WHAT'S GENUINE TO YOUR EXPERIENCE? - AN INTERVIEW WITH JUSTIN & TRACY
To those of you who are not already eagerly following them, we suggest you do. Justin & Tracy of A Couple For The Road are already superstar inspirations in travel, writing and discovery.
With some of the best quality material Ohkari has come across, in a world brimming with travel bloggers and writers, we had the honor of interviewing them on travel, the unknown comfort zone and doing what you care about. The photo says it all; unpretentious, genuine and insatiably curious modern explorers.
Sounds like you have both had quite the journey, and A Couple for the Road was recently published. It seems like you have both had the accumulation of many years of “market research” before publishing!
True, but both of our travels have taken off since meeting each other more than ten years ago. Prior to that, we both did quite a bit of solo travel as college students. It was once we met, however, and shared our common passions (with traveling being the foremost of those) that we dedicated to seeing as much of the world as we can and truly immersing ourselves in cultures and experiences around the world. In the past ten years, we’ve been able to travel to more than 50 locations around the globe, and have grown immensely from it - both independently and as a pair.
The free guide you offer “How To Travel The World & Work A Day Job” looks amazing and identifies a balance between work and travel - has that balance been hard to find?
It’s quite hard, and it’s a continual process, but totally worth it. Between work and travel, it often feels like you’re stealing from one to give to the other or “robbing Peter to pay Paul”. Yet, travel, work, and life itself are all about balance, and we would like to think that we do a pretty good job of that most of the time. There are always times, however, where work spills over into leisure time as it is for anyone else.
Everyone has off days. What advice would you give to someone finding it hard to step out of their comfort zone?
Here’s an interesting thought that we love, and helps us step into the “unknown”, so to speak. Your “comfort zone” is someone else’s “unknown”. Would you invite them there? Do you want people to love the places you love and experience the things you have and enjoyed? Of course you would! This is why people who love travel talk about it so much. It’s a passion. So, just remember that the “unknown” in question is normally something someone else loves, and you can only find out if you love it also if you take the risk of stepping into something new. In this way, the “unknown” becomes known very quickly :)
What is the most amazing place you have visited and why?
Ah, that’s such a difficult question… it’s often like picking a favorite pet. At the top of the list remains Machu Picchu, because of its sheer grandeur and the power it has over those who see it for the first time. It’s popular and tourists frequent it, but only with good reason. It’s a miraculous place!
One piece of travel gear or kit you wish existed?
Great question! I’m waiting for the day of the “expandable gear”, if that makes sense. Laptops that start small, but can somehow stretch to full size compatibility. Once you start traveling with the purpose of chronicling your adventure, either in a blog or via some other means, you find that camera and computer gear takes up most of your space. It’s impossible to avoid, so we can’t wait for some breakthroughs to come along in that field. It may seem science fiction right now, but I’m sure at some point there will be holographic laptops or something to that effect. Sounds cool, right?
How many trips do you take per year?
We normally take 3 long, multiple-week trips and several smaller ones - up to 6-8. Our home base being in Miami affords us proximity to an airport that flies directly to several locations in Europe, many big cities in South America, and supports the entire Caribbean and even South Africa. That really helps, especially if you’re trying to fit in a quick 3-4 night jaunt over a national holiday, or something to that effect.
What are the five most important things that you take with you on a journey?
- MONEY BELT. Too many travelers don’t use money belts as a safeguard against theft. We keep our wallet, cash and copies of our passports in the money belt at all times, and keep it on us constantly. We have never been pick-pocketed (successfully) because of this, though we’re aware of several attempts that have been made and times we’ve even caught thieves nipping around our pockets. It’s an essential that most thing isn’t “fashionable” enough to use. Honestly, it’s hardly noticeable under a t-shirt.
- Portable charger. We take pictures all day long. Laptops, phones, and camera batteries need constant recharging when you’re traveling (whether or not you run a travel website).
- Copies of our passport. Just in case you lose your passport or have it stolen, having a copy allows the local embassy to quickly and easily get you the information you need to get your VISA reissued and headed home. Otherwise, the research for this information and verification can take several days, leading to missed flights and ruined trips. Make 2 copies of each, have one in your money belt and leave the other in the hotel.
- Earplugs. Hotels can be noisy, and it’s difficult to replicate the environment of your home on the road. Take earplugs, and get decent rest.
- Each other. We know it’s corny, but we wouldn’t be here if we didn’t have one another, and there’s simply no one we would rather travel with :)
A Couple For The Road is the full package and offers a range of information, advice, products and inspiration to the reader. In today’s travel-tech-blogging game, would you say it’s important to cover all bases?
Write what you know and what you believe you can offer that’s genuine to your experience. We write about places we know and the types of things we care about. We don’t write about “budget travel”, because the information is out there and we can’t offer anything that hasn’t already been said. We don’t write about “luxury travel”, because that’s not how we travel, and it would be disingenuous to act as though we do. We write about cultural travel because we love art, film, music, history, language learning, street food, local drinks, and the stories of the people that make cities unique. So, if someone loves those things, we want to be a comprehensive guide for those seeking to travel the way we travel.
Are there any plans for workshops, webinars, conferences or events in the near future (Ohkari hopes so!)?
Yes, actually. We’re currently planning to begin an “A Couple for the Road” webinar series, to start by the end of March 2018. In addition, as a couple who appreciates the language arts and tries to adopt as much language as we can before we travel to a new location, we’ll be offering language learning materials specifically for travelers, and offering that content as e-courses in 2018.
Do you have any advice for up-and-coming travel writers to get their message out there?
Just be you and write what you care about. Find the places you care about, and go there as often as possible. Get to really know them. Immerse yourself in the whole experience and be someone unique to your potential audience. In our first few months of doing this, we were writing much more general content, and we ultimately asked ourselves “how do we add value?” The answer? Write what you love. Write what you care about. If you love it, there’s a good chance someone else does too, so let that be your audience.