JetSetter Series – Ronnie & Phoebe of Many Many Adventures (blog)

Google “traveling as a couple” and you will find article after article worth of recommendations on how best to avoid letting it “make or break” you as a couple. As a pair that’s traveled to more than 40 countries together, American Ronnie and Australian Phoebe of travel blog Many Many Adventures know a thing or two about how to avoid letting differences hinder their adventures. Read on for the couple’s top packing tips and recommendations on traveling together.

 V: Between the two of you, you’ve done your fair share of traveling. You guys must be pros at packing your bags by now?

P: I have to be honest: packing has been one of my biggest flaws as a traveler! I agonize over what to bring and what to leave, and then just shove everything in a bag. I always end up with too much of the wrong stuff, having left the essentials behind. To be fair, that does have a lot to do with the fact that my plans tend to change according to my latest whim, so I very rarely end up on the journey I thought I started.

For example, when I set off for my year overseas, I planned to “move” to one city and live there for a year, so I packed a backpack, a duffel bag, and a purse! In reality, I ended up ditching nearly everything I’d brought with me, buying a whole bag of new stuff and visiting ten different countries in eight months!

R: She’s still terrible at packing. I, on the other hand, have always been a very light packer. When Phoebe and I met in Costa Rica, I had somehow managed to fit everything I needed into a 20-liter backpack with room to spare!

P: It’s been a bit different since you discovered your abiding passion for camping equipment!

R: That’s true! Now we tend to pack together and try to take as little as possible… unless we are going camping. We have both been on enough budget airline flights to know it’s always better to fly with a bag that will fit under your seat and (if you can help it) no checked luggage. It’s certainly much easier to do this if you are going somewhere warm, otherwise, save your bulkier items to wear on the plane.

 Ronnie and Phoebe - On The Road Again

V: What are some of the different luggage combinations you’ve come up with for when you travel together?

P: If we are going away for the weekend we will just take a backpack for our clothes and a handbag or shoulder bag for our laptops, books and toiletries. It’s always a challenge to choose just one pair of shoes, but I usually go for something I can walk in without getting blisters!

R: Our favorite kind of traveling is going by van or by car, stopping for the night and waking up somewhere new every day. When we can take a little more, we like a bag that’s sturdy and spacious, so we can shove all our hiking and camping gear inside and throw it in the back.

P: Since my family lives in Australia and Ronnie’s family is in Washington, we often have to fly for longer trips, and for those trips I need something on wheels. I find airports to be the worst places in the world, and lugging an unwieldy bag around is tortuous!

 

V: Apart from going home to see family, what are some of the destinations you plan to visit in the near future?

R: It would be a shorter list if we tell you the places we don’t plan to visit! In the near future, as in the next two years, we will be based in Chicago, so we plan to explore more of the U.S.

P: Definitely camping and hiking in Colorado and Yosemite!

R: Definitely. But we are also really excited to make it back to Central America for some backpacking. We met in Costa Rica, so that part of the world is pretty special for us.

P: That will definitely be a packing-light trip!

 

V: Where did you travel last time you were in Central America? Where would you go next time?

P: We traveled together for a week or so, around northern Costa Rica, Santa Teresa, Mal Pais – beautiful little surf beaches. We both went down to Panama separately and stayed in Bocas Del Torro, which is very touristic, but amazing.

R: It’s basically a bunch of beach huts dotted around a series of tiny little islands – you have to go everywhere by boat; and the nightlife is very cool. Phoebe was only there for a few days but I stayed for nearly a month!

P: When we go back we really want to go to Guatemala and stay by the lake. We have a friend who worked in a hostel there for three months a few years ago, and the way she described it made it seem so tranquil and beautiful. I also really want to go to Antigua for a few weeks and take one of the Spanish immersion courses they do – they’re famous for them!

Enjoying a beautiful beach on their latest excursion

V: So you both started out traveling alone, and now you travel together most of the time – are there any funny stories you guys have about times when it’s been hard to work together or compromise?

P: We’ve been really lucky for the most part because we’re both pretty easy going, but there have definitely been times when we are both tired, and broke, and the weather is terrible or we get lost, and one or both of us has just had enough. Those are the times when we have to remind ourselves that no matter how well we pack, or how much research we have done, there will always be something we have forgotten or something that will go wrong.

