This couple from Wollongong enjoy having a base to travel from. Contented Traveller is all about serendipity and Living The Dream for them requires no apology.
What was the first country you visited? Who with and why did you choose it?
The first country that I visited was Samoa. I had read a lot of Somerset Maugham and this was the country that I really wanted to see. This was PG (pre-Gordon), so I packed my kids up, and we went there. Gordon’s first trip was to Japan PP (pre-Paula) and this is how we both have become hooked on the country. He went there as part of the scouting movement, when he was quite young and says it was an amazing experience.
When did you start a travel lifestyle? What inspired that change?
I think we had both traveled independently before we met. Gordon claims he was born for it, as every year, he, and his family would travel from the top of Australia, where he lived, to the bottom. This used to take 5 days driving or a full days flight, because the planes had to stop to re-fuel.
I just knew that it was something I had to do, probably from reading so much. Our first test as to whether we would make it as a couple was a trip overseas and it worked. Then we took off again a few months later. I think we had done so many trips together before we could find the time to actually marry one another. I think it took us 6 years and about 12 trips.
It was always going to happen that I would fall into writing. I was initially was going to do journalism at university but then they offered me money to do a degree and teach. Money talked and I actually loved it. When I finished teaching, I looked at my skills in life, and other than education, I knew I could write and loved to travel. That is how our travel blog Contented Traveller was born. And I love it.
Do you have a base you travel from? Or is it continuous travel? And why do you choose that style?
We have a base in Wollongong, Australia. Last year we downsized from our home to an apartment on the beach. This was for many reasons; we are living a lifestyle and it makes it that much easier to up and leave. No worrying about lawns, mail, and garbage bins etc. It is very difficult as we always face long haul flights when we travel, but we do love our lifestyle here. Besides, when we decided to downsize I gave Gordon some options – a beach place or a houseboat in Amsterdam. I would have been happy with Amsterdam but I do love it here.
How do you fund your travel lifestyle? Is it something you do when travelling or are you a saver?
As a teacher in an executive position I was on good money, but .. I was never a great saver. My sister and brother-in-law are financial investment advisors. They put me on a budget very early on, and this had columns for everything. One was a travel expenses column and money from my pay was put in this column, money was put in another account for utilities, money for mortgage repayments, money for children’s activities etc, and the rest was play money…because they knew that I had to have lifestyle money. The banks hate me having so many accounts, but that is what works for me.
Consequently, I ended up being a very good saver and have been able to have it all. Gordon quickly fell into my column system and then suddenly we had a lot of money saved. We also now make money with this blog and that is excellent because we work hard and gives us a few more options.
If you could tell yourself one tip before you started your travel lifestyle, what would it be?
Probably what Gordon has taught me. Serendipity. I am a born organizer and sometimes you can’t or shouldn’t try to organize everything. Some of our best experiences have happened by default, if you like.
What does "Living The Dream" mean to you?
It means that we get to see new and different things. We are exposed to cultural differences and similarities. We meet amazing people because I have a knack for picking up randoms and bringing them back to Gordon, and we end up having some unusual experiences. I know that we are Living the Dream and we make no apology for our lifestyle. We have worked hard and earned it. The fact that we met one another later in life, and are one another’s best friends has made living the dream a reality for us. Soppy, I know, but having that someone to travel with makes it all special.