This interview is part of our Love Mondays series, bringing you stories of digital nomad couples from around the world who love their Mondays! You can read more about the series here.
Sam and Zab have been travelling the world since the beginning of 2013, using their freelancing careers to pay the way. They keep a blog, Indefinite Adventure, which focuses on gay travel and vegan eats. We spoke to them to learn more about their digital nomad lifestyle.
Please tell us a little about your freelancing work.
For me, I work on our blog, and do other freelance writing, and for Zab, he mostly works remotely for one of his former employees back in London developing databases for iPads. Our careers as freelancers were slow at first, but now we are more or less able to sustain ourselves through these means, though I do also occasionally do teaching work to top up the bank, and that is not work I can do remotely.
How do you divvy up your working duties?
It’s pretty easy actually, since hardly any of the work we do to earn money overlaps. Zab has his work, and I have mine. Sometimes, I ask him to proofread something I’ve written for the blog, and he might occasionally ask my opinion of the design for something for one of his databases, but otherwise we work pretty much independently form each other.
You are both vegans. Some vegans are possibly put off by the thought of travel because they believe it’ll be difficult for them to find places to eat at. What advice would you give them?
Don’t worry, you’ll always find something! Being aware of what things are commonly eaten in your destination that happen to be vegan and knowing a bit of the local language will help. Being armed with some specific recommendations of where to eat from a vegan guide helps too, as well as being active other social media platforms like Foursquare.
As a gay couple who travel extensively, what advice would you give to other gay travellers who are thinking of venturing out for the first time?
This advice goes not only for gay travellers, but any first time travellers: the world is not as scary an dangerous as the media makes it look and people are generally friendly, helpful and welcoming.
The news doesn’t report on the thousand random acts of kindness that happen every day around the world between people from all different kinds of backgrounds, but focuses instead on all the bad stuff, and as a result it can seem from afar that much of the world is full of horrible people doing terrible things.
Whether or not you want to be out when travelling is of course up to you, though I would encourage it always to increase LGBT visibility around the world.
Good point. Have you ever faced any discrimination because of your sexual orientation? If yes – what happened? Where was it and how did you deal with it?
I don’t like to think of it as such, but some people might say that we’ve been lucky never to have faced discrimination for being a same sex couple while travelling.
I suppose this is in large part due to the privilege we both enjoy of being thin, white, cis-gendered gay men.
Unfortunately, it would likely be different if we were not white or were trans (meaning if we now identified with a gender other than the one which were assigned at birth), for example.
Depending on where we’re travelling, as two men travelling together, many people do not make the assumption that we are a couple, meaning that we have to come out a lot.
While this isn’t necessarily a kind of discrimination per se, it can be frustrating to not have our relationship recognised in the same way that a straight couple automatically does, like by being given a double room in a hotel without having to ask for it.
Have you found any surprisingly gay-friendly places that you would’ve never have expected to be so open?
Though I hadn’t researched its gay-friendliness in particular, I knew that in theory Argentina would be very welcoming, and indeed we found it to generally be the case.
Argentina was the first country in South America to get marriage equality, though the government being ready for that step towards equality doesn’t always mean that the society is (or vice versa – Germany!), but Argentina definitely is.
Buenos Aires is without a doubt the gayest city in the continent, but even beyond the capital, we found cafes, restaurants, hotels advertising their gay-friendliness with little rainbow flags in the windows and we never experienced any hostility or even surprise when revealing that we’re a couple.
That’s great! What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced living the digital nomad lifestyle / travelling long-term?
The life/work/travel balance. Somehow they all end up bleeding in to each other and tasks get cross-pollinated! At least for me, what starts out as a work session where I aim to write X number of articles, often turns into a travel planning and booking session or (perhaps more likely) just chatting on Facebook to friends!
Being with each other 24-7 can cause strain in a relationship. How do you deal with conflict when it arises? Any tips for those travelling as a couple?
Plan to spend time alone. Almost no couple can sustain spending every waking hour together, and for most people, time alone is something essential, though how often and how much will vary from person to person.
Working out how much and how often you need to spend time alone is a valuable first step, as you and your partner may not initially agree on this.
It may make sense for you to plan to have one hour each day when you both do your own thing, or maybe one day a week you have entirely to yourselves, or even maybe once a month, you’ll go spend a weekend in separate places with friends, or alone and meeting new people.
Sam, you mentioned teaching English while you travel. What advice would you give travellers who want to start their travel journey with English teaching?
Skip the online courses and get an in-person certified qualification that’s internationally recognised, like the CELTA or Trinity Cert. TESOL.
Not only will this look better on your CV when applying for jobs, but it will better prepare you for the realities of teaching English as a foreign language because you’ll already have some classroom experience. Furthermore, check out my articles with contributions from other EFL teachers on how to get a job teaching in Asia, Europe and Latin America.