Nobody said that you had to be young to freely explore the world. And so it is that I am delighted to introduce you to 2 travellers who will not let any age hold them back. Please meet the Contented Travellers.
What are your names?
We are Paula and Gordon
Which country do you come from/call home?
We live in Australia, in a city called Wollongong, which is an hour south of Sydney.
When and how did you meet?
We met 10 years ago. Gordon came for a parent interview at the school where his kids were and I was the Deputy Principal. He picked me up, and I let him. We have not been apart since. The funny thing was that we both went to the same Uni, our kids went to the same school, yet our paths hadn’t crossed. It was meant to be at this time I guess.
Are you a backpacker/long term traveller/live and work abroad?
We travel for about 3 months of the year. Up until this year I worked fulltime as a teacher but I got a lot of school holidays and other leave. Gordon still works 4 days a week in the mines, but is able to get a lot of time off. These 3 months don’t include a couple of weeks in the Australian snow or weekends away, so we do all right. When he retires we will up the ante.
How do you fund travel (savings/work while travelling/other)?
We are very good money managers. We have designated accounts for travel and some of our pay goes directly into those and is not touched until we need it. It builds up quickly. We have a skiing account, which pays for Australia and skiing in Japan, and next year in Austria and Switzerland. We have other accounts for overseas and quickie escapes, then the stupid ones for paying bills. We also organize all of our trips ourselves and that is a massive saving.
Have you been anywhere, which turned out to be totally different to how you imagined? If so, how?
Paula says: I don’t know that you can ever research enough to get the feel of a place unless you are there. So every place has been different than what I was expecting.
Gordon says: Almost everywhere. I booked a driver and accommodation in Sri Lanka, and this was not quite what we expected. He was a lovely man, but a maniac driver. We have a written a guest post about it for 1000fights.com
What is the first trip you remember taking and how old were you?
Paula says: My father came from a farming town called Tumut and they were my first memories of trips away. I always remember the cows and the chooks and my father telling us not to screw up our noses at the smell (we were city slickers). I loved these trips. The irony was that my first teaching appointment, which could have been anywhere in NSW was to Tumut. My father told me to change my surname as I had been a bit of a party girl at uni. But it was great living and teaching there for 8 years. First overseas trip (Tasmania doesn’t count) was to Samoa, because of Somerset Maugham.
Gordon says: I was 4 yeas old and we flew from far north Queensland to my grandparents in Victoria. This was a trip that took all day in little planes as it was 3000 kms and the (propeller) plane kept having to stop to refuel. First overseas trip was to New Zealand – skiing.
Have you had any bad experiences whilst travelling?
Paula says: Having machine guns pulled on us in Sri Lanka was not a good look. The first time we were on a bus and Gordon was asleep. I was trying to dig him in the thigh to defend me. He slept, but the second time he was awake.
Gordon says: only getting sick from eating at expensive restaurants. Never have got sick from eating street food anywhere in the world.
Do you have any funny travel stories?
Paula says: Leeches that got stuck on my privates while having a pee in Sri Lanka again was funny, as was a sea snake trying to get me in Vanuatu.
Gordon says: see our blogs on Fawlty Towers and Angelina Jolie in Battambang
What is the worst place you have been to and why?
Paula says: I hate to say this at all but Fiji left me cold. It was over commercialized and when you did get out of the tourist areas (which was difficult) it was very obvious the tensions that exist in the country.
Gordon says: Battambang.
Please tell us about your impulse trip to see the total eclipse of the sun?
Gordon rang me one morning on his way to work. He said, “I want to see a total eclipse of the sun”. I said OK. I went to school, looked up when the next one was. When he rang me during the day, I said Turkey, next March. He said, “make it so”. I did. Awesome trip.
Where is your favourite place in the world?
Paula says: Am head over heels in love with Amsterdam and Nozawa Onsen, and I still really love Sydney
Gordon says: a mythical place where I could go diving, windsurfing, and surfing in the morning and snow skiing in the afternoon, and all must have good cafes. The morning sounds like where we live!
Do you have a bucket list? If so, what is on it?
Paula says: simply detest that term. We are very spontaneous travellers. Yes we do have places we want to go to like the States, Canada, Alaska and South America. We really have to turn that globe around.
Gordon says: taste every beer in Belgium, only got through a few last time and to get the perfect massage in every country.
What was it like staying on the houseboat in Amsterdam?
Paula says: I could have stayed there forever. It was in the Jordaan, which is a really bohemian area, which I loved. The houseboat was shabby chic and perfectly located.
Gordon says: absolutely brilliant, perfect location, only problem was the tourists kept taking photos of us LOL.
Can you imagine life without travel?
Paula says: NO
Gordon says: No, I have been travelling my entire life.
If you were not travelling what would you be doing instead?
Paula says: that is not going to happen, ever.
Gordon says: surfing in the morning, skiing in the afternoon then having a Belgian beer and a massage
What is the name of your travel blog and the url?
