An Interview with Fellow Travellers Samuel and Roseann of The Travel2
Every traveller can benefit from the experience and advice of these two backpackers, which have been ticking countries off their bucket list for the last seven years. They’re behind a beautiful blog called The Travel2, crossing over 31 borders while travelling together as a couple. Definitely, one of our favourite blogs on their platform is the Bali travel guide, which has been sitting too long on our bucket list.
Let’s see what they’ve got to say, shall we?
Okay, let’s start with a short introduction. Who are Samuel and Roseann behind The Travel2?
We are a twenty-six-year-old couple, that have been travelling together for the past 7 years. Our first holiday together was visiting our family in Oswaldtwistle, England. We both love travelling because it embodies our yearning to learn with our adventurous self.
Sam is an engineer and Rose is a teacher, and we both feel that we’re following two professions we’re very passionate about.
What about your full-time travelling experience?!
Before we started working full time, we used to save up money from our part-time jobs, and travel during University mid-terms and long weekends. When we started working full time, we booked our first ever long-haul trip. We travelled to Cuba. We remember the moment of realisation when we were on that flight and said, “There’s no turning back”. This holiday to Cuba fuelled our craziest travel dreams, and around two years later, we left Malta without knowing when we’d be back. We travelled Malta to Rome, and then Rome to Delhi, India. We never looked back. In total, we visited 31 countries, 17 of which on this past long trip.
We’re very ambitious and require a purpose to strive and work for. For this long trip, our initial purpose was to visit the 7 wonders of the world. A couple of months into our journey, our purpose changed. We realised that it’s the people that make a country, and not its landmarks. We were committed to volunteer in different countries to better engage with the locals and learn about their cultures. We had the opportunity to volunteer in India, Indonesia and Japan. We like to think of ourselves as social travellers because we are very passionate about the social aspect of it. And as for visiting the 7 wonders of the world, we have so far visited three; the Colosseum, the Great Wall of China, and the Taj Mahal. We also visited the Great Pyramids of Giza which are the only wonder of the world standing from the old wonders.
How did the current pandemic affect your travels?
Initially, we were thinking of returning back home in March 2020. But by December 2019 (13 months after leaving Malta), we realised that our energy levels were running low, and it was time for us to slowly start heading back home. And aren’t we grateful we didn’t go through with our initial plan?! Our whole journey to Malta was an absolute secret. We arrived on the 24th of January, 2020, surprised our family and friends, and a couple of months later, our lives were shaken by CoVid-19.
Vacation and long-term travelling. Would you consider it as the same thing?
It is definitely not! Everyone has different ideas of what a holiday means. A holiday for us is relaxing, and taking a break from our daily routines and busy lives. Long-term travelling is basically, living on the road, with all that it entails. Finding a safe place where to sleep and spend the night, eating and cooking, washing clothes, and taking care of your health when your immune system fails you. Long term travel is not for everyone, and definitely not for the faint-hearted.
What would be the most valuable lesson learnt during travelling?
So many lessons and experiences to share, but we fondly recall a beautiful memory our friend Shameem shared with us. Shameem is Indian, and around 15 years ago he used to live in Malta. Rose’s uncle made friends with him then, and this is how her uncle, and us, ended up visiting him in Kerala. In Kerala, we were living with Shameem and his family, when he told us his story. Most of his friends were travelling to Dubai for work, but he wanted to do something different and look for work on a tiny island called Malta. And so, he did, even though it was very hard for Shameem to find a job in Malta.
He persevered and never gave up on his dream. He kept on knocking doors and looking for work on the island, even when he had just a few Maltese Lira cents in his pockets, and finally, he landed a job. His determination is what helped him succeed in the hospitality business in Malta, and when he returned back home after years of working on our island, he had saved up just enough money to open his business in his hometown.
His humble background and will to chase his dreams fuelled us with energy to pursue ours. Thank you Shameem. We know you are reading this because you are amongst our biggest supporters, and we will never forget you and your family.
Hitchhiking, interacting and spending the night with locals. Would you consider such things dangerous? What’s your advice?
Definitely not. We did all three things mentioned, and they ended up being some of the most beautiful memories we have. We never felt uneasy while talking with a local, because we always approached the situation with an open mind. This means that you’re open for ideas and flexible with your ways but understand your boundaries and realise that it’s time to get out of a situation when you’re not comfortable.
Which of the countries you visited would you mostly want to return back to? Why?
Difficult question. Very difficult! We’d be happy to return to all countries we visited… If we had the time and money. As time passes, we can see things from a clearer point of view and find ourselves reminiscing about our travels, while talking so fondly of both Japan and Cuba that we feel we’d go back one day or another. Cuba will always hold a very special place in our hearts because it was our first long-haul holiday and culture shock. As for Japan, we have to point out that we both grew with anime, and our dream to visit unconsciously started from a young age (thank you “cool Japan”). We were never as excited to arrive in a country, as we were when the plane was landing on Osaka, Japan.
5 things you ALWAYS search about before visiting a country.
The first thing we look for is if a VISA is needed to enter a country. The second thing would be the currency. Third thing is ATM, that goes hand in hand with data (mobile phone connectivity). We paired these two up because we normally take care of them right after we land in a country. We go to the airport booths that sell mobile phone data plans, see which one is the most convenient, and sign up for that one. Then one of us would go withdraw money from the nearest ATM in the airport and pay. The fourth thing has to be transportation. We look up any transportation apps used in the country, like GRAB and GoJek. And the fifth thing is probably food. We research what is the food-scene in the country because we’d gladly try out new dishes and taste new flavours.
“You must be rich, or else have outsider support to be able to travel for a long period of time!” How would you respond to such a statement?
We’ve heard this statement so many times. Our parents also had friends tell them that they must be helping us out financially for us to travel so far, and for so long. It baffles us that people, adults, still haven’t yet grasped the concept of prioritising. It is what we do best to be able to travel. Our main aim was to travel for as long as we could, so we worked hard, and saved up some.
We came back home not because we were short of cash, but because we wanted to. Working in Australia helped our travel dream financially as well, and let us travel longer.
Can you share any ways which:
Helped you reduce the costs along the way
We’ll share three points that are imperative when travelling long term. But really, the list is endless.
1. Ditching hotels altogether and sleeping in airbnbs or hostels.
2. Eating at local restaurants (not touristy restaurants) and trying out street food.
3. Using public transport. For example, if there’s a speed boat or a public ferry choice (which is normally more than half the price of the speed boat), it’s obvious which one we’re going to take.
Helped you financially sustain your full-time travels
Writing all our costs down. When you write how much you’re spending, you’re aware of your purchases and budget. This has helped us a lot when projecting travel plans.
Have you got any plans post COVID-19?
We are not getting our hopes up because a part of us, deep, deep down, knows that travel won’t be the same for a while now. At the same time, we wish to visit so many destinations that we cannot help but fantasize about travel!
What’s the advice you would give to someone who is thinking about going on a long-term travel adventure?
Talk to people that have already been in your situation, because they are the people that will best understand your ideas and dreams. Take suggestions, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. At a certain point, you’ll surely feel scared, anxious or frustrated. Just remember that you are much stronger than you think you are. And our personal favourite… If there’s a will, there’s a way!