How to take on the world with The Travel Project
One of our favourite topics in the office is travel, so it’s only fitting that we would turn to Jess from, the aptly named ‘The Travel Project’ for some insights into how you can turn travel into a full-time gig. In 2016, Jess and her travelling partner Charlie quit their jobs to embark on an adventure that would give them what they call ‘local eyes’ with which to see the world.
To see through their local eyes, you can find their Instagram feed @the.travel.project or head to their website at https://www.the-travelproject.com/. But for now, here’s the long and short of how this duo has made their grandest getaways happen – all while building the base on social media that they need to keep going.
What are your plans for the holidays? Any winter-escapes lined up?
We are heading up to the very north of Scotland in a few days to explore the most northerly extremity of mainland Britain. For the next few months, we are going to be focussing on what we call ‘achievable adventures’ – rather than jumping on a plane and heading to foreign shores, we want to encourage people to explore what’s around them. And in our case, there is so much to see on this little island.
What are some of the pros and cons of travelling as a pair?
Ha! There are a few, but will pick out one of each:
Pro: getting to experience things together. We count ourselves very lucky to be able to share memories and stories together – a lot of people who do what we do don’t get that luxury.
Cons: being grouchy and wanting to kill each other. 😇
You take some really strong photos. Where did you learn your craft?
Thank you! When we first started The Travel Project in India a few years back, we didn’t have much of an idea of how to use a camera. But since then, we have just taught ourselves through trial, error and YouTube.
You like to tell taxi drivers to take you to their favourite spots in the city. Where is the craziest place you’ve been taken?
Not sure about ‘craziest’, but one that springs to mind was when we were in the Omo Valley in Ethiopia and we asked a Bajaj (tuk-tuk style taxi) to take us to some of his favourite spots. Among other places, he took us to a huge local market that’s attended by all the local tribes and he then gave us a tour. He later introduced us to all his mates and we played outdoor snooker with them for the rest of the afternoon. [It was] a really cool experience.
How do you carve out your own time when you’re constantly travelling together?
We’re lucky in the respect that we can spend a weird amount of time together. That said, we do have to find time while we’re away to go off and do our own thing... [That] gives us a much-needed bit of breathing space sometimes!
If you could do one trip over again, what would it be and why?
Hmmm, that’s a tricky one... I would have to say southern states in America. In 2017, we drove from Nashville to New Mexico and it was an extraordinary experience with no two days being the same. People were so warm and welcoming and it resulted in some brilliantly bizarre stories that we’ll never forget.
How do you budget for each of your trips? Which trip sent you wildly over budget? Which one was under?
We are lucky enough to be in a position now to partner with brands on the majority of our trips. However, when we self-fund, we tend to keep the budget tight because you can. A lot of people think travel is expensive, but if you’re clever about it (and not fussy) you can travel to most places on a shoestring.
The most over-budget has to be our around-the-world trip in 2016. We had just started TTP and were still a bit wet behind the ears.
In terms of being under budget, the two times we have been to India we have come in under budget. It’s one of the best countries in the world when it comes to cost vs. experience – in our opinion.
How do you pick which destination you’re going to see next? Are there many left on your bucket list?
We are now looking at countries that we don’t know that much about – ones that are less travelled and therefore will be a completely new and engaging experience from start to finish.
In terms of our wish list, you would have thought it would get shorter… but the more we travel the longer it gets!
How does travelling make you feel about the concept of home?
Ooooh, this is a good question – very topical for us! There was once a time when we thought travelling the world constantly would be ‘the dream’. However, after a while of moving around a lot, we started to crave the routine and normality of home.
We miss out on family and friends events quite a bit and so being home to attend these and see people is something we now relish.
Like it is with all things, I think the secret is striking a balance.
Where would you go if you had to stay there for the rest of your life? Why?
Again, a tricky question. Going to have to say America. We have made a few friends there now and the variety it offers in terms of natural beauty is unrivalled. We find the friendliness of the people amazing, as Brits talking to strangers is an alien concept and one that we love.
Plus, that sweaty tangerine can’t be in charge forever! 🍊
Was there ever a time when you forgot to pack something that you desperately needed?
No, nothing that important. We’re actually quite good with that sort of thing now, (boring answer). However, I have been known to leave things in foreign taxis... that’s more my kind of my thing.
How much does weather impact your enjoyment of a place?
We have a ‘get stuck-in’ policy, no matter what. You cannot expect the weather to be perfect wherever you go; it’s just not realistic. Travel is never seamless and once we embraced that, it became considerably more enjoyable.
All that said, when we were in China last year, it rained HARD for 10 days straight and meant we couldn’t really see any of the places we were there to see – which was pretty tough on morale, I have to say!
Is there anything you wish people would understand about the ‘nomadic lifestyle’ that they might not know?
I think it’s important that people, especially the younger generation, understand that it’s not perfect. In fact, it’s pretty hard work at times. Instagram and social media have a tendency to make people feel as though their own lives aren’t as ‘glamorous’ as those of other people that they see online. I think it’s important that more honesty is introduced to these spaces so that people aren’t comparing their lives or feeling inadequate.
So there you have it – even the influencers themselves don’t want you to get feed-FOMO. Which is tricky when you see content as beautiful as The Travel Project’s, but it’s important to remember that great social content takes work – even when it doesn’t always feel like it.
And if you do want to follow in Charlie and Jess’ footsteps someday, you’ll have a tough time tracking them through all the places they’ve been. But if you follow their blogs and Instagram feed, you’ll hopefully get a few ideas for your own 2020 adventures. Happy travels!