As you know, we have started introducing you to our favorite traveling couples and decided to make this a series. Next up in our spotlight are Shelley and Darren of the blog “Finding Beyond”: a thirty-something travel obsessed couple from London.
Shelley and Darren: Traveling beyond expectations
Darren and Shelley’s traveling adventure started more than ten years ago, with a wonderful thing called a “working holiday visa”. For a year, the couple lived and traveled in Australia. “We spent one year over there and since coming back home, we have continued, on multiple occasions, to pack our lives into a backpack and disappear for a year at a time” says Shelley. But in 2016, the couple took traveling to another level. “We’re currently on our latest trip with no plans whatsoever. We bought a one way ticket to Asia earlier this year and have no plans to return home anytime soon. We’ve saved our largest travel fund yet but this time we also want to make some money on the road. Wish us luck!” she adds.
Speaking of Asia, what has been their favorite spot, so far, in the continent? “It has to be Sri Lanka”, they say. “It’s such a diverse country and with so much to see and do. It has lush jungle, epic mountains, beautiful remote beaches, ancient cities, interesting religious sites, some of the prettiest train journeys and around 22 national parks which are full of wildlife. Then there’s the people. They’re by far the friendliest in the world.”
When I ask Shelley and Darren how they usually choose their destinations, they answer: “It’s really difficult for us to choose because there are so many places we want to visit! We always have a bucket list so the process usually involves going through that and trying to plan a route in the most cost-effective way. Our budget plays a big part in that. Our funds for each trip are never the same. Sometimes it’s been best for us to buy pre-purchased, around-the-world flight tickets and other times, like now, we just make it up as we go along. Unplanned is more fun as we can be far more spontaneous.”
Recently, the couple has created their own blog. “After we bought our one way ticket to Asia this year, we got inspired by other bloggers to start sharing our way of life with those who might be interested. We’ve traveled to some amazing places and often wish our friends and family were with us to experience what we’re seeing”, Shelley explains. “We wanted a name for our platform that wasn’t travel-specific. Yes, we’re traveling the world but we’re also in search of a different lifestyle to the busy and hectic London lives we once lived. For now, our lifestyle is traveling, but later that may change. We have no idea what’s around the corner for us and we love that. We’re finding a life beyond how the majority of people live theirs.”
The blog’s baseline is: “Travel and Lifestyle beyond the expected”. “Too many peoples’ expectations of life are simply to go to school, get a job, buy a house, get married, have kids and continue in the job they hate forever. Most assume there’s no other route to take and don’t realize another way exists. We like to think the way we live our lives goes beyond those expectations. With a bit of courage and inspiration from people like us, we hope many more will realize that they do not have to live out that dated life plan. They can travel and live a life beyond the usual expectations too”, they explain.
The couple has recently reached Chiang Mai, in Thailand. “Chiang Mai is the Digital Nomad capital of the world”, they say, “so it’s pretty inspiring to be surrounded by so many successful online entrepreneurs.” Next month, Shelley and Darren will head to Hong Kong for vacations. Then they might go to the Philippines, it’s still undecided. “We currently have no idea where we’re going after December! If anyone has got any suggestions then we’d love to hear them. We’re open to anywhere!”
Before saying goodbye, I ask them if they have some piece of advice for couples willing to travel together all around the world. “Make sure your relationship is a strong one if you want to travel as a couple long-term”, they answer. “And make sure you both want it. Travel isn’t always happy selfies and instagrammable noodles. It’s often hard and tiring so patience with each other and a sense of humor is essential” says Shelley. “Be prepared to also spend a lot of time together! On our year long trip in 2012 we spent just 8 hours apart. 8 hours apart in a whole year! 4 hours when Shelley volunteered at a Malaysian dog shelter and 4 hours when I took a Bolivian mine tour” adds Darren. “We now make sure to do our own things from time to time so we recommend other couples do the same.”