Meet Petra and Shaun of The Global Couple, creators of the ultimate bucket list, and experts at living a lifetime in only a weekend (check out their 36 hours series!). I had the pleasure of getting to know this amazing couple who has been putting miles on their shoes when most of us where still learning our ABC’s! Their inspirational articles are fun, easy to navigate, and provide incredibly practical and actionable tips for anyone interested in following their footsteps. They know how to dig down, and get into the heart of any destination all while keeping their relationship strong. Word of warning though, following their blog might give you an incurable case of the wanderlust!
Tell us a little about the Global Couple. Who are you guys, what are you all about, and your first introduction to traveling?
We’re Petra and Shaun, two mid-twenties New Zealanders. If we had to put ourselves in a travel category, we would say that we love budget adventure travel with a dash of luxury now and then. We love backpacking through Asia as much as we love wandering around the streets of New York City. We both had an introduction to travelling internationally with our families in our teens, and had both travelled within New Zealand before we met. Our first overseas trip together was to Bali, Indonesia at the tender young age of 19!
Being able to live a life of travel is a luxury for most, how do you guys balance your work with your passion for travel?
Before taking a year off work to travel to the US, Mexico, and Canada in 2014, we balanced working in New Zealand with yearly trips overseas. We took advantage of Petra’s university holidays and our paid holiday leave from work. We’ve also done a heap of New Zealand-based travel which is a lot easier to manage as you don’t have to travel as far – we manage to squeeze a lot into long weekends!
Traveling can certainly get expensive. How do you guys afford all your awesome adventures?
We work hard and we save hard for our travels. We also set a strict budget for our trips, and do our research before going to a place in terms of expected costs (accommodation, food, etc.). We usually set a daily budget for food (it varies depending on the destination) and try to save money on accommodation and transport by staying in Airbnb rentals or cheap hotels and catching public transport.
Your 36 hours series has to be some of my favorite articles, tell me more about that and the inspiration behind it?
We’ve always loved the New York Times’ 36 hours series – over the years it has given us a lot of inspiration on where to go and what to do, albeit at a slightly more luxurious level than we travel at! So we wanted to create our own 36 hours series for the more budget-conscious traveller who travels like we do. It’s fun sharing our favourite things to do, see, and eat in a place we have visited. We always get asked for tips so we can now just direct people to those articles!
Traveling to new destinations is more than just stepping off a plane and taking photos. How do you guys really dig into the culture and customs of a destination?
To get to know a new destination, we visit markets and eat local food. Markets are where locals congregate and we love looking through all the different things on display, and they also provide great photo opportunities! We’ve had some hits and misses with trying local food – from awful squid ink pasta in Venice to amazing papaya salad in Thailand. We love trying new things though!
What are three steadfast rules that you abide by in order to stay on budget while backpacking?
1. Eat the free hotel breakfast if it’s on offer and steal food from breakfast – rolls, bananas and so on are always good for lunch!
2. Use a budget tracking app like Trail Wallet to record daily expenditure and see if you’re tracking above or below budget.
3. Eat takeout rather than in a restaurant – and we don’t mean McDonalds! In the US we loved places like Chipotle or Whole Foods, and in Asia it’s easy to get takeaway Pad Thai and the like (although it’s so cheap there that we usually eat in anyway!). In New Zealand (and similar places like Canada and Australia) you can get takeout sandwiches or sushi and save a lot of money that way.
You guys were recently married – Congratulations! Do you have any advice for couples planning on hitting the road together?
Thank you! Our number one rule is to be patient with each other. Being on the road as a couple can be a stressful experience if you haven’t done it before, and something is bound to go wrong. Don’t stress about the small stuff and just enjoy travelling with the person who you love!
What is one of the craziest situations you guys got yourselves caught up in and how did you get yourself out of it?
We were pulled over by police Bali while driving a rental car and they tried to scam us because we were apparently driving the wrong way down a one-way road (which we weren’t). They were about to take Shaun’s passport and make him appear in court, but we offered them some cash (about $50) and managed to get away safely. It was pretty scary and has put us off renting a car in Bali again!
If you could offer only one survival/safety tip, what would it be?
Don’t be flashy with your stuff. If you’re in a dodgy part of town, sleeping in an airport, or on an overnight bus, put your camera away, don’t wear your expensive watch or your diamond ring, and just be vigilant.
How have you both evolved as travelers from when you first started to how you are now?
Absolutely! When we started travelling we would plan every day down to the half hour (almost!) with a massive list of things to achieve and places to visit, including restaurants and shops, and have every night booked well in advance. Crazy! Now, we still like to do research on a place but we are much more relaxed with what we get done in a day – we just want to embrace a destination and enjoy it rather than running around like headless chickens!
Ok, this is for all the gear lovers out there. What is the one essential piece of travel gear you must have on your adventurers?
We always carry a Swiss Army knife. It can help you out in all manner of sticky situations – screwing furniture back together, fixing door handles that won’t lock, cutting up your lunch, and of course the all-important bottle opener for when you really need a beer or wine.
You guys have one hell of a Bucket List! How’s that coming along, and what will you be crossing off this year?
We love setting goals, and our bucket list is one way that we can keep track of what we want to do in our lives, travel-wise. This year we’re planning to be at home in New Zealand, so those exotic overseas goals will have to wait. But we are starting a Spanish class soon, so we can work towards our ‘learn a foreign language’ goal!
Do you have any final advice for those who wish to live a life of travel?
Set goals for saving and you’ll get there! Be brave and take the leap – you won’t regret it.
About the Global Couple
Our aim is to embrace and understand different cultures, foods, customs, histories, and landscapes. We love learning as much as we can about a place before we go and whilst we’re there. The more we know the more we can appreciate it!
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