This travel blogger interview features Shelly and Al McCullough of Sell All Your Stuff. A couple of house sitters who were worried that some locals kids wanted to eat their toilet! Read on to find out why.
What is your name?
Shelly and Al McCullough
Which country do you come from/call home?
Are you a backpacker/long term traveller/business traveller/live and work abroad?
At one point we lived and worked abroad, but now we’re kind of house sitting travelers.
How do you fund your travel (savings/work whilst travelling/other)?
The same way all other travelers fund their travels: Prostitution. But seriously; when we first started our journey we sold all our stuff and lived off of that, plus some savings. Since then Al has written some Pulitzer prize winning eBooks (minus the Pulitzer). We also have a Social Media Management company in which we manage social accounts and provide writing services.
What is the first trip you remember taking and how old were you?
Al: Our family drove from Toronto to Florida for our vacation back in 1985. l was 9. Shelly: 7 week Canadian road trip from Ontario (near Toronto) to British Columbia to see Expo 86. Shelly was 9 at the time and had her nose in Sweet Valley High books almost the entire trip.
Have you been anywhere which turned out to be totally different to how you imagined? If so, how?
Yeah, and don’t laugh, but Buffalo, New York. We both grew up pretty close to Buffalo and actually listened to Buffalo radio stations, along with watching Commander Tom on WUTV. Everybody always rips on Buffalo – both in Canada and the U.S. We went there for a Buffalo Bills game many years ago but just stayed outside the city. We returned for a Pearl Jam Concert back in 2013 and decided to do some sightseeing as well. It’s actually a pretty cool city with some amazing architecture and a lot of history. We like to think of Buffalo as the Corn Flakes of America…taste it again for the first time.
Have you had any bad experiences whilst travelling?
Shelly got a parasite in Nicaragua and was down and out for about a week. We first thought it was food poisoning because she started to feel better after day one. But when it got considerably worse it was time to go to the hospital.
Do you have any funny travel stories?
Yep. We were in Bocas del Toro, Panama and decided to rent quads for the first time ever. We had a blast ripping around the island, on the beach, through puddles. We even wiped out at one point and had to drag it back on the path. Then we decided to take a road to the complete opposite side of the island which was almost an hour away. We get off the quads, walk the beach a bit, then hopped back on the quad only to find we have a flat tire. And there’s no number to call the company. But that wouldn’t matter because we had zero phone signal. So we drove it back as a three-wheeler now, struggling the entire time to keep it on the road. I’m pretty sure I cooked the rim. Anyway, we flag someone down on a competitor’s quad and he phone’s our company for us. They say they’ll have someone come get us. Well, might as well keep driving. We get a block from our drop off and the guys meet us in their pickup truck. Then they were trying to get me to help fix the flat. Uh, nope, my times up, here’s your quad…ya quads!
And that’s not all! We took another border run to Medellin, Colombia and decided to do a bike tour of the city…guess what happens…flat tire! Luckily our guide was able to get a patch-kit and we were able to continue fairly quickly.
Which is the worst place you’ve been to and why?
San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. We arrived with wind gusts ranging from 80-100 km’s per hour. I guess there’s a wind current that changes and these winds (Papagayo winds) come sweeping across the continent right there. It sucked. We walked on the beach and got pelted with sand. Tried to surf and got pelted with salt-water. Tried to walk in town and got pelted with dust. But that wasn’t the only thing. We just didn’t enjoy the vibe there. Bunch of 20-something dreadlocked gringos walking the (filthy) streets with no shoes, shirts, etc. I guess it’s supposed to have this “laid back beach town” vibe, only the prices for stuff didn’t reflect “laid back beach town”. Just felt dirty there.
Where is your favourite place in the world?
Shelly: As of right now, San Francisco. We just enjoyed the weather and the numerous things to do in and around the SF area.
Al: San Juan del Sur. Just kidding. San Fran is up there, as is the north shore of Oahu for the shrimp trucks alone. I wish I could have more places to choose from. I enjoy anywhere warm, but not too hot. I guess I’m like Goldilocks and need things just right. I think I could safely say my favourite place in the world would be anywhere I can watch the sun set over water.
Do you have a bucket list? If so what is on it?
We don’t really have bucket lists anymore. We’ve crossed quite a few things off so we decided; Why make a list? Let’s just do fun things regardless if they’re on our list.
Can you imagine life without travel?
Yeah. I’m sure we’ll “settle” again. But even so we’ll still go places, even if it’s just a weekend road trip or short jaunt somewhere. It’s nice to see other parts of a town/city/ province/state/country/continent/hemisphere/planet.
If you were not travelling what would you be doing instead?
Shelly: I’d like to think I’d be doing something similar in that I’m trying to build my business and work for myself instead of someone else.
Al: Probably be watching cats doing funny things on YouTube while “working”.
What is the name of your travel blog and the url?
Sell All Your Stuff at www.sellallyourstuff.com
When did you begin your website Sell All Your Stuff?
Why do you write (for money/connecting with people/therapeutic/fun)?
