Dave and Deb
are “ordinary people”. They run a website
that aims “to prove that you don’t have to be an uber-athlete, adrenaline junkie or a part of the ultra rich to be an adventurer.” The Planet D
is a very popular travel blog with advice for fun things to do all over the world.
They are a great example to the Grand Adventures
project because they have taken the steps necessary to get more adventure in their lives (and now to make a career from their adventures).
I began by asking them about their first adventure…
The first adventure that really kicked off our life of travel was cycling from Cairo to Cape Town. It was a 12,000 km adventure through 9 countries over 120 days. We had made a New Year’s Resolution to change our lives within a year on the eve of 2007. Two weeks later we saw an ad for an epic race through Africa and we decided to sign up. We put down a deposit right away so we wouldn’t chicken out, we told all our friends, family and colleagues so that we couldn’t back out. When you tell everyone what you plan on doing, there’s no going back. We trained for a year as we worked to save money, learning how to ride long distance, we bought new bikes, took a course on how to fix those bikes and socked away as much money as we could. We lived frugally for that year prior to leaving for Africa. On Jan 2, 2008, we were on our way and achieved our goal of changing our lives.
It was four months of cycling every day while camping at night in deserts, on the side of the road, in the middle of Chobe National Park, and even along the Nile. We averaged 120 km a day. This was a very fast way of going through Africa, but it was a race. It was meant to be an adventure that pushed your boundaries physically and mentally. We cycled through deserts with no roads. Literally we were pedalling through sand looking for truck tracks to ride through to make things easier. We cycled over mountains, through monsoons and had kids throw rocks at us through Ethiopia. It was a crazy adventure with so many different levels to it from one country to the next.
– Why did you do it?
We were looking for something epic to wake up and shake us out of the rut we were in, working full time and too hard on careers we didn’t love. We had done a lot of travel in the past and wanted to figure out a way to make travel a career. We didn’t know how we were going to accomplish that dream, but we knew that we needed to do something monumental to stand out from the crowd and get away from the regular backpacking thing we’d been doing. We needed some direction, and being a couple who tries crazy adventures together seemed like the right idea at the time. It was definitely the wake up call we were looking for and it eventually all worked out.
– What impact did this adventure have on your life?
This adventure completely changed our lives. We came home from Africa invigorated. We still didn’t know how to make a living out of travel and adventure, but we knew that it was what we wanted. We pitched an adventure TV show, we looked into becoming travel writers for magazines and newspapers. We took writing and photography courses and we researched everything about adventure and travel. We went back to work for a year, but by November 2009 we were back on the road pursuing our careers as adventure travel bloggers. We’ve been doing it ever since.
– What were you doing before?
We both worked in the film business on the production end of things. Dave was a rigging gaffer which means he was in charge of lighting. He worked on feature films such as X-men, The Incredible Hulk and Chicago. It was his knowledge of light that helped him transition easily to photography. I worked as a make-up artist in Canadian television. We travelled every spare moment we had. We worked long and hard hours at work and barely saw each other when we were home. We were constantly on different schedules. It was travel that brought us back together and gave us that much needed time to reconnect again. We always yearned for more time together. It was listening to actors talk about how they promoted themselves and publicized their projects that I learned how to market ThePlanetD.
Because we were both working as freelancers, we could take time off anytime we wanted (if the funds allowed it) to travel.
– How did you turn your dream into reality?
Have a clear vision of what you want and don’t give up. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t know how to make it happen or if you aren’t even quite sure what you want to do. We knew since 2003 that we wanted to make travel our career, but we didn’t know how. We considered everything from becoming dive masters, to opening a beach bar, to leading cycling tours. We kept ourselves open to all possibilities and continued to keep trying new things. Eventually we found what we wanted to do. We were in our mid thirties when we figured it out. It’s never too late and you are never too old. Once you’ve decided what you want to do, make a plan and be patient. It takes time but if you love what you do and continue to work on it, you will figure out a way to succeed.
– What practical steps should people take to make their adventure happen?
Take baby steps. You don’t have to go out and climb Mount Everest or cycle a continent. Most adventurers you meet started out somewhere too. Adventure is different for everyone. It all depends where you are in your life. I remember our first hike through the jungle. It was the greatest adventure we’d ever had! We just did a short track in Thailand that took about two hours, but it was our adventure. We built on those little adventures like sea kayaking for an afternoon in a calm bay or hiking a trail alone for the first time before working up to circumnavigating an island on kayaks in Mexico or trekking to Everest Base camp. If you start small, you’ll be inspired to do more and build up to it. If you start too big, you may be scared off.
– What do you know now that you wish you’d known earlier?
That’s a good question. For us, I think that we are happy with the learning curve. We didn’t know a lot about anything before that trip. But the ride has been a fun one. We’ve been learning as we go and I think that everyone needs to follow their own path. Too many people are paralyzed from having a great adventure because they think they need to know everything before they go. You can learn on the road and learn as you go. That’s not to say go out blind and put yourself in danger, but don’t be afraid to push yourself out of your comfort zone. You don’t have to be an expert and know every detail before you take the step. Remember you can always hire a local guide at reasonable prices to lead your adventure.
– Any tips on saving for the trip or living cheap during the trip?
We’re advocates of going local. Many times we don’t book our hotels in advance. We wait until we land at our destination and simply walk around looking for what looks good. Eat where the locals eat. It’s easy to figure out, all you have to do is walk down the street and see what’s busy. Hire local guides. Booking with tour companies in your home country will cost more money than going to the destination and hiring a local guide there. It cuts out the middle man and you won’t have to pay Western prices. Destination choices are important too. Places like South East Asia and Eastern Europe are affordable. Having an adventure in Australia or Switzerland is going to be expensive, so look for cheaper alternatives.
How do you make a career out of doing what you love?
It’s been amazing to have made a career out of adventure and travel. But make sure that it is truly something you want to do. There is nothing wrong with keeping your job and travelling in your spare time. We did that for eight years before taking the plunge. I don’t recommend giving up everything to start travelling perpetually without a plan. Just like your adventures, take baby steps in your career. A lot of people think that travel blogging is one big holiday but it is a lot of work. We work very long hours glued to our computers, but we love it. The difference between our long hours in the film business and our long hours now is that we love what we do now. We love writing, editing videos, going through photos and interacting on social media as much as we love travelling. For some people it ruins their travels. They want to simply travel and enjoy the moment. As a travel blogger you can’t do that. Instead of enjoying a sunset, you need to take photos of it. Instead of going out for a drink at night, you need to go back to your room and write or edit. It’s not for everyone, but it is for us. We love it. None of that feels like work for us though. For the first time in our lives we understand what it is like to do what you love and success will come.
The Planet D
inspires adventure in everyone. Dave & Deb
are one of travel’s most passionate storytellers; exploring the world one experience at a time. Married for over 15 years, they travel the globe showcasing their real-time journey and broadcasting their stories through professional travel writing, photography, video and engaging social media. As spokespeople and international ambassadors, The Planet D have had the opportunity to work with some of the world’s top companies and brands – while discovering more than 80 countries on all seven continents. Dave & Deb aim to inspire people to follow their dreams and push their boundaries and have spoken around the world about pursuing passion and what it takes to make it happen.
My new book, Grand Adventures, is out now.
It’s designed to help you dream big, plan quick, then go explore.
The book contains interviews and expertise from around 100 adventurers, plus masses of great photos to get you excited.
I would be extremely grateful if you bought a copy here today!
I would also be really thankful if you could share this link on social media with all your friends – http://goo.gl/rIyPHA. It honestly would help me far more than you realise.
Thank you so much!