In this week’s ¨Who’s Out There Now¨ feature, we bring to you Gerard and Kieu. While the name of their travel blog, GQ trippin, may be a play on their first names, The GQ may actually reflect them being the cutest and most fashionable damn travel couple out there: Gerard is a self-described health nut and Kieu has a background in the cosmetics industry. As they travel around, they’re paying special attention to the food of the world.
1. So, where in the world are you answering these questions?
We just checked into our cozy homestay in Ubud on the beautiful island of Bali.
2. You each had different experiences leaving your jobs. Gerard was forced into a career break (even though you were already thinking about taking one) and Kieu, you left a job you say you loved. How did the difference in your employment status affect your planning, budgeting and even your attitudes towards your break.
Well, we were supposed to quit our jobs together. Gerard’s job quitting him just meant he’d be doing most of the planning and preparation – where to go, stay, do and of course eat – that sort of stuff. And because he was laid-off, his severance package added a wee bit more into our travel budget (but not much). In a way, Gerard getting laid off three months prior was actually a blessing and relief.
3. You started in New Zealand jumping right into the game by zorbing in Rotorua and you haven’t really stopped since. Is there any sort of action activity that you ultimately decided not to do? (please include a link to your zorbing video and I’ll put it in the post)
Gerard really wanted to go river boarding in New Zealand, but he’s not exactly good in the water – not unless you consider doggy paddling swimming. I was terrified myself so I made every excuse, mostly riding on the fact that he couldn’t swim, to get ourselves out of going. It worked. Gerard agreed it may not be the safest of sports. So we went bungy jumping instead!
4. This trip got personal on your trip to Vietnam where both got to visit family. How was your visits and what do they think about your world tour?
It’s always nice to be with family especially after being away for so long. This trip was extra special because Gerard got to meet his dad’s side of the family for the first time in Hue and found out he is a descendant of royalty.
On the topic of their thoughts on our world tour: My grandmother says I should go home and get a job. Others ask why so long? or my personally favorite, why you no marry yet? It’s an Asian thing I guess – to focus on career and marriage – but despite all this, they do think the world (pun intended) of our decision to travel long-term. Most could only dream a life of travel and world experiences, so the fact that we’re actually doing it, is a good thing. So long as we’re happy and healthy.
5. You’ve got a great list of 30 Before 30, essentially your bucket list. Is this the main way to organize your trip or are you just checking stuff off as you come across it?
Both. We didn’t organize the trip based on our bucket list, but we knew we had the opportunity to check off quite a bit so we modified our itinerary to make that happen, like making sure we were in Thailand in time for Songkran or in India for Holi. As for the rest, we check stuff off one by one, slowly as it comes to us. Honestly, that list far extends 30 before 30 and is constantly changing.
6. Career break, nomadic adventure, backpacking, how do you characterize your trips?
Our current resume probably screams career breakers more than anything. I don’t think we stay in one place long enough to be considered nomads, and while we do physically carry backpacks, we’ve been living on a flashpacker’s budget. So maybe we’re a blend of all of the above.
7. What are some of the secrets to travel that you’ve discovered that you think more people who aren’t traveling should know?
Learn to be sneaky, manipulative and always stay one step ahead. That is, when you’re trying to pass your backpack as a carry-on luggage at the airport so you don’t have to ever check them in of course. I may lug around a carry-on size backpack but it by no mean meets the weight limit for most airlines in Asia (a ridiculous 7kg!). We typically hand-carry our backpacks and wear our daypacks on our back so it appears as if we’re not carrying much at all. Then when we approach the counter, we place our bags in front of us hidden by the counter.
We also found that if you spend some time and check in online beforehand, the whole counter process at the airport is much quicker. A quick passport check followed by a simple, do you have any luggage to check in? which we politely answer no and we’re on our way. And just in case they decide to weigh our backpacks, we’ve already shifted all our heavy weight items – camera, electric cords, toiletry, etc. – to our day packs beforehand.
As for accommodation: Just because you’re a backpacker doesn’t mean your only option for accommodation is a hostel. We find using Airbnb as a couple is more beneficial than hosteling especially for countries like New Zealand and Australia. The cost can be the same if not better.
Plus you get additional amenities you wouldn’t otherwise get with staying in a hostel like unlimited internet which is practically non-existent in those countries. In Australia, we stayed in an apartment complex where we had access to a gym and pool. In New Zealand, we had a private room with double bed, access to the laundry machine and a pet dog Milly for the week. But probably the greatest benefit from using Airbnb is that it feels like home.
8. What was your first ¨We’re not in Kansas anymore¨ moment on this trip?
India. On our first day, we were told there was a look of fear in our eyes. From the moment we exited the taxi, trying to maneuver through the dirt and trash filled streets, dodging beggars, tuk tuks, motorbikes, cows and cow poo – I’d say fear was an understatement.
9. What’s been your most ¨local¨ experience so far?
Attending a traditional Indian wedding in Jaisalmer, India. Gerard has never danced with so many guys in his life!
10. What has been your most embarrassing moment?
Bathing in the nude with total strangers. Or as the Japanese like to call it, a typical evening at the onsen (hot spring). I was fine, but Gerard was originally going to wear his towel around like a skirt. Haha.
11. What’s your secret for getting the most out of your journey?
Getting in with the locals. We’ve been fortunate enough to be part of the Couchsurfing community and met incredible people. Through this, we got to do things we wouldn’t otherwise on our own. The onsen experience along with the Indian wedding would’ve never happened had it not been for Couchsurfing.
We also live in the digital age whereby if I tweet a question like, where can I find the best coffee in Hanoi?, and I’ll get a recommendation or two in return. As much as our daily lives are inundated with social media, we’ve found it most helpful in getting tips from friends, family and complete strangers.
12. Finally, our lightening round.
- Best dish you’ve found so far: Shanghai dumplings
- Most exotic food eaten: Balut (duck embryo)
- Most breathtaking moment: Bungy jumping in New Zealand
- Biggest disappointment: China
- Most memorable place: Pushkar, India
- Most memorable person: Jay, our first Couchsurfing host in Queenstown, NZ
- Best thing to have on a long bus ride: headphones
- Worst thing to have on a long bus ride: a loud snorer next to you
- Best thing you packed: Gerard’s Android smartphone.
- Dumbest thing you packed: Gerard’s hat and my extra swim suit
- Funniest travel habit the other one has:
G: Kieu says cheese and smiles even when I’m taking a picture of her from behind. Q: Gerard throws up the peace sign every time I try and take a photo of him
- Place you wish you could’ve stayed longer: Japan
Every week, Career Break Secrets profiles a different traveler or traveling couple who are embracing the ¨Because Life Is Out There TM¨ travel spirit. These are people who have taken the plunge to embark on a career break and are currently traveling the world.