This first “Inspired By” post is a long one, but I promise that has more to do with quality than quantity. The unnamed ‘they’ recommend taking a 10-15 minute break every hour, anyway, and given that this post fits the bill exactly… I hope you’ll stick around and read on!
Note: At first draft of this post, I was (mis)lead by Skott and Shawna to believe they were in San Francisco and stationed there for another four to six weeks. On Monday, however, I was pleasantly surprised to learn they’d brought their trip full circle and arrived home in Regina, Saskatchewan, after 462 days on the road and 98,628 kilometers traveled (that’s 61,285 miles for you Americans).
While island-hopping in Thailand earlier this year, Mike and I posted under our MJ2012 alias about a chance run-in with Marissa, an old friend of mine from Regina whom I am so grateful to be reconnected with. Meeting up with Marissa led us to her travel mates Carly, Skott, and Shawna. Carly and Marissa only had seven weeks to navigate this beautiful and deeply cultural part of the world (I say only, but I fear I’ll never have that big a block of time again…), but Skott and Shawna took the word vacation to an extreme: they each quit their jobs, rented out their home, and set out on the belated honeymoon of a lifetime.
Skott is the kind of guy whose extreme intellect and worldliness is inspiring instead of intimidating, and Shawna is forever bursting with new ideas, kindness, and laughter. As you’ll read, her ‘get up and go’ attitude inspired the brand they are now famous – in my eyes, anyway – for: Get Up and Globe. The blog reflects their joint sensibility, spontaneity, and authenticity that readers from around the world (myself included) can’t help but love.
As my dear-old-dad would say, I am just tickled to share with you some of what being a ‘Get-Up-and-Globe’-trotter is all about, so here we go:
How did the name “Get Up and Globe” come to be?
Skott: We wanted to come up with something with more energy and impact than “Shawna and Skott Travel the World.” This blog is our brand, so we needed it to embody what we believe are some of our defining characteristics: fun, energetic, and a little punchy. Actually, these are all Shawna’s characteristics; if I was traveling, it probably would have been “Get Up and Grouch”, but that’s another story. As soon as we landed on “Get Up and Globe” we knew we’d found a label full of “oomph” and motivation, one that was a lot of fun to say.
Where are you, where did you come from, and where are you going?
Shawna: We are currently writing to you aboard a train on the West coast of the United States. Before arriving back in North America, we spent one month learning to salsa in Colombia, and now we are indeed taking the slow road home. What we are both noticing, though, is how incredible it is to see a familiar part of the world with new eyes. After traveling for 15 months we’ve developed a fresh appreciation for where we are from and the beauty that lies within it.
When Mike and I met the two of you, we learned you’d been tracking how many beds you each slept in over the course of your journey. How many beds at last count?
Shawna: We’re still keeping track! By the time we arrive at home, Skott will have laid his head down on 179 different mattresses. As remarkable a number as that is, I still win, sleeping in 182 beds of questionable comfort since we left Canada on June 18, 2011.
[For those of you who may be wondering why the numbers don’t match, shortly after we’d said our heavy-hearted goodbyes in Koh Lanta, Thailand, Shawna chose to visit Bali and Vietnam with Carly and Marissa while Skott put his sanity to the test by enrolling in a ten-day silent meditation retreat up the Andaman coast at the Suan Mokkh Buddhist monastery.]
After over a year on the road, how do you define home? Where the heart is? Regina, Saskatchewan? Each other?
Shawna: Interesting question!
[Thanks Shawna – my journalism pipe-dream lives to see another day!]
I’ll admit: we’ve seen cities that are probably more beautiful than Regina – better landscape, bigger population, and with more to see and do. You know what, though? I can’t picture any of them as my home. Home, for me, has more to do with the people and experiences I hold nearest and dearest to me and this, ultimately, is a tie between my home in Regina and my parents’ new home in Vernon, British Columbia. What makes these places home for me are simple pleasures like sharing a meal with family, meeting for coffee with friends, enjoying the changes of the seasons, and being involved with community events like the annual Queen City Marathon or a fall trip up to Davison Orchards in BC.
There were a few cities that evoked a similar feeling of ‘home’ as we made our way around the world: Cali, Colombia; Saigon, Vietnam; and San Pedro, Guatemala. We were lucky to make lasting, memorable connections in each city and they hold a special place in our hearts.
In Cali, we quickly formed two families: a collection of locals and expats at our hostel, Café Tostaky, and a group of quick-footed friends we danced with day and night at our studio and at a few favourite ‘watering holes’.
As we explored Vietnam, we always came ‘home’ to the same Saigon hostel tucked into a small alleyway full of familiar faces and characters. These ranged from the staff at the tiny, family-owned restaurant we frequented to a local Vietnamese man always found butchering pork over a wood stump.
We opted for a different experience in Guatemalan and lived with a Mayan family that welcomed us into their home and adopted us like two of their own. I have such fond memories of our Guatemalan mom making us fresh tortillas or our crazy little brother begging us to take him with to the gym and calling out to us each night for dinner.
