Interviews with other travellers: Deah

Today, in my series on other travelers, where I get to find out about the exciting lives of others, I interview Deah of, a 41 year old currently in the US.  Deah is a very experienced traveller (she started her main travelling adventure at 28) and has such an amazing story.  She tells me her favourite place is wherever the next trip is!


So Deah, you’ve visited a lot of countries right? How many is it?

I have lived/worked in five countries and travelled to 98 countries – most of Europe, all of Central America, about half of Africa, and pretty much all of East Asia. We are taking a long trip next year to West Asia, and then in a few years we hope to semi-retire to South America, so maybe at some point I’ll get them all!  


That is truly amazing, you’re so near to hitting 100 countries! Can you tell me a bit about why and how you decided to start travelling?

I started travelling in 2003, when I decided I wanted to see the world…. I was a world geography teacher, and I kept teaching about all these exciting places but hadn’t been to any. A friend had just started teaching at an International School in Peru. She sent me the link to register as an International teacher, and I did, and six months later I was moving to Haiti, my first post. I stayed there three years and in those years I visited most of the Caribbean around me and was also sent to some work conferences in other countries. From there I moved to teach in Nicaragua, and then later to Africa with my boyfriend (now husband). 


What a wonderful experience and meeting your husband on the way, we’ll definitely delve more into that! How much did you initially save up to start your travels?

I didn’t need to save up – I found a job that would pay for me to travel. International teaching paid me a salary for nine years, and a flight to and from my job every year and back home to visit my parents/friends. For shorter vacations, such as Christmas break, spring break, Eid, etc, I explored around the country I was teaching in and the nearby ones. International teaching paid my medical insurance, provided me with a house, and in most cases, some form of daily transportation, and some bills such as water and electricity. The salary wasn’t huge compared to a salary in the US, but essentially 75% of my salary went to my travels. 


Well that is definitely one really good option to travel if you don’t have stacks of savings, it was something I looked into when I was thinking about quitting my job. How did you find teaching?

Teaching is hard work, if you do it right. I found it rewarding but it also gets you down after several years. Working with kids can be a struggle because so many of them don’t want to do homework or apply themselves. As I taught overseas it started to really hit me how much students in other countries value their education, while so many American students act like it’s something they’re forced to do and act like they hate it. I wish some of them could see the facilities and lack of resources that kids in impoverished countries have and how much of a struggle it is there. 


It would definitely teach you humility, it sounds like a rewarding experience. Do you fund your travels by working along the way? If so can you tell me about the jobs you have completed?

After nine years, and meeting my husband along the way, we decided to come back to the States. We moved “home” to Washington DC, but after a year we started getting the travel bug again. We saved up for the next year, and then took a year off work to travel from Australia to Japan via SE Asia. After that trip, we returned here and have worked the last two years, saving. Next year we are looking to travel again. I think we will continue like that for the next ten-fifteen years: work about three years, save up some money, then leave for a year and travel through a region. 


That sounds like such an exciting plan! Definitely something I would love to do myself as living out of a suitcase/backpack can get tiring after a while, it’s nice to have some stability every now and again. What other methods do you use to fund your travels or assist to keep your travels on the cheaper side?

We are both pretty low-maintenance – we don’t care too much about where we sleep or how we get there. We prefer slow travel – a $10 bus ride over a $100 flight or a $30 train ride is just fine for us. We often stay at hostels, if we can get a private room, in order to use the common cooking facilities and also to meet people. So many hostels offer free walking tours (of course we tip!) or a group visit to a nearby market or a lake or mountain. It’s a great way to spend a day cheaply and make some friends along the way, and then cook as a group for dinner that night. Other hostel-goers are really great at sniffing out good deals for happy hour, tapas, late night drinks, etc. 

By saving up our travel and doing it for a whole year at a time, we are able to rent our house out so we don’t have to worry about paying the mortgage while we’re gone, but still have a house to come home to. We’ve done some house sitting for friends, so I’m thinking about getting us certified as housesitters to see if that might be a way to save some money and see another part of a city- a neighborhood rather than the central tourist district. 


That’s some great advice, we rented our flat too when we first left. We’ve also done housesitting, I’d definitely recommend it! So going back to your husband – can you tell me a little about how you met? I’ve heard single travellers describe finding a partner difficult.

