Charli Moore is a house sitter and travel addict with a penchant for dark chocolate. In 2011 she and her other half Ben waved ‘Adios’ to the corporate world and jumped head first into a life of perpetual travel. You can follow the adventures of this writer/photographer team over at Wanderlusters.co.uk.
Wow perfect relationship, does that even exist?! We’ve been together for 8 years and travelling perpetually for 2.
Our tale is like so many other nomadic couples’. After tiring of our stressful existence in London we chose to utilize a period of travel to find a new direction, re-evaluate our priorities and determine exactly what we wanted from life.
The one subtle difference between our story and that of your average digital nomad is that we never set out to travel indefinitely. In fact we didn’t really set out with any idea of when our adventures would end. We left the UK with no pre-determined schedule, no clear itinerary and no idea when we would return.
I’m sure if you had asked me, ‘How long will you be travelling for?’ when I was boarding my flight out of Heathrow, I would probably have shrugged my shoulders and estimated 18 months max.
Looking back on our experience of travel to date I can honestly say that it is something which has altered my perception of words like ‘career’, ‘prospects’ and ‘fulfillment’.
Ben used to work every hour of the day. He managed projects in both the northern and southern regions of the UK and would spend an inordinate amount of time sat on the motorway travelling to appointments and meetings. I went from sixth form to University and then straight into interning and employment in London. Neither of us had time to ‘live’.
We lived but we had no life.
Travel has given us back control of our lives. We have both channeled our energies into projects which we are passionate about, offer us fulfillment and exciting future prospects.
The term ‘career’ no longer means climbing the inevitable corporate ladder. It has become reference to maintaining our nomadic existence.
For now we are content to continue exploring, for how long I can’t say, but I’ve no doubt we’ve a number of years of travel ahead.
–‘Backpacker’ is very well-known term, however ‘Flashpacker’ is a bit of a lesser-known, could you talk a little about the differences and what makes you part of the newer age backpacker trend?
For many the term backpacker evokes images of University students taking gap years in Asia and South America, smoking pot and drinking themselves into a stupor before crashing out in a grotty hostel.
As with so many preconceived ideas this is very rarely the case. I perceive a backpacker to be someone who travels in a very cost effective manner with minimal baggage.
So what’s a flashpacker? For me, a flashpacker is someone who travels on a slightly more flexible budget. I’m not sure staying in 5 star hotels could be classed as flashpacking. I think that’s definitely luxury travel.
In my mind it defines travelers who are still careful with their budget but perhaps have a little more to play with than those who live on $25/day.
While I wouldn’t say we are the flashiest of flashpackers we do enjoy the perks of a larger daily budget. Due to the fact that we travel at a more sedate pace we often invest in our own vehicles giving us the freedom to explore at our pace.
We utilize house sitting assignments where possible so tend to live in relative luxury in a homely environment for most of the time, and consequently have a little extra cash to spend when we do have to pay for traditional accommodation.
We would never claim to be a flashpackers, I think it sometimes evokes the image of a spoilt rich kid globetrotter. That we are definitely not!
–What is a typical guilty pleasure of most new age backpackers? What’s a unique one that pertains to you and Ben?
Our guilty pleasure is travel hacking.
As we have to finance all the services we need on a daily basis, a place to sleep, 3 meals a day, regular international flights, activities and tours, finding a sneaky way to save a few dollars is actually really rewarding.
We know that however much we just saved can be used to finance something else which perhaps we thought our budget wouldn’t cover.
Sometimes it’s the simple things that bring the most pleasure!
–Flashpackers are known more for traveling on a larger budget, while backpackers travel on a ‘shoestring’ budget... Where do you fall in this category? What is particularly different for you (ex. the places you stay, the things you eat, the activities you do, the countries you visit, etc)?
We’re definitely mid-range travelers. Very rarely would we ever be found in a 5 star hotel and I’m not sure we’ve ever been to an all-inclusive resort. The thought really doesn’t appeal to us but I know a lot of people class it as the ultimate luxury.
I have to say if we didn’t utilize house sitting assignments I’m not sure we would have the available funds to warrant membership in the flashpacker club.