What I’ve learned along the way is that I could still feel homesick even though I had the person I love by my side. Why? Because I am lucky to have so many wonderful people that I love in my life. This trip has affirmed their importance to me and reminded me that no matter what career path I pursue next or how my life changes once I get home, I am making a commitment to keeping these people my top priority.
In a nutshell: home is a place where you feel connected.
Without looking at each other’s responses, name one benefit and one challenge to traveling together.
[Believe me, I was nervous about this one as I know firsthand the wrong question at the wrong time when you’re backpacking can kindle a forest fire of emotion. I formed the question after reading Skott and Shawna’s post on how to travel and stay married and knew they could handle it.]
Skott: Ladies first…
Shawna: A definite challenge with Skott has been that after a day of touring his feet stink worse than anyone I’ve ever encountered. The smell that fills a tiny hostel room or an entire overnight bus is just plain gross!
All jokes aside, though, one challenge I’ve faced is the way Skott can be really laid back about things I’m not so laid back about. For example, I’m all for roughing it but when it comes to choosing a bed or place to eat, I’m looking for two things: atmosphere and a bathroom I’m not afraid to enter. Skott, on the other hand, is a simple creature that is happy to sleep in a hammock, can endure the most hideous of showers, and will eat pretty much anywhere as long as they hold the mushrooms.
A benefit to traveling with Skott is that he is such an encouraging and positive partner. He is always there to pick me up when I find myself discouraged or beaten down from cultural differences, hot weather, or heavy bags. I love that I’ve had him by my side to witness all the amazing things we’ve discovered on this trip. I look forward to reminiscing about our journey for years to come as we grow old together.
[Melt my heart!]
Skott: My biggest challenge traveling with Shawna is sometimes she is a little “bossy,” but please don’t tell her I said that.
…yup, now you’ve really started a fight!
As far as benefits go… Honestly, if I wasn’t traveling with Shawna I would either be dead, lost somewhere in the Austrian Alps, or at least really fat. What can I say? My girl does everything she can to look after me and I am so very lucky to have had her by my side for this journey. We may not always see eye-to-eye (though more often than not we do), but I could not and would not have undertaken this mad adventure without her. Shawna is also a little… hmm… peculiar at times and as a result is always good for making me laugh. Nothing makes an arduous travel day a little brighter than a good chuckle at your wife’s expense…
How do you balance the dual commitment of making unforgettable memories and finding the time to blog about them?
Skott: This is a tough balance to achieve, actually, as both traveling and blogging require major time commitments. Each time we post a blog, it is easily anywhere up to 3 or 4 hours in the making. Despite days we might feel were “wasted” staring at our laptop screen, we are so thankful to have our blog. It has been an incredible way to 1) preserve our memories, 2) share stories with family, friends, and even strangers, and 3) to motivate others to take on a similar endeavour (should they be so inclined.)
The reality is that for us, as busy as we are, we have attempted at various points throughout our journey of sticking around in one place for a while; this then gives us the guilt-free opportunity to catch up on our blog and also to soak up that country’s culture. When this isn’t possible and we happen to be crazy busy for several days doing things we know we will want to blog about later, we make sure to take down a few jot notes hitting the high lights in terms of fine details and our emotions and reactions in those memorable moments.
Any advice for travel bloggers? Bloggers in general? Travellers in general?
Skott: Our best advice is to write from the heart. There are 11,679,032 travel blogs out there, and the truth is they are all quite similar.
[Disclaimer: I did not fact-check this, as I admit that I take pretty well everything Skott says to be true.]
My favourite blogs are those full of thought and emotion, as they really engage the reader. Don’t spend too much time giving me facts I can Google – tell me what made you laugh and cry. I suspect this applies to all bloggers, whether your interest is in travel, cooking, fitness, or whatever else.
As for advice for you travellers or prospective travellers: be spontaneous. While it’s fine to have an itinerary, you need to be prepared to rip it up at a moment’s notice and allow yourself to go with the flow. Straying from the path without a clue of what and where comes next (while having all the options in the world) is one of the most exciting parts of travel, in my humble opinion.
Any plans in place post-return?
Skott and Shawna: Making money and babies!
Even though Skott and Shawna are now re-adjusting to life at home after well over a year of life on the road, their travels are immortalized through the beauty of the Internet and social media. I’d recommend spending some time (read: at least a day) to catch yourself up on where they’ve been, what they’ve seen, and who they’ve met. As I’ve already mentioned, you’ll be hard-pressed to find two nicer people, so don’t hesitate to come at them with questions – especially for those of you looking to take off on a similar adventure.
To the Enns’: once you start to feel that all-too-familiar travel bug start to bite, remember that a mere two hours separates you from a get-away chez Mike-and-Jess. We’re looking forward to seeing you again, this time on Canadian soil!