Meet the Nomads – Barbara of The Dropout Diaries

I have always been fond of reading blogs not just about adventures of people in different countries but as well as blogs about the changes and transformations that an individual (or a family) goes thru. I like reading about and learning from them as they redesign their lives according to what they want.

And one of those blogs that I’ve been reading recently is The Dropout Diaries. Barbara left her job twice to pursue an alternative lifestyle. She built an online business that would help support herself and her family as they travel the world.

Follow her adventure and get to know more about Barbara, visit her at The Dropout Diaries.

Here’s my short interview with Barbara.

Meet the Nomads - Barbara of The Dropout Diaries

How did you discover your passion for travelling?

“My parents moved away from their hometown when I was three years old. So for most of my childhood we travelled “home” every year for Christmas. While three days stuck in the back seat of a car with my two sisters wasn’t so fun, we spent most of the year looking forward to the trip and it was always exciting to meeting our cousins, uncles, aunts and grandparents again after such a long absence, go to the beach and eat ice cream and have our parents all to ourselves for a couple of weeks. So I was traveling from a young age and I had mostly positive experiences (apart from being squashed up against my sisters in the car for so long.)

We lived in a mining town that called itself an oasis in the Australian outback. My parents used this town as a base to explore central Australia, the Gulf of Carpentaria and the local Aboriginal culture. By the time I was 13 my parents had even ventured as far as Asia! I think my love of travel is really a love of exploring, passed on to me from my parents, who did most of their adventuring with three kids.”

What’s the most horrible experience that you’ve had on the road?

“It would have to be getting terrible travellers diarrhoea just before a bus trip from Chitwan National Park in Nepal to the capital Kathmandu. What was supposed to be a four hour journey took more than 10 hours because of the terrible state of the roads and all the military checkpoints that we had to stop at. Every so often I had to ask the driver to stop so I could go on the side of the road. Then I had to choose between facing the farmers in the rice terraces below the road, or facing the traffic – there was no cover on the side of the road. It was just so horrible. I’d never pooed in public before, never done it since and I hope I never ever have to do it again. Then, just when I thought it was all over, we arrived at the monkey temple in Kathmandu and I got to use a “real toilet”. That horrible experience was one of my first-ever blog posts, Toilet Torture in Kathmandu.”

What’s the best travel experience that you’ve ever had?

“The best experience would have to be falling in love with the most handsome man in Vietnam and then building a life with him. We have travelled through quite a few countries together, so he’s earned the title (as voted by me) of the most handsome man in the Philippines, the most handsome man in Thailand, the most handsome man in Australia, the most handsome man in Malaysia, the most handsome man in Singapore, the most handsome man in Cambodia and the most handsome man in Indonesia.”

Barbara of The Dropout Diaries

What’s the biggest realization that you’ve got out of travelling?

“That changing locations won’t make you happy if you are carrying a problem with you. That’s something I slowly came to realise after several years of meeting other travellers and expats. If you think leaving home to travel will automatically turn you into a joyous motivated energetic person, you are going to be very disappointed. You will still be you, no matter where you are in the world. For some people that realisation is very liberating, for others it’s incredibly depressing.”

What keeps you going? What keeps you motivated?

“We are traveling pretty slowly – so slowly we actually take holidays from our travels!

I was based in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam for nearly four years, taking trips around Vietnam and to Cambodia, Laos, the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore. Then we moved to Singapore for nearly 18 months, taking a few side trips. We’ve been in northern Thailand for six months, taking trips “home” to Vietnam and Australia.

We will always be a traveling family, I think, because we have two homes – Vietnam and Australia. Our daughter has cousins, aunts and uncles in both countries so as parents we have to make sure we earn enough for our daughter to get to know both sets of relatives well as she grows up. So family connections will keep us going. And traveling slowly should mean we don’t get burnt out.”

This is a silly and hypothetical one. If you would be given a chance to travel with a popular person or a celebrity, who would it be and why?

