July 16, 2018
Tanja and Will are an intercultural couple who is constantly traveling the world and sharing interesting tips and insights through their blog and travel photography. The stories they shared with us shows that taking the lesser known path and connecting with local culture can be not only adventurous but very insightful and profound experience.
How did you start traveling?
Tanja: I left Italy on my own, I decided to grab a backpack and leave to learn English for six months, but my plans changed quite a bit! I was traveling for a year alone before Will and I met in Australia through a mutual friend.
Will: I left Ireland with two of my friends but after three months we separated and went other ways. I thought I will stay in Australia for six months and Tanja thought the same, but after we met, we were traveling for a few years together, non-stop. We continued traveling to Australia and then New Zealand, Asia, Polynesia and then Europe.
Tanja: We stayed in hostels tents, back of the cars, very tiny accommodations, which is challenging in the beginning, but it worked out well. Three years and a half of non-stop traveling after which we came back to Italy. Since then we’ve been to South Africa and many European cities, and we are planning Indonesia this year and maybe Ethiopia and Namibia as well.
What are the most adventures things that happened to you while traveling?
Will: We went skydiving in New Zealand and after we landed we wanted to calm our nerves so went to the bar where met some people. There was a group of locals around 60 years old and one of them was a big guy with mustache and cowboy hat and he told us: “Please come and rest for one night in the real bed” as we were sleeping in the back of the car at the time. We stayed for the 3 or 4 days and he was showing us around his farm and his house and we had a BBQ those days.
Tanja: It’s amazing that you meet people like that on the road all the time.
We always needed to keep on traveling, knowing that in every corner of the planet people are actually good, friendly and open-minded which is absolutely amazing.
What is your favorite food when traveling?
Tanja: Except for the Italian obviously, Vietnamese cuisine was one of the most delicious cuisines we tried. In Hoi An which is the center of Vietnam they cook soup with noodles, but in the local belief is that the dish needs to be cooked with water coming from the one well, so people go to pick up the water there to cook that specific dish. We did cooking classes in that city and we found out everything about their culture of food and ingredients.
Will: You usually go and order the food and don’t know anything about the food, but when you go with a local, they take you to the well and tell you everything about that dish and you get the far better experience than just going to a restaurant and picking a number from the list.
What are the most interesting experiences you had in Asia?
Will: We love that part of the world because it’s very wild and raw.
Tanja: It’s wild but people are still authentic. They don’t fear foreigners and they don’t fear to smile to foreigners. In Europe, we are overwhelmed with tourist that we don’t feel friendly anymore.
In Asia and Polynesia where cultures are not in contact with Westerners as much, when you meet people they will ask questions about us, how we live, which languages we speak, can we teach them some words. I think it’s amazing to have that interest in people.
Will: We were traveling with 10-hour night bus to Vietnam that had beds in the bus where locals slept and we were the only tourists. We went off in some small town in the middle of nowhere and all the villagers were waving at us from their bicycles. It was so different than anything you would experience here in the cities in Europe.
Have you learned something interesting from locals?
Tanja: We did! I remember in Fiji, a group of kids coming to see us while we were volunteering at the local resort and they asked us to teach them some word of Italian.
I asked them what will they teach me in exchange and they told me that they can teach me to read the stars, the constellations. They have the most amazing sky in the world, you can see so many starts, but I couldn’t read the difference between constellations so they show me the piece of the cardboard that was cut in the specific way that helps them identify which constellation they see. I still have goosebumps remembering that.
What are some interesting cultural things you learned on the road?
Will: I think that a good way of experiencing the culture is staying in Airbnb because you get to speak with the person from the area that can show you things like local restaurants etc.
For example, in Siena, we got a chance to go to the horse race. It was amazing because those horse races are happening every year for 600 years. The guy who rented us AirBnb took as there and told us the history of it.
Tanja: In Siena, every block of the building has its own horse that they cheer for. They believe in that so deeply that a husband and wife in the days of the race become complete enemies if they are supporting different riders. Of course, after the race ends they go back to being a family again and being in love. It really shows how much the culture forms our everyday lives.
Where would you live if you didn’t live in Italy?
Tanja: Sydney or Cape Town. The lifestyle in Australia is unique. They really believe that work comes second in life. They have fun, relaxation, and time on the beach, BBQ with friends and spending time with family and only after that comes work.
Even working there is very nice, there is no competition and it’s very relaxed.
Will: I would say Cape Town because you are close to the sea and so close to so much wilderness. You can have zebras outside your office. Cape Town was really above expectations for us.
We didn’t expect that they are so focused on helping the environment, saving ocean and water from pollution. You can tell that ecology very important to them and that they are conscious of our planet. They don’t use plastic straws and they are mindful of how much water they use.
How do you organize your trips?
Tanja: We like to read other people travel experiences and we need to get the real information from forums like Reddit.
We are also trying to get the idea of what is worth seeing which is out of bitten track and what is the side of the destination that is not too popular or crowded. Forums are really the best for that.
But the most important part is actually to leave it to the fate. We believe that the unexpected and adventurous part of the trip is always the best so we plan it but we don’t. And actually, that always came up pretty amazingly.
Are you using some traveling apps?
Will: We use SkyScanner obviously, Tanja is addicted to it!
We also like using WikiCamps. It’s a perfect app because it shows you anywhere you can camp for free or where is an organized camp. Sometimes they come up with great suggestions, for example, for the natural resource of water where you can shower in the middle of the forest. You can see the pictures and comments of everyone who are using the app too.
Tanja: Will likes using Google Trips, you can sync everything and keep the plan for your itinerary because it can give you recommendations and it can keep your tickets there too.
What is something you can’t travel without?
Tanja: I think that resting properly on the long flights is the key to starting a new adventure on the right foot. My personal travel companion is noise cancellation earplugs. They really help me sleep on a long journey, so when we get there I feel ready for anything. Of course, I can’t travel without my camera either.
Will: For me, it would need to be my e-reader. I love reading so much that I take it everywhere, especially because I spend a lot of time in stations and airports.