Partly for a creative outlet. But we try to promote a minimalist lifestyle and spending money on experiences rather than material items. We often try to find unique experiences too when we do travel, like food tours, or unique massages treatments like when Al got covered in chocolate, or our recent saltwater float experience.
What makes your site so unique and why should people read it?
We’re unique in that we’ve detailed how we sold all our stuff and the freedoms it provided. Al’s books detail how and where we sold stuff (online and estate/yard sales) and provide worksheets and checklists that help the process for each; Moving Abroad, House Sitting, and Traveling. We don’t get all preachy like some “minimalists” do either, mostly because we’re not pretentious a-holes and don’t like to judge how others choose to live their lives as “minimalists”. Do more stuff with less stuff…that’s all we have to say about that!
Do you have any products or services to offer?
Yes, we have three eBooks:
As for services, we offer speaking engagements about how to live a minimalist lifestyle (do more stuff with less stuff), and like every super-successful-award-winning-Mega-bloggers…we do “press trips” as well…which is a fancy way of saying we get free stuff in exchange for writing.
What has been your most successful blog post to date and what was it about?
Vacation Sex vs. Travel Sex – A Battle of the Sexes. Filled with innuendos, the article is about the difference between vacation sex and travel sex, the former being sensationally awesome and awesomely sensational. The latter being something that lacks enthusiasm of unenthusiastic proportions.
What has been your favourite article to write either for your blog or another publication?
I wrote about our neighborhood kids wanting to eat our toilet. It was one of those “lost in translations” experiences. They didn’t really want to eat our toilet though, in case you were worried. In Panama (and many Latin American countries), they sell these tasty frozen treats called “duros”. Now, the Spanish word for toilet is “inodoro”. Completely different words, I know. But, where we lived in Panama they talked like the equivalent of a Newfie in Canada, the Bayou in the U.S. or I guess Cockney in the U.K. A lot of Panamanians can’t even understand their fellow countrymen that live in the interior.
Anyway, this kid comes to our door saying what we think is “inodoro”. What? He wants to use our toilet? “No, no inodoro” we replied (we had a messy experience letting a kid use our toilet back in Canada).
Then another kid comes over and he does that hand to mouth gesture like he wants food and says “inodoros?”…what? You want to eat my toilet? Again, we said no.
We asked our neighbor what the kids were asking because surely they didn’t want to eat our toilet. Through our pathetic Spanish, she helped explain the “duros” thing and that the previous tenant sold duros. So the kids were saying “venden duro”, not “inodoro”. Which is great, because I didn’t want to have to give them any of my toilet lest I need it for later.
What is your favourite mode of transport? (plane/train/boat/car)
Al: Plane for long distance. Car for anything within 8 hours.
Do you have any advice or tips for aspiring travellers?
Sell all your stuff. Or if you’re young – don’t buy stuff. Stuff holds you back. And it’s just stuff. Spend money on experiences. Memories are WAY better than stuff!
What has travel taught you?
To be more open-minded. More open to change, other ideas, other people’s way of life, other people’s way of thinking or methods of doing something. We used to be all up-tight, now we’re much more tranquilo about things. So many things. If there’s “up-tight” and “low-tight”, we’d like to think we now fall in the “low-tight” category.
If you could only take one item with you (aside from clothing and laptop/electronics), what would you bring.
Shelly: We have this thing called “the stick”, it’s a stick that has these rollers on it and it’s AMAZING for massaging yourself (or one another). We’ve used it so many times for our feet after a long day walking around a city.
Al: Probably my hair clippers. Saves us $5 a month on haircuts in Central America – $15 a month in North America. Not bad for a $50 purchase, 8 years ago!
Quick fire questions:-
Probably WestJet because we saw the greatest surprise on a WestJet flight to Orlando. These two young girls were going to see their Nana with their mom, and when we were all boarded and ready to taxi out the Captain came on and told the little girls they weren’t going to visit Nana, they were going to Disneyland. So cool!
Canada, of course! I know the States gets a bad rap but they’ve got some really great places to visit too.
Medellin, Colombia (bet you thought we were going to say San Fran!)
Playa Destiladeros, Pedasi, Panama.
Al: Pizza. I just made this amazing pizza with a refried bean and salsa base, some 4-cheese blend, jalapenos, black olives, diced chicken (with chili powder), and when it was cooked I put sour cream and shredded lettuce on it. It was like a taco, only on pizza crust. SOOO EFFFFIN GOOOD DUUUDE!
Shelly: English, because I found it hard to learn Spanish and ended up using my high school French.
Al: French. It’s a nice language when you want to sound like you’re demeaning, condescending, or belittling someone but you’re really just telling them where the nearest bank is.
What is your favorite travel-related movie?
Shelly: Walter Mitty
Al: Forrest Gump. Dude goes everywhere by accident! And I like Walter Mitty too.
Favorite Foreign word/phrase?
Shelly: “no se” (I don’t know in Spanish)
Al: “pupusa”. It’s a food from El Salvador (and served all over Central and South America). Super tasty and fun to say!
Please provide the following:-
Website url? Sellallyourstuff.com
Twitter handle? @sellallyurstuff
Google+ profile/page? https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/114574519984246860726/114574519984246860726/about