Anna and Tom met whilst on the road and continued to travel together and create their online travel business which after just six months is now helping to support their amazing lifestyles. Over a stilted Skype conversation, with Anna and Tom sat in a hostel on the island of Tuk Tuk on Lake Toba, Sumatra, I found out more about the pair and why they are perfect for the role of South East Asia Backpacker Ambassadors.
“Can we Skype an hour early?” Asked Anna via email. “There’s a traditional Batak cultural dance taking place in the hostel this evening!”
Well aware of the challenges of running a demanding travel website whilst working out of backpacker hostels with all their spontaneity and quirky characters, I smiled sympathetically and jumped online! Here is the conversation that followed…
So first of all, the question we all want to know is – how did you both meet?
Hah! We get asked this often! Tom and I met while we were traveling. I was nearing the end of my backpacking trip while Tom was around seven months into his. I was taking a go pro video of myself while sand sledding down the sand dunes in Mui Ne, Vietnam and from the corner of my eye, I saw Tom rolling down the sand dunes. No sand sled or anything, just going at it in full speed looking like he was having the time of his life. He came over to borrow my sled and the rest was history! We traveled together throughout Vietnam then met up again in Thailand and have stayed together since. Falling in love while traveling is pretty common but actually making it work isn’t.
When did you decide to start the travel blog ‘Adventure in You’ and how did you decide on the name?
We started Adventure in You last March 2015 when we were both living in Manila, Philippines. Tom moved there while I finished my Master’s degree course. Both of us were missing the life on the road so we decided to start a blog to document our travels together. The name began due to our love for adventure…and a couple, okay, a lot of bottles of wine. Up to this day we playfully argue who actually came up with the name! We believe that everyone has their own adventure in life. Be it traveling, pursuing a career, or even raising a family. Whatever you want out of life, pursue it relentlessly! Our tag line (for lack of a better word) is to inspire and unleash the Adventure in You!
What are your short and long term goals for ‘Adventure in You’?
Well our short term goal is to be able to sustain our travels through our blog. We started Adventure in You a little over six months ago but have only been doing it fulltime for three months. We have been lucky enough to start generating some sort of income which now sustains one of us traveling. As for our long term goal, we want to turn our website into a useful resource guide for people to turn to when looking for adventures to do in every country. Although we write some guide and destination articles, our main focus is reviewing adventures. We are slowly building up our content in every destination. So let’s say you are planning to travel to Indonesia, people can head on over to our site to read up on top adventures there, and get a good idea on what the experience is like based on our honest and descriptive adventure reviews.
How many hours a week would you say you work on the blog? Is it harder / easier work than you thought?
When we first began, we thought this would be a walk in a park! How hard could writing about your travels be? Little did we know that A LOT of work needs to be put in if you want your blog to be a success. There are so many blogs out there and you need to make sure yours stands out. Right now Tom and I work 6 days a week, for at least 4-6 hours every day. That’s when we’re not moving around and doing stuff of course. We try to have one unplugged day a week where we detach from social media and hit the beach, go for a hike, or even just read a book for a couple of hours. When we were in Bali, we got into a routine of waking up early, going for a morning surf then working until 4 or 5 in the afternoon. We would then either surf again or do yoga. Because we are still a new blog, we put in a lot of hours in-but it doesn’t seem like it as we both love and enjoy what we do!
What are the benefits / challenges of being full time travel bloggers?
Anna: Well, first of all, our office settings are often pretty epic! We get to work with some of the vest views in sight. From beaches to lakes, as long as there is good internet, we set up shop! We’re both extremely grateful that we get to combine something that we love doing while earning money on the side.
As for the challenges, two words. Bad WiFi. Hah! Kidding aside, another challenge that we have is finding the right balance between traveling/exploring and working. There are days where we have to remind ourselves to take a break and explore our surroundings not because we have to write about it! But on a general perspective, we can’t complain! We get messages all the time about how we inspire other people. Whether it’s inspiring them to take the big leap to pack their bags and travel or just by giving them a daily motivation boost. We love connecting with our readers and that to us is one of the best things about what we do.
Tom, I believe that you gave up the opportunity of a highly paid, corporate job to travel the world blogging. Have you had any regrets?