“Ewan McGregor. I’d like to go on a motorbike tour with him, with both our families. As a dad, he’d know how to accommodate kids on a crazy adventure. And his Scottish accent would make everything he said sound funny to me, so I’d be laughing all the time. Plus, he seems like a genuinely nice (and funny) guy.”

Barbara of The Dropout Diaries

Where’s your favourite place in this planet and why?

“I can’t decide between Mooloolaba Beach near my parents’ place in Australia and Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

When I lived at Mooloolaba I used to start each day clambering over the rocks and running along the beach with my dog – such fond memories. And the most magical experience of my life was experiencing dawn at a random little temple at Angkor Wat. I sat on a block of fallen stone and listened to the jungle wake up and watched the dawn slowly reveal the details of the temple and the jungle. Such a wonderful experience, in start contrast to the crowded noisy “sunrise photo” crush at the main temple of Angkor Wat.”

What’s your best tip for newbie traveller?

“Have fun! Too often people get so stressed about planning things and seeing all the recommended sights that they forget that they’re supposed to be having fun. By all means try to see the sights, but keep track of how you feel. If you are doing too much and exhausting yourself, take a moment to take stock, cross a few things off your list and focus on enjoying the amazing place you are in. Look around, smile at people, identify the smells, try a local food – these things are just as important as seeing a sight recommended by a guidebook. I much prefer hanging with the locals than visiting museums and cathedrals… but this is a realisation I only came to after visiting lots of museums and cathedrals.”

What’s the funniest and silliest thing you’ve ever done while travelling?

“I think some of the funniest moments I’ve had have been the result of language disconnects. There was one time when the guy I call Darling Man mis-remembered the word for “tentacle” and told me I was eating “testicle”. Another time a colleague mispronounced a word and started talking about how high semen prices were becoming a problem in Vietnam.”

What do you think about yourself?

“I think I’m just a new-ish mother trying to work out how to juggle parenthood, work and having fun. Throw in a cross-cultural relationship with a handsome man speaking a second language and a fondness for telling funny stories and I think you have it.”

The Dropout Diaries

“My blog, The Dropout Diaries, tells stories about my family’s travels and the street food we “meet” along the way.

Since I started the blog, I have quit my full-time job in Singapore and moved to Chiang Mai in northern Thailand to set myself up as a digital nomad. In April we are taking the show on the road, heading for Europe where we’ll cycle from Marseille in France to Geneva in Switzerland and explore some nearby areas. I want to show that family travel on a budget is possible. I am planning to add a resources section soon to help other families (and non-family types) have as much fun as we’re having.” – Barbara

Editor’s Note: All pics are provided by Barbara

Next: Jeremy Albelda of The World or Bust. Previously: Daniel Nahabedian of Canvas of Light. For more interviews with travel bloggers, check out the archives of Meet the Nomads.

Comments

  1. awesome interview! I am forever inspired. I am more into “checking what I felt” when I see the sights in places I visited.

    Thank you for inspiring a fellow travel blogger. 🙂 Cheers

  2. I met Barbara in Chiang Mai and she is awesome. I don’t know how she juggles a family and all that travelling, but she’s doing a very admirable job at it. 🙂

  3. Thanks for including me in this fantastic series, Flip! It’s a great honour to be in such amazing company.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Barbara of The Dropout Diaries . Previously: Will Peach of My Spanish Adventures. For more interviews with travel bloggers, check […]

  2. […] john of Travel Rinse Repeat. Previously: Barbara of The Dropout Diaries. For more interviews with travel bloggers, check out the archives of Meet the […]

  3. […] Barbara of The Dropout Diaries: “That changing locations won’t make you happy if you are carrying a problem with you. That’s something I slowly came to realise after several years of meeting other travellers and expats. If you think leaving home to travel will automatically turn you into a joyous motivated energetic person, you are going to be very disappointed. You will still be you, no matter where you are in the world. For some people that realisation is very liberating, for others it’s incredibly depressing.” […]

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