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The Road Forks is one of our favourite travel blogs. Akila and Patrick guarantee a mouth-watering read as they travel, work and eat their way around the world. The fact that Akila is vegetarian is an added bonus for us and she’s been the source of some great foodie tips. We are looking forward to following the next leg of their travels as they explore Europe with their two dogs.
1) How long have you been travelling and where have you been?
Almost 2 years. We’ve been through Australia, New Zealand, India, Thailand, Cambodia, Japan, China, most of southern Africa, and have been roadtripping through the United States for the last six months.
2) What made you decide to become digital nomads?
Wine. Really good wine, actually. We were two months into our trip, hanging out in the stunning Marlborough region of New Zealand, drinking crisp white wines that continue to make my mouth water, and, that evening, as I worked on my computer and Patrick did laundry, he said The Words: “I don’t want this to end.” I looked up from my laptop and said, “Me neither.” It was pretty much as simple as that. Of course, once we made the decision, we had to figure out how to make it work, which is a whole different story.
3) How do you fund your travels?
Patrick works as a software architecture consultant for the software company he worked at before he left the United States and I do legal consulting for them as well as writing for other various freelance organizations.
4) Do you find it difficult to balance travel and work? How do you manage it?
Doesn’t everyone? We have a pseudo-system where we basically attempt to schedule in 3 to 4 hours of work per day. But, truth be told, we get behind in our work and sometimes need to take whole days or weeks off just to work. Whenever we are back in the U.S., we work full-time, but when we are in international locations, we shorten our days to half-time work. It’s hard, though. There are many, many days where we end up waking in the wee hours of the morning, cram in sightseeing and touring, and then stay up until late at night burning our eyes in front of our computers. We’re getting better at it by slowing down our travel life and our work life but finding that balance is often excruciating.
5) What is the biggest challenge of nomadic life?
Finding fast Internet. We need access to the Internet on a daily basis and Patrick often has conference calls which he tries to take over Skype. Unfortunately, in much of the world, finding good Internet is as elusive as finding clothes for an American-sized guy in Thailand. We have used all sorts of devices but it can be incredibly frustrating to try and find good WiFi. We’ve raced all over town looking for internet, spent more time than we would like hunched over in coffee shops and McDonalds (which usually have free Internet), and fixed more than one hostel owner’s badly set up Internet.
6) What are some of your favourite local dishes that you’ve eaten on your travels?
Oh wow, this is hard. Topping the list has to be tofu and sushi in Japan. Neither of us were prepared for the awesome intensity of the Japanese versions versus tofu and sushi we’ve had elsewhere in the world. Mango with sticky rice in Thailand and malva pudding from Cape Town are now two of my favorite desserts, and we both are madly in love with the hotpots and jiaozi in China. I better stop now —- this list could go on for a while . . . .
7) Which countries have been the best and worst for vegetarians?
Best: India, Italy, Thailand (assuming that you’re very firm on telling them no fish sauce), and South Africa (much to my surprise, Africa has phenomenal vegetarian options — I was guaranteed at least two veggie options at every restaurant, even at the cheap roadside stands)
Worst: South Korea – I practically starved in South Korea and we ended up going to way more Western restaurants (such as Pizza Hut and Houlihan’s) than anywhere else in the world.
8 ) People usually see pets as a barrier to international travel but you are planning to take your two dogs on an extended trip to Europe. How difficult are the logistics (flights, accommodation etc) of this?
Difficult to say the least. In addition to our usual requirements for accommodation (WiFi and clean room), we now need to find a place that is pet-friendly and, if possible, has an attached or nearby garden/park. We also have to figure out our dogs’ quarantine restrictions which has been quite a hassle. But, after eleven months without them, we can’t imagine doing it that way again. Yes, there are hassles and difficulties but all those hassles and difficulties are worth being with Chewy and Abby. If you want more information on traveling with pets, we’ve launched a brand new website focused on travel with pets called The Road Unleashed.
9) What are some of your favourite off the beaten track destinations?
Kampong Chnnang, Cambodia, with floating villages and completely outside of the raging tourism industry of Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. The entire country of Namibia is absolutely spectacular and quite off-the-beaten track; half the people we talk to about Namibia don’t know where it’s located on the map.
10) Where are you heading to next? Do you think you’ll ever settle down in one place?
