RTW and back: An interview with Maddie and Paul of Two for the Road

Contemplating picking up your life and heading abroad for a bit? I’ve yammered on plenty about our RTW travels here, but for a different perspective, here’s how Maddie and Paul planned and tackled their own trip and what it’s been like to come home.

Maddie and Paul are a 30-something couple who hail from Yorkshire in the UK. They have just returned home after spending 18 months exploring the globe, taking in 18 countries and spending more time on night buses than they ever thought was possible. They blog at Two for the Road. Like us, they saved hard ahead of time for their trip and have been back for about three months.

I definitely identify with most of the things they mention below –  like how travel strengthens a relationship, how fast it can quickly fade to feel like a dream, and how you’ll need to get over a fear of the unknown. Read on to see how they overcame all that…

What made you guys decide to embark on your trip? How long did it take to plan/prepare?

We’d always enjoyed travelling and Maddie had dreamt of long term travel from being a teenager. The well trodden path of being a grown-up got in the way during our 20s before we realised that you don’t have to follow the same path as everyone else. We did a couple of longer holidays and then finally made the decision about two years before we started the trip.

It was all a bit hypothetical for nearly a year and we didn’t really get serious until around 11 months before the departure date. The planning stage wasn’t a piece of cake but it was nowhere near as difficult as we expected, I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.

How did you fund the trip?

We wanted to take a complete break from work and made the decision to save all of our funds before we left so we wouldn’t have to take part-time jobs while on the road. We already had some savings but we saved the majority of what we needed in just 1 year. It’s amazing what you can do when you have a real goal, once we’d paid the bills every month we put the rest into savings and stopped eating out and buying unnecessary stuff. All we hear from people is that they don’t have enough money to do something like this and yet they still have enough for the latest flat screen TV or brand new car, it’s all about priorities.

What do you wish you knew before leaving?

Not to fear the unknown. We had so many worries while planning the trip and then when we started it took us at least 2 months to feel comfortable travelling. People are generally good, things normally work out and you will just get on with it. Stop worrying about what might happen and just go and experience it.

Any advice for would-be RTW travellers?

Just go! Regardless of the fears you have it generally works out okay, listen to what you want from your life rather than what people say you should want. Try to travel slow or take breaks where you do absolutely nothing for a week or so, if you move too quickly you will exhaust yourself and get travel fatigue. The last thing you want is to stop appreciating what you’re doing.

What is something surprising you learned on the road?

Our relationship has grown enormously when travelling, we’d already been together for 8 years when we left but we’ve learned so much about each other. Spending 24 hours a day together for 18 months makes you realise you can tackle anything that is thrown at you. We’ve also realised that people are pretty much the same anywhere you go. Regardless of country or culture we all want the same basic things.

What was your favourite place – or one place you would return to in a heartbeat?

We would quite happily live in the United States. We spent 3 months travelling through most of the states and it cemented a love of this wonderful country, we’re outdoor nuts and the landscapes and national parks are sublime. It has a vastness that we’re not used to in the UK and we love the fact that you can just get in your car and drive from snow to sand, mountains to desert.

What’s still on your travel wishlist?

The list just kept growing the more we’ve travelled! Top of the list at the moment are Alaska, Antarctica and Nepal.

What’s it been like settling in back home so far?

We’ve been back for 3 months and are still looking for new jobs, we have been offered positions but are looking for something quite specific. The job market is a lot more buoyant than we thought it would be so if you’re thinking about going on a trip do not let the fear of finding a job put you off.

We kept our house and rented it out while we travelled, it was a pain to manage but I’m glad we had the security of property and somewhere to move straight back into.

Settling back in has been an absolute roller coaster, some days you are incredibly happy and then other days you are pining for the road so much you wonder what the hell you’re doing. The strangest thing about being back is how quickly travel can almost feel like a dream rather than a real experience, lives have gone on and very few people will be interested in what you’ve done. We’re incredibly grateful to have each other so we can tell stories whenever we feel like it!

Do you plan to stay put – is this your ‘forever’ city?

We have no firm plans for the future at the moment, we’re focused on finding jobs and replenishing the pot of money for the time being. We live in a beautiful part of the UK but we’re not sure we want to be here forever. If we’ve learned anything it’s that your dreams can change in a heartbeat so be as flexible as possible.

18 thoughts on “RTW and back: An interview with Maddie and Paul of Two for the Road

  • Reply Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) February 11, 2014 at 16:53

    Awesome interview with an awesome couple—Tony & I were lucky enough to meet up with M&P while were all in Cambodia and we had a wonderful time chatting and eating and getting to know one another better. Not everyone you meet on the road will wind up being a traveling soulmate, but we really hit it off with them and I’m glad we got to be a part of each others journeys.

