Happy new year! What a better way to start the year inspired to travel than to share with you some great travel stories. This month, we’ve interviewed Dave Dean, writer of the travel blog What’s Dave Doing? and founder of Too Many Adapters, a technical resource for travelers.
A native of New Zealand, Dave’s been on the road for about two years now. Like many of you dreamers, and many of our featured bloggers, he had a dead-end office job he didn’t believe in. Don’t worry, though, you’re not in for the same ol’ story – Dave’s got a great, yet gritty sense of humor, and I get the sense he’s more than a little bad-ass. He’ll tell you the truth, and give you a kick in the bum to make what you’ve been day-dreaming about come true. He calls his way-of-life ‘ongoing slow budget travel,’ a term I can get a grip on. And you know what? It’s something you can do, too.
“What’s Dave Doing? is a mix of information, inspiration and motivation for those looking to hit the road themselves. It’s a personal story, hopefully told in a way that can help others achieve their own travel dreams…what I’d most like to communicate on the blog is that long term travel is far more affordable and achievable than most people believe – and far more valuable as well. Contrary to popular belief, stepping out of the rat race for a while to explore new countries and cultures could well be one of the best and most important decisions you ever make. Mass media is very good at telling us that we are all supposed to want and do exactly the same things in life, so I think it’s important to present a somewhat different view on my little corner of the internet.”
Sushi or pork roast? Pork Roast
Coffee or Red Bull? Coffee
Wine or beer? Beer
Suitcase or backpack? Backpack
Night train or night bus? Night train (in fact, any train at all!)
Sleeping bag or bedding? Sleeping bag
Window or aisle? Window
Diarrhea or constipation? Diarrhea
Malarone or malaria? Malarone (but only if it’s actually needed in that area)
Hops or grass? Hops
tw: You wrote a post about finding your passion ~ and at the end of that post, inquired as to whether you were deluding yourself about making a living or not. Were you? Are you making a living? And do you plan to travel indefinitely?
Dave: “Heh, I’m pleased to say that I wasn’t entirely deluding myself! At this point, around two years since I wrote that post, I’m generally making enough money to fund my travels. It depends on where in the world I am – I make a profit while in SE Asia and a loss while in Western Europe, for instance – but on average things are working out ok.
“I do plan to travel indefinitely, although I suspect the nature of that travel will change – spending months in each place rather than days or weeks – as time goes by.
Which is your most popular post?
“My most popular posts tend to be the more ‘inspirational’ ones, rather than those that talk about a particular destination. Of those, the one that has been read most often is So what the hell are you waiting for?, which takes aim at many of the excuses and rationalizations that we make as to why we aren’t doing what we say we most want to (in this case, travel).
You have another site, Too many Adapters. Is it tough to keep up with two separate travel blogs/projects?
“To be honest, yes, especially when I’m moving quickly for several weeks and struggle to devote the amount of time to both sites that they need. Having my business partner Dustin to share the load with helps a lot!
Is there anything that you dislike about your chosen lifestyle? What is the BEST part?
“It’s not all puppies and rainbows, that’s for sure – but a lot of it is.
“Having said that, missing out on important events back home and not being around to see my little nephew grow up are definitely downsides, and the inevitable slow drift away from friends and family is tough as well. I knew that this was all part of choosing such a lifestyle, but that doesn’t make it any easier.
“The best part? Never knowing what tomorrow is going to bring. When I was working a 9-5 job, I pretty much knew what lay in store from Monday morning until Friday night. Now, I can change direction, city or country as the mood takes me. It’s a wonderful feeling.
Do you have a story to share about plans gone awry?
“Oh, so many! I actually wrote a post about some of the more interesting ones – [check it out]. From losing passports and girlfriends to acting as bait for a hungry leopard, I’ve definitely had a few days not go quite as intended!
Which three items do you not leave home without?
