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Life on a Bike interview by Indefinite Leave

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Would you pack all your worldly possessions into a bag and hop on a Motorbike and go circumnavigate the world?

No?

Our friends Ken and Carol have…..twice!!!

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Dakar Rally finish Cairo Africa 2000

Just 2 weeks after I met Adele in 1987 I met her friends Ken and Carol and immediately liked them for their chilled personalities and sense of fun and adventure. Adele and Carol had worked together and were already good friends when I came on the scene.

In 2015, before we set off on our Australian road trip, we were able to catch up with Ken & Carol as they had a flying visit back to Brisbane. Over dinner at our place they shared some incredible stories and adventures we could only dream of.

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Kakadu National Park, NT 1985

Recently they were back in Brisbane and we would talk often on Facebook. During one of these conversations it was then when I realised I had to share their story with you too. You can see their blog at https://www.facebook.com/Life-On-A-Bike-291982764336402/

 

IL. How do you live on a Motorbike?

The most difficult thing is being minimalistic especially for ladies. Carol has had practice being a backpacker before we met. We carry most things other folks have in 4 wheeled vehicles just smaller, lighter and less of.

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Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia 2009

IL. How long have you been travelling on your Motorbike?

BC (Before Carol) I had been doing this since the mid seventies. We met in 1983 and left in 01/1985 for our ride around Australia and New Zealand as a precursor to our world travels.

First Around the World was 03/1997 to 06/2001. 4 years two months later we arrived home after promising we’d be back in 18 months or two years at the outside.

Our second commenced 09/2007 and is a ride in progress. Now in year ten, we thought it would be done and dusted in seven.

IL. How many countries have you been to?

We get asked this question a lot, do a count then promptly forget it. I’ll have to check but roughly around 80 odd. Need to keep some sort of record but we tend not to be counters. LOL.

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Hand in the Desert, Chile 2010

IL. What model Motorbike do you ride?

1981 BMW R80G/S with a Paris Dakar tank (large). It’s a bit like grandad’s axe. Most bits have been changed, some new, some used. It’s a simple bike and easily fixed. I do most of the maintenance and the range of parts available around the world still amazes me.

IL. What possesses someone to want to travel the word living on a Motorbike? You must be very adventurous and have a good dose of crazy thrown in 😉

As crazy as it may sound you would be amazed how many people are doing this right now and also how many people have done it in the past. When Carol and I first met she was already an international traveller (backpacker). I was the motorcyclist quite happy to plod around in our backyard (Australia). Our passions combined and this is where we ended up.
Crazy is an interesting word. We look at our lives as being quite normal. We feel a lot of envy sometimes because of our life style, but work hard at encouraging folks to have a go. It really isn’t rocket science. We are not particularly brave and tend not to tackle difficult countries. With the internet, research is easy and there are so many people out there willing to assist. On our ride back to Australia in 2000/2001 we were already planning the 2nd Around The World and how it would work. The variance not factored in is how slow we are travelling, dedicating more time to each country. Plus we are at the time in our lives when we lose family members. Unexpectedly, I lost my brother to leukaemia and Carol’s Dad passed away a short time later. These ‘pauses’ in our journey make us more determined to achieve the dream and ride on. Carol’s father was most enthusiastic in his dying days for us to continue our journey.

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Karakoram Highway, Pakistan 2000

IL. What do you do for shelter, showers, amenities, cooking?

We have a ‘comfort zone’ which is applied as best we can. We rarely free camp as Carol enjoys a toilet and shower as I do. In cheaper countries hard roofed accommodation is cheaper than a tent site (campgrounds) which quite often in these countries, do not exist. Cheap hotels, hostels, pensions, cabanas, motels, hotels, Airbnb’s will work for us. More expensive countries we will camp i.e. Europe/UK. Campground facilities in Western countries work well for us and prices are similar to hard roofed digs in cheaper countries. Weather will often dictate accommodation. We have camped (and ridden) in storms, hail, snow, sleet but hard roofs are the better option.

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Natures Window, Murchison Gorge WA 1985

IL. What do you carry with you?

You don’t have enough space for the list.. 😉 😉
Tent, sleeping bags, sleeping mats, aluminium stools, First Aid Kit, umbrellas, 2 x 6 litre MSR water bladders. Our ‘house’ fits in the 60 litre top box.