We met in a running/drinking group – the Hash House Harriers. Most countries have a branch. It’s a great way for ex-pats to meet up and also get to know some locals and expats from other places. You run, you drink. Chris and I kept meeting up at runs, bbqs, etc and started hanging out, then dating. 

We were fortunate to meet but then just eight months later his work sent him to Africa while my work sent me to Central America. It was too soon to decide to toss aside my job and run off together, so we did a year apart – a lot of texts, Skype calls, emails, and we saw each other on my winter and spring break. By spring break we felt we were ready to move in together, so I quit my job in June, moved to Africa, and started looking for a job there. 


You have a lovely story! Can you tell me how your travels have changed since you met Chris?

For a while I continued to travel alone because he didn’t have free time at the same times I did. So I traveled a lot of Africa by myself or with new teacher friends. But after a while Chris and I got our schedules to sync up better and now we travel together a lot. Our new thing has been to try to get a friend or two to link up with us on our travels – last year my college roommate and her husband joined us for a week in Scandinavia – it was really fun to share that experience with them! 


That sounds so much fun with others! Do you have any advice for spending so much time together – how do you make it work?

We each have our expertise: I’m the planner – I book hotels, plane tickets, bus tickets, train, etc. He’s the daily navigator – he reads the maps and gets us around the nearby sights. Once on a year-long trip we started getting really bitchy with each other. We spent the whole day apart – he stayed in and read a book while I spent all day doing a hop on/hop off bus in Singapore. By the end of the day we were both fine. I think we just needed a day apart!

That sounds so much like me and John – I plan it all and he stops me getting lost! It does end up in some arguments when I’m driving! It’s great travelling together, but it can be hard spending so much time together. Did you have any nightmare experiences along the way?

Once we took a ferry from Wales to Dublin. On the ferry they even have a hotel booking service to help you secure a room, but we just figured “Nah, we’ll sort it out ourselves”. It turned out that there was a huge soccer match in Dublin that night and everything was booked. Literally everything. We wound up putting our bags in the bus station locker, staying out along the Temple Bar area till 4 am, then found a Chinese food diner until 6. At 7 am we boarded a bus bound for Cork and slept the whole way there. All in all it was pretty fun but at some point staying up all night just gets tiring!


We had a bit of an experience with fully booked places like that too in Melbourne for the Australian Open! Is there anything you would have done differently?

Now we always book the first night or two in a city ahead of time. When we arrive, if we like the place, we extend the stay, and if it’s sketchy, we look somewhere else. Occasionally it turns out the place we’ve booked is full later in the week, but most times, they’re able to accommodate us or there’s a hotel or hostel nearby so it’s not that hard to move down the block after the second night. We each only carry one bag so packing it up doesn’t take long.


Great advice! When we went to Thailand I definitely overplanned the accommodation I’d booked, I would have liked to mix it up a bit, in terms of the places we went once we were there but I didn’t want to loose the cash we’d paid. Do you ever plan to ‘settle down’?

Right now we’re in a three year stretch of “being settled” in Virginia, although we still travel for my winter break, spring break, and summer break. I think for the next 10-15 years we will work three years/travel one year, and then when we are in our 50’s/60’s we will look to “retire” in a country where cost of living is low, such as Cambodia or Nicaragua, or maybe we will wind our way through South America, spending six months to a year in each country instead of trying to “see it all” in a week or a month.


That sounds like a great concept, and you’ll get to experience the way of life more than if you were just there for a short period. Have you got any advice for aspiring travellers debating whether to take the plunge?

People think they can’t afford to travel but really it’s a matter of priorities. If you want your home to have the latest gadgets, gorgeous art work, and your closet to have high-end stuff, then that is great and you can achieve that. But if you want to travel, then you don’t buy that stuff- instead you put $100 from each paycheck into savings until you have enough to take a trip. Every time I think I want a new KitchenAid mixer or a new pair of leather knee-high boots, I think to myself “That would cost $200 here… but that’s two days of travel in Vietnam”. And then I realize that my old hand mixer works just fine and I already have a pair of boots that are just fine and then I get online and start planning out “Where to visit in Hoi An” and I’m dreaming of the future. 


That is so true! It was something I really struggled with before travelling, my wardrobe is still pretty huge, but I think I’ve reigned in it so much more than how I used to be before I met John. To finish Deah is going to share some stories around cocktails, she tells me she’ll try absolutely anything on the happy hour special (I just love those!)!