“These days, sadly, my smartphone has to be included in that list – if for no other reason than the maps mean I’ll be able to find my way back home again when I’m done! Other than that, a basic first aid kit and a credit card seem to cover most eventualities.
What is your favorite place in your home country or city? Where do you consider ‘home?’ And where is your ‘on the road home base?’
“I’m not quite sure where home is at the moment – New Zealand will always be “Home”, but if I have a base, it’s in Melbourne, Australia. My favorite spot in New Zealand is the Abel Tasman track, a multi-day coastal hike at the top of the South Island. Such a beautiful part of the world. In Melbourne, it’s one of a few different inner-city beer gardens on a long summer’s evening.
Do you have favorite travel blogs that you read regularly?
“I subscribe to quite a few, although these days only tend to regularly read those written by people I’ve met and count as friends. To pick a few, I’ll go with Legal Nomads, Wandering Earl, Fearful Adventurer and Nerd’s Eye View. And, of course, I’d probably get in trouble if I didn’t mention Never Ending Footsteps , written by my wonderful other half, Lauren.
Mountains, beach or city? Beach
Couch-surfing or guesthouse? Guesthouse
Cockroaches or rats? Cockroaches (but I despise them both)
Skiing or surfing? Surfing
iPhone or Android? Android (Galaxy S2)
Travel tool you find most useful: When it comes to gadgets, I have to say my phone for its versatility. For things that don’t require power, probably my Leatherman tool – it’s a basic model, small and light, and I’ve found myself using almost every attachment it has at one point or another.
Postcard or emails? Emails for practicality, postcards for sentimentality
How do you inform yourself about your next destination, and how do you prepare for the trip?
“Usually, I both inform and prepare myself for my next destination pretty badly, to be honest. I’ll download a few articles off Wikitravel or other sites, perhaps skim through a guidebook if there’s one lying around at the hostel I’m at, email or talk to people I know who have been there already.
“Typically though, I just work out a few hostels or an area I’d like to stay in and how to get there, pick a few things that I’d like to see, download an offline map to my phone, and that’s about it. I’ve often found that less plans and preparation = more spontaneity, which is what I aim for these days anyway.
Your latest discovery on the Internet?
“The Life of a Travel Blogger Tumblr – it’s a satirical look at travel blogging by way of snarky comments and animated GIFs, put together by a mystery insider. Always good for a chuckle, if not an outright bellow of laughter.
The best breakfast in the world is…
“Either pho bo (Vietnamese rice noodle soup with beef), or the ‘typical’ Turkish breakfast with bread, cheese, egg, olives and all kinds of other goodness.
Do you know where you will your next trip take you?
“At the moment I do – I’m in Australia for another three weeks before heading to New Zealand for two months with a couple of friends. After that, I’m not really sure – somewhere in SE Asia, I suspect, but quite where I haven’t decided.
“Each year I tend to have 2 or 3 major events that require me to be in a certain place at a certain time (eg. this year it was a conference in the US, family Christmas in Melbourne and sailing with friends in Turkey), which I then use to try to base the rest of my travels around. I’ll aim to spend a few months in that region, trying to get to anything that has been on my must see/must do for a while, plus whatever recommendations happen to come my way.
If you could recommend three places our readers must visit in their lifetimes:
Palawan, Philippines – the closest I’ve ever been to a stereotypical desert island paradise
Inside Angkor Wat at sunrise – leave the crowds taking photos outside and make a dash for the inside of the temple as soon as there’s enough light to see the steps. I had the entire place to myself for half an hour, and that memory will stay with me for a very long time.
South Island, New Zealand – I’m biased, but I can’t think of anywhere else with such beauty and diversity of landscape in such a small area. Just be aware that traveling there isn’t particularly cheap any longer!
Anything else you’d like to share?
“Just that travel has immeasurably changed my life for the better, and that if you approach it with the right mindset, will do the same for you. If it’s something you’d like to do, make it happen – sooner rather than later. You’ll never regret it.
All photos by Dave Dean.