R: One time, it almost ended our trip before it had begun! Last year we had planned this amazing three week excursion in New Zealand; we had hired a van, we got all this camping equipment together, we researched different hikes we could do and places to visit, and we both packed our backpacks according to a very particular little check list. Halfway down the road to get the bus to the airport, I turned to Phoebe and said: “Do I need a visa to get into New Zealand?”

P: It was just something that I hadn’t thought of because, as an Australian citizen, I didn’t need one. There was some very panicky Googling at the bus stop, and luckily, it was all fine…until I realized I had no bus pass and no cash!

R: Miraculously we made it, and it was such a great trip. We want to go back to do a longer version of it one day: six months, and all the major hiking trails! There are plenty of moments when things go wrong and you feel like the world is going to end, but that’s not just traveling, that’s life! Figuring that stuff out as you go along is how you learn to plan better (and pack smarter) for the next time.

 

To learn more and connect with Ronnie and Phoebe, visit ManyManyAdventures.com or follow them on Twitter and Instagram @ManyManyTravels and @ronnietravels, respectively.

 

 

JetSetter Series – Filmmaker and Author Joe Baur – Part II

Today we’re picking up where we left off last week with Victorinox JetSetter Joe Baur, an author, writer and filmmaker currently living in Costa Rica. Joe is all about sharing authentic experiences, and were lucky enough hes agreed to share some with us! Read on to hear more from Joe on his travel tales from Costa Rica to Switzerland.

Let’s talk gear and packing. What’s your preferred travel gear for longer trips? Duffels? Roller bags?

I prefer a duffel bag if I’m working my way through a crowded city. San José, for instance, is chaotic during the day with an interesting take on sidewalk construction. Rolling a bag just becomes a nuisance. In Europe, the design might be more logical, but a roller doesn’t do too well over cobblestones. If, however, I know I’m going someplace with a more modern layout, I’ll save myself the arm workout and go with a roller.

 VSA Travel Tip: Terrain demand a duffel? Try the CH-97 2.0 Alpineer Spacious Wheeled Duffel, which can also be wheeled, or the CH-97 2.0 Mountaineer Duffel Backpack, which converts into a backpack.

What are the top 3 items you always bring with you when you travel?

Video camera, my backpack and my sense of adventure! Just kidding on the last one. That’d be unbearably cliché. Let’s go with snacks.

Cleveland is very near and dear to you—what are some of your favorite things to do there?

Cycling and hiking around both the Cleveland Metroparks and Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Otherwise, I love taking the train to Ohio City or Shaker Square and hopping around various breweries. Cleveland, when you allow it, can be very walkable. So if nothing else, I’m a big fan of going on long walks around the neighborhoods—especially after I’ve inevitably downed a Happy Dog hotdog full of eggs and chorizo..

You’re an avid cyclist. How long have you been involved with that?

Really just about a year. I was fortunate enough to be the American winner of BMC Switzerland’s granfondo contest, which meant getting an incredible bike in early March of last year, and having one month to train for the 245-kilometer Ronde van Vlaanderen in Belgium. Ever since then, I’ve been hooked.

Joe Baur takes on the Ronde van Vlaanderen 5

When you set out on a long bike trip, how do you go about packing?

In Switzerland, we were spoiled enough to have a company shuttling our bags from city to city, so they were ready for us when we arrived. The same goes for the aforementioned Ronde. BMC Switzerland had a SAG wagon for us, so they held on to any extra clothing we needed to remove during the day.

As far as food goes, I’m a huge fan of Cliff Bars. If I’m hungry before riding, I’ll eat one and bring one or two more along for my ride depending on the distance.

What would be your dream path after you graduate this summer?

If Anthony Bourdain inexplicably gives me his job and ignores the millions of other people wishing for the same thing. Seriously though, I want to continue traveling the word and sharing those experiences with people. Right now I only have the budget to support creating videos that are basically travel-music-videos that give viewers a snapshot of the destination along with some music from a band local to the area or country featured. Hopefully such a day will come when a microphone can be added to the works in order to create something more like Modern Enlightenment where I shared my travel experience living with Tibetans in exile in Northern India, putting in a little humor when appropriate.

If I can [use a little humor to] help open up the world a bit more and make people less afraid of places that might be off the tourist trek—I’ll be a happy man. That, plus my face on a Switzerland unlimited transit ridership card.

