Extended Travel for Couples: Interview with Jack and Jill Travel

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Jack and Jill Travel', at Muchu Picchu

Jack and Jill of 'Jack and Jill Travel', at Muchu Picchu

“We met in college, graduated, got jobs, got married, left our jobs, sold everything, and bought a one-way ticket to Colombia this April. That’s our story in short.”
- Jack & Jill

Jack and Jill were working at NASA in software/web before they started their extended world adventure in April 2011. They’ve spent the last 6 months in South America and heading to Morocco next to begin their adventure in Africa.

You can follow Jack and Jill Travels on:
Their travel blog: jackandjilltravel.com
Twitter: @jacknjilltravel
Facebook: facebook.com/jacknjilltraveltheworld


1. What were you doing before you this big trip?

We were both working for the government (NASA) doing software engineering and web development/design.

In terms of what inspired us to take the trip – well, it has always been my (Jill) dream to travel the world. When we were still dating we agreed to arbitrarily set a year (2011) when we would take off to travel the world.

I have a suspicion that Jack agreed to it because:

  • It was 4 years away. Who knows what will happen in 4 years
  • He was still trying to woo me.

Well, late in 2010 Jack realized that I’m not one to forget a promise. And here we are.

2. Did your friends think you were crazy?

Ha! I don’t think they were surprised. They knew how much we love to travel and we’ve mentioned the plan every now and then in conversations. When we gave our resignation letters, they quickly guess the reason behind it.

Our parents, on the other hand…

3. How did you know you could travel without killing each other?

We’ve had a lot of practice spending 24/7 together:

  • In our last job, we worked in the same building and in the same projects
  • We only had one car so we commuted together – we shared similar interest and same circle of friends
  • We went to school together and for the first 2 years we practically had the same schedules (we were both engineering students)

We’ve also travelled a lot before this trip – to Europe, to Indonesia to visit my family, and around the States. But even with all of that practice, traveling for this long together (we’ve been on the road for 6 months now) still proves to be tough. We’re glad we’ve had practice travelling together or else we probably would’ve killed each other by month 2!

4. How do you figure out your travel budget?

This part was actually pretty easy. We saved as much as we could during the last 4 years and we agreed on a percentage of how much of our savings we’d use for traveling. We’ll just go for as long as the money lasts, that way we’ll have a safety net when we get back.

For our daily budget, we aim for $100/day for both of us, which turned out to be pretty easy here in South America. Then we went to the Galapagos. Eeek! We’re still trying to recover the dent it made into our average expense here, but we’ve stopped obsessing about budget because it’s less stressful that way.

5. What’s been your biggest challenge travelling together?

It’s quite amazing that we’re still married considering how different we are in our style of traveling: we have different level of accommodation standard, comfort level, food types, activity types. The list goes on…

The one thing we argue about constantly is food and how much to spend on it. Food is onn the bottom of my priority list while it’s pretty high up there on Jack’s. So, it doesn’t help that we’re quite useless in the kitchen too.

The biggest challenge is knowing when to make compromises and when NOT to make them. We often go to two different places for food (because we can’t agree on where to go) and we also do separate day trips.

It’s knowing that NOT being together does not mean the same thing as ending a relationship. For us, making time to breath on our own has worked well.

6. Your top tips for couples planning an extended trip together?

1. Address beforehand each other’s fears and expectations. It takes a great deal of commitment from both parties to agree to hold off on career and to sacrifice a lump sum of money. These fears and expectations will change after the trip starts, so having an open channel of communication is very important.

2. Take smaller trips together beforehand. This way to you get to learn about each others’ strengths and weaknesses when it comes to planning a trip. It will immensely help in a longer trip if everyone already has a set ‘role’ that they’re used to. Plus, you’ll get a chance to iron out the smaller differences (accommodation standard, what time to wake up, etc) beforehand.

3. Don’t waste too much time arguing over smaller details of the trip BEFORE the trip even starts. For example, the countries you’re going to or where to start or where to end, or what to pack and all that. These things that seem like such important questions will become moot once the trip begins.

If you are looking for travel deals, consider checking Holiday Hypermarket for vacation packages.

>> Have you ever travelled for an extended period with your partner? Do you prefer travelling alone or with a companion?

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  • http://twitter.com/travenesia TRAVENESIA

    Great tales! They really give me more references on what to do while traveling ^_^

  • http://twitter.com/swgraphic Sarah Wu

    Aww I love this interview so much because it shows how a couple travel together and their story. Jack and Jill sound so cute together too : )

  • http://www.healthytrader.ca thehealthytrader

     The wife and I will be backpacking for a couple months together and to be honest, I’m not sure how it’s going to go.  I recall travelling on a smaller trip for about 10 days and it didn’t take much before we were distancing ourselves walking along the Singapore streets.

    Either way, it beats sitting in my current corporate job pondering life outside the office. :)

  • http://nomadicsamuel.com Nomadic Samuel

    I must admit as a solo backpacker I find it fascinating how couples manage to travel long-term together.

    • http://exploreforayear.com Lily

      Hi Samuel,

      Hahaha, I love your comment. As a solo traveller, who has been on trips with romantic partners in the past, I also wonder how Jack and Jill manage to travel long-term together. I like how they mentioned they’ve had “practice” being together 24/7 before they started travelling, so that probably helps ;)

      - Lily

  • http://technosyncratic.com Technosyncratic

    It’s cool that you two often eat at different places and take separate day trips – we all have to figure out what works for us!  :) 

  • http://twitter.com/eriksmithdotcom Erik Smith

    They have a great blog. Nice interview!

    • http://exploreforayear.com Lily

      Hi Erik,

      I think they have a great blog too, really clean and easy to read, but interesting at the same time! I haven’t backpacked around South America much, but will probably read up on Jack and Jill’s blog when I do go in the future, lots of helpful articles there.

      - Lily