Welcome to round 83 of ‘Meet a Random Traveller’. The series dedicated to bring attention to fantastic people all around the world doing their thing.
Random Traveller #83
Who are you?
We’re Craig and John and our home is Manchester in the UK, well Salford actually. John was born in Liverpool and when were in England, we also spend quite a bit of time there. We met in London, well over 20 years ago, whilst we were both working at the same university. John’s last job was working as a PR and Events Officer in local government. Craig has taken a career-break, from his job at a university, managing IT and Library services.
What’s the deal with flashpacking?
We’re ‘flashpacking’ and we’re forty-something, that’s how we got the name for our travel blog, Flashpacking At Forty. As you can guess, we didn’t give the name that much thought, we were too busy deconstructing our lives, at the time we set it up, just before we left for our trip. For us the travel term ‘flashpacking’ best describes our budget and approach to travelling on a long-term basis. It’s a bit long winded, but you can read more about flashpacking in our blog.
We sold everything we owned to travel around the world, and after 20 years of living together you accumulate a lot of stuff, so this was quite a stressful time. We started our trip in December 2011 flying from London to Melbourne, Australia. We’re now in Malaysia. Our aim is not to travel to a certain number of destinations in a fixed amount of time. We’ve adopted slow-travel for this trip, spending on average 3-4 weeks touring each country we visit. This way we learn more about a place, and have the freedom to explore locations of particular interest to us, rather than following a pre-planned itinerary. At the moment we don’t know when and if our journey will end.
Initially we started blogging to share our experiences with family and friends. We quickly realised, that life on the road can get quite hectic and confusing. It’s sometimes difficult to recall where and what you did last month, let alone 6 months ago. So we started to incorporate more detail about how and where we travelled, destinations and travel costs etc. We find this useful when chatting about destinations with others, and hopefully it will act as a travel resource for anybody contemplating an around the world trip.
What’s the one thing that’s made it into your backpack that should have never have been there but you can’t throw out?
We have a cable, connector and socket to connect any appliance, to any power-source, anywhere and everywhere in the world. This allows us to perform any technological function known to man. Craig is travel gadget mad, so we carry a bag stuffed with HDMI, mini-HDMI, plug adapters, four gang plugs, USB chargers, spare i-phone chargers and the list goes on to support our addiction to technological gadgets. Every cable has a purpose, it’s just some have never been needed yet. Always eager to lighten the load of our backpacks, Craig cannot part with any of this kit, as he knows the day he does is the day he’ll need it to perform some connectivity task.
Has there been somewhere you wanted so much to love but couldn’t?
We’ve tried to stop imagining what a destination will be like before we arrive, as some disappoint and others often exceed our expectations. We were both really looking forward to the first stop on our around the world trip, which was Australia. We’d tried not to, but had formed opinions about what it was going to be like to travel here, oysters and champagne in Sydney Harbour etc. As this was at the start of our journey, we were slightly overcautious about sticking to a budget. The Australian dollar was at its strongest, against most foreign currencies, making everything very expensive. Therefore, we did pass up on many experiences that we would like to have indulged in, such as visiting bars, dining out more regularly and taking certain tours. However, this wasn’t Australia’s fault, it was ours.
Looking back, it would have been possible to claw back any increases in our spending in the other countries we subsequently visited. We could have experienced a little more of what Oz has to offer and maybe then we’d have fallen in love with this vast country. The highlight of our time in Australia was taking the train from Sydney to Adelaide, and we didn’t even realise we were train-spotters until that point.
What do you miss most from home other than friends and family?
Its sounds ridiculous, and I know it’s not to everyone’s taste but we both adore black pudding, or if you want to be posh boudin noir. I know the thought of eating this will make some feel like vomiting, but the only place we’ve managed to get some, since starting our trip, was in Thailand. I guess that speaks volumes!
What’s next? (Future travel plans)
We are heading over to Malaysian Borneo in search of some Orang Utans and a fantastic sunrise view from the summit of Kota Kinabalu. Craig would like to get in some more diving too, but it’s a bit pricey in Sipidan so we’ll see if we can get a deal when we arrive. From there we should have been heading to China via Korea and Taiwan, but the Tibetan permit restrictions China put in place (in short British citizens not being issued permits at present) is making us rethink this a little. Instead we may just head on to India for three months, as we have a visa already.
A big thanks to for taking part, great to have you. Be sure to check her out here:
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