Audrey and Andrew, budget travellers who run Gumnuts Abroad travel blog, have over 30 years experience in Globetrotting as a couple and with 20+ countries under their belt, this travelling couple sure have some stories to tell! We got the chance to speak to the couple about how they’ve seen travel change over the years and find out what pearls of wisdom they can share with newbie travellers looking for a life of adventure!
What first inspired you to travel?
I think we were looking for fun and adventure. Our first overseas trip was to Fiji when we were 19. And then we did some package trips to Asia. One day it dawned on us that we enjoyed our free time more than the tours, and decided to give backpacking a go. We haven’t looked back since.
What do your children think about your travels now they’re grown up?
They’ve grown up travelling with us and aren’t surprised we’ve taken this time for ourselves. Our daughter thinks it’s cool and tells all her friends to look us up on Facebook. Our son is happy for us but worries about our safety. When we were staying at the beach in El Salvador he emailed us updates on Tsunami warnings!
What’s the hardest challenge you’ve had to face as a travelling couple?
Would you believe, the most difficult thing about travelling long term as a couple is finding something to talk about at dinner? We spend all day chatting together and by dinner time we’ve run out of things to say. So now we try to save something for our table conversation.
What’s one thing you can’t travel without
Our camera. Our photos mean everything to us
What’s your all-time favourite travel photo, does it have a story behind it?
Our favourite photo was taken at the pyramids of Egypt in 2000. We had both quit our jobs and we’d taken our kids out of school for a term to go travelling. The photo is of Andrew and I with one child each sitting on two camels. The Great Pyramid looms in the background and the kids are wearing Bedouin scarves we’d bought from a tout. We had it blown up and professionally framed. And it’s a stunning reminder of the magical time we had together.
How have things changed since you first started travelling?
The most obvious change is technology. There are so many different apps available that make travel easier. From maps to budgeting to hotel reviews and sights to see, they’re all available at your fingertips. But for us, the best thing is ease of communication. Being able to chat with our family from the privacy of our own room instead of a noisy internet cafe is priceless.
Is there anything that still scares you about being on the road?
Losing our valuables. We’re more likely to lose something than have it stolen. So far, we’ve lost a pair of reading glasses and our binoculars – we think they went overboard on a boating trip in Turkey.
What’s your preferred way to travel?
We travel independently as we love our freedom and like being able to change our plans whenever we want to. We call ourselves backpackers as we stay in cheap hostels and use public transport to get around. For the last few months, we’ve been travelling in Central America using local chicken buses and finding accommodation as we go. It’s our favourite way to travel.
How do you decide where you’re going next?
We don’t have a set process for deciding where we want to go. And we’ve been known to change our minds three times before making a final decision. But answering some of these questions makes it easier. Is it somewhere we both want to go? How far do we have to travel to get there? Are we going on a long or short trip? How will we get there and how much will it cost? What are the costs of food, transport and accommodation? What is there to see and do there?
What’s the first thing you do when you arrive somewhere new?
We try to get our hands on a map and go for a walk to get our bearings. We look for the nearest supermarket, ATM and restaurants and cafes. I also like to know there’s a pharmacy nearby. All the things we might need during our stay.
You might also like to read about our first month in Australia and what it taught us!!
If you could give one piece of advice to a first-time traveller, what would it be?
Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone. Jump on a local bus. Eat where the locals eat. Wander around and get lost. Break away from the usual tourist trail and you’ll have a richer more rewarding experience.
Do you have any budgeting tips for those looking into long-term travel?
Our biggest tip is not to pre-book accommodation using online booking sites like booking.com. They charge huge commissions to the businesses using their services which you ultimately pay for. Taxes are also added to the quoted price and you can end up paying a lot more than you expected. You can avoid this by either booking through the company’s own website or better yet just turn up on the day. We’ve saved hundreds of dollars by travelling this way.
Another great way to save money is to avoid the popular shuttle buses and take public transport between towns. For example, to catch a shuttle bus from El Tunco in El Salvador to Leon in Nicaragua cost $35 per person. We were able to do it by chicken bus for $14 for the both of us!
A final tip would be to spend your time and money on the things you are truly interested in seeing. Just because a sight is popular and a “must see” doesn’t mean you have to see it too.
What’s the biggest sacrifice you’ve had to make in order to travel?
The biggest sacrifice we’ve made so that we can travel is not renovating our home. We bought an old farmhouse that had a dodgy old kitchen that desperately needed updating. Every year we planned to get a new one and every year we went overseas instead. Fifteen years later the kids moved out, and we finally had a new kitchen installed. Then we decided to downsize!
We’re slowly moving through Central America to Columbia. Then we’re heading to India where Andrew’s brother will join us. The question we struggle to answer though, is what happens after the trip is over?
To follow these awesome Gen Xers on their travels and find out what they get up to next find them on Facebook. Don’t forget to check out their blog too for over 50’s travel inspiration and tonnes more!!