Nic and Paul from The Roaming Renegades are this weeks feature blog on Travel Tales.
They’ve been travelling consistently over the past couple of years. Their blog focuses on providing readers with interesting stories and information about the different countries that they’ve visited on their journeys.
Take it away guys……….
Tell us where you’re from, and a little about your blog?
Hey, we are Nic and Paul, we are from Manchester UK and we run “The Roaming Renegades.com”. We basically write about our attempt to escape from the enslaving 9-5 existence, showing people out there how we are doing it and hopefully inspiring them to do the same, we also report back on where we have been with advice, guides and our crazy experiences along the way!
You’ve been travelling for quite some time now, where did you start your journey, and where are you currently?
Well it’s funny really, it depends on how you mean. We have been travelling as much as we can, or really focusing on that now for about 2 years. But in terms of “travelling” or long term travel we have yet to set off. Now I first figured this would be a set back for the blog, but the thing is we are right at the beginning of that journey and we want to show people that it is possible, to allow them to follow us from homeowners with jobs to vagabonds travelling indefinitely around the world. We plan to set off early 2016 but in the last couple of years we have been to at least 7 new countries whilst working, saving for long term travels and studying, last up we were in Poland and Ukraine!
You’ve stayed in some cool spots along your travels – which one stands out the most for you?
We just love the hostel vibe to be honest, when we first started travelling on a budget and I guess travelling in a different way that many of the people around us do we were sceptical of hostels. We had been brought up on all inclusive hotels and complexes and never really got what travel was about as a kid because of that. But now we are hooked on hostels, it’s so cool to be with so many like-minded and inspiring people and it’s these sorts of interactions which enrich a trip, seeing what others are up to and being spontaneous! Godzillas hostel in Moscow and Goodbye Lenin’s in Krakow have to be top so far! Another highlight was renting an apartment in the centre of Budapest, highly recommended and ridiculously cheap. You get to step into the everyday life of the locals a little too.
What’s your country count at the moment?
We just gotten up to the 24 mark in 2014 and have plans for another 6 or 7 in 2015 before we set off to travel indefinitely. It’s a funny number really because either way it spurs us on. On the one hand I look at people I know personally and bar a few exceptions who are also travel mad, most have been to only around 5 or 6. It makes you feel quite lucky with what we have done. But then you look at other travellers and travel bloggers and some of those numbers are crazy! It’s hard not to get jealous, but I think a healthy dose of jealousy isn’t a bad thing if you allow yourself to be even more encouraged and inspired by it!
Is there any country you’ve not yet visited that’s a must see destination for you?
Man, so many!! I often get asked similar questions and end up listing half the world so I’ll try and rein it in a little! For us Asia is where it’s at, after visiting Japan and really making such a massive dream a reality we just want more and more of it. China and South East Asia have such a pull for us, the culture and architecture, we really can’t wait. But at the same time I really dream about India and seeing the Taj Mahal, that’s really close to the top. Then it’s South America and Machu Pichu and Salar de Uyuni!
What first made you want to travel?
I think we just have this curiosity to see something more and to explore, much of that is why we are climbers and urban explorers too, we just want to have adventures and make the most of our lives. When I was younger I was never satisfied with the holidays we used to go on where we sat by the beach and did nothing but I had no frame of reference for what else travel was about. I got to visit Paris when I was 18 and it totally blew the world open for me, I was given free rein to explore this crazy city with no one asking where I was or when I was back, from then on I dreamt about seeing everywhere I could. Another massive life changing experience was visiting New York in 2008 when I was 19, this had been a dream of mine for a while but I always thought it would be something for when I was a lot older and had much more money!! Again being able to explore New York at 19 made me realise how dreams can come true if you want them enough, it made me see how accessible the world was and expanded my idea of what was possible from travel, that was when the wanderlust set in hard!
If you had to choose your favourite destination so far, what would it be and why?
It’s tough but I have to go with Tokyo. This was again another place we had top of the list in terms of dreams! We fought to make it happen and persisted with that belief! It was our first real taste of Asia and the furthest we had ever been from home, it was just like another world to us and we loved being totally overwhelmed by it all. It was just everything, even the smell, it was all new and exciting, we really immersed ourselves in the place and it was such a rewarding experience and adventure. Tokyo is really a very diverse place too and that’s one of the best things about it, it’s kind of everything you want and expect from Japan! It’s the crazy flashing lights, sounds, crowds and technology but also the serine temples, preying monks and reflective gardens. I just can’t even explain how much we loved it!!
Our post about exploring Tokyo is here:
Name two personal items that you can’t live without while travelling?
Well number one would have to be my camera(s), I love photography and really trying to capture a place, I take way too many photos and Paul gets a bit grumpy at times but it’s just one of those ways of capturing those experiences and memories for the future and also for the blog. Number two would have to be my phone, it’s a bit of a cheat item I guess because it means if I didn’t have my laptop or even camera I could still blog, take photos and stay connected. It’s amazing now to have these phones where you can have so much information available in your pocket, nip into a McDonalds for example and you have free WIFI and you can look at maps, places to go, I even have access to my cloud storage on there and have scans of my passport and visas saved so it can be a life saver!
