Carmen and Dave are the founder and authors of Double Barreled Travel blog. They are two Aussies who moved to London together at the end of 2008, beginning an adventure with little expectations. You can follow their blog on Twitter, Facebook, Gmail or You Tube.
First of all give us a quick background of both of you….
I kissed Dave goodbye a week after we started dating and told him to have fun – he was off to travel the world for a year and I wasn’t about to stop him.
Dave and I met when I was 18 and he was 23 but we didn’t start dating until three years later. When this happened, I was a year out of university (where I studied journalism) and working at a local newspaper. He’d just finished a five year stint as a TV reporter, working for stations including the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
He left for his trip but returned six months early. We decided to move to London to live and three months later packed our bags, hugged our families goodbye and have been living outside of Australia ever since (this was in 2008). But we did return to Perth briefly to get married in 2012.
In London, Dave worked for Al Jazeera, Sky News and then the BBC as a Senior Broadcast Journalist. I worked for an online magazine, a finance magazine and then as a deputy editor for a number of B2B publications before becoming an account manager at a creative content agency.
But we were getting bored in our day jobs and felt we weren’t challenged enough. So we quit and began traveling the world full time. That was one year ago!
What inspired you to start a blog?
It was when we were living in London and Dave was working at the BBC and I was at the creative content agency. We had good jobs, people even told us so, but deep down we weren’t satisfied.
We often read the posts our friend Natasha published on Glampacker.com and when she told us about going to a blogging conference in Manchester, and how great it was, we decided to head to TBU in Porto.
When we were there, Dave and Deb from The Planet D spoke about how they used to work in Hollywood and even though they had jobs people admired, they weren’t satisfied. Their true passion was travelling and they felt as though they were missing out.
When they were speaking, Dave and I turned to each other and it was like we each had light bulbs going off above our heads. Without even saying a word, we both new we had to change our lives, because just like Dave and Deb we were living lives that we didn’t love.
Dave and Deb inspired us with their talk and seven months later we quit our day jobs for good to travel indefinitely.
Why name your blog after your Surname?
A lot of people don’t get the ‘Double-Barrelled’ aspect to our blog. Sometimes they think it’s something to do with shotguns!
We decided to call it Double-Barrelled Travel because when we got married we both double-barrelled our names, each taking the name of the other.
Because we started our blog shortly after we tied the knot, we thought it was fitting because it was all about the adventures we were undertaking as a couple.
What was your experience Carmen working as a shoe shiner?
These days I look back on that experience with a smile but at the time I can honestly say I hated it!
It was a necessity though – Dave and I arrived in London in 2008, in the beginning of the worldwide recession. As the plane landed, it was broadcast on the news that the BBC that day had laid off 800 people.
Dave’s goal was to work for the BBC so we were a little disheartened!
We really struggled to find work and to pay our rent Dave worked on a street corner selling The Sun newspaper and I became a shoe shiner.
I was put to work shining shoes in all the stockbroking firms and my boss was very paranoid that word would get out I was a journalist and they’d think I was working undercover to listen in on their banking conversations. I had to promise I wouldn’t report on anything I heard and I didn’t.
It was a very good introduction to the class system in the UK though and although I hated it at the time, I’m glad I did it because it made me appreciate where I am now in my career working for myself.
Sometime Dave jokes ‘I got on my knees for the bankers when times were tough’… I guess it helps to put a humorous spin on things.
I notice you have a company called Red Platypus. What’s that all about?
Red Platypus is our bread and butter. When we began travelling indefinitely a year ago, we had a vague idea that we’d start to work at some point and we officially launched Red Platypus to support our lifestyle around two months ago.
We’ve actually been super lucky and haven’t had to market ourselves for work as of yet. One of our main clients we met after staying in her house through Airbnb in San Francisco, and another main client is an old school friend of Dave’s.
Red Platypus focuses on social media marketing, copywriting, editing and video production for small businesses around the world. Basically we are helping small businesses, with all the skills we’ve learnt as journalists, to produce creative content that grabs attention.
If you had to give one piece of advice for couples looking to travel on a budget what would it be
Keep track of your budget! Most people want to travel cheaply but then run out of money sooner than they thought they would and are left thinking, ‘Where the hell did I spend it?’
Ever since I spent my first year away from home on a student exchange to Paris at the age of 15, I’ve been obsessive about tracking my expenses. I used to write everything down but these days I’ve thankfully got an iPhone to help.
I use the Trail Wallet app that allows you to track everything you spend and will let you know when you go over your budget.
Are there any budget travel lessons that you learned the hard way?
Try not to make rush decisions and if you need help with something you’re unsure about, don’t be afraid to ask.
These tips would’ve come in handy before buying our van in Canada at the beginning of our six month road trip around North America. We bought it in a rush and didn’t bother to get a mechanic to look over it.
As a result, the van broke down the next day and we ended up spending nearly $5,000 fixing it.
Which brings me to another tip – have money in reserve for emergencies like that!
(And also get travel insurance so you don’t have to worry about health emergencies.)
Of all the places you traveled to, what was your favorite?
Probably the island of Dominica in the Caribbean (not to be confused with the Dominican Republic). It’s an absolutely beautiful place, full of waterfalls, jungle and interesting wildlife.
It’s hardly been touched by tourism so it’s a little hidden slice of paradise.
We lived there for two months at the end of last year and had the time of our lives.
What is one place that you regret going to?
We kind of regret going to Las Vegas. We weren’t really prepared because we didn’t have much money at the time, and ended up staying in the world’s seediest motel where we witnessed crack dealings in the car park.
We didn’t really enjoy the city either – everything is so fake and we couldn’t get why you’d want to take a photo of a fake Eiffel Tower when the real thing was so much better.
But we’re willing to give it another try – in a better ‘party’ frame of mind perhaps.
What places are still on your bucket list?
Antarctica! We’d love to cruise up there and see the wildlife. We’ve been to the other six continents so it’s only a matter of time…
Aside from traveling, what’s the best general advice you want to pass to people?
Stop living a life people expect you to live if it doesn’t make you happy. Think outside the box and don’t just take the safe and easy route – that’s boring.
There’s so much emphasis these days on buying a house and having a fancy car but sometimes it’s good to step back and evaluate if these are the things that really make you happy.
The longer we’re on the road, the more we realise material possessions just don’t mean much to us and it’s the experiences we’re having that are creating a feeling deep inside – and that’s something money can’t buy.
Live a remarkable life.