- Travel Topics
1) Can you start by giving us a little bit of background about yourself and your blog. How did you start traveling? When did you start blogging, and what did you expect readers to get out of it?
We are Erin McNeaney and Simon Fairbairn a digital nomad couple who sold everything we owned and left the UK in March 2010 to travel the world forever. Since then we’ve travelled to South and North America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East, working online as we go. We fund our travels through our travel blog NeverEndingVoyage.com and through our web design and iOS app development business.
We started blogging just 10 days before we left the UK. We wanted to document our journey to becoming digital nomads, share our travel tips, and inspire others to travel long term too. We promote the idea of slow travel as we value experiences over sights and believe that participating in ordinary daily activities and connecting with a place through its food, people and culture can be more rewarding than rushing from one tourist attraction to another.
2) What has been the best experience you’ve had on the road?
There’s too many to choose just one but we have wonderful memories of homestays in India, swimming with turtles in Mexico, eating our way around Italy, working at a riding stables in Costa Rica, hiking around Petra in Jordan, road tripping around the red rock canyons of Northwest Argentina, spending the night in a Japanese temple, releasing a lantern at the Yee Peng festival in Thailand, and taking a jeep trip past the colourful lakes, volcanoes, and blinding salt flats of Southwest Bolivia.
3) What’s been your favorite country thus far, and which one are you looking forward to the most?
It’s getting harder and harder to chose a favourite country but some of our favourites are India, Italy and Japan. We are looking forward to visiting Cuba next month and hopefully South Africa at the end of the year.
4) After your first around the world journey, what was life like back in the UK upon returning? When/How did you decide to do yet another RTW trip?
We really struggled to return to the UK after our RTW trip. It was winter and was cold, dark and dreary. We missed the excitement, the sun, being outside, and no two days ever being the same. We were frustrated with the monotony of routine, the tediousness of bills and car repairs, and the culture of negativity.
We went back to work for a while but after about six months I discovered the world of digital nomads and realised that with Simon’s web design skills we could start a business and take it on the road. For nine months we saved up, developed our design and blogging skills, and sold almost all of our stuff. On 1st March 2010 we set off with a one way flight to Rio de Janeiro and no plans to return. Nearly three years later we are still loving being digital nomads, despite the challenges of working while travelling.
5) You mentioned that you rented your house before taking off. Are you still property owners? How is it being a landlord while traveling abroad?
Unfortunately we still own the house. The housing market crashed while we were on our first trip so although we wanted to sell we wouldn’t have got a decent price for it. We decided to rent it and it has been a real pain to manage it while we are away—dealing with problems and finding new tenants when they leave. Simon’s mum helped us but we still had to take care of a lot ourselves. Recently we’ve taken on an estate agent to find a tenant and manage it and that has made things a lot easier—we’d recommend doing that, although if we could sell it we would.
6) What’s it like creating travel apps? Do you have to have a technical background or can you outsource it? Tell us about your first app.
Creating apps is perfect for Simon as it uses all of his talents for design, illustration and development, and he even made the music for the demo video of our new app. If you don’t have technical skills you could outsource it. Simon had web development skills and was able to learn about iOS development in a few months from an iTunes University Stanford course, and a couple of books.
Our first app was released in December and is a travel budget app called Trail Wallet. It helps travellers track their travel expenses easily and quickly. You set a daily budget, enter your expenses when you are out and about and the app tells you how you are doing. There’s support for multiple currencies which many budget apps don’t have, so it’s perfect for travellers. We use it every day ourselves, and we’ve had lots of great feedback from others using it to keep their spending under control.
7) Tell us about your web design business Line In. Did you start this while traveling or already have it running?
We started Line In at the same time as we left the UK. Before then Simon was working for a design agency and his only freelance work had come from friends and family to build up his portfolio. The first real client was at the beginning of our trip when his previous employer hired him back for a project. From there the business grew through word of mouth, and people finding us from Never Ending Voyage, but we’ve now scaled back the client work to focus on apps.
8) What’s the secret to running multiple, location independent businesses while traveling?
Keep trying new things—that’s what we’re doing! Not everything will work so don’t let the failures get you down and try something new instead. It gets easier over time as if you have multiple businesses bringing in small amounts it can add up to a decent income.
9) What are your upcoming plans, both travel and non travel?
Travel plans this year include exploring more of Mexico (where we currently are), Cuba, a road trip in Southwest USA, Sicily and maybe Africa at the end of the year. Business wise we are continuing with updates to Trail Wallet to make it as useful for travellers as possible as well as launching a new site and more apps later in the year.
Bio: Erin McNeaney and Simon Fairbairn are a digital nomad couple who sold everything they owned and left the UK in March 2010. They write about their slow travels around the world and the ups and downs of life as digital nomads at NeverEndingVoyage.com. You can also follow their adventures on Twitter and Facebook.