We each have a pannier (50 l) for clothes and personnel items. Clothes are minimal as we generally live in our bike gear. Everything is light weight, wash and wear. 3 shirts, 1 long pants, 1 shorts, silk/wool thermals, 3 grundies, 3 socks, pocket size spray jacket. Bike boots, walking shoes + thongs/slip-ons. Electric jacket which doubles as a going out jacket. We need to cover four seasons. Laundry is done frequently usually by hand.

Computers are in Carol’s case and chargers are in mine. This is the nemesis of travelling these days. Crazy number of chargers.

Tank bag is the kitchen. 5 litre folding tub, single burner Coleman petrol stove, two mugs, two pots, one pan, cutlery, Vegemite, honey, coffee, tea, sugar, powdered milk, spices, tuna, pasta, rice, although cous cous when available, is taking over from pasta and rice.

Basic spares and tools are scattered around the bike in plastic tubes (5) and an aluminium box (1). We fix our own punctures (tubes), service and tune the bike. Marvellous the people you meet on the road these days.

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Puncture repair, Brazil 2009

IL. Do you always feel safe?

Yes.. 99.9% of the time. In foreign lands where there is always the unknown we ask our hosts and locals the do’s and don’ts like, ‘is it safe to walk the streets at night’. Different rules apply to tourists and locals.

IL. I remember you telling us the story of riding through Mexico I think from memory and drug barons with weapons demanded you stop. Can you briefly relate that story?

The Drug Cartel story turned out to be different to what we thought. An experienced motorcycle traveller from Texas who travels to Mexico several times a year asked us if we had ever been challenged by the Cartels while riding. Reply was negative but he kindly forewarned us that it could happen but not to worry. Remain calm and answer the questions truthfully. On a highway, apparently little used (GPS’s and maps don’t show this), we were stopped. Three young men with machine guns, pistols and bullet proof vests inquired ‘where from’, ‘where to’, and ‘why’ then, finally, ‘do we enjoy Mexico’? We have flip-up helmets plus we removed our gloves indicating we were going nowhere. No issues, handshakes all around and a “bienviaje”. Discussions later with our experienced Texas rider, revealed that our new Mexican friends were not Cartel but possibly vigilantes fighting against the drug barons. We do not know, but, although the experience was disturbing we remained very calm and friendly and felt we were in no real danger. Our Spanish is/was very limited but the leader of the trio’s English was excellent thinking he had spent some time in the USA. This experience did not detract from the great times we had in Mexico and cannot express enough how much we love traveling in this country.

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Cuba 2014

IL. How much does it cost you to live each week?

Hahahaha.. This is another question we get asked a lot. We all have different levels of comfort so this is always a hard one. We have friends who are surprised at our costs. They do it way cheaper, especially solo guys who free camp. We have friends whose budget is way more as they don’t camp or cook. It’s all about how you travel.

Currently we are based in the UK and living on around $3,000 per month but that being said we generally have a surplus at the end of the Northern summer which provides enough for an return airfare to Australia. Accommodation and fuel costs affect us but last summer we caught up with a lot of travellers from Europe/UK who had stayed with us in Australia plus met on the road which substantially reduced our accommodation costs. This year we will be paying our way so to speak. Camping will be the norm plus supermarket food and self catering. Bring on the fine weather. In South and Central America things were much cheaper and our budget dropped accordingly. We had the same budget in North America as here but covered way more kilometres. Weather was more conducive to camping also.

Another contributing factor is sight seeing costs. Have no idea what this will come to this time in Europe. Apparently these are quite expensive so will need to choose carefully. There are only so many castles we can see.

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Closed bridge-pedestrian stairs, Nicaragua 2010

IL. What are some of your favourite places you have been to?

You don’t have enough space ..again!!!

There are a dozen places in Sth America we could name. Some are the tourist sites and some are just pleasant places few people visit. We could ride Sth America again, take another three years and 100,000 kms and find more fantastic places. Antarctica was also a huge hit with us. If you were to do a cruise and you don’t like cruises go to Antarctica. This place is special, like another planet.

We have literally thousands of pictures and when reviewing, memories are triggered to all these wonderful places.

Ushuaia, Torres del Paine, Machu Picchu, Iguazu Falls, Kuelap, Galapagos, travelling on the Amazon River – Brazil to Peru, Bourda Cricket Ground in Georgetown, Salar de Uyuni, Riding the ‘Che’ route in Bolivia, mountains of Peru, mountain passes between Chile and Argentina, following the Dakar Rally in 2009 and 2010, Gold museum in Bogota.

