January 22, 2021

Tripedia

The Trip Encyclopedia

"You can never say never…". Interview with Zara Quiroga.

1. When did you first start travelling?
 
We have always taken short trips and enjoyed vacations, both together and even before we met each other. But we started traveling full­time as a couple a little over 4 years ago, in 2011. We were living in Dubai, until one fine day we came up with the idea of taking a year off to travel around Latin America. We didn’t want to live in the UAE any longer and we craved spending time in a radically different place. So, we continued saving money during a few more months after we made up our minds, quit our jobs and eventually bought a one way ticket to Mexico. We took off and that was also when our travel blog Backpack ME was born!
 
2. What are your 5 must-haves (apart from the basics such as passport, credit card, phone) when travelling?
 
As we travel permanently, our “travel must­haves” are actually our must­haves for life, for our daily activities. So this would place our laptops on the top of those essentials. Our laptops are our mobile offices, as well as our entertainment stations (we use them for music, movies, communicating…)! Directly related to travel, we wouldn’t go anywhere without our hybrid Osprey Meridian backpacks, that can be wheeled or carried on our backs depending on the situation (the truth is that we always roll them around though!). Also, on the travel department, other must­haves include our video camera, our photo camera and a Go­Pro waterproof camera. We love capturing images during our trips ­ these are the best souvenirs we take from each place!
 
 

Endless white at the largest salt plane on earth_Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia
Endless white at the largest salt plane on earth_Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia

 
3. How do you fund your travels?
 
We work and travel simultaneously. We work online in different projects related with programming, social media and travel writing. The fact that we can work as long as there is a decent internet connection, allows us to keep up with this nomadic life­style. We’re truly grateful to be alive during a time that this is even possible! And we would encourage anyone who can work remotely (for themselves or even for a company) and is dying to travel, to give this a go. As long as you’re organized and know how to manage your time, it can be a very rewarding way of making a living while getting to experience different places around the world.
 
4. What do you focus on while travelling to a new place – people, culture, attractions, food, adventure, or nature?
 
Depending on the place we are, we like to experience different aspects of the local life. We’re not big into landmarks and “must­visit” places. Sure, we went to the Eiffel Tower while in Paris or to the Taj Mahal in Agra. Landmarks are considered important for a reason and we don’t simply ignore the historical or cultural significance they may have. Yet, our favorite way to travel, includes very simple days when we walk around in the new place we happen to be at, observing the way people live and trying to partake in it. We are very much into exploring the local cuisine, hanging out in places where local people would and, if the place is naturally rich, spend some relaxing time in nature too. All in all, we like it mix it up a little. One day we may be skydiving, while the next one we may be sitting comfortably at a cafe working online. We try to balance our range of experiences.
 
In the Amazon Jungle in Ecuador
In the Amazon Jungle in Ecuador

 
 
5. What is your number 1 money-saving tip to other travellers?
 
Flights tend to be one of the biggest expenses for travelers going to far away places. As such, taking some time to understand how you can get the best bang for your buck when booking flights, is crucial. We hang out a lot on websites such as FlyerTalk, to keep an eye out for deals. We’ve taken some time to perfect “the art of flight booking” sharing some tips on this article and on Backpack ME’s Travel Resources page.
 
6. What is the longest you have travelled for?
 
What advice would you give to travellers thinking of long-term travel but are hesitant to go ahead? We have been traveling more than 4 years. We don’t have a city or a house to go back to (except when we visit family both in Portugal and India, where we are from), so we keep going… If you are thinking about long­term travel, we encourage you to try it out. It’s not as scary as it sounds, really! Leaving the world as you now it behind for an indefinite amount of time can be make you doubtful… but there’s nothing more rewarding than being in a place that inspires you and to think about the privilege that it is to be there, enjoying that moment. Maybe you’ll head out with a one way ticket and you’ll feel that traveling that way marked a before and an after in your life. Or maybe not. You may realize this is not for you and ultimately go back to where it all started. But if you don’t ever leave your comfort zone and try it out, you will never find out!
 
7. Is there a place you’d never go to? Why?
 
You can never say never… but, as things stand right now, we can’t foresee traveling to Israel anytime soon. We don’t want to spend our money in a country that keeps on doing barbaric things against Palestinians, ignoring the most basic of human rights. Israel may be a great place to experience as a traveler, we don’t say it’s not. But, for a matter of principle, we don’t plan on including Israel on our upcoming travel plans.
 
Visiting Torres del Paine National Park in Chile
Visiting Torres del Paine National Park in Chile

 
 
8. What are your upcoming travel plans?
 
We are in India right now, but we’ll be heading back to Portugal soon to spend Christmas over there with family. After that, we’ll be going to Finland to experience a white, white winter… we’re looking forward enjoying the cold season in and around Helsinki.
 
9. We know that travel affects our lives in many positive ways, but no one ever talks about the negative side of it (i.e. relationships can suffer, etc). Has travelling affected your life negatively in any way?
 
Everything in life has 2 sides to it and travel is no exception. Even though the positive sides far outweigh the negative aspects of this lifestyle, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any. In fact, we’ve written extensively about them! Not having your friends and family around you on your daily life, may be the biggest down­side. While we get to spend more quality time together when we do visit (as now we don’t have to count the vacation days and when we need to go back), sometimes you need someone important around, without having to travel halfway across the world to meet them. Apart from the affect on relationships, traveling affects the hobbies and activities you can partake in. Once again, traveling allows you to do many other new things, but if you’re constantly on the move, you won’t be able to do other things we used to enjoy doing: playing team sports, playing music in a band, etc. It’s all a matter of priorities!
 
10. Where have you visited so far?
 
We’ve been to about 45 countries across all continents, except Antarctica. This is our complete travel map.