How To Become A Regular Traveller?
Ombretta Zanetti (Ombi) and I have been friends for over 25 years. We met at the Collingwood Leisure Centre, where I also met my gorgeous husband, Simon and beautiful friend Ivan. Ombi and I were always the odd ones out amongst the aerobic instructors and participants. Now remember, this was the 80's and many people didn't eat. But not Ombi and I. We enjoyed life and food to the max. Now 25 years later it has been wonderful to meet up with Ombi and her beautiful husband, Alex via Facebook.
Ombi and Alex always seemed to be travelling. They are an Australian/ Ecuadorian couple who have, between them, visited over 90 countries and speak three languages, English, Italian and Spanish. They are lovers of life, (if you follow Ombi on facebook, you will often see Ombi dancing in the kitchen with a broom), people and culture we are not always in the same place for a long time. They are intrepid travellers at heart.
So how do they do it?
Handing you over to Ombi to answer some of my questions.
I so laughed out loud when Caz wrote about us always being the odd ones out as eaters. When I met Alex way back in 1999 that's the first thing he said, "thank god you eat your food and don't just look at it!" Some things never change Caz. Love your blog by the way. I am excited to share our travels and how we manage to do this.
The where what and why of how we travel so often?
OK, so we are not 'things' people, we like to spend our money on experiences. Not buying big cars, expensive jewellery, fine dining several times a week, fancy clothes and shoes, all helps save a stack of money.
Also, consider this. One coffee and a sandwich and drink a day would set you back say $15.00. That's $75.00 a week, $300 a month and $3,600 a year ... voila, that's our ticket overseas plus a whole lot of other stuff (you can do a few weeks upmarket or several months in budget places on this amount). You see, it's not that hard. It's about prioritising and choices. The five letter C word, choice!
We also love to go to markets, check out what's around and cook our food. There are a few reasons for this. We will not compromise our health for anything. We are not weight-vigilantes but we are vigilant about keeping healthy, so we can continue to travel longer. How many 50-year-olds (yep turned 50 this year and owning it!) can say that they recently did a four day, 48-kilometre hike in 95 percent humidity in Colombia's northern jungle areas? Me! Well, Alex and I! By keeping fit we can do more of the stuff we love.
Of course, by buying most of our food and cooking it, we save loads of money. When you are travelling for months the amount is huge.
Another little food confession. We are both vegans (I have been vegetarian since 2000 and Alex and I both became vegan in mid-late 2016), so eating out while travelling can be hard, in some cultures more than others. Only yesterday we were hanging out with a gorgeous young mother, father and two young children family we met in Resistencia, Argentina, who shouted an ice cream after a meeting on a bus. We got chatting, and the husband laughed jovially and said, "In Argentina, vegans are either foreigners or locos (crazy)!" I smiled and said, "I am both!" Jokes aside, eating veggies and fruit is a lot cheaper than eating meat, having said that we are also passionate believers in respecting people's choices, you will still save by cooking your meat in your apartment or hostel. Remember that hotels rarely have cooking facilities regardless of what you eat.
I always like to say that we do 'budget not bedbugs'. Backpacking does not mean, that you are roughing it, or staying in dingy, divey places. You can stay in basic places that are super clean, organised and affordable. But you will have to look outside of the box to find these. They will not be 4 or 5 stars and go under headings like hostels and pensiones, but there are some great finds. Not all hostels mean bunk beds and sharing with 20 others. We have met and made some great friends doing this, friends who end up inviting us to go and stay with them.
There's also Couchsurfing, an awesome network of 'sleeping around the world for free'; like-minded people who want to share their space, good vibes and stories with like-minded people. Look it up. You'd be surprised at the variety of people who both hosts as well as 'couch surf'. And no, it's not only on couches.
Oh, back to staying with others, we always make sure we collaborate by buying things to share at mealtimes, which is a win-win situation.
Why do we travel?
We love people, cultural experiences and life.
Our motto: One Life! Live it!
How often do we travel?
As often as we can! No, we don't have kids (we do love them though!) and so it's easy to pick up and take off when and where we want to! We recently decided to make a professional go of this travel blogging thing, although we have had our blog since 2007 to let our family and friends know what we were up to.
Drum Roll ... how do we fund these trips?
When we are at home, Alex works in IT as a consultant and me in Community Development. We work hard and save our money. We do! We must then think about how to spend it so that we get more bang for our buck while travelling. As I said above, strategy 1 takes a look at how much you can save in a week just by not buying coffee and lunch. But you can still have a plunger and make good coffee at work. See, you are not missing out at all! You can also BYO lunch; healthy leftovers from the night before are a favourite of ours. Also, consider how often you go out for dinner and have dinner at your place or a friend's. Think about all of the things that you buy. Before I buy anything, I ask myself, "Do I like it? Do I want it? Do I need it." If it does not fulfil all three criteria, I don't buy it!
*You are right there Ombi. Simon and I moved to a smaller home this year. We were blown away by the amount of "stuff" we had collected. Never again. Like you, we now buy memories rather than stuff!
Lastly, life is all about what makes you happy, and I can only repeat that for Alex and I its experiences and not things!
I have been travelling since 1989 and with Alex since 1999. Between us, we have visited almost 95 countries. We passionately share 30 years of travel know-how, exploration and detours with you. We want to motivate you to experience this amazingly diverse world we live in and show you how to do it!
Love your life! Live your life!
We want to share with you the rewards that experiences over things can bring. We want to show you how you too can travel.
I can't thank Ombi enough for taking time out to share how she keeps travelling. There are a few more changes I will be making in my life after reading this, although the coffee????? I do love visiting my local café.
Please check out Ombi and Alex's fantastic blog Very Itchy Feet. You will love it as much as I do. Cheers to beautiful travels in 2018 and beyond.
The world is your oyster, and I agree with Ombi and Alex - Love you, your life and live it.
Thank you for reading and sharing. Have you set your travel goals for 2018? Where are you going? Ombi and I would love to hear from you.
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Please leave comments below or email Carolyn@cazinc.com.au.