Teaching Traveling: As a lover of those fluffy animals known as alpacas, when I found out there was a travel blog called “Alpaca the Bag”, I had to interview them!
Alpacas, tell us a bit about your background.
L & D: Our names are Laura and Dax Lovett. Laura grew up in New England in a multicultural home. Her mother is American and her father is from France. Laura worked in France with a non-profit organization, helping elders, taking them on vacations, and teaching them daily activities.
Laura has spent her life traveling, visiting more than 30 countries. Eventually, she returned to do finance in San Francisco, before she and Dax left for their world travels.
Dax grew up in Central California where the majority of his travel was confined to a 3 hour radius from his hometown. He went to college at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA (2.5 hours from home!) where he met his future wife, Laura. After college, Dax and Laura moved to San Francisco where Dax worked in the marketing department of a law firm for 7 years.
We left our apartment in San Francisco in October 2016 and have been traveling since! We started a website call AlpacaTheBag.com that has travel tips, tours, and even documents our own travels.
TT: Love that name. I am a massive alpaca farm fan! Tell us more about your travels.
L & D: We just returned to the States from a 5-month traveling tour. We visited 4 continents and 20 countries during our trip. We loved it! We did it over the winter, since most people aren’t vacationing during that time. The cheaper rates allowed us to see and do more than we would have if we had traveled in-season.
However, traveling in the winter comes with many challenges too! We learned a great deal from some of these challenges that we faced. We are using the knowledge from our travels to help others realize that travel is easier and safer than many believe it to be.
TT: Nice! How do you find your travel opportunities?
L & D: In most cases, we just showed up to a city and explored on our own. We would do some research in advance, but we found we enjoyed ourselves the most when we would go out exploring with no agenda. We could learn a lot more from a culture seeing it through our own eyes, rather than just following a guidebook.
The two times that we did sign up for a tour were in East Africa and in Egypt. At the beginning of our trip we took a two-week African safari in Tanzania. For this tour we had done A LOT of research and preparation, using every medium you could think of… Internet, books, referrals, etc. For our Egypt tour, we did not do as much research in advance. We had family referrals and researched tours online.
The rest of our trip we enjoyed keeping it less regimented. We could enjoy a country at our own pace and for an undetermined amount of time. If we liked where we were we could stay, and if not we could move on.
TT: I see. How did you find the money to fund your travel?
L & D: An opportunity arose. Our landlord offered to pay for us to vacate our apartment in San Francisco. Considering we had no intentions on living in the city much longer, we gladly accepted the offer and used the money to travel. In October 2016, we moved out of our apartment in San Francisco and have been traveling since.
TT: It all worked out. Tell us one moment from your travels that was particularly interesting.
L & D: At one point in our trip we were driving from Venice, Italy to Zadar, Croatia. Foolishly, we had not checked the weather in advance and had rented a car in Italy with summer tires. Crossing the mountains, we hit a bad snowstorm.
Laura, having grown up on the east coast was very comfortable and capable driving in the snow, but this storm proved too much for our car… and we were stuck. We skidded and crawled to the nearest highway exit where our hopes of finding a town or hotel fell flat. We huddled up, as we thought without a doubt we were spending the night in the car.
Amazingly, a snowplow came by! We were able to make our way to the nearest building, which was… highway maintenance! There was only one person there that spoke English and he was in charge. He gave us homemade food and drinks and said to sit tight until the storm clears. He even found us a hotel close by and eventually sent out a snowplow to escort us to the hotel!
This was our first encounter with the amazing people of Croatia!
TT: Love it! How have your travels impacted you in your current career, and as a person?
L & D: Our travels greatly impacted both of our careers. When we returned to the States, we relocated to Washington and started looking for jobs again. After a while, we both realized we loved traveling so much and missed it. We loved setting our own schedules and being able to go somewhere at the drop of a hat. We wanted to transfer this passion to others as well. This is what spurred the creation of Alpaca The Bag!
TT: What advice do you have for teachers who are dreaming of travel, or travelers dreaming of teaching?
L & D: Don’t find an excuse! It’s too easy to say… “It’s too expensive to travel,” “I don’t have any time to travel” or “It’s too dangerous to travel.” We made some of those excuses too.
This day in age there are so many opportunities to travel cheaply, or even work or volunteer abroad. There are also small ways you can save up for traveling; drink home brewed coffee, cut back on eating out, or watch a movie at home. When you make travel a priority, you wonder why you made excuses in the first place.
TT: Thanks so much! Readers, what questions or comments do you have?
The author, Lillie Marshall, is a 6-foot-tall National Board Certified Teacher of English from Boston who has been a public school educator since 2003. She launched TeachingTraveling.com in 2010 to share expert global education resources, and over 1.6 million readers have visited over the past decade. Lillie also runs AroundTheWorld L.com Travel and Life Blog, and DrawingsOf.com for educational art. Do stay in touch via subscribing to her monthly newsletter, and following @WorldLillie on social media!