Via a connection from MatadorU’s travel writing course (click here for details), I met today’s interviewee victims, and we’ve become great friends ever since. You might recognise their names as Caz wrote an article recently, What You Spend on Vacation Doesn’t Matter. Read the interview then pop over and check out that piece if you didn’t see it already – it was pretty impressive.
And with that, I’ll let Craig and Caz take the floor.
Could you introduce yourselves?
We are Caz and Craig Makepeace, and we have a beautiful 2 year old girl Kalyra. Craig and I married in 2002, and have been traveling and living around the world since. I am a teacher by profession, and Craig played a professional sport and worked in construction. We are addicted to travel and love living as foreigners in other countries. We have lived in Bangkok, Dublin, Raleigh-North Carolina, Broome-Western Australia, and I (Caz) in London. We used these countries as a base to explore the surrounding areas, save the local currency, and then go on long adventures in between relocations. We now share our love for travel, and the knowledge we have gained from our global lifestyle with others looking to do the same at our travel blog.
What does “live life out of the box” mean to you?
It means living life by your own standards, on your terms, and following your own dreams. Society too often tells us how we should live and even how we should think. Many people blindly accept this as truth without ever first questioning what it means. Society tells you to go to school, study hard, get a good job, marry, get the white picket fence, save for your retirement and then play in your garden when you’re done. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with people choosing to live this kind of life, as long as they actively choose it instead of passively going along for the same ride their parents took or the friends they grew up with.
Craig and I, through our travels have discovered that a life like this is similar to being confined to a box; there is limited room for growth or diverse experiences. Once you break free from the box, you are able to question more, and discover for yourself what is true for your life and so live according to those values.
For me, I could never let my experience in life only be of the one small town I grew up in; a small dot on our beautiful planet. Growing up, I was told what to think and believe. I always grew up questioning this “Why? What about how others think? Why is this way better and theirs not?” These were only questions I could answer by getting out of the box and seeing for myself.
Now that we have a child, we always receive comments from well meaning friends and family that we should be at home, raising her in a neighborhood so she can form solid friendships. My answer to that is “Why? Who says that this is the best thing for her?” Only I can answer that question based on what I believe to be true through the understandings gained from diverse experiences in life outside the conventional herd mentality- and that is living life out of the box.
Andy: I think some people may find the box metaphor to be a bit overused. And that’s understandable as it gets a lot of mileage these days. But your example is totally spot on and valid.
You’ve been travelling long-term for over 10 years. What have you learned over all that time?
That I never stop learning! If you’re green you’re growing, if you’re ripe you’re rotten. Travel has taught me so much about myself and about how life works. I know that life is constantly changing and in motion. Travel has taught me how to be flexible and adaptable to deal with change when it inevitably arrives. I’ve also discovered for myself the wisdom of the old adage “This too shall pass”. Nothing in life remains still, so whatever is happening in your life, good or bad, will pass. That is why it is so important to make every moment count and enjoy it for what it is. Be present in every moment. The past is the past and let tomorrow take care of itself when it comes. Travel has taught me that the world is a beautiful place that offers us all we ever need. It is our mother and we need to spend every day in gratitude for what it provides us. We need the Earth to live, not the other way around. I’ve discovered just how much we are all interconnected and how the essence of us all is the same. The differences are just minor “on the surface things” that makes each of us so colorful. We still breathe the same way, bleed the same, laugh and cry at the same things, celebrate things with the same passion and love with the same intensity.
Andy: As I like to say, travel more… live more.
Let’s talk about your home country of Australia. What are your secret insider tips for the best of Australia?
Australia is otherwise known as “God’s country!” That is my biggest insider tip!! 😉 Australia is a big country so don’t get too ambitious and plan to see it all in two weeks. Western Australia is so overlooked by backpackers. Do not overlook it. WA is almost two thirds the size of Australia with only just over a million people living there, it’s very un-touched. It’s an open road with a rugged coastline and plenty of the “Outback” for you to explore.