None at all! I could be making around 7 times more a month than what we currently make through Adventure in You but I would not be enjoying every day as much as I do now. When I first resigned and turned down another opportunity, the press quickly featured my story. I got really nice comments from readers but as always a few negative ones. These comments mainly implicated that before long, I would soon be broke and begging to get my job back, along with starting back at the bottom. My simple reply to them was that right now I have never been happier trying to create a business I’m passionate about, while traveling and exploring the world. If I end up broke I will cross that bridge when I come to it… but I will have no regrets because I’m trying to live my life to the fullest.
Anna – I read that you used to be a teacher – would you like to go back to teaching ever?
Yes, definitely! Teaching is one of my first passions and I would love to still continue doing it at one point. In fact, I’m looking at teaching English while in South America to help fund my travels in that region. As for proper school teaching, it would have to be a really good non-conventional school with a curriculum that I believe in. I would also love to set up art workshops for kids while on the move.
Where will your travel plans take you over the next year? Do you prefer to plan or be spontaneous?
As for our travel plans, we are heading to Europe in the next few weeks to spend time with Tom’s family! We will be traveling around France with Tom’s dad then we are off to find somewhere relatively cheap to travel around, until Christmas. We will be spending Christmas in Wales this year. We are both very excited, although I’m not looking forward to the cold! After that, our general plan is to fly to South America. We haven’t planned anything yet for that, but after all, that is part of the fun!
Are there any differences in the way that you like to travel / work / relax?
It’s funny because Tom and I are completely alike in some ways, but completely different as well in some. Luckily, we both have the same work ethic. We love working together because we are a good team. I handle the writing and design work while he manages the business side of things. We complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses-which is key in every partnership! As for travel style, that’s when we differ. I like planning and looking into things while Tom just goes with the flow. We’ve learned how to meet in the middle and find the right balance between planning and spontaneity. We recently wrote a joint article about this tilted “To Plan or Not to Plan when Traveling”.
What is travel really like as a couple? Is it great to share special moments? Do you drive each other mad at times?
People ask us this all the time! It’s funny because we both can’t believe how we’ve managed to travel for this long without hating each other. In fact, when the other person is out doing something else on their own, we can’t wait to be together again. I think it helps that we genuinely enjoy each other’s company. We love doing things together and enjoy sharing experiences. Whether it’s trekking through the jungles of Sumatra or waking up at 1am to hike a volcano under the starlit sky, traveling with someone that you love is pretty special. Naturally, just like every couple, we would argue about things, especially in the early stages of our blog as we would get stressed and frustrated with each other. However, since we’ve gone fulltime, we’ve gotten into a groove of working together and rarely argue. We’ve agreed on pausing arguments-but funny enough, we’ve never had to do it…yet!
I read on your website about the ‘Wandergive Project’ – what is it and why is ‘giving back’ something that is so important to you?
Traveling, especially around South East Asia has been both humbling and eye opening for us! We see so many beautiful things around us, but also see a lot of poverty. In every place that we go to, we make it a point to live local in order to see and experience what life is really like. For example in the Philippines, we lived with a local fisherman where we ate nothing but rice for a few days as they didn’t have any catch. It was both a humbling yet great experience. With that in mind, we want to encourage a lifestyle and movement within travelers by providing them with different avenues on how to help others. As of now, we haven’t been able to do much with it yet as we wanted to establish our blog first. We are however, looking forward to getting the ball rolling on this one!
Can you ever see yourselves settling down in one place for a while?
As of now, if we were to be honest, no. We both have too much that we want to see and do! There is just too much of this world that we want to explore.
If yes, (or if you were forced to!) where would that be?
However, we do know plans change all the time. If we were to settle somewhere though, even if it were for a couple of months, it would have to be somewhere close to a beach-preferably with surf! We parked ourselves in Canggu, Bali for a bit and we loved every minute of it!
What do you hope to achieve as South East Asia Backpacker Ambassadors!?
Our main goal is to continue inspiring others to travel around South East Asia-and other places, of course. We love writing about off-the-beaten path places and living local so we hope that adds a unique perspective to the SEA brand.
You can follow Tom and Anna’s adventures through their Facebook Page.