We leave next Friday (!) to drive up to Brooklyn and from there, we are taking the Queen Mary 2 transatlantic cruise for 7 days with Chewy and Abby. After that, we’re in England for a month, Spain and France for a month, and Italy for 2 months. After that, we’ll be somewhere in Europe roaming around. As far as settling down, anything’s possible!
You can follow Akila and Patrick’s travels at The Road Forks and The Road Unleashed or on Facebook and Twitter.
If you enjoyed this interview then read about other long term nomads Audrey & Dan, Benny, Earl, Kirsty, Nora, Anil, Cherie & Chris, Jess & Dani, Lainie & Miro and Anthony & Elise.
Love this. And loved finally getting to meet and spend some time with Akila at TBEX. I think it is true what you say about fast food. I never eat it at home and rarely did on the road, but when I did…it was kind of a treat!
I’m not a veg, but eat less and less meat and love veggie meals.
Love what you guys are doing and love even more than you are animal lovers. :)
My mom runs a pet-friendly motel in gorgeous Silverton, CO…if you ever want to go there!
Thanks for this great interview and I’ll definitely have a look at their website!
Glad you like it Lucie.
Great interview, interested in hearing how it goes with traveling with your dogs, sounds like a difficult task!
Great interview with a great couple :-) I am taking notes on Kampong Chnnang, sounds like our kind of place! Happy to see Thailand in the list of vegetarian-friendly countries – have to read all your Asia post before we head there later this year. Oh, and I didn’t know that dogs were allowed on cruises but I am glad to hear that they are!!
I’m also glad Thailand is very friendly. I have heard that Chiang Mai is particularly good – can’t wait to have a choice of cheap tasty street food to try.
Loved this interview! I adore this couple. I could agree more with , “finding that balance is often excruciating.”
So true. I keep asking the question hoping that someone has the answer, but it’s difficult for everyone.
love these guys too and the answer for #2 confirmed that we should be friends! lol. think ALL of us should meet up somewhere great and share some- we can throw in some yummy food too. great questions & answers guys! really makes me want to bump namibia higher up my list too :)
I know, Namibia sounds amazing. Too many places to visit…
Definitely up for a good wine and food meetup somewhere in the world =)
YES – I am always for a wine and good food meetup. And, Namibia is incredible. I have worked on convincing two other bloggers – Jack & Jill from Jack and Jill Travel The World and Kristin from Camels & Chocolate to head to Namibia. It’s a totally underrated country. Go there now before everybody else in the world finds out about it and it becomes the next Kenya/Tanzania where all the jeeps are packed bumper to bumper for a safari.
Korea is the one that surprised me after traveling! I fly through there all often, have never visited the country, but there is simply NO good vegetarian food in the Incheon airport that I have located. Just none. End up bringing food with me so I have something to eat besides a Starbucks muffin! :) Great interview, glad to see you guys back on the move with the doggies!
I’m glad for the Korea food warning. I try not to rule out a country because of the food but it doesn’t help put it near the top of my must-visit list.
You know, I don’t even think I looked for veggie food at Incheon. By that point, I had given up on finding veggie options in South Korea and ended up subsisting mostly on french fries. I was SO happy when we got to China and I could eat real food again.
Haha.. laughed out loud at “trying to find clothes for an American-sized guy”. ;)
It’s interesting pre and post meet. All of you (including Erin and Simon) always resonated with me, and certainly I had ideas of who you would be in person.
All of you are truly vibrant and full of life. Just as I suspected.
I had no idea that’s what Patrick did!
Ah, thanks for the sweet words.
As a British woman I’m quite terrified of clothes chopping in Thailand. I’ve heard anyone over a size 6 is considered obese!
Oh and Erin, I tried to find a shirt in Thailand that would fit me and I normally wear a size XS in the U.S. —- I was an XL in Thailand. It was definitely a first for me. On the positive side, you will always be able to find you and Simon in the masses of Asian people because you both are going to be taller than most everyone else. :)
Aww thank you! Same to you – I love when I meet people and they’re as awesome in real life as they are online.
Love the post and the story of more nomads. I completely agree with the challenge of finding high speed internet – I’m so spoiled in San Francisco.
I know – the internet in the US was SO good after South America!
Thanks so much Kristin! Yeah, the US spoils us. A friend of ours from Australia came over to the U.S. and the very first thing they said to us was, “Oh my gosh, this Internet is amazing.” :)