This is just in Sth America… Mark these spots on your Sth American map, link them up with a line then see what Google has to say about them.. 😁 We follow several travellers and their destinations trigger many memories plus show us places we never even got close to..So much more out there.

We could highlight so many more places around the world… then..there are the people. Unique experiences that are one off’s and never likely to be repeated and others where we have made friends for life. Some we do not speak their language and they don’t speak ours. Hurdles we work around.

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St Basils, Moscow 2015

IL. Why do you love to travel?

This is a difficult question. We were asked this one (several times) in front of a class room full of Namibian school children in 2000.

Our emphasis on ‘it’s all about meeting the people’ which for us is definitely the most important aspect. Site seeing is the bonus but the people are what it is all about.

This reply however, did not satisfy.

We were with another Australian couple who were doing a similar ride. We both struggled to answer. None of our answers satisfied this teenage student. Replies like, to see the scenery, animals, people, travel the roads, camp, taste the foods etc did not meet his expectations. He even asked were we raising money for a charity. He could not understand why we spent money on travel when everything could be gotten from books, television, internet, movies, zoos. Maybe it was because of the poverty they lived in and to see affluent white folks traveling was a bit of an issue.

My final reply, almost in frustration as he continued to raise his hand and ask the same question… was ‘because it is in my “blood” to travel, to explore, to experience, to meet, to speak, to see for myself.’ This appeared to please him or perhaps he heard the frustration in my voice caused by his persistence.

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Unloading bike, Cuba 2014

IL. How long will you continue for?

My quote when it comes to travel is “The first step is always the most difficult.” The second most difficult thing … is “stopping”.

We have a dream to finish this RTW (Round The World) which will take us perhaps another 2-3 years then it will be a slow ride around Australia back to Brisbane. This is not set in stone however. Flexibility is the key.

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Ghengis Khan, Monglia 2015

IL. What is your best tip for other travellers?

Traveling like we do is not for everyone. If you have a desire to travel, test your boundaries. Family ties are a huge influence. Children, grandchildren, ageing parents.

Have friends who only do 3 monthly journeys as home sickness is a serious issue. Have seen some of the most hardened travellers succumb to home sickness. Nothing wrong with that.

Be flexible with your plans. We chase the perpetually cool summer with minimal rain. Avoid cold winters although we have been caught out. Summers in some countries are cold. Carol is the weather watcher and navigator. Our route is generally planned around a weather pattern. Amazing how many Northern hemisphere folks forget the seasons are reversed after you cross the equator. If you’re looking for a white winter that’s fine but it doesn’t work for us on the bike.. 😉

The internet is your greatest friend. Information is at your fingertips and there are websites and people out there very willing to help with your plans. Amazing the number of single women of all Nationalities now riding solo around the world on motorcycles.

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Road to Exmouth WA 1985

On a final note here is that famous quote from Mark Twain.

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

Cheers Ken and Carol

Thank you for sharing your story with us Ken and Carol and continued safe travel with Life on a Bike :)

Safe travels

Kev & Adele

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Email: hockeys@indefiniteleave.com.au

 

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yTravelblog Interview by Indefinite Leave

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When we began planning our “around Australia” adventure in January 2015 we spent a lot of time researching where we would go, what we wanted to see and how we should travel.

We found lots of avenues for great information like caravan shows, books and other people but undoubtedly online and social media gave us a lot of information. It was here I found Craig and Caz Makepeace from yTravelblog and we began following their adventure around Australia, chatting to them at times and asking questions. They, as much as anyone, inspired our blog, Indefinite Leave.

As we travel Australia now we still use their website as a reference. Often I will do a search on their website of a location and read their tips of places to go and things to see. Their website blog is such an excellent resource tool.

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Meeting up with Craig, Caz and Kalyra from yTravelblog

Before we left on our trip we had the pleasure of meeting them on the Gold Coast. They are so down to earth and happily answered all our questions. They told us so much about their trip and lots of stories including how one minute they were in Tom Price in Western Australian wearing shorts, t-shirt and thongs when they received an invite to the White House in America. A week later they were wearing entirely different outfits and experiencing an incredible bloggers event at the home of the President. More about it here – https://www.ytravelblog.com/visit-the-white-house/

They have an incredible worldwide following with approx. 54,000 followers on Facebook, almost 44,000 on Instagram, 49,000 followers on Twitter plus over 4 million followers on Pinterest. Their website at www.ytravelblog.com recently smashed all their records and is a leading worldwide travel blog.

We have continued to stay in touch and watched as they set about planning an amazing adventure of road tripping around the US for 3 years.

