Jane and Duncan are the inspiring couple behind To Travel Too, they are travelers — first and foremost — using their blog as a means to inspire and guide other travelers. We recently caught up with them, and in an exclusive interview, they talked to us about their style of travel and gave out some advices too!
Tell us about yourselves.
We are Jane and Duncan Dempster-Smith Co Founders of To Travel Too.
Traveling to the beat of two mantras “Chase time – not money’ & ‘Age is no barrier when it comes to travel”
The daily grind of corporate life had us ‘existing’ not ‘living’. Working long hours, commuting, earning a salary, paying taxes and putting money aside for retirement – it seemed a never-ending cycle. We began to ask ourselves if we really could keep this pace up for another decade. We worried whether, at the end of that time, we’d still be healthy enough to follow our travel dreams.
Our boys had left home and we’d already taken the step of downsizing our family home to a two-bedroom apartment in Sydney, Australia. Then one of our sons took a gap year and we followed his adventures, travelling vicariously through South America and Europe with some envy. Then it hit us – why couldn’t we have a gap year? And why just a year?!
Co-Founder, Flashpacker, Travel Guru
Over the past four decades, Jane’s passion for travel has taken her to over 44 countries. She has lived and worked in Australia, UK and Singapore. With extensive experience in all aspects of travel from airport ground staff to air hostessing, retail, corporate and group travel, she has flown in two seaters, hot air balloons and even the Concorde. Jane offers her skills to baby boomers who want to change their lives; to travel light and travel far.
Co-Founder, Flashpacker, Philosopher
Having travelled for both business and leisure, Duncan has lived in Malta, UK, Hong Kong, Australia and Singapore. In his past life he held senior roles with global multinationals in manufacturing, distribution and sales. In 2013 he embraced a life change based on the philosophy: ‘chase time not money’. His ambition is to support fellow baby-boomers who want to fly the empty nest – and see the world.
When did you first catch the travel bug?
Duncan: I am English but born in Malta to parents who were in the Military. We have travelled since the day I was born.
Jane: Since working for a small commuter airline back in the Australian Outback when I was 18 and have never stopped travelling since.
What was your first travel like? What was the style?
Duncan: It was super sensory. Initially it was traveling to the UK from Malta overland through Italy, France to the UK mostly by train. Later I was to travel to Hong Kong on an air force VC10, Hong Kong was so different from any UK or European experience and it remains as a cornerstone of my travel vibe.
Jane: My first overseas trip was to Bali back in 1976 for a two week holiday. I flew with Qantas. When I started to work in the travel industry, we would have the opportunity to stay in 4 and 5 star hotels, fly Business and First Class and I have even flown on Concorde from Miami via Washington to London. I was going to backpack around Europe but got as far as Southampton in the UK and stayed there for 7 years.
What led you to choose Flash-packing as a preferred styled of travel?
As we have never backpacked and as we are travelling on a budget, luxury travel will eat away our savings quickly, so flash packing is the way to go. We still get our comforts at a comfortable price. It also allows us to connect with the other travelers of all ages and genres and we connect with the locals rather than traveling between Hotels.
What do you think are the biggest misconceptions people have about flash-packing?
What springs to mind is #1 misconception is that we fly everywhere, stay for a short time and move on.
Flash packers enjoy slowing down travel, a lot of us are digital nomads as well and are travelling the world working online, enjoying all forms of transport and staying in a wide range of accommodation.
#2 misconception: another word for not wanting to be put in the backpacking category – or you could say backpacking with luxury. We have found many of the flash packing experiences have allowed us to experience high end outcomes at an affordable level.
Let’s talk about traveling as Baby Boomers, do you meet a lot of baby boomers on the road like yourselves?
Baby boomers are one of the biggest travel markets currently. We are finding more and more baby boomers are downsizing, selling up and travelling the world. You could say SKIDS – spending their kid’s inheritance.
Nomad baby boomers are reinventing themselves, becoming travel bloggers, or getting out of the rat race and working globally online as they travel, offering their skills online.
We also meet a lot of Baby Boomers who are enjoying travel now that they have retired. We were standing in a queue in Stockholm in the Tourism Office and started chatting to two Australians ahead of us who were on a cruise to the Northern Lights, they are avid travellers and enjoying their time now that their corporate lives are over.
Baby Boomers that we meet are in transition. Some wish to travel freely without commitments to house, family, children etc. Others wish to have a mixture; homebase, ventures from time to time. We commend all styles of travel. We encourage these that are in transit to retirement or who have retired to consider travel as a way to keep abreast of world issues, to experience other cultures and to continue to gain mindful experiences that keep us young and relevant to ourselves and others. We do meet a considerable amount of GenY , Millennial and it’s encouraging that these wonderful folk have a good grip on what and who they are.
You have traveled to about 40 countries now, which is the most challenging country you’ve been to? Why?
Myanmar was probably the most challenging. Back in 2013 we travelled throughout Myanmar for a month and chose not to fly but to use local transport everywhere. The country itself was beautiful and the people very friendly and welcome.
Our local bus from Yangon to Pyay was an experience, plastic seats down the middle of the aisle and plastic bags handed out to spit your beetle nut juice in (if you decided to chew like a local), not much comfort, no toilets, toilet and meal stop half way through and then just dropped us on the outskirts of town.
The next journey was the first class train from Pyay to Bagan – more like 2nd class, shared a cabin with another couple, which was fun, but the journey was like a cross between dodgem cars and bungy jumping – we could hardly lie down on the bed without being thrown off. That is only two examples, but it really made the whole month a great experience, as we were slowing down the travel and enjoying a slower pace of life.
What would be your words of wisdom for travelers who wish to travel long term as flash-packers?
Don’t be nervous about staying in hostels, we also stay in hotels and apartments. These days’ hostels are upmarket compared to many years ago. We stay in a double room always with an ensuite. The friendships and information gained is invaluable when you are on the road. They are usually well located and have great Wi-Fi.
We have just spent two weeks staying at the brand new Generator Hostel in Stockholm (it had only opened the week previous). It was well located, had a bar, restaurant, funky rooms and an incredible working space with wonderful staff. They are expanding and catering for all types of travellers – definitely a flash packer type of accommodation.
Also, travel like a local – the buses are a great way to get around and see the country especially the buses in Mexico, Spain and Turkey. We highly recommend bus travel. A great way to keep your costs down, most of them these days offer Wi-Fi as well.
What is your dream destination? Why?
Duncan: Cuba. With the recent USA announcements concerning trade it is our belief that Cuba will become like Miami very shortly . The time frozen ambience, culture and economics will be replaced rapidly and a contrived outcome for Cuba will present so we need to visit quickly to capture the essence as we did with Myanmar.
Jane: Dream destination – wow that is a hard one! I have dream destinations for different types of travel – Maldives for the beach, Sweden for the Northern Lights, India for the food (I am a vegetarian and adore Indian food) and Shamwari Game Reserve in South Africa.
Where are you headed next?
We are heading off to Bilbao this month to travel on a repositioning cruise to Panama where we will be housesitting in Boquete, Panama for 3 months.