Bloody Mary Honduras: We spent New Year’s Eve out on the Honduras Bay islands last year, enjoying the beaches and diving. Unfortunately I developed a sinus infection on the night of New Year’s Eve and I just really didn’t feel like partying it up. The next morning my husband went diving but my ears hurt so I didn’t feel like I should. I walked him to the dive shop, and even though it was 8 am, the dive shop bar was having a Bloody Mary Morning. I settled in with a Bloody Mary and wound up chatting with some patrons – and by the time I was done with the second drink, my ear felt fine! 

Porron: This is a picture of me in Barcelona, drinking from a Spanish “porron” at a tapas bar. We had done a free walking tour that day and we enjoyed it so much that the whole group stayed on for an evening walking tapas tour. It was a great way to spend the day with some new friends and find some drink specials and learn how to drink “the Spanish way”.

Helsinki: Of course it rained when we had only one day to spend in Helsinki and frankly we just weren’t up for slogging it out in the rain. So we found this lovely wine bar and just sat inside, watching the rain, and reading this book about the city. It wasn’t the same as exploring, but it was still a lovely day.

Krakow: We arrived in Krakow last summer only to discover that it was World Youth Day and there were literally 2 million teens arriving in Krakow that day to see the Pope. It got to where you couldn’t even walk in the streets. Chris and I found a rooftop bar opposite the cathedral the Pope would be visiting, ordered some cocktails, and settled in to just watch the crowd. It was way better than trying to navigate the streets.


Well thank you for your lovely stories, what can I stay, I love cocktails!!  I hope you enjoy your future travels Deah, thank youf or sharing with us.  If you’d like to keep up with Deah’s adventures, you can catch her over at  Stay posted, I have some other great interviews coming up!!

Interviews with other travellers: Brit

Next up on our traveller interviews is Brit, a 20 something Canadian, currently in Portugal.  Brit has travelled Africa, the Caribbean and India.  Today she’s going to tell us about her adventures including nightmare experiences and why they haven’t put her off travelling.

So to start, can you give us a brief outline of your travelling experience – where you have travelled and how long you have been travelling?

I’ve been travelling for the last 6 years. Mostly in Africa, as I was volunteering in Rwanda on and off for the past 6 years. I’ve also travelled to much of the Caribbean, and to India. I’ve been travelling full time since the beginning of September this year. I gave up my apartment in Toronto and decided to just go for it. I was spending so much time traveling that it was hard for me to justify paying rent every month for a place I was at only half of the time.

How and why did you decide to start travelling? How long did it take you to decide to actually do it?

I have always been extremely curious about the world. I started traveling for this reason and have always try to mold my life and employment choice around travel. I worked as a flight attendant in university. I studied international development and worked in that field in Rwanda. About 2 years ago I went back to school to learn how to code and I’ve been freelancing ever since. I started doing short trips, working and traveling and now I am working and traveling full time as a digital nomad.

It can be scary selling all of your things and giving up your apartment. Even if you hardly spend anytime there, having a home to go back to can be very comforting. It took me about 6 years of traveling to finally go all in but I am really happy I made that decision.


So true, I only sold my car rather than apartment, but it is hard giving things up. Can you tell me how much you initially saved up to start your travels?

I really didn’t save up that much money. I had about $2000 in the bank when I left for Europe in September.  

Do you fund your travels by working along the way? If so can you tell me about the jobs you have completed?

I do fund my travels by working along the way. I am a software developer so I make websites for clients, mostly wordpress sites for small businesses. I also teach coding workshops and other workshop. Plus I’ve also done social media management and worked with hostels doing photography copyrighting and social media in exchange for free stays and meals.


That’s great, you have so many skills, you can check out Brit’s portfolio and find out how to contact her if you’d to work with her here So, what other methods do you use to fund your travels or assist to keep your travels on the cheaper side?

I exchange work for accommodation and some meals, I don’t eat out very often and cook most of my meals, I’m usually very flexible with dates so I can find pretty cheap flights and I travel slow, by staying in one place for a while you usually tend to save a little more money. I also write a travel and lifestyle blog so sometimes I will get free tours or accommodation in exchange for blog posts and social media posts. When you are invited to a place by the tourism board they usually cover your flights as well which is really nice.



Where was your favourite place(s) to visit?

Africa will always have a special place in my heart. Rwanda is my favourite country to visit. I’ve made friends there that have turned into family and I go back every year. I also really love Capetown. It’s a really cool city with a great vibe.