We are very careful with the money we have available and have found traditionally it is accommodation which eats away at our savings with a ravenous bite.
House sitting offers us the opportunity to live in well-kept and often very luxurious properties for free. It sounds too good to be true I know but believe me, it’s an option for every person looking to travel.
We signed up with Trusted Housesitters just before leaving the UK and secured our first assignment in Costa Rica. It’s now two years later and we’ve looked after 14 homes in 6 different countries for a total of 14 months. That’s 14 months of free accommodation out of a total of 25.
Not bad really when you think about the average nightly spend on a room for 2 people.
With regards to location we’re not really in tune with the average backpacker. We’ve spent the last 18 months in Oceania, a super expensive place to travel. Fortunately there are a lot of house sitting opportunities here and we also took the opportunity to road trip in both Australia and New Zealand.
Road tripping is a relatively cost effective way to travel.
Once we have invested in our vehicle we try to free camp as much as possible. Cooking our own meals reduces our spend on food so the only real financial concern is fuel. Although when you consider the cost of public transport, paid tours and internal flights, we’re of the opinion it’s cheaper to drive.
–Has your relationship with your partner changed much since you teamed up on your travels? Could you talk a little about the struggles of having a travel partner-relationship?
Like everything in life relationships change and evolve, you always hope for a smooth ride but occasionally things can turn your partnership on its head.
We’re very fortunate that our travels have brought us closer together. Having dated for almost 6 years before choosing to travel we were pretty well versed with each other’s bad habits and annoying character traits.
Having said that we’ve had our fair share of ups and downs.
Living in such close quarters can be a challenge. When travelling there can literally be nowhere to escape for a little ‘me time’, which can result in arguments that could have been avoided if there was somewhere one or both of us could cool off.
There are some awesome aspects of couple’s travel.
Sharing everything with the person you love makes each experience that little bit more memorable, you can reminisce together instead of trying to translate your experience afterwards.
I think each ‘once in a life time’ moment strengthens our bond, brings us in line with each other and allows us to reflect on the partnership we have.
–From your website, Wanderlusters, you two tend to give off extremely positive vibes that speak wonders about your relationship... Is your relationship that close-to-perfect? What are some tips that you can offer so that others are as successful?
Wow, do we? Thanks for that. I hadn’t realized that it came across that way. We actually try and stay in the background bringing the focus onto the experience or the location we’re covering.
I have written a few more intimate posts about my own personal experience of making the move to a nomadic existence, Ben was a big part of that process as he gave me the strength to revoke the ties of my corporate life.
While I don’t want to paint a fabricated picture that our life is full of roses, I must say I do feel very fortunate to have such a great travel buddy. I think the reason we have come this far is that we do share so much in common yet have our own interests and quirks.
To any couples considering travelling together the only advice I can offer is to evaluate how you feel you would fair having to spend 24/7, 7 days a week together.
I think it’s easy to forget that in reality many couples don’t actually spend long periods of time together. There are always opportunities to escape by going to work, out to the gym, to a book club or drinks with the boys.
When you’re travelling your other half becomes your gym buddy, the person you socialize with and talk to when you’re feeling down. They become your everything.
I would also suggest doing one thing each day for yourself. Whether it be taking time out to read or go for a run, have one activity which allows you to escape into your head and evaluate the experiences you’re having.
It’s as important to love yourself as it is to love your travel buddy!
–Well Charli, this has been a great experience – I thank you for taking your time to interview here on Eye & Pen! As a final farewell, would you offer up some words of wisdom and some tips for other traveling couples and individuals who are looking to jump into a flashpacker/backpacker lifestyle?
The one element that I believe can make or break the move to perpetual travel is self-sufficiency.
Be self-sufficient where possible. Don’t rely on anything provided to you by an external source. Make your own travel plans, do you own pre trip research and take others’ advice like a pinch of salt.
Workout how you can achieve financial independence and formulate a plan to manage your budget and expenditure.
This is such an individual requirement so what works for us may not work for you. Everyone spends their money in different ways so work out how you can earn, save and spend frugally and you’ll greatly improve your experience.