Contented Traveller http://www.contentedtraveller.com
When did you begin your website?
About March 2013. I wanted to share our travel stories and some tips to help others get exactly the holiday that they want. However, it is so much more complicated than what I ever imagined. Are we loving it? Absolutely, but it is so frustrating trying to build up a profile and have people follow us. It is a massive learning curve. I could not imagine however not doing this as I am getting to meet some really lovely, interesting and informed people who don’t mind helping us and are fun to interact with.
Why do you write (for money/connecting with people/therapeutic/fun)?
At the moment the latter few, as we are such a new site. I want to be able to eventually make some money through the site because I do believe that we have something to offer whether it be amusing stories to inspire or good advice to give.
What makes your site so unique and why should people read it?
Many people assume the older people are only good for cruises or guided bus trips, and I am sure that there are some very good ones out there and that a lot of people want these. But there are a lot of other people who want more. This site is to show everyone that there are a lot more choices. We ski, we stay in cave houses in Turkey, Gordon dives in Vanuatu and Fiji, we go with a crazy driver through Sri Lanka, we take ridiculous boat rides from hell to Battambang in Cambodia – so yes it is a swipe at the travel industry to wake up to the market that they don’t know how to cope with (and a lucrative market at that) and also to say to others in our situation to go for it. We are free, financial, fit and fun.
Please tell us about your constant rides on Italian buses so you could get your butt pinched
Yes, it is true. I had always heard that Italian men pinched women’s butts and so I said to Gordon, lets take the bus again… again. When in Rome I wanted the entire package. We don’t have (m)any boundaries so if I say I want my butt pinched he knows I do and he has no issues.
It is fair to say that you are part of the more mature travel set. Do you think this makes your approach to travel and what you look for is different from many backpackers?
Yes we are older, but I don’t know about mature. Does it change our approach to travel, well yes and no. It all depends on where we are going and what we think we might want to do. We never really pre-plan much at all. Our last trip, last month was to Europe and we had to plan the houseboat (great call) the B&B in Ghent (great call) and the guesthouse in Maastricht (as I was travelling with a broken leg (from skiing) and wasn’t really supposed to go) but we needed a flat area that was very central which is what we want all of the time. We have stayed in some very unusual places. Most have worked, some have been dodgy, but it is all about serendipity. Gordon taught me that.
You have a lovely article on snow monkeys in Japan. Does the opportunity to see wildlife score highly for what you like to see when you visit somewhere new?
Paula says: The monkeys are very near to Nozawa Onsen where we have been going for the last 6 years, so we like to visit them regularly and the walk through the forest is one of the most amazing walks ever. Re, other wildlife – we like our ducks and swans in Amsterdam, hated the elephant I ran into on a main street in Bangkok; was scared to death of the crazy monkeys in both Bali and Malaysia. The dogs in Bali are also a slight issue. We have stayed at Roar and Snore where you camp overnight in the zoo, at Taronga in Sydney. Animals and me are a strange mix.
Gordon says: having been almost killed several times in my life by the creatures in my own back yard like spiders and snakes, jelly fish and marine critters, we probably don’t seek them out – they come to us.
Do you have any products or services to offer?
At this stage, advice on how to organise bespoke trips. We will see what comes up in the future. We would certainly like to work with companies that offer different experiences.
What has been your most successful blog post to date and what was it about?
I guess the ones I write for A Luxury Travel Blog have had enormous reads. Some like skiing in Austria have had over 7700 reads and most have 5000+. Of ours I like what we have written for theplanetd.com and 1000fights.com. Of our own on our site, it is hard to pick but probably Amsterdam, Our love affair was not just a holiday romance, and any of the ones on Nozawa Onsen.
What is your favourite mode of transport?
Paula: All of them, though long haul flights are a bit if pain though I guess we are used to them. Love trains.
Do you have advice for travellers?
Paula: Don’t do something that you don’t want to do. If you don’t have the confidence to organize it yourself “your way” contact someone who knows how to do it. Us for example.
Gordon: don’t schedule every second of your day. Allow yourself time to feel the rhythm of the place you are at. Have a beverage with the locals and get to know the real people.
What has travel taught you?
Paula: That I love people, I love knowing about their day to day lives. I love meeting them and talking to them. That Gordon and I are simpatico travellers. That we have so much materially, when a lot of people have so little. Makes me feel guilty a lot.
Gordon: Everybody is the same, just sometimes opportunities are different. But everyone has the same hopes, dreams and desires. Unfortunately globalisation is changing the world to much.
Quick fire questions:-
Favourite airline: changes; whoever gets us there fastest (and feeds me)
Favourite country: depends. Really like them all for different reasons (sorry)
Favourite city: Paula – Sydney, Amsterdam, Kuala Lumpur; Gordon – Sydney and Rome
Favourite beach: Paula – North Beach, Wollongong; Gordon – Dee Why, Sydney
Favourite food: yes
Favourite language: Paula – Spanish (so romantic sounding); Gordon –English.
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