I’m Hannah and I run PairofPassports, a blog focussed on part time couples travel. It’s our little piece of the internet where my husband and I record and share our travel experiences, tips and memories. We love travelling and get away for short and medium length breaks as often as our jobs allow. I hope PairofPassports is helpful to people who are travelling to the places we write about. In the very least, it's cathartic writing about our travel experiences, and when I go back and re-read our articles months later, the memories of each place come flooding back, which makes it worth it in its self. In January 2018, we’re taking the plunge and travelling around the USA for 2 whole months. We’re taking career breaks and have spent the last year saving hard to make this dream come true. Hopefully, it will be the first of several longer term trips!
TPM: What kind of travelers are you?
POP: We are part time, low (ish) budget travellers who get away about 12-14 times a year. As with most part time travellers, we have a limited number of holiday days to take from work, so we make the most of this with long weekends away and city breaks, with maybe a couple of longer stays to more long haul destinations each year. We usually use Airbnb or rental properties rather than hotels - we don’t need fancy 5* hotels as we spend so much time out and about exploring each location, as we’re never in the hotel! We prefer Airbnbs, and enjoy the personal touch. We’ve met some lovely hosts over the years who’ve given us some great tips on the areas we’ve been staying in, that we wouldn’t have got to know a hotel. We like to go off the beaten track a bit!
TPM: Why did you decide to start a travel blog?
POP: I used to work for a marketing agency that worked with bloggers on behalf of our clients, so became very aware of the blogging world and the many communities within it. With our frequent travelling, it made sense for me to start documenting our experiences officially. I started following some high profile travel bloggers with interest and could only dream of one day having a blog half as successful as them. Before we visit anywhere, I always read blogs for first hand tips and advice so I just decided to get on with it and create my own, and I haven't looked back!
TPM: Who is your travel inspiration?
POP: My travel inspiration is really anyone who has a travel blog, and earns enough money from it to allow them to travel full or even part time. I follow Goats on the Road and High Heels And A Backpack closely - they are two of my favourite blogs that I find I really relate to, and I admire the bloggers behind those blogs that have had such huge success. It’s not just big bloggers though. When I hear about people, friends of friends who are moving to another country to build a new life or leaving on world round trips, I think how amazing that would be, and it spurs me on to keep travelling and seeing more and more of the world, even if it is a little bit at a time.
TPM: Where in the world is your favorite place to visit? Why?
POP: I have three - at the moment! Berlin, Frascati and San Diego (Mission Beach in particular).
We’ve been to Berlin several times, and I don’t think I will ever tire of the place. I love the history that’s juxtaposed with the modern vibe of the city and I could very easily live there. We went to Frascati, just outside Rome for the first time this year and fell in love with it. The food, the wine, the views of Rome and the very non touristy atmosphere meant that we felt a million miles from home - we’re already planning our return trip!
San Diego, or more precisely, Mission Beach is somewhere that stole our hearts about three years ago. When we first stayed there, our love for the laid back, beach town vibe and beautiful ocean views, set in motion a series of events and subsequent trips that have brought us to where we are today - putting the final preparations in place to leave our home and jobs to explore and live in our self proclaimed paradise for a whole 8 weeks. I can barely believe it is happening, but we are so incredibly excited!
TPM: What do you think is the biggest sacrifice you have done for the sake of traveling?
POP: See above! Whilst Rob is self employed so he is a little more in control of his time, I am taking 8 weeks off from a great job where I am doing well and building a successful career, in order to fulfil our dream of living in Mission Beach for a short time. Luckily my employer has been very understanding and I will be returning to the same role after our trip. As well as the potential implications of taking a 2 month break from our careers, we’ve been saving hard for almost a year. That’s meant keeping an eye on what we’re spending each month so we can save enough to reach our target budget. We’re not in San Diego yet, but I know these sacrifices will be absolutely worth it - no regrets!
TPM: How many countries/states have you visited?
POP: We tend to stick to Europe for most of our trips as long haul really eats into the time I am able to take off work! We’ve been to the USA - west and east coast, Morocco and Egypt in Africa, Sicily, Turkey, Italy (nearly 10 different cities!) Spain, Malta, France, Hungary, Cyprus, Corfu and, Sweden in Europe. Not nearly as many countries as I would like - watch this space!
TPM: Have you had any scary moments while on your travels?
POP: I hope I’m not jinxing it, but we’ve always been reasonably lucky when it comes to travelling.
Our first slightly negative Airbnb experience happened when we stayed for one night in Downtown LA on the ‘wrong side of the freeway’. It was a bit of a dodgy area and not quite the Downtown location we were expecting. It didn’t help that we couldn’t park outside the apartment for 3 hours after arriving too (American street sweeping rules!), and couldn’t find the key left out for our apartment for ages, when all we wanted to do was park up and get some lunch and a beer. This was all after spending a long couple of hours traveling from San Diego in nightmare traffic.
We didn't feel safe there at all, and all night there were people being really loud the rooms next to us and above us - we couldn’t wait to get out of there!
TPM:Where is your next travel destination going to be? Why?
POP: Well, we have San Diego for 2 months in early 2018 which will be amazing! Top of my list is Berlin and Frascati for next year too, but my dream destination that I haven’t yet visited is Costa Rica. That little island fascinates me in so many ways and I hope to go there some time very soon!
TPM: How has travel changed you?
POP: My love or need for travel has made me less materialistic and very low maintenance when it comes to basic necessities. I don’t want to buy expensive clothes or fancy gadgets, I want to buy flights to Berlin and book an Airbnb for a few days. I don’t need an expensive 5 course meal, I want some delicious street food in Turin. I am much more experience led than some other people and I get bored more easily too at home (unless I’m planning a trip) than I ever did before. I definitely start getting cabin fever if I don’t have any trips booked for a few months - there always has to be something in the diary!
TPM: What advice would you give to someone who’s thinking about becoming a Travel Blogger while working Full-Time?
POP: Keep going. Keep reading. Keep a schedule. It can be really hard to find the time, and sometimes energy and enthusiasm to keep a consistent posting schedule, as well as a social media presence and all the other things that come with blogging. I sit in front of a computer all day for my job, so getting home and then getting out my laptop and planning or writing a blog post, editing my website, or anything else instead of just crashing out in front of the TV on the sofa can sometimes be hard work.
Set yourself a schedule of whatever you can realistically manage - it doesn’t have to be 3 posts a week. It might be 1 post a week and 5 tweets a day or something like that - do whatever you can stick to whilst still keeping it enjoyable. When you stop enjoying it, you’ll stop blogging not long afterwards. I try to spend at least 30 mins a day on my blog - sometimes I use my lunch hour at work to do a few things, so I can relax when I do get home.
There is such a strong travel blogger community out there, and everyone I have come across is very supportive. There are so many articles online, with advice from bloggers on how to grow your blog, or on how to add certain features to your website. Get involved, make some contacts, ask some questions - there is always something to learn!