    I definitely agree with their stance that people just need to take the leap, trust that things will work out, and that people are generally good. Those have certainly been our experiences as well. One of the things that I am dreading about heading home is the way this chapter of my life will slowly begin to feel unreal, like it was all a dream. I really don’t want that to happen!

    • Reply eemusings February 11, 2014 at 17:00

      I think it may be inevitable – but we have our blogs and photos and of course memories. Strange and random things trigger all sorts of travel memories for me, and I love those moments!

    • Reply Maddie February 12, 2014 at 23:10

      Thanks Steph 🙂 We still tell the story of when we met in Cambodia and it was just like seeing friends for dinner that we’d known for years! If you come home you really do need to fight to hold on to the experience but I have confidence that you guys can make this thing work long term – it may never have to end.

  • Reply Jennifer February 11, 2014 at 21:27

    Ive been back in the UK now for nearly 10 months and my 7 months of travelling seems like a life time ago. It felt good to get home, snuggle up in my bed and eat the food that i had missed, but now that i have a full time job again and im im the ‘rat race’ i feel like i need to escape again! We are buying a house now though so at least the money that I am earning is going into something positive.

    • Reply Maddie February 12, 2014 at 23:12

      I keep saying that no matter how content I am with my life there is always a part of me that is looking for something else. Towards the end of travelling I was desperate for the comforts you’ve mentioned but then after a few months you start missing travel again!

  • Reply Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life February 12, 2014 at 03:23

    It’s totally about priorities. Travel is one of my top too. I have a goal to get to Europe in April. I’ve literally cut out ALL discretionary spending since the New Year to make that happen.

    • Reply Maddie February 12, 2014 at 23:14

      I don’t think people appreciate what it means to cut out ALL discretionary spending, we know so many people that complain about never having any money and yet they’ve just bought a new gadget or clothes. The only clothing I bought in the year pre-travel was a pair of jeans because mine had gotten a hole in them! It takes a bit of sacrifice to get what you want. Have a brilliant time in Europe Stefanie 🙂

  • Reply Catherine February 12, 2014 at 22:09

    I love the fact that you’d been together eight years, but still learnt new things about each other in your travels. I’ve been with my boyfriend six years now, and sometimes feel like I know everything there is to know about him, but looking forward to learning more when we hit the road later this year!

    Totally agree that Yorkshire is a beautiful (perhaps the most beautiful!) place in the country, but I couldn’t imagine staying here for ever either!

    • Reply eemusings February 13, 2014 at 09:22

      Travelling together for an extended period is SUCH an intense experience. Like Maddie and Paul, we’d been together 7/8 years and we’d just gotten married before we left, but I can tell you that nothing quite prepared us for it. You guys will definitely grow closer on the road – enjoy!

    • Reply Maddie February 26, 2014 at 09:23

      It was such an incredible experience, it makes you feel like you can get through anything together when you’ve seen each other at your complete worst! Have a brilliant time travelling Catherine 🙂

  • Reply Tonya@Budget and the Beach February 13, 2014 at 11:49

    So inspiring! Thank you for sharing your story. I can imagine how different it must feel coming home after being gone so long and be in so many different places!

    • Reply Maddie February 26, 2014 at 09:24

      Thanks Tonya, it’s a challenge but just another step along the journey. We’re changed forever and it has made us question so much about our lives back home, the scope for change is endless.

  • Reply Well Heeled Blog February 13, 2014 at 13:07

    My husband and I are embarking on two trips this summer – a 1.5 week jaunt to Japan and a 3-week trip around Europe. One day we will attempt the RTW!

    • Reply Maddie February 26, 2014 at 09:26

      Yay, love hearing about other people’s travel plans. Enjoy Japan, it’s definitely on my own travel wish list. You will have a brilliant time in Europe, it’s magical seeing such rapid changes in culture in such a small area.

  • Reply La Tejana @ Debt Free Tejana February 13, 2014 at 14:28

    So I just figured out was RTW was… HOW COOL. A friend sent me this post from Stumble Upon a while back, you might enjoy this: http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/1fTB3U

    • Reply eemusings February 13, 2014 at 14:44

      Thanks, I hate anything to do with travel hacking though because it’s all American centric! We don’t have any of those credit card opportunities here.

  • Reply Carmel February 26, 2014 at 01:43

    Move to Portland! Mountains 1 hour away. Pacific Ocean 80 minutes away.

    It is amazing how quickly it goes once you hit your stride. It’ll be interesting to come back to essentially nothing (other than our families and friends, of course)…but I wouldn’t change it for the world.

    • Reply Maddie February 26, 2014 at 09:27

      Oh matey, if we could actually get visas we would be there tomorrow. I would love nothing more than to live in the U.S, I’m determined to get there one day by some means or another.

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