Meet Brian and Noelle of Wandering On
Hi! We’re Brian and Noelle, an Irish couple, who have been travelling the world together since 2009.
To put it plainly, travel is our lives; we live to travel.
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How did you begin your travels?
Each of us had done some travelling before meeting each other. After we finished university, we moved into a place in Cork city and started dreaming of going travelling again, together.
We didn’t have much money, so we knew we wanted to start our travels by working abroad. It didn’t take long to figure it all out. Teaching was something we were drawn to and so we enrolled in an online TEFL course and before we knew it we had sold what we could, packed our bags and were bound for South Korea.
The plan was always to work in Korea for a year, save money, travel South East Asia and then go to Australia on a working holiday visa. That first year in Korea was amazing and a real eye opener.
We were living on what seemed like another planet, where we didn’t understand the language, we couldn’t read the alphabet, we weren’t familiar with any of the food, we had no idea about the culture and we were starting jobs we had zero experience in.
Yet, despite all these obstacles we were loving it and felt strangely at ease!
Was living in such a foreign country difficult?
There’s no doubt that living in Korea came with it’s own challenges, but this is the case no matter where you are. Living in such a foreign country gave us a huge amount of confidence to just buck up and get on with things. Putting yourself outside your comfort zone, you learn a lot about yourself and we grew stronger as individuals and as a couple.
Due to the relatively small size of Korea, we were able to travel extensively around the peninsula, gain a great understanding of Korean culture, meet loads of a amazing people and work at jobs we loved. During the holidays we travelled all over Asia and our hunger for travel grew more and more.
What did you do after your year in Korea?
After our first year in Korea, we extended for a second year and then for another six months. The city we lived in was tiny (by Korean standards) with a population of just 300,000 people. It was a unique experience living in a city of this size. Our students (and those of other schools) would randomly recognise us in the street, giving us a small taste of the celebrity lifestyle. We taught at schools in the city and in rural areas in the surrounding countryside where we were the only ‘foreigner’ for miles. Often nobody spoke English and you had to rely on hand gestures and a few key phrases to get by.
We returned to Korea again later for another year but this time to Daejeon, the eighth biggest city in the country. It was a world apart from living in Iksan and in ways we missed teaching in a smaller city.
Deciding to Live a Life of Travel
While we had a great time living and working in Korea, using it as a base to travel around Asia, after a while it wasn’t enough. Long weekends weren’t enough. Two week holidays weren’t enough.
We decided that we wanted to live life on our own terms. No longer did we want to be on someone else’s time. Finishing our contracts in Korea, we were headed for Nepal with no plan, no route but a real desire to travel for as long as possible, whatever it takes.
“We want to live life on our terms.”
Life After The Indian Subcontinent
After spending 3 months in Nepal, 6 months in India, 2 and a half months in Sri Lanka, a month in Sumatra, Indonesia and a further month living in Bangkok, we had another revelation. We like to travel slowly.
A lot of people we met along the way, didn’t understand why we would stay so long in places, we had seen ‘the sights’, wasn’t it time to move on?
Our attitude to travel changed completely after travelling the Indian Subcontinent. We had a whole new outlook and a desire to travel more than ever before. You get a completely different experience of a place when you spend time there, get to know the culture, the food and have meaningful interactions with other travellers and real local people, not just those who work in the tourist industry.
Do You Get Bored?
This is a question we get asked a lot of the time. “Don’t you get bored?”, “What do you do all day?”. The answer of course is quite simple; we do normal every day things. We eat, sleep, wash, hang out, go for coffee, run Wandering On, plan trips, answer emails and a tonne of other things.
For us, is that doing these ‘mundane’ things is much more exciting when you’re in a new location. We love change and diversity and that’s a big part of the reason we travel.
Are You Ever Lonely?
We are lucky enough to share travelling as a passion. Being able to share the incredible adventures we’ve had with each other has been fantastic and we wouldn’t change that for anything.
Of course, we miss family and friends but again we are incredibly fortunate that our family and friends are very understanding of what we are doing. They know that this is what we live for, they respect that and support us in our choice to live a more unconventional lifestyle.
We have each other throughout this entire adventure, we have made great friends along the way and there are always new, interesting people around the next corner.
“When you travel, you’re never alone.”
How do you choose where to go? You’ve Been Everywhere.
First of all, this is not true! As the saying goes “We haven’t been everywhere but it’s on our list.”
The world is a huge place and while we have been away from home since 2009, we haven’t been to half as many places as we want to or as many as people think we have!
With that said, we’re in no rush. Due to our style of travel, we move slowly and deliberately through countries. For us, it’s more important to spend time in places than add another notch to our travel belts.
When choosing our next location, we take a number of things into account.
- Our current location vs the possible destination. Geographically it should make some sort of sense.
