We’re Tiff and Chris, the dynamic duo behind the travel blog www.vagabondway.net. We’ve eliminated all our debt and have been traveling around the globe for over ten years now.
TPM: What kind of travelers are you?
VBW: We are budget minded, yet value oriented travelers, with a passion for wildlife focused travel. We enjoy all aspects of travel from the cities, culture, food, but usually our trips are planned around certain seasons and the wildlife we will try to see in a specific spot.
TPM: Why did you decide to start a travel blog?
VBW: I have always felt compelled to write. I had no idea what blogging was nor am I at all computer savvy. Yet, with our evolving social media society, this seemed like the perfect platform to start exploring and expressing myself on. Blogging is a lot of work - like a lot of work. It takes so much time and energy if you at all are going to be regular and want to be serious about it. But I am really happy that I have started pursuing this platform.
TPM: I know you have lived and worked around the world for over a decade. Where have you lived? What kinds of jobs did you have at each location?
VBW: At the start of our travels, Chris and I both still had student loan debt. We are both originally from New York State so what we did was pick a new state to live for about a year, travel all around and explore and then move to another state and repeat. We lived in Flagstaff, AZ, Denver, CO and Salt Lake City, UT. We have always shared one car between the two of us to help keep expenses low. With our trusty Saturn station wagon, we drove all around those areas having adventures. For not a lot of money you can invest in camping gear and car camping can actually be quite comfortable and cheap.
New Zealand was the first country we moved to internationally once we paid off all our loans. We bought a Subaru wagon and a bright orange two person kayak. We strapped that kayak to the top and drove all around the two islands, particularly the south island. We found jobs picking cherries, picking grapes and working for a couple weeks for a couple we randomly met on the beach.
Australia found us working on a sheep and potato farm and at a cafe in a remote mining town. We did ‘the lap’ and drove around 50,000 kms completing the whole drive around the continent.
In more recent times, we have found a great fit for ourselves by working seasonally in VT State Parks. We’ve been campground managers and also Innkeepers running an eight bedroom lodge. We usually work a May-ish to Oct-ish schedule and this adds a great balance to our life. Plus, it naturally gives us seasonal friends because a lot of our friends go their own ways for winter too. It also gives us the flexibility to skip a season – which is what we did this past year as we traveled around SE Asia.
In addition, we work on freelance writing, photography and our blog. We hope to continue building multiple revenue streams and have a lot of ideas moving forward.
TPM: You paid off all your debt while also traveling. Congrats on that by the way, that’s amazing! What advice can you give to someone currently struggling with wanting to travel but has a lot of debit. What steps should they take to make their travel dreams come true?
VBW: Oh – debt is such a burden to anyone, whether your goal is to travel or not. First I would say, especially to any young people, don’t just plow head first into a mound of debt. In the United States I think there is a lot of pressure for young people to go to university right after they graduate.
The thing is I don’t think a lot of young people have any idea what they want to do when they are only 18! I certainly didn’t. Our culture doesn’t really embrace the idea of a gap year like other countries do, but I highly encourage anyone to just try to keep the pressure at bay if they are unsure what to do after graduating high school. A program I wish I had known about was Americorps, particularly the NCCC division of Americorps. With NCCC it’s usually a group of 15 people going around a region of the country doing service projects with the guidance of a leader. You can earn an education award of around $5500 to help pay for school. There are a lot of different Americorps options to get into all the details here, but please feel free to email your questions to email@example.com.
TPM: What do you think is the biggest sacrifice you have done for the sake of traveling?
VBW: Well, because travel is our main goal, the sacrifices don’t really feel like sacrifices to us. Everything we do helps us move forward with attaining our hopes and dreams. That said, of course we miss celebrating birthdays and holidays in person. We have created a strong friend base in Vermont as that is one place we keep going back to over and over. We certainly miss being able to attend certain events or just summer bbq’s in person when we want to.
TPM: How many countries/states have you visited?
VBW: Hmmm…I had to count. Together, we have been to 34 countries. We have lived and worked in 6 states: NY, PA, CO, AZ, UT, VT and traveled to a bunch around those areas including a big road trip to FL one year to visit the Everglades!
We have spent about a year living in New Zealand, about two years living in Australia, four months traveling around Peru, Chili and Argentina, three months overlanding across ten southern African countries, about a year traveling through Southeast Asian countries and others countries dotted in there as well.
TPM: Have you had any scary moments while on your travels?
VBW: I almost never want to answer these questions because I don’t want to jinx it, but for over ten years now we have not really had any truly “scary” moments while traveling. There are small things like camping near to some guy that seemed weirder than ‘normal.’ Can’t say we slept good that night. Or one time we inadvertently found ourselves walking down this super long, dark and narrow side street at night in Thailand. It’s not that we were afraid of people, but all the dogs kept running out and barking to defend their turf!
We were in Salt Lake City, Utah one time at the library doing research for our trip to Europe and someone set off a pipe bomb that broke a window. We all could hear a loud bang, but no one knew what it was. The library staff came around and asked everyone to leave. No one was hurt and it turned out to be a middle aged man who seemingly just wanted to see if his pipe bomb would work to break the window. I was so annoyed because it meant our trip research time got cut short that day.
But really in all the time spent on the road, my mind is filled with all the times people have helped us out. There’s been way more breaking down of stereotypes than there has been of scary moments.
TPM: Where is your next travel destination going to be? Why?
VBW: We are just finishing up nearly a year of traveling around Southeast Asia, Nepal and India. So next we will be transitioning to manage yet another park with Vermont State Parks. This will be the fourth park we will have now worked at. After this season we don’t know yet. We are still thinking about Antarctica, different places in Asia or going to some new areas in South America. Or maybe just picking places that will have lots of diving over next winter. We really don’t know yet, but it will be somewhere.
TPM: How has travel changed you?
VBW: I’d like to think travel has made me a more empathetic and understanding person. When I first start traveling, I was so freaked out by reading all the ‘be careful’ warnings. But time and time again, for over ten years now, travel has showed me that most people are kind and that common sense prevails and a ‘can do’ attitude can always shine a light on the bright side.
TPM: What advice would you give to someone who’s thinking about becoming a full time traveler?
VBW: Find a way to make it work for YOU. There are a lot of people who travel full time and its way too easy to look at their facebook or Instagram accounts and think their lives are the best. There are constant pros and cons to being a full time traveler or a person that travels a lot. Until you have done it, it’s hard to understand how much work actually goes into this lifestyle. A huge point to make: it’s not supposed to be a comparing game. Travel is amazing privilege and hard earned opportunity. Don’t waste it wondering if someone had a better time than you or spent $5 less than you. Use it to learn about yourself, better yourself and spread that ripple to others.