Recently I contacted Craig and Caz who with their daughters Kalyra and Savannah are just a few months in to their incredible journey around the US called America Unplugged and asked them about their trip and to reminisce a little with us about their adventure around Oz and they gave us some brilliant tips about travelling and road trips with children.

You can follow their journey on their website at www.ytravelblog.com or on Facebook at https://web.facebook.com/yTravelBlog

Read on and enjoy our interview with Craig and Caz from yTravelblog.

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Kalyra and Savannah at the beach in Oahu, Hawaii

You are currently just starting an audacious adventure around the US called America Unplugged. How did that come about?

Having lived in the US for 4 years previously via jobs before our blogging days, we fell in love with the country and the people, and the travel opportunities. From a diversity standpoint, the US can’t be beaten. The incredible National Parks and wildlife, the mountains, the coastal regions, the range of food and music scene, the craft beer scene, the sports, the many varied cities, the classic road trips – there’s something for everyone and we always wanted to come back (never wanted to leave actually).

It’s just a great road trip destination and for us with young kids, road trips are the most practical way to travel. We always wanted to explore the US more in depth with our kids, and from a blogging and business perspective, it opens us up to a ton of new content creation, new business opportunities and new markets. When you run a travel blog, the problem is you need to travel to get new content, and we love travelling in the US, so win/win!

We’re calling our road trip America Unplugged, which is all about discovering the Real America. We plan to travel through all 50 states and unplug the hidden secrets, to go beyond the flashing neon lights of Vegas, Hollywood Boulevard and the skyscrapers of NYC. Sure, we still plan on doing all the touristy stuff, but it’s about going deeper and finding out what Americans love about America? What makes America the beautiful?

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In Nashville, Tennessee

Was the process challenging to get approvals for the trip?

Yes, it was challenging, but now that we’ve been through it we’re sure it’s going to be totally be worth it.

We recently got approved for a 3 year 01 business visa which was quite the process and took us over 12 months using an immigration lawyer based here in the states. To get this visa you have to prove you are at the top of your field and have been featured in major news outlets including TV, radio, newspapers, and have won industry awards.

Basically, we had to prove that we are “extraordinary in the field of travel blogging”. Each of our applications was over 500 pages long, lol.

America is huge with so much to see and do. How much are you hoping to cover?

Eventually, we plan to visit all 50 states, but how long we spend in each state will vary depending on what it has to offer and our interests. The tricky part is being in the right state at the right time, because it is so varied it’s hard to be in each location at the optimal time of year, and some states you could visit in all four seasons! But we’ve got at least three years to explore so are confident of hitting all of our goals.

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The girls on Waikiki Beach, Hawaii

What are you travelling in?

At the moment we are road tripping in our minivan, a Kia Sedona, and staying in a variety of accommodation options from hotels, apartments, Airbnb’s, friend’s homes and plan to do camping trips throughout this summer. We’ll probably travel like this the rest of 2017 and explore the east coast whilst using our apartment in Raleigh, North Carolina as a base.

We’ll go away for 2-3 weeks then come back to Raleigh for 1-2 weeks and get work done.

But next year for the west coast we are hoping to travel in some type of motorhome or RV.

How long have you been travelling?

We kicked off this US trip on March 20th with two weeks in Hawaii before heading to North Carolina. We also recently had one month in Tennessee exploring Nashville, Memphis, Knoxville and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

We’ve always loved travel and traveled as kids with our own families, but I guess our serious travel as adults started way back in 1997 for Caz when she moved to London to teach after graduating university, and I started traveling post my football career and once we got married in 2002 we headed off on a 5 year working honeymoon living and traveling in Bangkok, Dublin, and the USA.

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Dales Gorge Campground, Karijini National Park WA

yTravelblog is clearly Australia’s number 1 travel blog. What has been integral to your success?

We’ve been fortunate to create a lifestyle around our love of travel, and we’ve been at this blogging game for over 7 years now so longevity has definitely helped. I think sharing useful content that people want to read and share is important, not just inspirational stuff but informational, most people are inspired to travel but they struggle with finding the money and knowing how to plan a trip and the logistics of travel.

In the early years we were very active on social media and put ourselves out there, and were also very active offline attending events and conferences and networking with others. We’ve slowed down on the social content side of things these days, putting more of a focus on blog content and video, content that has a long-term shelf life.

The other thing is that we’ve travelled solo, as a couple, and now as a family so can talk to many different demographics and a range of people come to our site for tips and advice.

