happens. We don’t have anything holding us back from a full-time travelling lifestyle, so we have chosen to pursue it while we’re young, fit and healthy.
What are some of the challenges or things to consider when traveling with someone as opposed to traveling solo?
The main challenge when travelling with someone is trying to find a compromise on the places both parties want to visit. Luckily for us, we both have an adventurous spirit and have the desire to explore the world in the same way. It is not always the same for most people, so we consider ourselves to be very fortunate in that regard. It is incredible being able to experience this world with someone who appreciates it in the same way.
What are some pros and cons of being ‘professional’ travelers? And how do you finance your travels?
The pros are easy: An exciting life that is different every day, the opportunity to learn more about the world, and in return learn more about ourselves, not being stuck in society’s expectations of working ‘9-5’, which is unhealthy in our opinion. Almost every day is different to the last, and no matter how much research and planning you can do, things always change when you arrive in a new place.
There really are few cons. Although a lack of routine can be something that we crave from time to time. After 12 months on the road in South East Asia, we felt like we were getting burnt out. We decided to settle down in the town of Phong Nha in Central Vietnam for 2.5 months, and it was a brilliant decision. But even as much as we loved that village, and would happily live there again, after that long being stationary we were beginning to get itchy feet again.
We financed our previous travels by working various jobs in places we stayed in. Things such as construction and bar work for Jazza, and waitressing and hotel cleaning for Lesh, helped fund our adventures. We’ve also both worked in hostels along the way in exchange for accommodation and food.
These days we earn money from freelance travel writing and photography, and off of our blog,NOMADasaurus.com.
What advice would you give to someone considering becoming a full-time traveler?
Do it while you’re young and able. Don’t listen to the naysayers who claim you will regret your travelling life when you are old and have a poor pension. After more than 6 years on the road, we are yet to meet a single elderly person who has told us that we are doing it wrong. On the contrary, they all say they wish they had have done the same when they were young. Life isn’t meant to be lived one particular way: Go to school, go to college, get a good job, buy a house, have a family, work til you’re 65 or 70 then spend your retirement on cruises and packaged tours. Why is that considered to be the only way to live your life? We measure success in the amount of happiness we have, and when we travel, we are infinitely happy.
Your goal is to promote sustainable, community-based travel. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
The way that we travel, in a slow and determined way, allows us to spend more time in places that tourists usually breeze through or don’t visit at all. As a result we have the chance to learn more about the communities we find ourselves in and discover how tourism is helping, or harming, the area. We want to promote sustainable activities that have positive effects on the local people, the community and the environment. By stepping back from the typical tourist attractions and spending more time in one place it allows us to learn more about sustainable practices and implement them. Hopefully the readers of our blog and stories feel the same sense of urgency in protecting the cultures and environment of this world.
You’ve gone on plenty of adventures, including hitchhiking in the Pacific Northwest and motorbiking in Cambodia. What’s the scariest or craziest thing you’ve done while traveling?
Hitchhiking in Canada, China and Central America might be considered crazy to some, but to us it has become part of how we travel. Motorbiking for 10 months in Southeast Asia is definitely the craziest thing we have done. The state of the roads and high death tolls is not something to be taken lightly. It all seems like one big fun game, but almost every single day that we were riding there was at least one near-death experience.
By far the scariest moment we have had was when we were sailing from Honduras to Panama on a private catamaran, and were about 150 nautical miles off of the coast. I (Jazza) had just finished my 12am to 3am shift at the helm and Lesh had taken over. About 20 minutes later the owner of the boat came into my quarters and screamed, “Jazza, get up. We’re taking on water!” We were in the middle of a small but intense squall, and we had already received a lot of damage to the ship. After 15 minutes of frantic emergency procedures, the squall had passed and left us with some terrible damage. Luckily we didn’t sink, but we had to abort our plans of sailing to Panama.
Yourpost on travel essentials details some helpful packing tips. What’s one unusual thing you always carry with you?
We carry a SteriPen with us, which is a rechargeable UV water steriliser. Tap water is unsafe to drink in most of the countries we travel to, but buying bottled water has a terrible impact on the environment. We use our SteriPen to sterilise tap and river/creek water to help lower our footprint on this planet. It also allows us to save a bit of money while we travel. We also have a tent, sleeping equipment and some cooking supplies for the times we go trekking, or if we just get stuck somewhere with no accommodation available.
Many people are afraid to travel because of the costs. What are 2 or 3 of your favorite ways to save money during your trips?
Travel slowly is the best tip we have. Transport is a big cost of any journey, and not being on a bus or a train every other day helps out with the daily budget. When you have longer in one town as well, it allows you to find the cheaper places to eat and drink, and maybe even negotiate a better price on your accommodation.
Another favourite tip of ours is to ‘do as the locals do’. Take public transport instead of a taxi, eat at local diners instead of Western-style restaurants, and spend more time just walking the streets and parks instead of going to every single attraction that is in your guidebook.
Last year, Jazza won the World Nomads Travel Writing Scholarship (which included a writing course, a trip to Europe, and becoming a freelance travel writer with other names in the industry). What did you do to win, and how did it change your life?
Winning the World Nomads Travel Writing Scholarship was a huge career maker for me. I enjoyed writing when I was younger, but really neglected it once I started travelling. I only took it up again when we started our blog, and 7 months later I was awarded the scholarship. It was a writing competition that I entered just before the deadline, and I forgot about my entry until I received an email saying I had won. Since then I have secured writing pieces with some of the biggest publications in the industry, and am now branching out to more newspapers and big online media outlets. It has helped boost my confidence with my writing, as well as give me the credibility to approach editors and pitch my ideas.
Since you got the chance to work with other travel writers, what other travel bloggers do you both follow or look up to?
To be honest, there are only a handful of bloggers we actually follow. We believe the market is flooded with travel bloggers who offer nothing new and exciting, instead writing click-bait titles filled with mundane writing. That being said, we really enjoy following Will Hatton of ‘The Broke Backpacker’, Randi and Michael from ‘Just A Pack’, Nick and Dariece from ‘Goats On The Road’ and Matthew Karsten fromThe Expert Vagabond. These guys all delve deep into each culture they find themselves in, and are informative and entertaining without cranking out mindless dribble. My current favourite writer is Nate from ‘Yomadic’. His style and unique angles on the off-the-beaten-path destinations he travels to is fascinating.
You have more than 8,000 followers on Twitter. Does this interaction with readers ever result in interesting travel tips that you end up incorporating into your own adventures?
We always take on the suggestions of our readers for places to visit and activities to try out. We rarely use a guidebook, so instead rely on other travellers to tell us about the best things to do in each place we go. We have also made some great friends from our interactions on social media, and regularly meet up with our readers and other bloggers in the places we go.
Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions! Anything else you’d like the CouponPal readers to know?
Travel while you are able. And follow us on NOMADasaurus!