Earlier this week, we released the results of our first Annual Reader Survey. Along with all the insights and feedback we received about our blog, our newsletter, and our content going forward, many of you also took the opportunity to ask us a few questions. We took the time to read through every single one of your questions, combined those that were essentially asking the same thing, and put together our answers into one handy Q&A below.
Q: What did your family and friends say when you told them you were quitting your jobs to travel?
A: Our families are very different, so as expected, their reactions were drastically different as well. Max’s family didn’t even twitch at the idea. His mother and sister are both self-employed and location independent so hearing that we were finally leaving the corporate world behind was music to their ears. They couldn’t wait to be able to travel more with us and get us involved in their family businesses.
My parents, on the other hand, were not thrilled to hear that I was quitting my job yet again. They had to endure the initial shock of me leaving a well paying job when I left my Canadian life behind and moved to London to get my Masters Degree, and then again when I decided to leave another great job in China and move to Australia. But every time I moved, I had settled in, found another corporate job and carried on with my responsible adult life. But when we quit our jobs in Australia and left the country, it was different. We really did make a drastic change in our lifestyle and had no intentions of ever going back to the corporate 9-5 routine. My parents are still hoping that one day this will change, and every time we see them they try to convince us of all the benefits of having a stable corporate job. At this point in our lives though they can’t tell us what to do. They can disapprove and they can disagree, but at the end of the day it’s our life, so we choose to live it how we want and hope that one day they will understand and maybe even agree.
Q: How long do you two plan on continuing this lifestyle?
A: Hopefully, forever! We didn’t just jump into this digital nomad life. We saved for years to pay off our debts, we worked hard to set up businesses that we can work on while traveling, including this blog, our consulting business, and our photography business. So we hope that these businesses will continue to grow and provide us with an income to carry on with our location independent lifestyle for many years to come.
Q: Can you share more about how you work with brands to finance your lifestyle?
A: Absolutely. We have worked with brands in a number of different ways. Some of them have provided us with free or comped products/services/hotel stays/tours/etc to experience and review on our website, others we have worked with on a more contractual level. We’ve created content (wrote articles, captured photos, shot and produced videos) for brands to use on their websites and been paid for our work.
These days we are trying to shift our focus from comped stuff and Press Trips to more paid content creation.
Q: Have you ever felt the need to settle down in one place?
A: Not yet. We have come across a few places in the world that we really loved and told ourselves that one day in the future we’ll be back there for a longer stay, but in terms of settling down in the more traditional sense, no. We get itchy feet after a few weeks in the same place, so right now we definitely can’t see ourselves getting a house with a white picket fence and going back to a 9-5 routine anytime soon.
Q: If you were to set roots in a new country, how would you choose this country and what would be your process to establish yourselves?
A: We have a few countries on our “let’s live there one day” list. All of these places we’ve visited before on our travels, we fell in love with the atmosphere, with what the place had to offer, and decided that it would be cool to one day come back and stay there for a while. We don’t see the process of establishing ourselves in a new place as anything concrete. We’d rent an Airbnb for a few months, grab a local sim, get a wifi connection so we could run our blog and our other businesses, and start living. We’d check out local bars/restaurants and maybe take some classes (yoga, language, etc for Oksana), do some volunteer work, or join some sports teams (basketball, soccer, etc for Max) to meet some locals and integrate ourselves into the community. It’s essentially the process we followed when we moved to Brisbane in Australia and again when we decided to base ourselves in Costa Rica earlier this year.
Q: Where do you see the blog taking you guys? Is the hope to be able to support yourselves and your travels through blogging and writing and photos?
A: We have always said that we wanted to use the blog as our creative outlet and as a launching pad for our other passions, like writing, photography, videography, etc. Of course, we’d love it if in the future we could support ourselves solely on the income from the blog, but we are not relying on that. The blog is just one of our income sources, so while we continue to work on growing it, we are also working on establishing other income streams,
Q: How do you make money to sustain your lifestyle?
A: First of all, it’s important to note that we travel on a budget of $100 USD between both of us a day, so our full-time travel budget for a month comes out to roughly $3,000, which surprisingly is a lot less than what our monthly expenses were when we were living in Australia. We paid off our debts and saved up before leaving Australia and have only dipped into or savings a bit over the last year. Over the last year we’ve been able to save on our expenses by partnering with various companies in the travel industry (hotels, activities, tours, etc), but we also make money from freelance writing, website building/design, digital marketing consulting, photography, video production, and other services that we offer through our other business O&M St John Creative Solutions.
Q: Is blogging enough to make a living out of travelling?
A: Blogging is a great launch pad that allowed us to learn new skills and become experts in other skills, but we haven’t been able to make enough income from blogging alone to make a living out of traveling. Maybe one day, but for now, we are happy to have our income coming in from various sources. (See answer above for details on our income sources)
Q: Your lifestyle is wonderful for you now, but what will happen when you have children?
