Canadian couple Dave and Deb live a life of adventure and share their stories on their popular travel blog The Planet D. They inspire their readers through their motto “anyone can do it” and constantly take on unique and exciting adventures such as cycling the continent of Africa in the world’s longest cycling race and most recently driving a third of the way around the world in the Mongol Rally.
Deb took the time to answer our questions in our latest Nomadic Interview where we interview inspiring bloggers who have made travel a full time lifestyle.
1) How long have you been travelling full time and where have you been?
We have been travelling full time since November 2009. But we took our first extended trip in 2000. Five weeks in Thailand changed our lives. After that, we started taking the winters off to travel for a few months a year until we finally quit our jobs to become full time travel bloggers. In total we have been to 55 Countries and the past two years have taken us everywhere from New Zealand to Jordan and Mexico to China. We have covered a lot of territory.
2) What made you decide to become digital nomads?
We had been travelling extensively for seven years spending months on the road travelling only to come back home, go back to our jobs and save up for the next trip. Soon we found that we were more defined by our travels than our careers and began to search for ways to turn our passion into full time adventure! In 2007, we signed up for the world’s longest cycling race from Cairo, Egypt to Cape Town, South Africa and hired a publicist to help us stand out from the crowd and to help us develop a travel adventure show.
Coming from a film and TV background, it seemed like the most logical thing to do. It was then that we came up with the concept of Canada’s Adventure Couple and developed our niche of Adventure Couple’s Travel. The show was well received and we signed with a production company but it eventually fizzled.
We had started a blog to keep the followers of the cycling race updated so we decided to give writing and photography a try. People seemed to quickly identify with us and soon our website started becoming popular.
3) How do you fund your travels?
We make money through advertisers and sponsorship on ThePlanetD. Between the income that we get through that and hosted and sponsored trips that we have been lucky enough to take part in, we manage to make enough to live and travel. We don’t have a home or any expenses back in Canada, so we can live on very little. While we are working on making more money and the income is starting to grow each month, we still don’t make enough to own a home in Canada and travel full time. It is our goal in the next two years to have the best of both worlds. A place to come home to between travels, and the opportunity to stay on the road for as long as we choose.
4) You have one of the most popular travel blogs. What are your tips for travel blogging success?
Hard work. We work very hard at our blog each day. At this moment I am answering these questions at 11:00 pm after a full day of work. We love blogging as much as we love to travel, so it doesn’t feel like work to us, but we do put in a lot of hours.
We went into travel blogging with a plan. We knew from the beginning that we wanted to make a business out of travel and knew that we had to stick to our niche. Be it a travel show or a travel blog, it is important to have an identity.
5) Do you find it difficult to balance travel and work? How do you manage it?
When we are traveling, we have the work down to a science. We spent the first two years of the blog on the road and we feel that we have mastered that. We travel for a few days and then blog for a few days. The biggest problem though is taking care of the technical details. Our blog had a lot of technical problems in the past few months and we needed a huge redesign. We couldn’t do the work on the back end that we had wanted to do for the past six months until we came home.
However, now that we are at home for a couple of months we haven’t found a balance at all. We seem to work way too long and are always playing catch up. We have so many things that we want to do, we don’t know where to begin. We have glued ourselves to our computers and can’t seem to stop working. So to answer your question, travel and work is easy to balance, work and life is harder. We neglect our friends and family and work on the blog because we finally have a strong internet connection and place to work.
6) What is the biggest challenge of nomadic life?
Not having a home of our own to come home to. We would love to be able to come home for a few months at a time to our own space. It would be amazing to come home from the airport, drop our bags and be with our own things that make us comfortable.
Also not having a network of friends. We have worked hard to keep in touch with our friends while on the road, but after awhile, life goes on without you. We have left the country for months at a time for years, when we return home now there isn’t a big fanfare or welcome party. Friends have moved on with their lives and it is difficult to find our place to fit in with them.
7) What are some of your favourite local dishes that you’ve eaten on your travels?
Ceviche in Peru, Green Curry in Thailand (I can never get enough of it) Sichuan Hot Pot in Sichuan Province in China, Wat stews served atop Injera in Ethiopia, all the food in Jordan – the nuts, dips, the olives and meats.
8 ) You recently completed the Mongol Rally driving from London to Mongolia. What were the high and low points of the adventure?
The high points were definitely in Mongolia itself. It was an amazing country to drive through. It was some of the most beautiful scenery we have ever seen and driving there was like driving in a video game. It was a challenge because there weren’t any proper roads, we were dodging potholes and crossing rivers and we loved feeling like true rally drivers. We had gone through five weeks with our teammate Sherry and by the time we reached Mongolia we were really bonding.
The low point was in Kazakhstan. Our website had gone down and was barely loading and there was nothing we could do about it. We were on a trip where we were working with a team of bloggers and nobody could get into our website to read about this great adventure. When blogging is your business, this is a pretty big problem. We had also missed out on two countries (Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan) because we were running out of time on our re-entry into Russia so we had to cut them out. We were pretty upset about that and were feeling low about spending money on four visas between the two of us for two countries that we didn’t even get a chance to enter. Emotions for all of us were running high at this point but we worked through them and came out on the other end in Mongolia to the best seven days of the entire trip!
9) What are some of your favourite off the beaten track destinations?
In the Sudan we encountered some of the most generous and welcoming people we have met in all our travels. Kazakhstan was pretty amazing as well. It is the people that make a place but luckily both Sudan and Kazakhstan not only had incredible people, the scenery was spectacular. We also loved Mongolia for its landscape and once again its people. It always seems that the places that see the fewest tourists have the most wonderful and welcoming people.
10) Where are you heading to next? Do you think you’ll ever settle down in one place?
We head to Jamaica for a short trip next and then we have a few shorter trips lined up. We will be leaving again on a long travel after the New Year but we are sticking around Canada for a few months. We have a lot of business to get in order and we have just started a travel segment on CTV News Channel, Canada’s news station so we want to be in studio for at least the first couple of months before we start doing the segment from the road full time.
We also have a few business ventures that we are working on that we want to be in Canada for. To make full time travel sustainable, you need a business plan and by putting together our ideas now, we will hopefully be able to keep on travelling for years to come rather than being on a timeline.
As far as where to next? We are in the planning stages and will have a decision made by January.
If you enjoyed this interview then read about other long term nomads in our Nomadic Interviews series.
Are you looking for Christmas gift ideas? See our guide to the 50 Best Gifts for Travelers which includes unique suggestions for exploring the world at home. There’s something for every budget.
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