I love these guys! Sustainable long-term travel is a tough business. But Jon and Kach of Two Monkeys Travel have devised a formula that makes its seem so darn easy to work and live a life of global travel. On the road since 2013, the Two Monkeys really put their money where their mouth is. With incredibly detailed, and actionable advice, Jon and Kach inspire others, such as myself, to just get out there and do it. If working abroad and putting some miles on your shoes is your goal, they are the ones to follow. Also, check out their new project #backpackerteacher that promotes travel and volunteer opportunities. These guys are awesome!
Tell me about the Two Monkeys Travel Group. Who are you, what you’re all about, how long you’ve been on the road, and your first introduction to traveling.
We are Jon and Kach, the long-term travelers behind Two Monkeys Travel. We met on the road and have been travelling for just over two years now. Our aim is to find new and exciting ways to create a sustainable and successful life of travel, while helping and inspiring others who want to do the same. I (Jon) first travelled at a young age in Africa, as my father worked in Kenya and Malawi, so I had a very lucky start. Kach started her first overseas traveling when she finished university and moved to the Middle East to start work, from there she was able to travel to places like Jordan, Kurdistan,
What inspired you to give up a “normal” life and commit to traveling and working abroad as a lifestyle?
I don’t like to think of myself as a ‘classic case of’ anything, but having spent 6 years at university on two different courses and tried two different careers, it was clear that I wasn’t going to find a life that suited me behind a desk, in an office or in any situation that fixed me in one place, despite having a great job in an architects’ practice with amazing employers. In autumn 2011, I went to visit my sister in Barcelona; my first time outside of the UK in four years and it re-lit something in me that had gone dormant for a while – I suddenly remembered how much I loved new places and people, I even missed my flight and stayed for a few more days! It was another 18 months until I made a complete break and flew to Bangkok, but that was the beginning.
You guys have been traveling since 2013, and have become some serious experts on working abroad to fund your travels. What are some of the jobs you’ve done, and which is your favorite?
We’ve done a lot of different jobs along the way, from hostel work, waiting tables, massage therapy and Yoga classes, not to mention the obvious – TEFL teaching. My personal favourite is teaching Yoga. Every yoga class is like a meditation session for me, which combined with guiding a group of students into a completely meditative state and seeing the benefits they feel as they sink into relaxation, gives me a huge sense of calm.
What job or skill would you recommend for someone just starting out on their own long-term travel adventure?
This really depends on the individual, as I would never recommend forcing yourself into something you don’t enjoy. The one-size-fits-all solution is usually TEFL teaching; getting a certificate is quick, painless and relatively cheap, plus it’s useful in most non-English speaking countries. If it doesn’t feel like a passion for you though, I strongly advise taking a good look at everything you enjoy most in your life and trying to find a product or service that can come out of that, otherwise, you’ll forever be bouncing from one job or money making scheme to the next, just like I did back home!
You guys have visited and worked in a crazy number of countries. Which destination do you suggest is best for someone just starting out, and who wants to work abroad?
Asia is most people’s starting point, particularly for teaching English; living costs are low, demand is high and so are the salaries. We taught in Vietnam and to be honest, life was easy and you could make good money on minimal working hours. TEFL gives you that first step into working abroad. If you want to do the same in somewhere like South America, then it can be a little more challenging, as demand is lower and therefore salaries too. We found that we had to focus more on our massage skills to earn good money in Peru.
What are three steadfast rules that you abide by in order to stay on budget while traveling the globe?
- We write everything down, every last cent that we spend. That way it’s easy to see where the wastage is.
- We separate our money into different envelopes and categories, so we know how much we have for each expense.
- We think long term. Day to day thinking burns money. It’s great to be spontaneous but if you want to sustain your travels, or even better earn and save, then you need some kind of plan.
You recently started a project called the #BackpackerTeacher, tell us a bit about it.
It’s a new project that Kach started, with the goal of promoting backpacking and volunteer English teaching around the Philippines. By creating networks of schools and volunteer teachers, we hope to encourage more people to travel, whilst giving back to communities at the same time. We also follow a very strict policy – No one should have to pay to volunteer their time and skills!
How can we get involved?
You can check out our Facebook page and website – http://backpackerteacher.twomonkeystravelgroup.com/ to keep an eye out for projects in your area or an area where you would like to volunteer. We’re still in the final stages of organization, but we hope to announce our first volunteer opportunity very soon!
How have you guys evolved as travelers from when you started to how you guys are now?
The simplest but most important change has been that now we are traveling with goals and ambitions, unlike when we first left and were simply looking for excitement and new experiences in whatever form they came!
Your one essential piece of travel gear you guys can’t live without?
I’m one of those guys who isn’t completely happy without a knife; just a little one, for cutting pieces of fruit, string, using as a screwdriver or any number of other things. I just like knowing I have some kind of useful tool with me for any situation. I had a great pocket multi tool that my brother gave me, but it was ‘lost’ in customs in Riyadh!
So what’s next for the Two Monkeys? Where will the road take you next?
We’ll be heading north from Costa Rica to Nicaragua in about a month or so, then we’re meeting Kach’s mother in Colombia for her first backpacking trip, before traveling south to Brazil, Argentina and finally, Antarctica!
Do you have any final advice for those who wish to get out and live a life of travel?
Do what you enjoy and don’t fall into the same traps and patterns that you might be trying to leave behind. A job you don’t enjoy is still a job you don’t enjoy when you’re in another country. Aside from that, for a life of travel you need skills that can be used all over the world to provide any type of income
About the Two Monkeys
Kach Medina and Jonathan Howe are working-on-the-road couple from the Philippines and UK. Having each decided to quit their jobs and set off around South East Asia to start their new lives, neither imagined they would end up traveling the world with someone they met in a backpackers’ bar in Laos. But that’s what happened! They are both certified Tantra Yoga Teachers, Ayurveda Massage Therapists and TEFL Certified Teachers. Working wherever and whenever they want! Travelling since April 2013 and currently exploring South America. their next major travel goal- Antartica via Argentina
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