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Caz in Karijini National Park, WA

The 4 of you completed an 18 month trip around Australia. How do you look back on that time?

For the most part is was amazing. To explore our own backyard as a family was priceless. Our motto is “accumulate memories, not just possessions” so that adventure definitely ticked that box and we’re forever grateful we can always look back on that quality time together as one of our greatest adventures.

It did come with its challenges though. Traveling full-time with two young kids can be hard enough, but when you throw in there running a full-time business and homeschooling and internet challenges, weather challenges and equipment challenges there are some days when you wonder why are we doing this?!

If we had our time again, we wouldn’t travel in a camper trailer as they are too time-consuming to set up and take down and become exhausting over time, and when you are time poor we’d much rather have a caravan or motorhome with less hassle plus more storage. And we would spend more time in fewer destinations – moving every couple of days is also exhausting.

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Riding the Camels on Cable Beach in Broome WA

What were some of your best memories of your Oz trip?

Our favourite town was Broome. We spent 5 weeks there and didn’t want to leave. It has this country town by the sea feel to it and the colours are just amazing – the turquoise water against the red earth and green mangroves, plus the boab trees and incredible sunsets and what’s not to like.

Karijini National Park was another highlight. Not a lot of travellers go there but again the colours and the waterholes were stunning.

Uluru in the Outback was special. We didn’t visit at the best time, we had four days in a row of over 40 degrees which was brutal, not to mention the FLIES, but heading into the red centre is something I hope all travellers get a chance to experience. Sure we have amazing beaches, but the Outback is the real heart of Australia.

As for cities, we loved Melbourne. The cafe scene, the sports, the many different pockets of culture, and the food. Yeah, the weather is frustrating but there’s a great vibe to the city and always something going on.

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Kalyra and Savannah in Karijini National Park, WA

Your daughter Kalyra and Savannah also travel with you, do they enjoy the lifestyle?

Most of the time. They’re 9 and 5 and so act like 9 and 5 and miss their friends and family back home, as we do. But they both have adventurous spirits like us and like to see and meet other people from various backgrounds. When they act up we always threaten them with full-time school but at this stage of their lives they prefer this travelling lifestyle.

How are you educating them as far as school work as you travel?

On our trip around Australia, they were enrolled in a school at Surrey Hills Sydney through a distance education program, and once a month they would send out a packet of materials from the curriculum and we would teach to that.

Over here in the states, we’ll do homeschooling on the road. We’re focused on keeping up with their reading and writing, and maths, but most of their learning comes from life experiences through travel. We’re fortunate that Caroline is a former primary school teacher and she is experienced in the levels they need to maintain, what’s important from a learning perspective and social perspective.

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Visiting the “home” of country music in Tennessee

Any tips for other families travelling with young children?

Slow down and take more in. Don’t fall into the trap of wanting to do and see everything as that just leads to exhaustion and stress and the need for a holiday to recover from your holiday.

The three keys to solve are tiredness, hunger, and boredom! If you can overcome those, that goes a long way to a memorable trip.

And the other thing is to involve them as much as possible in the planning process. Sit down as a family and discuss what interests and type of holiday you’d all like to have. Try and find the balance between adult stuff and kid stuff, and if everyone gets to do something they love then that also plays a role in a successful trip.

We also think road trips are the most practical way to travel with young kids – you just have so much more flexibility with a car, you can stop when you want to stop, change direction, carry more gear, and enjoy the journey as much as the destination.

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Diamond Head crater walk in Waikiki, Hawaii

What do you love about travelling?

The time freedom, the variety of every day and not having a routine. It just takes you away from the normalcy of life and the excitement and anticipation of what’s around the corner.

It’s also the people you meet. Some of our most memorable trips haven’t been because of the destination, but the people we’ve met and the memories we’ve shared.

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What’s your best travel tip?

Don’t want everything to be like it is at home, otherwise what’s the point? And again, SLOW DOWN and take more in, it doesn’t have to be the amazing race.

Thank you to Craig, Caroline, Kalyra and Savannah. Great advice, thoughts and ideas.

If you would like to be as inspired as we were by a family who are one of the best travel bloggers in the world you can follow them here:

Website: http://www.yTravelBlog.com 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/yTravelBlog/
Instagram: http://instagram.com/ytravelblog
Pinterest: http://Pinterest.com/ytravelblog
Twitter: http://twitter.com/ytravelblog
YouTube: http://youtube.com/ytravelblog

Safe travels around America to our friends at yTravel blog.