To learn even more and connect with Joe, visit joebaur.com or follow him on Twitter and Instagram @BaurJoe

JetSetter Series – Filmmaker and Author Joe Baur – Part I

Our latest Victorinox JetSetter is Joe Baur, an author, writer and filmmaker currently living in Costa Rica. Joe is all about sharing authentic experiences, and were lucky enough hes agreed to share some with us! Read on for Joes travel tales from Costa Rica to Switzerland.

How long have you been living in Costa Rica? Can you tell us more about what you’re doing there?

I’ve been in Costa Rica since August 14, 2014—although with all of our travels outside of the country to El Salvador, Guatemala, Panama, and back home for the holidays, we have probably lost a month in Costa Rica somewhere in the mix. However long it adds up to, our little apartment in Ciudad Colón feels like home now.

Costa Rica came about for a variety of reasons. My wife and I were looking to live abroad. Our first choice was Switzerland, but my brother recommended Costa Rica after having spent a semester living in Heredia during his college years. Improving our Spanish also struck us as a little more valuable. That’s no knock on German or French, though. I’m currently butchering my way through German with plans to decimate French in the future.

Another motivator to moving abroad was to expand my travel coverage. We wanted to be someplace where everything around us was new and I could create editorial and video travel content. Central America has been a perfect location to make this happen. We have worked our way through El Salvador, Guatemala, northern Panama, across Costa Rica, and I just hopped down to Panama City. I am also hoping to squeeze in a quick jaunt up to Nicaragua before I leave Costa Rica in June. The result has been a ton of new video and editorial content as well as the workings of a travel memoir that, if published, will hopefully give readers a better insight into this incredible region, with a few laughs at our expense along the way.

Now that you’re practically a local, what are some of your top travel stops in Costa Rica?

We still have northwestern Guanacaste, the Osa Peninsula, Braulio Carrillo, Monteverde and Tortuguero to explore over the next couple of months, but this list could very easily change in that time. Two days ago we returned from the La Fortuna, Arenal area, which was just fantastic. It’s probably the corner of Costa Rica I most want to return to, specifically for road cycling and for a drier day to take on hiking Cerro Chato. We were also pleasantly surprised by the Orosi Valley, which had similar adventure opportunities as Arenal, but without the tourism. A hotel manager took us on a great hike that he helped create to an incredible waterfall that was unlike anything we’ve done in Costa Rica. We didn’t see a single tourist the entire day. It was fantastic.

What is your most memorable travel experience; good and/or bad?

Switzerland and El Salvador. Switzerland was great because of how easily you could get around the entire country without a car. Everything was accessible from nature to the cities and small towns in between. It was the first time I thoroughly enjoyed the act of traveling within a country. It left quite an impression on me and I’m currently studying German in hopes of being welcomed there one day. Bitte!

El Salvador ranks up there because of how many people encouraged us not to go. Of course none of the people who told us not to go or strongly warned us against it had actually ever been. Our goal was to find a different side of the country, one that doesn’t come across in international news coverage. Yes, they have their problems, but we felt perfectly safe traveling throughout the country for a week. We met people eager to share their story about life in El Salvador. I can’t wait to go back and I hope others consider checking it out for themselves.

Do you have any documentaries in the works?

I’m constantly working on new travelogues that serve as short travel documentaries. We’re about to release El Salvador and Lake Atitlán. In the meantime, I’ll be working on Antigua, Lake Arenal, another from Switzerland, and inevitably a few more from our upcoming travels across Costa Rica. I’ll also be in Germany in early June covering the Berlin Wall bike trail, so that means another travelogue.

Once you wrap up in Costa Rica, where are you off to next?

I’ll be heading up to Minnesota to write a couple of books: Best Adventures Near Minneapolis and St. Paul and Best Hikes Near Minneapolis and St. Paul — both for Falcon Guides, whom I published Best Hikes Near Cleveland with. And yes, that was a shameless plug.

I’m particularly excited about Best Adventures. It’ll be the first in a new series of guidebooks, combining various adventures such as mountain and road cycling, paddling and hiking, with many destinations accessible by bike or public transit. The goal is to keep you out of a car as much as possible.

That should take place from August to September, after which I’ll have some assignments in North America to tend to, and—I hope I’m not jinxing it—another possible book opportunity that will take me back to my beloved Switzerland. I love Switzerland, if that wasn’t clear already.

Stay tuned for the second installment of Joe Baur’s JetSetter post same time next week where he shares his top 3 travel must-haves and his cycling journeys through Cleveland and Switzerland!

To learn more and connect with Joe, visit joebaur.com or follow him on Twitter and Instagram @BaurJoe