Vagabonding Case Study: Wandertooth (Geoff and Katie Matthews)

Geoff & Katie MatthewsWandertooth_Portugal
Geoff: 37
Katie: 33
Geoff: Calgary, Alberta
Katie: Vancouver, BC
Geoff’s favorite: “To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often” by John Henry Newman.
Katie’s favorite: “Not all who wander are lost” by J. R. R. Tolkien. I also like the line before, “all that is gold does not glitter;” it is such a fitting way to look at difficult journeys.
How did you find out about Vagabonding, and how did you find it useful before and during the trip?
Rolph Potts is such a legendary traveler, so I suppose we found out about it through word of mouth. We’ve found it to be inspirational for us: when we were planning the trip, it was nice to know that there are other people out there like us. Now that we’re traveling, it’s helpful to know that people are able to maintain this lifestyle long term.
How long were you on the road?
When we met, we were living in Taiwan and both decided we wanted to live a life of travel. We spent 3 months in South America in 2010, and recently left on another trip: we’ve been on the road now for four months, with no plans to stop.
Where did you go?
On this current trip, we have been to Portugal and southern Spain. We are currently in Edinburgh, and our next stop is Romania.
What was your job or source of travel funding for this journey?
Immediately before leaving for this trip, we were living in Vancouver and both working in professional jobs. We moved into Katie’s mom’s house so we could save more, and put away about 80% of our income.
Did you work or volunteer on the road?
We are trying to. Katie has been working on Elance, and writes travel and career-focused articles for several websites. Geoff has been building up his video editing and filming skills. We are also working to build our travel blog and monetize it. We work much longer hours now than we did in Canada, and make far less money. However, we hope that if we stick with it, things will start to fall into place and we’ll be able to cover the costs of this lifestyle at minimum.
Of all the places you visited, which was your favorite?
Geoff: The Bolivian Salt flats are probably the most unique place I’ve been, and I have great memories of that trip.
Katie: Seville, Spain. I can’t say Seville is my favorite place ever, but right now it is my favorite. It is hard not to fall in love with the Spanish way of life, and Seville is such a beautiful city.
Was there a place that was your least favorite, or most disappointing, or most challenging?
Geoff: Bolivia. I had a terrible experience at a hospital in Bolivia, and got quite ill. We ended up having to stay in Sucre for several weeks until I was well enough to travel again.
Katie: I find I am most disappointed in places where I’ve built them up in my head prior to the visit, so now I try not to have too many expectations when visiting a place. The first time I visited Cambodia, I was disappointed for this reason. I’ve since been back, so obviously I got over my disappointment! 
Which travel gear proved most useful?  Least useful?
The least useful probably depends on the area. In South America, we had refillable water bottles, but never used them because the tap wasn’t always safe. However, in Europe, a refillable water bottle is awesome! We had travel towels, but ditched them because most places we stay have towels.
The most useful thing may be our sleep sacks – we don’t often use them, but when we need to, we are really thankful to have them.
What are the rewards of the vagabonding lifestyle?
It is really rewarding to be able to stay in places longer, and experience what every day life is like. In Portugal, we were house sitting for 7 weeks, and had to go to the grocery store and post office just like everyone else. We’ve been in Edinburgh for one month now, and haven’t even been in the castle.
That, and rarely having to set an alarm clock.
What are the challenges and sacrifices of the vagabonding lifestyle?
There are many. Probably the biggest one is about friends and family. We have real life and social media friends we get to visit around the world, and we’re able to keep up with friends from home using technology, but we don’t really have a social life to speak of, and have to entertain each other. We also miss out on family events; Katie’s brother is going to be a new father soon, and it’s sad to not be around for that. Also, financial uncertainty is wearing.
What lessons did you learn on the road?
There really is no reason to fear the world. People are nice. We were nervous about visiting Colombia, but people there are the same as people almost everywhere: they wake up, go to work, and go home to spend time with friends and family. People are friendly and helpful! 
How did your personal definition of “vagabonding” develop over the course of the trip?
It’s hard work, and it takes commitment. We work longer hours now than we did in Canada, and I don’t know if we realized that would be the case before we left. 
If there was one thing you could have told yourself before the trip, what would it be?
Save more money!
Any advice or tips for someone hoping to embark on a similar adventure?
Do it before it’s too late, and don’t believe people who tell you that you can’t do it. Even if you don’t have as much money as you think you need, you can still travel by finding work abroad.
When and where do you think you’ll take your next long-term journey?
This journey doesn’t have an end date, although if we run out of money, we’ll probably look for English-teaching jobs somewhere. We are going to Romania in April, and plan to spend four months traveling through the Balkans. Our next house sitting commitment is in Doha, Qatar in August, and after that we have no plans.


Read more about Geoff & Katie on their blog, Wandertooth or follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

Website: Wandertooth Twitter: Wandertooth

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Posted by | Comments Off on Vagabonding Case Study: Wandertooth (Geoff and Katie Matthews)  | March 28, 2014
Category: Vagabonding Case Studies

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