A: We are really looking forward to that next stage in our life, but contrary to popular belief, we do not believe children have to change our lifestyle. We know of so many inspiring families that travel the world with their kids and we can’t wait to prove to everyone that has ever told us to “enjoy it before you have children” that travel is possible even with little ones in tow. These are just a few of the families we are inspired by and whose footsteps we hope to one day follow.
Q: What did you do for money while traveling before your blog took off?
A: We started Drink Tea & Travel a year before we set off on our adventure, giving ourselves time to grow it before we expected to make any money from it. During that first year, we worked corporate jobs and used our savings to travel part time.
Q: I’m new to travel blogging, what strategies can you recommend to me?
Welcome to the blogging world! We wrote this article about the strategies that helped us grow our blog in the first year of its existence. Have a read through, hope you find it useful! Best of luck!
Q: Does it get exhausting traveling nomadically all the time?
A: It does actually. Last year, after we left Australia we spent 4 months traveling through 10 different countries and by the end of that trip, we were exhausted. We would spend 8 -10 hours a day exploring new cities/destinations and then get back to our hotel rooms and work our butts off until wee hours in the night. We realized that non-stop travel is unsustainable both mentally, physically, and financially. So this year we decided to take a “one month on/one month off” approach to our trips. We decided to travel slower and spend time in Costa Rica in between our trips. The downtime in Costa Rica allows us to catch up on our work, plan future adventures, and set ourselves up so we can enjoy our time on the road. My recent injury has, of course, set our travel plans back a bit, but we’ve got lots of plans coming in the second half of the year.
Q: What was your most challenging journey?
A: Every trip we take is challenging in its own way. We’ve had some really crappy experiences during our travels. We’ve gotten sick, we’ve gotten lost, we’ve missed flights, we’ve lost luggage… and the list goes on. But to be honest, the toughest thing we’ve had to deal with since we started traveling full time was breaking my leg while surfing in Costa Rica. I share a lot details about how it happened and what we had to go through in the first few weeks after the accident in a post here, We also talked about the impact the accident had on our relationship and our life after the accident in this post featured on Huffington Post last month.
Q: Did you do any diving on Great Barrier Reef? If yes, what time of year, where exactly, and how did you find the condition of the reef.
A: We do a lot of diving when we travel, but unfortunately we never got a chance to dive the Great Barrier Reef together. I (Oksana) did dive there back in 2010 on my very first intro dive, but since I wasn’t a certified diver then I feel like i wasn’t able to experience everything the reef had to offer. But what I do remember wasn’t overly impressive and I’m sure the condition of the reef has decreased significantly over the last 5 years. So if you want our opinion on diving in Australia, we say skip the Great Barrier Reef and make your way over to the Ningaloo Reef instead. Located in Western Australia, Ningaloo Reef is one of the largest fringing reefs in the world and is home to some fantastic dive sites.
Q: How can you market travel services to Non-North Americans?
A: Drink Tea & Travel is not what one might call a typical marketing channel for travel services. We run a travel blog and while from time to time we may partner with travel service providers and share our favourite travel sites, apps, gear and so on, it is not our intent to market travel services to our readers.
Our goal is to inspire you all to travel the world, to help you realise that there is so much to see and experience just outside of your home town. We are here to help you plan your adventures and to help you travel for less no matter what part of the world you live in.
Q: Do you have any recommendations for travel in Western/Eastern Europe?
A: I (Oksana) spent a year living in London and traveling extensively through Western and Eastern Europe back in 2011-2012. You can find some of my articles from those travels in the Europe Archives. Unfortunately, we haven’t had a chance to visit too many European countries since then (maybe next year!), but we are working on adding more articles on cities in Europe through our Sunday City Guides series. We suggest you check out that series to see if we have any particular articles on the cities you are planning to visit.
Q: How dangerous is it for two beautiful blond girls to travel alone in Central America and mostly Costa Rica?
A: We can’t speak for all Central American countries since we have only been to Costa Rica and Nicaragua, but we would say that Costa Rica is probably one of the safest. While we obviously travel as a couple, we’ve had a lot of single beautiful female friends visit Costa Rica without an accompanying male and none of them have reported any issues. Of course, it’s best to exercise a certain level of caution and cultural awareness when traveling to any foreign country, but Costa Rica often ranks as one of the safest countries for solo female travelers.
Q: What is your recommendation for the best spots to experience nature/animals/jungle in Costa Rica?
In general, the further away you go from the touristy route, the more likely you are going to come across some unspoilt nature/jungle in Costa Rica. The house that we stay at when we are in Costa Rica is about a 30 min drive from Tamarindo, one of the biggest tourist hubs in the country, yet we constantly see monkeys, iguanas, and a slew of colourful exotic birds on the property. We’ve come across sloths, coatis, and many other exotic Costa Rican animals, while road tripping around the Guanacaste region as well. But if you are looking for a destination with more concentrated wildlife, check out the Monteverde Cloud Forest. It’s a great spot to get lost in nature, spot some wild animals, and learn more about Costa Rica’s biodiversity.
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