Sun-chasing, Rooster attacks, writing and living local – an interview with travellers Adele and Dave Estes

Storytelling is a big part of travelling for me. I love the insight you get from hearing about the things others have done and the opportunity travel provides to help others by sharing your own experiences. It is for this reason that I have decided to publish interviews with other travellers that I hope you will find interesting and inspirational. Friends of mine, Adele and Dave, who are following the sun around the world at the moment as part of a two-year trip, kindly agreed to this first interview. I know they share my hope that reading about their experiences inspires you to make your travel dreams a reality. Before their trip Adele and Dave worked in Sydney as auditors but were stressed, working long hours, and dodging office politics. Dave was also a budding author. 18 months and a lot of miles later Adele and Dave have shared countless incredible experiences and Dave has also become a published author. Here’s how!

1. Would you tell us a bit about your trip? What are you up to at the moment?

Adele: We are 18 months into a two-year trip around the world. Our goal is to follow the sun around the world so we don’t have to experience winter for a couple of years. So far this has nearly worked, but we have experienced some unexpected cold temperatures along the way. We left Sydney in June 2012 and our daily routine has involved spending mornings working, which for Dave means writing and for me means editing Dave’s books. After we finish ‘work’, our exploring and food binging begins! We usually stay in each place for about a month. The first things we usually research are the best food places; the attractions come after that. So far we have visited the USA, Mexico, Saint Lucia, Morocco, Spain, France, Estonia, the UK, Italy, Greece, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. We have seen friends and family along the way and attended three weddings.

Adele and Dave befriend a camel in Morocco

2. Why did you decide to go on this trip?

Adele: For me it is because life is too short. In 2009 I lost two dear friends to cancer. Volkan died suddenly from heart cancer and Christian died only a few months later, also from cancer. After their deaths going back to working long hours in a stressful environment just felt so, so wrong. Losing these two friends put my life into perspective and I needed to make some changes. I had an epiphany that we could travel for a while and live a lot more cheaply around the world than we did in Sydney. I thought convincing my husband Dave of this was not going to be easy, but he saw value in the trip too.

Dave: For me, it was an opportunity to do three things. It meant I could spend more time with Adele and see more of the world while focusing full time on my writing. Being an author has always been my dream, and the chance to focus on it full time while travelling was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

3. How have you financed your travels? Have you got any money-saving tips?

Adele: We managed to pull together enough savings to fund the trip, plus have a decent nest egg to restart our lives when the trip was over. We weren’t counting on any funding from Dave’s book sales however, the last year has changed all that as sales of his books have improved significantly and book income is now funding approximately half of our expenses from the trip.

We have a budget and don’t spend more than $50 per night on accommodation. We try to book places for about a month that have a kitchen and are close to a supermarket. We haven’t stayed at backpackers or hostels on this trip, but in many places pay about the same and stay with a local family or in apartments attached to their homes. This takes a lot of research to find suitable places. We often choose accommodation further from the centre of towns. We don’t mind walking and find that we get nicer places. In south east Asia we mainly book discounted hotels and choose the cheaper option where there is a sister hotel where you can use all of their facilities (you find this detail out from reading the reviews).

Our budget for food is $25 per day. We have found some delicious great value eats on this trip!

For flight bookings we use and look at the monthly graph on flying any day in the month that shows flight prices each day in a picture. We are flexible with our travel days and always go for the cheapest option. Tuesdays are always pretty cheap.

Dave and Adele relax in Thailand

4. What do you hope to learn, better understand, or gain from this trip?

Adele: On this trip I just want to see more of the world with my hubby, experience different cultures, eat lots of yummy food and try to capture what we see in photographs. We have also been lucky enough to catch up with family, friends and attend 3 weddings, which has been great.

Dave: I wanted to be able to immerse ourselves in the cultures of the places we visited. A lot of credit goes to Adele for allowing us to do that. I also set out seeking inspiration for my writing and found more than I could have possibly hoped for. I’ve seen so many amazing places and people, many of which have spawned new book ideas. My list of future book ideas is so long now that I’ll never be able to write them all!

Adele meets donkeys in Santorini, Greece

5. What have you found most challenging while travelling, and why?

Adele: I find the different ways animals are treated in some places confronting and upsetting. Finding vegetarian food is sometimes pretty challenging. Moroccan bus trips left me largely surviving on cookies and chips! Crouch toilets will always be challenging too. We do the best we could with sign language where no English is spoken. Neither of us is good at languages and we both have a knack of remembering the language from the previous country and then using it in the next country for greetings. Embarrassing! Deciding which places to visit is also tricky as there are so many places we want to visit, but due to our budget, Dave’s work schedule and wanting to follow the sun we can not go everywhere!

Dave: Continuing to work (write and promote my books) while travelling is challenging, especially moving around a lot, sketchy internet, and finding the time to fit in my work. That being said, however, it is also one of the best experiences of my life!

6. Give us a giggle! What is the funniest thing that has happened so far?

Adele: Dave got attacked by a rooster (flying at him with claws out) in Maiori, Italy. The next day the same rooster was waiting for us, on the same narrow path we had to cross, and one of the cats that we befriended came running from about 200m away and chased the rooster away. I wish we had it on video! The cat then escorted us down the stairs and acted as our bodyguard in exchange for food for the rest of the stay.

Dave and Adele get muddy in Saint Lucia

7. What do you feel you have learned while travelling, and has it changed you?

Adele: I have learned that people, no matter what language they speak or religion they believe in, or food they find tasty, are all very similar around the world. We felt so much kindness in each place we visited; it made me believe again that there really are a lot of good people in this world. From places we stayed with local families, to dining at the same restaurant each day and getting to know the people that owned the place, to random acts of kindness we experienced along the way, this trip has given me a renewed sense of hope in people. I have also learned that you don’t need much to be happy. We have been living pretty simply and loving it. I don’t feel like I have changed greatly, but do believe we are the choices we make and I feel more confident in making decisions and giving things a go. If you’re in a situation where you are not happy, you can change that. This trip has also opened my eyes to different cultures in a very good way.

Dave: I have learned that life isn’t about money, or stuff, or any of the things that TV commercials and billboards tell us it’s about. It’s about people and experiences. It’s about laughter, friendship, and doing things for others. It’s about making the world a smaller place and yet having it always be the biggest, most mysterious and delightful part of life. It’s about doing what you love regardless of whether it makes you rich.So far this trip has made me feel I’m better equipped to be happy for the rest of my life. I think I have the knowledge and experience about what’s important to me, so that I’ll be able to make better decisions for my own life. I’m more focused on what really matters.

Adele and Dave enjoy a Santorini sunset

8. What advice would you give to anyone contemplating a trip like yours?

Adele: It sometimes never feels like the right time to leave on an extended trip like this, but don’t spend your life waiting and dreaming, get on with it.

Dave: Do it! Many people are afraid of taking a risk, of leaving everything behind. I know I was! But you won’t regret it. In fact, you’re more likely to regret NOT doing it. You only live once and there’s no time like the present. The experiences you’ll have and things you’ll learn about yourself will change your life in so many positive ways.

Huge thanks to Adele and Dave for sharing their experiences, cost-cutting tips and advice in this interview. For more information on Dave’s writing visit his website here.

Would you like to be interviewed about your travels? If so, please get in touch.

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