During her travels in Brazil in August 2015, EduConnect’s Deputy Editor Annique met Chloe and Mark from Backpack 2 the Future, a crazy, fun and kind-hearted couple who decided to quit their jobs and travel the world. In a Q&A and video clip, the couple shares their exciting story.
When you travel, some of the most inspiring moments are the encounters you have with fellow travellers. Somehow, something has brought you together to the same destination, and that something unlocks the door to fascinating conversations. There is a traveller’s spirit that connects you.
I met Chloe and Mark during my first stop in Rio de Janeiro, when we lodged at the same backpackers near Rio’s bohemian neighbourhood Santa Teresa. We had all decided to get sporty and do a fresh morning hike, and as the conversations unravelled, I learnt that Mark was a fellow South African – which of course really sparked it off. I mean, I did not ever think I’d end up looking down at the famous Ipanema beach strip from the top of a hill, speaking to someone in Afrikaans!
Mark told me how he had left South Africa many years ago to work in Dubai. There he met his English wife Chloe, who shared his love for adventure and motivation to dodge the system – so much so that the two of them decided to save up enough money that would allow them to travel the world in search of a place where they could live and lead a self-sustainable lifestyle. They document the journey through their travel blog Backpack 2 the Future.
A Q&A with Chloe from Backpack 2 The Future
Who is this crazy couple that decided to travel the world?
We are Chloe and Mark. We’ve been married for 6 years now and worked in the Middle East for the last 10 years. Like a lot of people today, we were stuck in the rat race and slowly growing miserable; each month we would be saving money for the future…feeling like we weren’t serving much of a purpose working those long hours – for what?! We had no future plans, and nothing to work towards. So how were we going to stop ourselves from falling into a pit of despair?
It sounds like a sop story, but when you’re already in your mid-thirties (or about to hit thirty) you do start asking yourself these questions. For the last few years we have been altering the way we think, the food we eat, our lifestyle choices etc. and we have spent a considerable amount of time looking into being self-sustainable.
About 2 years ago a light bulb went on and we decided that our future is going to be about us and what makes us happy, and what makes us happy is to be our own bosses, and not working for big corporations. We don’t want to panic when we need to pay bills or worry about the quality of food we are eating. So now we are working towards a goal. We are going to have a farm and a backpackers – but where, we do not know. Thus our journey begins into finding our home!
How did BP2TF begin?
Originally we needed a platform from where we could share our videos and photos with friends and family without having to slap it all over social media. But then as we started planning our trip, we realized how much information we were struggling to find, from costs, to the little things like what bus to take to get to a hike, or the cheapest way to cross a border etc. And then we thought, why not fill the info gaps with what we will discover. Plus, we love making videos.
Tell us about choosing a name for your blog – why Backpack 2 the Future?
Picking a name for a blog is tough, but Mark is very creative and randomly came out with it one day. Our blog is an endeavour into experiential tourism, which includes generating interest and opportunities for travel to small, less-travelled communities in various countries. It aims to encourage tourism in such areas and raise awareness about them. Experiential tourism can offer life-changing experiences for travellers while encouraging tourism, positively and directly affecting people living in such areas.
How long are you travelling? Is there a plan?
We have kind of estimated that our travels will take around 15 months, but that could all change as it depends on finances. So far ,we have visited South Africa, The Netherlands, Brazil, Argentina and Chile. With the current plan, we are still heading to Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, The Galapagos Islands, New Zealand, Fiji, Australia and, if all is goes well, parts of Asia too.
We have mapped out a direction of travel based upon weather, as we are travelling through both hemispheres and we want to avoid winter in the far South and monsoon season over in Fiji! But often we visit places spontaneously, sometimes a local has recommended them and we have to check them out.
What is the main intention of your blog?
To share information. The little details, and to try and attract tourism to smaller communities that need it most. And of course, we want to throw in some good travel tips for good measure.
Is there a business plan behind the blog too?
At the moment it’s about building content and making contacts as much as possible. We are really trying to create a brand that we would like to use when we open our own hostel. Once we have enough traffic, we will devote some site space to advertising.
Another little add-on we have is our packing list via our own amazon shop. Anything purchased via our links means we will receive a small percentage of that purchase.
You have lots of fun categories – can you tell us a little more about them?
One of our sections is called Letters to the Cat, which is something quirky – a sort of diary that I’ve been writing to my cat Shizzy. We left our ‘baby’ with family before we left, and since leaving, I’ve been writing letters to him and posting them. And yes, I do receive emails back from the cat, which give us a good giggle.
We also have lots of videos that aim to encourage people to travel, to ignite a flame and cause excitement. Mark is a DJ and he produces his own music for the videos, so each video is really made with love.
How do you budget for your travels?
We budgeted and planned the year before, and some of it was a bit of a guess. As we travel, we use a travel App called My Wallet and each day we add in what we spent. It not only deducts it from your total budget but you can also categorize the expenses into categories like food, accommodation, and transport so you can keep track of your expenditure.
Another great money saver is to travel on buses overnight and sleep. This way you don’t need to pay for accommodation! Currently we have no intention on working while we travel unless we have to, as we are spending our time volunteering and also WWOOFing. This too is a great way to spend time in one place for the exchange of labour for food and a roof over your head. You can check out our blog on WWOOFing here.
What is your main expense?
That’s a tough one. It kind of depends. For example, being a married couple, we do want our own private room when we can afford it, so we do weigh up our accommodation options for each hostel we visit. As for activities, sometimes it’s worked out cheaper to go with a tour than to do it ourselves. It’s always a good idea to compare.
What is the end goal?
Our end goal is to have learned a lot about farming through the WWOOF program, to have found somewhere we want to settle down and to open our own hostel. It’s a big dream. It’s scary, but we are following our guts.
Chloe’s Travel Advice
‘You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough’! – Mae West
“If you decide to travel, travel with a purpose. Do you want to learn a new skill or language? Do you want to help a community? Do you want to work in a different country? Once you have a purpose, your planning will fall into place. You have to be prepared for travelling. Don’t underestimate that things sometimes don’t go as planned, so make sure you have saved enough money, as you want to enjoy yourself.
In the end, just take a deep breath and a leap of faith, get lost, make mistakes and make friends. In the end you will have opened yourself up to so many new experiences and become a wiser person.”
To read more on Chloe and Mark’s travel tips, click here.
The Travel Blog
Chloe advises, “If you would like to start a blog, a great starting point is to find a niche, a gap in the blogging world. You want to do something that is unique to you and it may take some time. We are also still learning. But you have to enjoy doing it, otherwise it’s a waste of your time and energy.
If you are planning on taking some time out or even a short trip, check out our tips and tricks on how to get started, what to pack and some money saving ideas. Or if you want to have a chat or ask us some more questions about our travels then send us an email. We really hope that our blog gives you some pointers you can use during your own travels.”
Take the Leap
Chloe and Mark’s story impressed me a lot. It takes a tremendous amount of courage and faith to leave your life behind and roam the whole world to find a place that you want to call your new home. To take the leap, you need to have a hunger for life, new knowledge, and adventure. And these guys have stacks. They set a beautiful example of how life does not need to be spent in office cubicles, paying council bills, and not finding the time for a healthy lifestyle.
Have a look at their blog to follow all the adventurous experiences and gain insight on what travelling can give you. Click here to go to Backback 2 the Future.