So you’ve had a few nightmare experiences, would you mind sharing those with us?

I’ve had a few not so pleasant experiences but I’ve learned from them and I am thankful for what they taught me. I once asked 3 American girls to watch my bag for me when I was at a bus stop in Namibia and I had to go and get money to pay my visa at the next border. I was gone for maybe 20 mins and my bag weighed about 25kg so I didn’t want to lug it with me to the bank. When I returned my bag was gone and so were the girls. It was all I owned in the world at that time and I was pretty crushed but after a day of feeling sorry for myself I learned that I really didn’t need material things to be happy and traveled much lighter for the next few weeks.

I think my scariest incident was in Dar es Salaam. I don’t talk about this very much but I was held at gun-point in a taxi cab for four hours by four men. They took my bank card and credit cards, made me give them my pin numbers and held me in the car while they drained my accounts. It wasn’t a nice experience and it’s not something I ever want to relive. I didn’t think they were going to let me go and all I could think about was that my poor mother would never know what happened to me. But they did let me go unharmed after they had drained my accounts. Although it was a terrible experience money can be replaced. I’m much more cautious when I travel now. I’m not saying it won’t happen again but I think I learned from the experience and I am very aware of my surroundings. Besides, usually when something bad happens, something good happens afterwards that will restore your faith in humanity. I had a bus ticket back to Kigali the next day and this really nice Tanzanian man who was studying in Rwanda noticed that I wasn’t getting off the bus to get food every time it stopped. We started chatting and eventually he asked me why. I told him what happened to me the day before and explained that I didn’t have any money and after that without even asking, whenever he got off the bus to buy food he bought me some too. He didn’t have much but he shared what he did have with me and expected nothing in return. He also walked with me once I got back to Kigali and made sure I got to where I was going safely.


That sounds horrendous, but I’m so glad it hasn’t put you off travelling. Looking back now, is there anything you would have done differently?

I am a strong believer that life turns out the way it’s supposed to and that everything happens for a reason. I don’t think I would have done very much differently in my life. I am happy for the lessons I’ve learned and I think I am exactly where I want to be at this point in my life.

Do you ever plan to ‘settle down’?

It depends what you mean by settle down. I would love to meet a partner that I could share my life with. Get married and have kids one day. Will I change my lifestyle when that happens. I hope I never have to settle down completely. I see families that travel the world together and live perfectly stable lives. I find that inspiring. I don’t think you need to live your life the way other people expect you to. At the end of the day you have to go to bed with yourself each night and wake up with yourself each morning. Do what makes you happy and what feels right for you.

What advice would you give to aspiring travellers debating whether to take the plunge?

I would say what are you waiting for? The world is a big, wonderful and inspiring place. There is so much to learn and so much to discover. Do your research and have some money in the bank but there are ways to travel cheaply and if you wait until you have saved “enough” or until you are “ready” you may be waiting forever. Just get out there and find a way to make it work. There are so many resources available now. Traveling doesn’t have to be expensive. You can WOOF, au pair, volunteer at hostels, get a working visa, etc. Just get out there and start.


That’s great, thank so much Brit for taking the time and being an inspiration. If you want to keep up with Brit, you get find out about her adventures at


Interviews with other travellers: Emily

Today is the first in my series of interviews with other travellers, I wanted to include these in my blog to pay homage to travellers before me whose blogs I devoured and gave me the aspirations and inspiration to book my one way flight. By sharing these interviews I want to inspire my readers to take that trip they’ve always been meaning to do and show how other travellers are already taking that path.

Today’s interview is with Emily of, a 31 year old currently in Jamaica and we’re going to hear all about her adventures. Emily, can you give us a brief outline of your travelling experience – where you have travelled and how long you have been travelling?

I’ve been travelling on and off since I was 15. My first experience being abroad was a 3-month exchange to France in high school and after that I was hooked. Heading to Australia after high school at the age of 17 when I should have been going to university wasn’t completely what my parents had in mind for me, but it really shaped how I considered travel to be an integral part of life for my adult life. Since those 7 months in driving around Australia in an unsafe car, I have travelled through Southeast Asia for 6 months, lived in the Cook Islands for an internship, done a semester abroad in New Zealand, worked for the UN in Fiji, backpacked through Central America for 3 months, hiked all over Peru, and lived in Kyrgyzstan for 18 months with the Peace Corps. Now I’m living in Jamaica for a year working for a non-profit, exploring this beautiful country as well as many other Caribbean islands (St. Lucia last week, Curacao next week!)


