One of the nicest sidelines of being a travel blogger is being part of a travel blogging community and meeting like minded people albeit in cyber space …it’s great to read other blogger’s posts about their travels, swap tips and get travel inspiration. One travel site I particularly enjoy is JWalking. Jon and Jo have been travel blogging for some time and are now currently in Scotland. I asked them a few questions about their travel and this is what they said!
Where are you both originally from and what were your jobs in a previous life?
We both grew up in Kent in south east England, living in Maidstone Kent bringing up our three amazing sons for 20 years. Jo worked as a Further Education College administrator and Jon was a web designer for Kent Police. We met when we were 17 and have been married for over 36 years currently.
Did you travel much as children and did you travel much before you gave up your jobs?
As children we had stable family lives in Kent and only travelled as part of regular family holidays. Jon was in the RAF and a three year posting to West Germany may have got the travelling bug growing within us a little I suppose. We spent a marvelloues 3 years exploring as much of Europe as we could. With our own children we again only travelled as part of family holidays but tried to take them to as many different European cities as possible to develop their interest and lack of fear of travelling. Trips to Rome, Dubrovnik, Lisbon, Berlin from an early age ignited a fascination to explore in all of them. As they left home to start their own lives we continued to travel around Europe as much as was possible whilst both working full time.
How long have you been enjoying this new life style.
Once our children were settled we found ourselves wondering if that was it and whether it was just a matter of waiting for retirement now. So many of our friends in their mid fifties seemed to be easing into a possession-orientated life where we had never had any interest in ‘stuff’ and we started to wonder ‘if there was more to life’? Over the course of a year we cleared our family home, sold the house, and moved into rented accommodation. Then in March 2015 we decided to quit our lives and travel giving ourselves just 11 weeks to plan, book and arrange the big life-changing event. So we left the UK on June 1st 2015 and are still going.
How long have you been blogging and did you start this as you started your new life?
My previous career was as a web designer and computer programmer so starting a blog was partly as a hobby and partly to record our lives. So the blog started a few weeks before we left the UK and although initially it was intended purely as a diary and a way for our family and friends to follow us it has transformed into something else now. We have met so many wonderful people online via the blog and keep in touch with more and more friends as we travel.
If you don’t mind answering how do you fund your travelling?
One of the major issues we had to resolve when deciding to travel was the question of finance. We aren’t rich as many people regularly ask and we aren’t old enough to be taking a pension so all of our travel is funded by the money we made when selling our family home. We have a small pot of money which is obviously diminishing daily but we live frugally and are extremely careful about what we spend keeping a keen eye on our budget. The more careful we are with money now the longer we will be able to continue travelling so to us that makes sense. We are both realistic enough to know that we may have to return to work one day when the money runs out but hopefully that is a long way off.
How much time do you spend travelling versus being at home?
We don’t actually have a home anymore. When we started our travels all we had was a small suitcase each and a backpack and that’s it. So every single day is a new step in our big adventure. Something we try and stress to everyone is that we are slow travellers and aren’t attempting to visit 197 countries or tick a huge list of activities off a list. We just want to experience life in different places and in different ways meeting new friends along the way. That is one of the reasons that we love housesitting so much as it gives us the opportunity to live in new and interesting locations for a few weeks at a time. We met a fabulous lady in Perth Australia who called us ‘Land Sailors’. She thought we were just slowly cruising around the world seeing where the wind took us. We loved that.
Any special memorable moments or trips?
It sounds a bit unoriginal but every day is special to us as we have no routine and thoroughly enjoy living in different houses and areas. Obviously some of the big touristy places that we’ve visited such as the Great Barrier Reef, Chicago, Lake Bled in Slovenia, Singapore, and hiking to Mount Cook are unforgettable. Seeing the Grand Canyon and an incredible Christmas Day spent sailing on Milford Sound in New Zealand will both stay with us forever but our favourite moments by far have been those personal ones spent with new friends. We didn’t fully appreciate that seeing the world is not about seeing places it is about experiencing them and that is made all the more colurful by the people that you meet. We have been humbled by the generosity and friendliness of every Airbnb, housesit and Helpx that we have stayed in and feel so grateful that so many of these people are now firm friends.
What are your plans for the next year?
We made a decision fairly early on that we wanted to see a lot more of our own country so we are housesitting in England in various locations for the rest of this year. We seem to get booked up so far in advance now and get so many requests to housesit that I guess we must be doing something right. We have a couple of weeks free in October when we’re planning on a little overseas trip but that’s still in the planning phase at the moment.We’d both like to do a few housesits in warmer overseas places next year so we will look into that later in the year and see what we can arrange.
Anywhere you definitely want to travel to that you haven’t yet?
We published a blog post recently about the ’email that changed our lives’ with Jo’s email from early 2015 with a wishlist of places and there are still a few that we plan to fit in. We would both love to visit Iceland, Egypt, and Norway and maybe another road trip in the US so watch this space. And of course we constantly battle against organising another trip to New Zealand! Our favourite country in the world by far but just so far away.
What do you see yourselves doing in ten years time?
Not sure as one of the things that we especially love about our lifestyle is that the future is not planned beyond about 8 months time. It just makes us feel alive and focused to have a completely blank page sitting there. Exciting. We both accept that we may decide to stop and settle down at any stage and as long as we both make that decision at the same time then it will just be the next stage of our little JWalking adventure. But currently we don’t see any reason to even consider stopping. In 10 years time we will be retirement age so perhaps that will make us sit back and think but I doubt it.
Thank you so much to Jon and Jo for sharing their travel story.