In this week’s ¨Who’s Out There Now¨ feature, we bring to you Meg and Tony, who left the corporate world to see the real world. I had the chance to meet them in Italy in April at the Travel Bloggers Unite conference. Their site, Landing Standing, has a lot of personality (no surprise having met them). So, follow their trip. You will be entertained.
1. So, where in the world are you answering these questions?
Thanks for the kind words, Jeff! We just arrived in Berlin and are crashing with some friends that we have met on the road. Mooching is the key to any successful long-term travel plan!
2. What’s the story behind your site’s name? How does it reflect your travel style? Who’s landing and who’s standing anyway?
Ohhhh, boy. As with most origin stories, it’s a bit convoluted. After we graduated college, we had the idea to start a blog about financial planning for recent grads. The name Landing Standing was hit upon as the perfect way to describe the transition from college to adult life (as in, landing on your feet). A little too cutesy and ridiculous perhaps? Definitely… but so are we! Plus, we thought the rhyming was catchy. Even though we are passionate and knowledgeable about personal finance (came in handy when planning a trip around the world), that blog lasted just 7 posts. But the name stuck.
Overtime, the name Landing Standing came to mean how we could face any challenge and always come out ok. Our travel style is to plan just enough to survive and then to face the chaos that life throws at us. Lost in the middle of a foreign city? No worries. Money running tight with so much more to see? Not a problem. Why? Because we always end up on our two feet… landing standing!
3. Before you left, Tony wrote a post, The Silly Things That I Will Miss When We Travel (and Why It Will All Be OK). In it, you included that you thought you’d miss your job. So, be honest, how much are you really missing your careers?
The careers… maybe not so much. But the people we worked with? Definitely! There is also that nagging feeling of being “unanchored” because we had to hit the eject button on the traditional life plan… but that also feels kind of great. Life is always better when you are outside your comfort zone and we truly believe it is the key to success. We have a few projects in the works to turn this career break into a permanent lifestyle, so we’ll see how it goes!
4. Meg, you wrote about 15 things we need to know about you. You mentioned your penchant for getting hotel and flight upgrades. How was the adjustment to budget travel and do you have any tricks for adding a bit of luxe on your trip?
As a business management consultant back home, I accumulated a ton of airline miles and hotel points and got upgraded A LOT. However, adjusting to budget travel was a lot easier than I expected. Tony and I are incredibly grateful to be travelling the world so our expectations and needs are very basic. As long as a hostel or hotel has a bug-free bed for us to sleep in, we consider it a win! As far as tricks for adding a bit of luxe to our trips, we do occasionally leverage my hotel points to stay at a nice hotel on the road when we need a break from the hostel lifestyle. Also, if you tell people you are on your honeymoon, the free stuff and upgrades come flying in!
5. You started your trip in Santiago, Chile. I think it’s a good choice for easing your way into long-term travel. What was your strategy to putting together your itinerary and picking where you’d go and where you’d skip?
With our penchant for planning “just enough,” we didn’t make too big a deal out of it. We knew we wanted to start in South America because neither of us had been. Meg did a few hours of research online that said Santiago was a super easy city to visit. Once we had that info, it only took us a day of looking up cheap dates for flights before pulling the trigger. We decided against an around-the-world ticket as Meg’s points helped reduce some of the more expensive flights we’ve taken. Plus, we really love the freedom of having no places to visit picked out beyond a general area. The key was we bought the first ticket. Sometimes people get so hung up on the planning that they never actually do the traveling. You can always plan more later, so once you make the decision to travel, just make it happen!
6. Career break, nomadic adventure, backpacking, how do you characterize your trips?
People have so many different definitions of these, but probably a bit of everything. We travel on a budget, but have access to a decent amount of hotel points and airline miles to splurge on occasion. We took a break from our careers, but are looking to turn this into a lifelong nomadic adventure. We always default to calling it “vagabonding”, but that is more for the romance of the journey than any specific way we travel.
7. What are some of the secrets to travel that you’ve discovered that you think more people who aren’t traveling should know?
Technology in 2012 has made missing events back home almost non-existent. We have Facebook, Twitter, and email to stay connected to our friends lives. Skype lets us see our families face-to-face every week. Missing out on your current life is no longer a reason to not travel (not that it ever was, really). Plus, technology like Facebook and Twitter lets you be open to so many new opportunities on the road Let people know what you are doing and get ready to be surprised at how many cool people you will meet.
8. What was your first ¨We’re not in Kansas anymore¨ moment on this trip?
It is definitely not the craziest thing we have seen on this trip, but the stray dogs in Santiago was definitely the first time where we felt “outside” of the US. Santiago was incredibly modern feeling, so the stray dogs everywhere were fairly surreal. But they were well taken care of, for the most part, by the local shop owners. As dog people though… it was really hard to not adopt a new dog everyday. Meg was having the internal battle of a lifetime just trying not to pet them!
9. What’s been your most ¨local¨ experience so far?
While in La Paz, Bolivia, we decided to take a local bus to the city of El Alto, which is the largest city in the world built and inhabited by Native Americans. Here we went to their famous market where we were the ONLY tourists there. The entire experience was incredibly eye opening and we later discovered that El Alto was also famous for local kidnappings of American tourists… Yikes!
10. What has been your most embarrassing moment?
Tony: I’ll take this one… as Meg has yet to top it. But about 2 weeks into our journey we were asked to partake in a full day hike in the Andes for our first sponsored tour. Beyond giddy that this little blog of ours was worthy of a sponsored tour, we set off on a day that I have still not lived down…
Extremely long and embarrassing story short: Whether due to drinking the night before or a slight stomach bug, I had a battle with my body all the way up (and down) the mountain that I did not ultimately win. I wrote about it in graphic, yet cathartic, detail here if you really to know. But the day culminated with me actually saying the words (unthinkable only a day before) “Meg, I pooped myself.” So professional.
11. What’s your secret for getting the most out of your journey?
Plan as little as you can to survive. Overplanning can turn your journey into a chore and suck all of the adventure out of your career break. The best parts of our trip have come from the detours along the way based on advice from friends we have met on the road. You only need to book hostels online a few days ahead and buses are never sold out more than a day or two in advance. Revel in your freedom!
12. Finally, our lightning round.
- Best dish you’ve found so far: Baklava in Turkey
- Most exotic food eaten: Cuy (Guinea Pig) in Cusco, Peru
- Most breathtaking moment: Finally reaching Machu Pichu after 4 days on the Inca Trail
- Biggest disappointment: La Paz, Bolivia… Not fans!
- Most memorable place: As cliche as it sounds, it was Paris for our two-year wedding anniversary
- Most memorable person: Our conspiracy loving, anti-semitic (with dashes of racism) cab driver in Croatia who loved to “share.” If you can’t laugh, you’ll cry.
- Best thing to have on a long bus ride: Toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and earplugs
- Worst thing to have on a long bus ride: Meg’s baby-sized bladder
- Best thing you packed: Tony: My Kindle, Meg: My jeggings really helped with my Italy weight gain!
- Dumbest thing you packed: Tony: An outdoor survival guide in paperback / Meg: A “stylish” fanny pack
- Funniest travel habit the other has: Tony: Meg has to nest upon getting a new place. That means clothes in drawers and bag in a closet… immediately! Meg: Tony is a complete germaphobe (although, he prefers the term “germ-aware”), which was funny to witness in many places in South America
- Place you wish you could’ve stayed longer: A friend’s home and guesthouse on the bank of Lago Maggiore in Switzerland. Heaven on earth
You can follow Meg and Tony online at LandingStanding.com on Facebook and on Twitter @LandingStanding.
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.