Sounds amazing, can you tell us how and why did you decided to start travelling?

My first big trip abroad was at 17 with a girl from high school, Kristen. We weren’t actually close friends, but we sat together in senior math, and one day she leaned over and said she was thinking of going to Australia instead of straight to university and did I want to go. I thought about it for about 5 seconds and said “Sure!”


Wow, that’s an early age! How did you initially save up to start your travels?

I have always made travelling a priority: in high school I did menial chores, paper routes, babysitting, house-sitting, and neighborhood labor to make cash, 90% of which I ferociously saved for first my trip to France and then my trip to Australia. Some of my trips have been funded through the work I’m doing, like my time in the Cook Islands and Kyrgyzstan and now Jamaica. My backpacking style is always budget, my philosophy has been to spend less to travel more. I have never had a new car, a big tv, fancy clothes, or the newest iPhone, I prefer to spend my cash on travel.



Do you fund your travels by working along the way?

Depending on the trip, like Jamaica, the Cook Islands, and Kyrgyzstan I have worked in development through internship/volunteering programs. In Australia, I worked behind a bar in the Outback and picked grapes. When I backpacked Central America and Southeast Asia, I was purely backpacking off of savings, though I did volunteer for a month in Thailand with a children’s centre, which was a great experience and saved me some cash.


What other methods do you use to fund your travels or assist to keep your travels on the cheaper side?

I have written travel blogs for my family and friends for years, but in the last 6 months I have begun considering it a business that can help me travel. I have also begun freelance writing and submitting travel writing to magazines to help pay for fun times. I am very budget conscious, probably to a fault. It is a habit that was formed very young and even 14 years later, I have a hard time breaking my go to budget level mentality (I still end up staying in truly horrid places for no reason at all).

Where was your favourite place(s) to visit?

This is a hard one! I was just in St. Lucia and it was absolutely beautiful. I loved bathing in the mineral pools and taking in the gorgeous scenery. I adored my time in Myanmar, a country I had been obsessed with for years. New Zealand is like my home in Canada but smaller and with meat pies, so it is very high on my list. My time spent in El Salvador was also incredible, so many neat things to do and the people were wonderfully friendly, I unexpectedly hitch hiked more in El Salvador than I have anywhere else, save New Zealand of course!


Did you have any nightmare experiences along the way?

Several. I have travelled alone a lot, especially in the last few years, so security as a solo female is always a priority. I’ve has some classic creepy taxi experiences, along with the general catcalling on the street that has gotten too close for comfort. I was in a terrible guesthouse on the Nicaraguan border that was attached to a bar and men were pounding on my door all night. Recently, I was attacked by two dogs here in Jamaica and thought I was going to be maimed for life. I do have some scars, but none incredibly prominent. A monkey jumped on me in Nepal, which to me is an absolute nightmare as a) I despise monkeys (never trust anything with opposable thumbs you can’t reason with) and b) I’m deathly scared of dying from rabies. I did not die from rabies, though I spent an entire night thinking I was going to.


Ah! Luckily I’ve managed to avoid animal attacks so far! Is there anything you would have done differently?

I would have started properly blogging earlier and using my writing talents for my advantage.


Do you ever plan to ‘settle down’?

I’m in the middle of a existential crisis right now actually, do I keep going with the line of work I’m in Jamaica doing or do I follow through with the travel writing/blogging and see where that takes me? Very tough call, but I can’t ever imagine a day where I say “I’m done” when it comes to travelling and exploring this world.


Difficult decision, and there’s still so many more places to explore! What advice would you give to aspiring travellers debating whether to take the plunge?

Just do it! You can make excuses for years, I have heard them all: I have a cat, I can’t save money, I ‘need’ a new car, I don’t have anybody to go with, I’m scared etc. All bullshit in my opinion if travel is really something you want to have in your life. I encourage anybody to just get out there and start. Begin with a short 10 trip somewhere relatively simple where your language is spoken. Stay in one place and do day trips. Work your way up to longer trips and more adventurous destinations. And if you’re a solo, and if you are always waiting for someone to go with you, you will never go anywhere, so make a plan, stay in guesthouses with a community feeling, and do what makes you happy!


Well thank you Emily for your insights! If you want to follow more on Emily’s adventures, head over to