What’s your most epic travel story to date?
There have been a few that stand out and it feels like nowadays whenever I catch up with friends all I talk about are things that happened whilst travelling! But for me it has to be our wedding, not only because of where we got married but the whole thing was inspired by travel and we were lucky to be able to take the thing we are most passionate about and create a wedding that effectively spanned 3 continents, it just wouldn’t have been right to have done it all at home! It began in London with a picnic in St James’ park by Buckingham Palace, that is where we got engaged. Then we travelled to our favourite place in the world, New York, for the most fun an exciting wedding I could have ever imagined, jumping about in Times Square and skateboarding through Central Park! Just to top it off we then made our way over to Tokyo, the number 1 place we had dreamt of going for a unique and adventurous honeymoon. We really couldn’t have asked for anything more!
Read about our wedding here:
Is there one post on your blog that you prefer over all the rest? If so, then why?
It’s difficult as most of my blog posts are connected with places and it’s hard not to pick one just based on my feelings about those countries! But I feel I have really developed over the past year since I decided to really concentrate on blogging and I moved my design work away and rebranded. I have been able to be much more honest about how I feel about travel and life and it has given me a platform to air those feelings and at the same time try to inspire others. So I think my post “Life is not a trial run, quit your job and travel the world” because of how much I felt I was able to let loose and express how passionate I am about not wasting our lives, it felt like a turning point in gaining our freedom and was good to get it all down!
Here is the post:
Was there a specific moment when you realised that travel was a lifestyle you wanted to pursue?
It was over a period of months that everything seemed to come together and it was like a sudden realisation that we are never going to be happy unless we just take that chance, it was a scary and exciting moment! I had been working through a lot of similar ideas for my Master’s Degree, looking at questioning normality and how we are controlled and distracted, pulled away from our passions to sit in an office for 40 years because it’s normal, but really it’s all about us making profit for other people. Selling our time for money which we just spend on unnecessary “stuff”. It all just felt so superficial, like such a waste and the idea of being part of that just became more and more unacceptable. I knew I had been disillusioned for some time but really wasn’t able to pin point why or what I could do about it. But I began reading a lot of travel blogs, reading about these people who were just like me, even someone I went to school with was travelling, it made me realise that it was something that was achievable. From then on it has been a process of taking ourselves from our lives then and working towards that escape, I was in the middle of my MA, Paul in college too and we had a mortgage. Sometimes you can just drop everything and go, sometimes you need to organise first and wait for the right time. There is no sense in throwing our qualifications away and we figured if we rent the house we could make a bit of money off it too, plus we needed to save up before we went.
What motivates you to keep travelling, and do you have days where you think a more settled life back home is more attractive?
Obviously as mentioned before we are at the point in which we are not yet living that lifestyle we aim for, it is on the horizon though, it feels as though we can finally see it and nothing is going to stop that now. But currently, still being at home, even knowing what is around the corner, is becoming more and more unbearable. We are working so we can save up to fund travelling but it’s hard to feel motivated to go into the place you see as being the epitome of everything you don’t want. We have to get the balance right between setting off with enough money to make the most of it and also knowing when to just go too, we think in about 12 months (Jan 2016) we will be ready, it’s not long really but everyday feel like a waste. That is one of the reasons I have been concentrating so much on the blog, to get ourselves in a good position when we go do and to use this time to prepare. Right now I know how disillusioned the settled life makes us feel and I think that instead of regretting not realising earlier it will give us more appreciation of the freedom of travelling, I think knowing what we know now that for a long time settling back down won’t be enough. I would never say never and we have spoken about maybe moving to another country and spending extended periods of time there as well as travelling for the rest of the year, I know a few travel bloggers who seem to do that after travelling for a few years and it seems a good balance.
During your travels, what’s the best travel tip you’ve received?
Sometimes it can be the small things that seem almost unimportant at the time that can stick with you as they lead to other experiences. For example in Poland recently we arrived quite late, tired and hungry, we asked one of the staff at the hostel where we should go at this time for some food. She mentioned a square a short walk away which did these things called “Zapiekankas”, a traditional polish snack made from a baked half baguette covered in cheese, mushrooms, onions and other toppings. We of course got lost walking there and in doing so saw a lot more of the city than we would have, when we did find the square it was obvious this was the place to be for the young people of Krakow. The atmosphere was buzzing, bars surrounded the huts selling these amazing snacks and we sat there and took it all in, watching the locals and ending up having some really cool conversations with them about travel, life and Krakow – and so resulting in even more tips! We also found a really cool area in which to go out and not be surrounded by English stag parties! Such a small tip that lead to some great nights, great discoveries and also an obsession for the ridiculously cheap and tasty “Zapiekanka!”, check out Plac Nowy in Kazimierz if you are ever in Krakow for the best ones in Poland!