- Seasons. We usually travel on the fringe of the seasons to keep expenses down.
- Current, random notions. We always follow up on any mad ideas we have because sometimes they’re more feasible than you might think.
- What’s along the way? What ‘bonus countries’ could we visit en route? This almost always comes into it.
- Cost of living in the country/city we want to visit. Most places can be done on a budget but that budget will vary a lot from place to place.
- Things to do/see. If there’s an epic trek somewhere that we want to do then we will try and incorporate it.
- Where do we want to go?! Ultimately we visit places we want to visit. There’s not a single country that’s not on our list though!
Check out some of the destinations we’ve been to around the world and begin your own wanderlust.
How do you afford a lifestyle of travel?
Ah, the big question. People have an inflated view of the cost of travel. It’s cheaper for us to be travelling than it would for us to be living in Ireland making car payments, paying a mortgage, etc.
Travel can be as expensive or as cheap as you want to be. There are loads of tips and tricks out there to help you travel on a budget. We have loads of useful travel resources too to help you with planning, budgeting, staying safe and lots more.
Work. Save. Travel. Rinse and repeat. That was our method of travelling the world originally. We would work as English teachers, save money, buy a ticket and go. Once our funds started running low, we would work again, save again and then pack up and go travelling again.
These days, we have a small online writing business and we run this website to fund our travels.
We also do some house-sitting to offset the cost of accommodation. We have done two house-sits to date, one for two months in Andalusia and another in Christchurch, New Zealand for two weeks. It’s a win win as far as we can see as pet owners get free pet care and the house-sitters get to stay for free with a few furry friends for company.
We have decided together, that we will do whatever it takes to keep travelling; any job, anywhere, any-time. Life is too short to put things off until tomorrow.
“We are not wealthy, we don’t have savings, loans or a trust fund. We make travel a priority.”
What’s Has Been Your Most Memorable Travel Experience?
An impossible question but a very good one. Adventure travel, getting off the beaten track and having unique experiences are what travel is all about for us.
Over the past few years, we’ve had some truly incredible travel experiences. Some of these were before Wandering On. Choosing one experience is impossible but below are just some of the highlights of our travels so far:
- Diving World War II Wrecks. (Coron, The Philippines)
- Hiking to Everest Base Camp; spending 23 days trekking. (Nepal)
- Teaching English for a total of 3 and a half years. (South Korea)
- Hiking Mount Fuji. (Japan)
- Paying a farmer 50cent to climb his rickety ladder onto the Great Wall. (China)
- Walking part of the Camino De Santiago Pilgrimage. (Spain)
- Cycling 180km down the East Coast of Taiwan over three days. (Taiwan)
- Climbing north Africa’s highest mountain, Jebel Toubkal at 4,167m. (Morocco)
- Standing at 5,550m on Kala Pattar looking directly across at Mount Everest. (Nepal)
- Holding tarsier monkeys in Bohol. (The Philippines)
- Hiking Mt. Hallasan; Korea’s tallest peak. (South Korea)
- Visiting the DMZ. (Korea)
- Trekking to Annapurna Base Camp over ten days. (Nepal)
- Hiking Ireland’s Highest Mountain. (Ireland)
- Climbing Mount Kerinci Volcano in Sumatra in dismal weather. (Indonesia)
- Mountain Biking down from the world’s highest motorable road pass. (India)
- Taking a motorbike trip to Pangong Tso. (India/China border)
- Visiting remote tribes in West Timor. (Indonesia)
- Scuba diving in the world-famous Sipadan region. (Malaysian Borneo)
- Having a near death moment but surviving at the Cho-La Pass. (Nepal)
- Backpacking through India for 6 months. (India)
- Seeing sunrise and sunset over the Taj Mahal. (India)
- Watching the sunrise over the Himalayas at Sarangkot. (Nepal)
- Spending a night in the jungle in Borneo. (Malaysian Borneo)
- Tracking rhinos on elephant back in Chitwan. (Nepal)
- Driving a scooter on India’s crazy roads. (India)
- Hiking to the top of Adam’s peak for sunrise. (Sri Lanka)
- Visiting a turtle sanctuary and seeing an albino turtle. (Sri Lanka)
- Hiking Gunung Sibayak. A volcano that’s still hissing in Sumatra. (Indonesia)
- Taking the best seat on the bus (sitting on the roof, dodging electricity cables). (Nepal)
There have been countless other highlights of course but we felt like we were rambling on a bit. If you want to see some of the other cool places we’ve been, check out our destinations page or learn more about our adventures.
If you would like to learn more about either of us, you can check out Brian’s Story or Noelle’s Story. You can also check the Best of the Blog for some of our favourite posts. Still have questions? Then drop us a line and we’ll do our best to help you out in any way that we can.