Andrew is the husband of Tanya which we previosuly featured I Meet the Nomads. He’s also one of the authors and blog owners of Magic Travel blog, one of the newest blogs that I’m following and subscribed to.
Andrew is a computer programmer and also part of a project producing course management software for schools around the world. He juggles those responsibilities while travelling and house sitting. Not bad huh!
Andrew, together with Tanya writes a lot of helpful tips that any traveller especially new ones, would find extremely useful. Check out their extensive post about packing and what to bring on your travels for a start.
Get to know more about Andrew and visit him at Magic Travel Blog.
But before you click away, check out my short interview with Andrew.
How did you discover your passion for travelling?
“I grew up in Australia but we visited family in the UK every few years. Regular trips from Australia to Scotland meant that travelling was always part of my life. Some of my earliest memories are in Edinburgh. Visiting other countries has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.”
What’s the most horrible experience that you’ve had on the road?
“I’ve never had anything really horrible happen despite having visited many countries over many years. The world is actually a much safer place than most people seem to realize.
The one experience that does come to mind was visiting a camel racing track in the middle east. It was out in the middle of nowhere. I was in my early 20s and was with my parents and my brother. There was no racing going on at the time so it was just the trainers, jockeys, their families etc hanging around. Our family was evidently a bit of a curiosity as we quickly drew a small crowd.
Being surrounded by a growing crowd of people and not being able to communicate with them wasn’t very pleasant. Although we couldn’t understand what was being said to and about us the tone felt quite threatening so we beat a hasty retreat. Nothing actually happened though. It felt threatening but it’s quite possible we misread the whole situation. If our language skills had been stronger we probably would been able to manage the situation better.”
What’s the best travel experience that you’ve ever had?
“Tanya and I lived in Chiang Mai, Thailand back in 2009. When we first arrived to start our new life we were in this amazing place and the whole world seemed like it was filled with infinite possibilities. For the first time we’d gone beyond a fixed length holiday. Walking around town thinking “I can stay here forever if I want” was intoxicating.”
What’s the biggest realization that you’ve got out of travelling?
“Fundamentally people want the same things. Food on the table, a safe place to raise their kids, the opportunity to do something worthwhile. When you first arrive in a new place you tend to see all the differences. After a while the similarities start to become apparent. Families eating together, kids reluctantly doing their homework, tired parents struggling with a tired toddler, teenagers sneaking off. You see the same human moments everywhere.
If I can sneak in a second one, the world is massive. If you don fly from city A to city B and instead take the train, bus or something similar and stop at the places in between you quickly realize that the world is really really big. We’ve spent a year in total in various parts of Thailand. There’s still vast sections of the country we haven’t seen and that’s just one country.”
What keeps you going? What keeps you motivated?
“I get bored easily and need a lot of mental stimulation. I get that from going new places and learning about their history. I also always have one or more personal projects underway. At the moment, aside from Magic Travel Blog, I’m writing an e-book and using a bunch of free online resources to improve my knowledge of mathematics. I like learning and travel is an important part of that.”
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?
“I never liked Man Vs Wild but I quite like Bear Grylls. He seems like a nice guy who is good for a laugh and is up for an adventure. I’m mostly a city person but I could cope with being away from my laptop if I had the chance to learn from someone knowledgeable.”
Where’s your favourite place in this planet and why?
“We’re currently in Taiwan and its rapidly growing on me. However I’m a big fan of Malaysia. Some of my favourite places are there, Kuching, Penang, Melaka. Malaysia is very multicultural so there’s lots of different things going on and different foods to eat. The people are generally very friendly, the level of English is great, it’s easily accessible from Australia, the cost of living is very reasonable and the visa situation is excellent.
A lot of countries make it very difficult to just hang out and put money into the local economy. I’m not sure why. Being able to arrive in Malaysia and stay for 3 months at a time makes it a really attractive destination to come back to again and again and to use as a base to explore Asia.”
What’s your best tip for newbie traveller?
“Pack your bag then take out half of what you packed and leave it behind. Most people vastly overestimate the amount of stuff they’ll need. They fill their bag with clothes they will never wear and wind up lugging around a giant heavy pack. You’re not going to the moon. They have pants in Thailand. They have toothpaste in Spain. Take less than you think you’ll need. If you really need something you didn’t bring you can pick it up wherever you’re going. Going shopping is actually a great way to get to grips with a new place.”
What’s the funniest and silliest thing you’ve ever done while travelling?
“We rented a motorcycle in Chiang Mai and rode a famous motorcycle tour route called the Mae Hong Son loop. We wanted to visit a village outside of the town of Mae Hong Son. There was a sealed road out there but the map didn’t show that there were ten places where a river ran over the road.
The water was generally only a few inches deep but it was running over algae covered concrete which was incredibly slippery. On the seventh or eighth crossing it all went wrong and we got pitched into the water. Despite the surprise of suddenly being on the ground we were both ok. Then it was just a matter of slipping and sliding back to the bike to try and stand up this big heavy bike while a minivan full of tourists watched. They assured us that the whole thing was hilarious.”
What do you think about yourself?
“I’m a loving husband, a hard working computer programmer, a mediocre writer and a maker of indifferent Youtube videos I’m someone who feels that it’s important to make your mark on the world. That’s why I spend a lot of my time hopefully inspiring people through MagicTravelBlog.com. I also spend a lot of time working on Moodle, which is free software that helps make education available to people who might not otherwise have the opportunity. We live in an amazing world. I’d like to leave it a little better than I found it.”
“MagicTravelBlog.com is a place for Tanya and I to record our adventures and to share information on how we’re able to live the lives we do. We’ve accumulated a lot of experience with preparing to travel, managing our finances and structuring our lives to enable us to keep traveling for however long we want.
The site gives us a place to share what we’ve learned through trial and error. Plus it’s easy to forget the details of everything we’ve done and everywhere we’ve been so the website serves as a memory aid for us. I quite look forward to looking through it when I’m old.” – Andrew of Magic Travel Blog
Editor’s note: All pics are provided by Andrew.