Connecting with locals can be one of the most rewarding things about travel. Do you agree?
Oh yes, this is when you really start to experience a country beyond just the tourist spots, don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with going seeing the big things when visiting somewhere but you should also take just as much interest in the small things, the details, that’s what really makes it. One of the things we like about many of the places we have stayed in recently is that the staff have all been locals and really willing to talk and give out tips, one woman even rang her cousin for us to get tickets to a local football game! You get to know the best places to eat, the real off the beaten track things to see, you really get under the skin of a place that way. We love to wander too and get lost on purpose in a new city, we did this a lot in Tokyo and really saw another side to it. During this time we would go in many places not usually frequented by tourists and get talking to the locals, asking them what as nearby and what food we should try. When we set off travelling we are going try even more to connect, looking at staying with families and teaching English for example, some of our most memorable moments have come from our interactions with the people, especially when we have been in areas most other tourists don’t visit.
Is there any one country that you’ve been to that you didn’t like, and would make you not want to return?
Honestly no not really. I have loved every country we have been too for different reasons. However saying that there have been maybe countries which I have not had the best interactions with and feel could do with a re-visit. Greece is an example of this. When we visited Greece we went to the island of Kos, this was not by choice as we had a family wedding to go to. I knew this wouldn’t be our sort of place, it was full of English tourists getting drunk and laying about all day, all-inclusive resorts and generally the representation of the way in which we feel travel should not be done! I could go on and on about these types of holidays, I mean, you pay more to experience less, I don’t get it! In the end we made the most of it, we rented out quads and explored all over the island, went climbing, mountain biking, hiking and discovered hidden ruins and thermal pools, we even took a ferry over to Turkey too. But the impression I have now of Greece is one which I know is unfair, I think if it as being tacky and full of English louts! I think it is a country I could really fall in love with if I saw the right locations, Athens and Santorini being places I would love to go.
In order to sustain a life of travel, you need to have some sort of income stream. How have you funded your travels?
At the moment as I mentioned this is one of the things we are working on, it is I guess one of the things we worry about when considering travelling but I am determined to make it work. We have the blog and although nowhere near at the level of sustaining us it has begun to make some income through the adverts we have, but in terms of blogging our aim at the moment is just to improve as much as we can and get people interested before we really worry about it making money. We plan to save up for a year and travel for the first year using mostly our savings, after that we will be getting a working visa for Australia and trying to save as much of what we make as we can. We then will be looking at teaching English (TEFL) as well as casual jobs such as bar work etc. We have some idea of how we will sustain the lifestyle for at least a few years and I know we will pick up ideas and advice along the way so we are not overly worried. We will be blogging the whole time too so hope that once we are travelling long term then its success will continue. Really one of the things that has made me feel so unhappy at home is the feeling that no job really fits with what I want from life, I am hoping that maybe I might find my calling out on the road, whether that is teaching English or being a travel photographer, to eventually maybe owning a hostel or SCUBA shop, all I know right now is that I want to travel!
What are your travel plans for the future?
In 2015 we will mostly be saving up for long term travel but we still have a few trips here and there to keep us sane! We are heading over to Dublin for St Patrick’s day which has always been a dream, we are also keen to visit Bratislava and take the train over to Vienna too. We also have plans to head down to the Baltics for a few weeks and see 3 or 4 counties there. I am also looking to go to Belgium with the family to visit my Great Uncles grave from the First World War in Ypres.
After that our plans expand somewhat! In early 2016 we will set off across Europe and towards Russia, from there we will take the trans-Mongolian express into China! Effectively taking the train from Manchester to Beijing, which is such an exciting prospect! We then plan to spend about a year travelling around Asia and making our way down eventually to Australia to work for a year. After that we want to visit New Zealand for a little while before crossing over to South America and travelling up the continent to North America. This should take us around 3 years and then we will assess from there what we want to do and where we want to go.
Favourite travel quote?
“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.” Unknown.
Hi, we are Nic and Paul, the ‘Roaming Renegades’ we are travellers, adventurers and explorers and our blog chronicles our escape from the 9-5 and round the world trip. We came to realise we would never be satisfied with a “Normal” existence in which your life was controlled by work and money, in which you spend most of your life doing something you hate only to retire too old to enjoy it! We decided to do something about it and want to inspire others to believe they can too. We believe the “safety net” most people live their lives by is a myth; what is the bigger risk, settling for a life of dissatisfaction and regret, or going out there and taking the chance to create the lifestyle you could only dream of?
We report back on our experiences, give advice and destination guides and talk about our motivation and ideas about travel and what spired us on!
So join us on our adventures, escape the 9-5 and create a life less ordinary!
Website URL: http://www.theroamingrenegades.com/
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Hilditchshortexplore
Twitter name: @Travel_Explore1