Be prepared for the people. Australian’s are generally laid back and very straight forward. Don’t get offended easily and know that if an Aussie jokes around with you it’s their secret way of saying they like you enough to tease you. We use a lot of sarcasm. There is never any malice or intention to offend by our off the wall sense of humor. If you are not a lover of sport then pretend to be and learn as much as you can before you arrive. Sport, particularly for the blokes, is the most conversed subject and you will be looked at strangely, albeit with love, if you say you don’t like sport.
Andy: Recently I was at a conference, and the big suggestion was the Northern Territories. So as much as I love Melbourne and other places, do take some time and explore further afield. I mean, Australia is a continent too – so there is plenty of room to wander…
You mention that you feel like you were born for the “role of a traveler” – could you explain? What would you say to people who want to travel more but feel the opposite?
When I’m traveling I feel like I am in the right place. I feel like I know exactly what to do and how to do it. I feel confident, relaxed, and most of all free. When I am not traveling I feel like my life is not working; like I am trying to suck water out of straw that has holes in it.
For a would- be traveler who doesn’t feel the same way I would say go out and do it but start at a level within your comfort zone. There are so many different ways to travel and experiences you can have. You don’t have to begin your journey trekking through the mountains of the Himalayas. Start gently and with what you enjoy. Do the best you can, with what you have, from where you are! Then each day push the boundaries a little more. Try something new, it may be just a new dish or saying hello to a local in their own native tongue. After a time you will feel your confidence and courage grow and you’ll start to enjoy travel so much more. Rely on others for help. The biggest challenges new travelers face is dealing with the drastic differences between their own cultures and the new. All I can suggest is that you remember this saying “It’s not better, or worse, it’s just different.” And celebrate those differences. When you start to feel irritated or annoyed say “Wow, isn’t that interesting. Tell me more”.
What’s been your most inspirational travel experience?
This is such a difficult question to answer as there have been so many travel moments that have inspired me and taught me something new about myself and life. I think one of the most memorable was experiencing ANZAC Day in Gallipoli, Turkey. This is really an Australian cultural Mecca so it may not bear much relevance for those who aren’t Aussie or Kiwi. ANZAC Day is the day when our soldiers mistakenly landed on the shores of Gallipoli during the First World War and were slaughtered. It is a day of remembrance for Australia but more than just remembering all of our fallen soldiers. It was during this time that Australians were first recognized by the world as a country separate from England. So we could say it was the birth of our cultural identity.
Being at Gallipoli on this day was something we always wanted to do. It was a surreal moment and it gave us a deep insight into who we are as a nation and why. It also taught me a lot about forgiveness and embracing those once thought of as your enemy. Every year the Turkish people allow around 15,000 Australians and Kiwis to come to Gallipoli to put on an elaborate ceremony to remember our soldiers who once fell on those shores with the intent to kill the local people and take over their land. The Turkish people warmly welcomed us and did everything they could to heighten this once in a lifetime experience for us. I could only hope in my life I could be so magnanimous with my “enemies.”
What’s next on your travel adventure?
I wish I knew the answer to that! We have only a few weeks left to decide. The last few months I have been really unsettled and we’ve been itching for a new adventure. My life wasn’t going in the direction I desired and I knew in order for something to be different, I had to make a different choice. The Universe helped me out a little through teacher budget cuts, giving me the push I needed to get moving. So now I’m applying for international schools around the globe and letting the Universe decide which country I should land in. If they don’t work out it will be back to appreciate my own hometown and country a little more before solving the next adventure question. Our biggest ongoing adventure is developing our blog and all our creative product ideas and concepts.
Wow, another AMAZING pair doing amazing things. It’s funny how the Universe has a way of making its recommendations know, eh? Thank you so much for your insights, Caz and Craig. Folks, to learn more about this pair, visit their website, or catch up with them on Twitter.