After the success of our interview with Scott MacKinnon we have decided to have a good old chat with our new backpacking friends Jason and Aracely from 2Backpackers.com. Jason and Aracely have been traveling through central and southern America for the last eleven months and today we get a small insight into their experiences.
These guys have managed to successfully travel through some very interesting situations and somehow, (with a little luck on their side) come out the other end as an incredibly fun, strong couple.
BT: So how did you guys meet?
2 Backpackers: Aracely and I met in 2006 while working together for Mercedes-Benz USA in northern New Jersey, however, we didn’t actually meet at work. A mutual friend/colleague held his Birthday party at a bar in Hoboken, NJ and we were both invited. I thought I was too drunk to make a good impression, but apparently, things went okay.
We both continued to ask our friends to bring the other along and eventually we began dating. We didn’t work in the same department, unfortunately, it wasn’t that racy.
BT: Tell us a little about your former lives before traveling.
2 Backpackers: We both worked for fortune 500 companies in New York City. Aracely had landed an excellent job with American Express 2 years prior to our departure. I had worked for 6 years at Mercedes-Benz until I departed in 2008 for a career leap with Mercer. We lived together in the socially active town of Hoboken, NJ for 4 great years.
My job was a 15-minute walk from our apartment and Aracely’s was a subway ride across the Hudson River to the World Financial Center in lower Manhattan. We would both agree that life was pretty darn good.
BT: Where does the expedition take you from here and how much longer do you intend on traveling?
2 Backpackers: We are coming to the end of our year-long journey through Central and South America. Currently, I am studying Spanish before returning to the States. I figure after a year of traveling in Latin America it would be good to know the language before I return home. Obviously, Aracely has handled all the communications during our travels.
Aracely is originally from Ecuador. This trip began as a one-time adventure, escaping our known lives and the everyday cubicle life. It’s now turned into something different; to figure out how to continue traveling the world.
BT: Surely you have had to face some adversities while traveling. Has there been a time when you thought you would pack it in?
2 Backpackers: Luck. We always tell people we have been lucky to have had nothing terrible happen to us during 11 months of traveling. This luck has meant we never had the feeling of packing it in. I am sure that emotion would have risen if we got robbed or mugged.
Often, traveling becomes tiring. The worst part of traveling is traveling. We want to see the world, but it’s sometimes annoying moving from hostel to hostel, riding on buses all day or night and never settling down. This was apparent to us early in our trip and we then decided to slow down and remove Sout East Asia from the list.
Slowing down and staying longer in places helped us relax and enjoy our surroundings and the culture more. If we hadn’t made this change, I think we would have been ready to go home by now.
BT: To most of us a relationship is hard enough with the space we have. Do you have any suggestions for couples looking to jet off on an expedition of a lifetime?
2 Backpackers: This is a tough one for us to answer because honestly, we have always enjoyed each other’s company. We never had challenges at home and thankfully we have never had relationship challenges on the road. I could advise couples to give each other space on the road, maybe explore a city alone one day, or take a 1-week excursion separately during your long-term travels. This is what most would suggest, but we haven’t done that once. Believe it or not, we spend every day together.
I think its most important that couples communicate their interests, desires, and budgets if they are going to travel together long term. If one person likes to spend their money on expensive dinners and the other prefers cheap street food it will be a problem. If you don’t figure this out before you launch into a foreign country it could get nasty. Money can affect your relationship the most, just as it does at home. Make sure you both are okay with your accommodation styles, eating habits, and adventure desires.
BT: Your journey has seen you traverse through central and south America so far, what has been the highlight of the trip to date?
2 Backpackers: The highlight was trekking for 9 days through Torres del Paine in Patagonia Chile. The natural landscapes of glaciers, mountain peaks, and lakes appeal most to us. We also loved the challenge of the trek and admit it was not comfortable nor easy.
BT: Your travel blog looks fantastic and it seems you have quite the following now. What brought you to start the blog?
2 Backpackers: The blog idea started during our research of the trip. Impressed with so many backpacker blogs, we were inspired to try to do the same, but with a focus on HD Travel Videos. From the beginning, we believed we could create a travel story that reached beyond our family and friends. Through networking with other travel bloggers, learning what followers desire and communicating heavily on Facebook our blog has grown to become an integral part of our travel.
BT: How much time do you have to spend on it to keep it ticking over and does it pay the bills?
2 Backpackers: A successful blog takes a lot of time to manage, something that can be very challenging on the road. On average, we probably spend 2 hours a day keeping up with Twitter, Facebook, and our Website. Our website traffic dies down when we are on multi-day hikes unable to communicate with our followers. And high traffic is what leads to money.
Balancing travel and the blog is challenging. We have given this trip a higher priority than our blog, but that’s because we budgeted for the trip. In the future, we need to make money with the Two Backpackers brand in order to continue traveling. That means the blog becomes just as important; it becomes our job. It’s not a bad job either as long as it pays the bills. Currently, we make enough money for a few nice dinners in South America, and that’s it.
Blogging is a long-term investment with distant rewards. Aracely and I both know that it will take us several years to make this blog pay for our travels.
BT: Like we say “A picture tells a thousand words!”. Your photography is very professional. Firstly how important do you think your photos have been to the blog’s success and secondly what sort of camera do you use?
2 Backpackers: We are flattered! We are far from professionals, which should inspire many of you out there that enjoy taking pictures. Our camera is an entry-level SLR, Canon Rebel XSI and we also carry a small point and shoot camera. The SLR is now broken, along with my MacBook Pro laptop. Our Canon HD camcorder is also on the verge of dying. Sand, water, and just some banging around have destroyed these fragile electronics. I mention this because it’s something to consider when spending a lot of money on gadgets.
Our daily Travel Photos of the Day have become an integral part of our website’s success. People are visual and what better way to show the world than through photos and videos. We weren’t able to deliver on the video like we originally intended, due to the lack of strong bandwidth in Latin America. There are 100 hours of video we need to edit and upload after we return home. It should keep us busy for a while.
BT: Can you leave us with one travel tip that has helped you along the way?
2 Backpackers: Be flexible. Travel, especially budget travel like backpacking can have its challenges. We booked hostels that were full when we showed up after midnight. Our Machu Picchu trek was canceled after devastating floods destroyed the area. Our time on the Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica and Panama was plagued with rain. We have stayed in areas well beyond our scheduled plans because we met great people. Give yourself time to explore places you didn’t have on your itinerary, enjoy new friends and wait for the clouds clear. Be flexible!
You can read all about Jason and Aracely’s adventure through their website 2Backpackers.
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