Today we are traveling with Paul and Karen from Global Help Swap.
We are Paul Farrugia and Karen Sargent. Paul is British and Karen is Maltese. Our blog focuses on Responsible, authentic and local travel. Our mission is to highlight the magic of responsible travel and promote companies that are really making a difference in their areas.
What type of traveler would you say are you?
We are professional travel bloggers that travel responsibly. We have always travelled this way without realizing that is has a label. We try to use local transport as much as possible (we once travelled from Europe to Asia by train), we always eat at locally run establishments and we try to stay in eco hotels when we can.
What’s inside your backpack? What is that one thing that you ALWAYS have to carry.
Reading materials for the long waits at train stations, airports and ports!
Where do you usually sleep on your travels?
Mix of eco hotels, guesthouses and hostels.
Can you tell us your best volunteer experience?
Without doubt when we were teaching in a school in Thailand. We were in a remote area and we truly got to know the real “land of smiles’.
Can you tell us the worst volunteer experience?
On a boat in Malaysia! We wanted to learn to sail but the guy tricked us and got to be his slaves. In the end we did a mutiny and left after only 4 days. Plus he stole our rum!
Can you recommend this way of traveling?
100 % as long as you do it in the right way. Make sure you are fully committed. Most responsible volunteering entails at least a few months of your time. Make sure you are not taking a local’s job too.
Traveling alone or with someone?
Both. Sharing these life changing experiences with someone you love is truly magical. However, we all need to be alone sometimes to recharge our batteries. Being alone in a strange place takes away from that safety blanket and forces you to be present.
Which country did you find the most hospitable people?
Japan. The people are just super friendly and helpful. They think they can’t speak good English (they can) so at first they are shy to try, but once you get them going they will go out there way to help you.
We have had people walk us to metro stations, strangers telling us which stop to get off at without us asking them because they overheard our conversation and once we even gatecrashed (it’s on the blog) a Japanese pop stars wedding and nobody asked us to leave!
How was the experience in Trans Mongolian?
To this day it was the best journey we have took. Train travel breaks down barriers that other forms of transport just doesn’t do. Sharing a room with Russian families was a joy, even after the 10th shot of straight vodka! Plus the scenery is out of this world.
How is a day in your life when you aren’t traveling?
Writing, editing images and video, answering e-mails.
What’s the big reason why you are traveling?
To discover more about this planet of ours through our own eyes and decide for ourselves what people are really like as opposed to being an arm-chair cynic who just believes mainstream media.
Can you tell us about your longest trip?
We travelled overland from London to Asia. It took 18 months in the end. We visited: France, Germany, Russia, Mongolia, China, South Korea, Japan, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and Australia.
In all the trips you’ve done, what has been your favorite so far?
Hmmm, that is so hard to answer. All have been amazing in some way. We would say the big one we just mentioned just because on how it changed our lives. We started our blog not long after we finished that trip and we haven’t looked back since.
What’s your favorite gastronomy/food cuisine that you had in your travels?
Again this is so hard to answer as we love all foods! From the top of our heads we would say: Kobe beef in Japan, Khao Soi in Chiang Mai and anything from Penang Island, Malaysia.
Has there been any challenging and bad moments on your travels?
Thankfully we have had hardly any. We once fell for a tea scam in Beijing where we ended up paying £50 for a pot of tea. The worst thing about it was we knew the scam existed and we still fell for it!
As we use a lot of public transport, the terrible driving we encounter can be challenging to say the least!
What has been you favorite destination on all the trips you’ve done?
This changes annually. It used to be the ocean as we love scuba diving but lately the mountains have been calling us more and more. There is something about their majesty that really appeals to us.
What’s the worst place that you have stayed in for sleeping? What’s the best?
The worst by a country mile was on these islands in the Philippines called Guimaraes. Our bungalow did not have a proper roof so our mosquito net was full of insects of all types, we had minute insects that went through the holes of the net and shared our bed and I woke up to rat poo in my hair! Needless to stay we left after one night.
The best would be with the Cinnamon Lodge hotel in Sri Lanka. We were working with them for a few days last year. It’s a super high end hotel that practices proper sustainable tourism. Our room was bigger than our flat in London!
Are you planning for a new trip or do you already have a new trip in mind?
We had a crazy beginning to 2016 with trips to Thailand, Japan, Spain, Sri Lanka and Holland. At the moment we are catching up on our writing but plan to visit Italy soon.
How do you finance your trips?
Travel Blogging and freelance work.
Do you have any recommendations which blogger/traveller should I interview next?
Vicky Flip Flop
How many hours do you work in the blog? How do you share the job in the blog?
40 hrs a week. We do it all ourselves.
Great travel stories, thanks for your time guys!
Paul and Karen travels the world responsibly, doing as much volunteer in the world that they can offer. We all need good hearts like this right now, and we happy to have interviewed them! Also, travel and volunteering will help you meet amazing local people and you will learn new things everyday. If you want to continue reading their stories around the world and how to travel the world while taking care of the planet, follow them in their blog. And follow them in their social media channels Facebook and Instagram.
Want to read more stories on how to travel responsibly? Check out the inspiring story of Mike who is traveling with his bicycle around the world. You can also read our interview with Alexandra who shares her stories on how to travel the world and stay super healthy!