Traveling Around the World, One Country at a Time
“I wish I could travel.”
This is one of the most common things we hear when we meet people who learn about our travels.
This will give you a quick overview on how we do what we do. We spend our money on things that give us experiences in life and teaches us about the world. Subscribe to our newsletter to keep learning as we do.
How I Started Traveling and Why I Travel
I first started traveling when I was just under a year old. My mom and dad took my brothers and me back to our home country, Guyana. Chances are you have never heard of this country unless you live in New York City, Orlando or South Florida.
Guyana is located in South America and is one of the only countries on the continent with English as its national language. It is a unique place where I know so little about. This will be a big trip for me one day. It is part of the Caribbean nation also known as the West Indies. People who were brought to the Caribbean were from Africa and India. Our family goes back four or five generations to India.
Slavery: God, Save the Queen! (My ass)
Yes, I said, “people who were brought…” Here’s a quick history lesson. In the early 1800s slavery was abolished in the British West Indies. But the indentured labor system started. This system was very similar to slavery. The British hired professional local recruiters to get people to sign a contract and work in the West Indies. They were falsely advised and sometimes illegally taken. Guyana was colonized by the British, Dutch and French. In British Guyana (formerly Guiana), the five-year contract bonded them to a sugar cane plantation where they were paid a daily wage. Then, after the contract was finished, they would have another five years of industrial residency. After it was all said and done, they could either go back to India or stay in Guyana and receive land and money. However, the indentured servants were treated horribly. (God save the Queen, my ass!)
Also, the BBC did pretty cool documentary on the region called, “Land of the Lost Jaguar.” A group of scientists and other professionals went into the jungle and spent more than two weeks there and discovered more than 1 million new species.
First Generation Guyanese
I guess traveling goes back to my dad, Sammy Ravindra Pulayya. He left Guyana in the late 1970s and made his way to Canada and then crossed into New York City. He was an illegal immigrant. He eventually was sponsored by the company he was working for. As I travel, I understand more and more his state of mind as he left his parents and family from Guyana and went to a far away land. It was clear he wanted more out of life and was willing to take a gamble. In the end it would pay off huge dividends. My dad was a man who was always at the source of my inspiration. When he passed away in 2005, I thought long and hard on his life and the impact he made sponsoring many family members, friends and strangers to the United States. He was a selfless man who lived a humble life and was always willing to help people.
I started traveling shortly after my dad passed away. Perhaps to learn, live and see the world. I participated in a study abroad program while I was at the University of Florida. (Go Gators!) I spent the summer in the UK studying at the University of London and zig zagged around England, Ireland and Scotland. In my last semester at UF, I signed up for a study abroad program in Australia. I was also a guest speaker to encourage other students to join the program. I was able to visit New Zealand and I never looked back after that.
Here’s Shauna’s story of how she started traveling and why she travels:
Growing up in the South, I took my first trip out of the country as a member of the music group with a church missionary. I went to Monterrey, Mexico. I took another trip to Mexico in college. Coming from a small town, I always knew there was more to the world and wanted to travel. I worked up the courage to travel by myself all the way to Japan to see my sister and her boyfriend at the time (now husband) who were teaching English there. Note, this was in 2007, just before the iPhone was released.
I really wanted to study abroad, but I had to pay for college myself. So I worked during the summers selling books door-to-door with the Southwestern Company while at the University of Arkansas. I was a top producer and won trips each year. After three years of selling books, I created my own “study abroad” and backpacked Europe with some fellow book chicks, as we called ourselves.
I have always been interested in other cultures, and even my own - to learn more about being Vietnamese and other Asian cultures. I didn’t grow up speaking Vietnamese at home because my mom was adopted and my father, being a refugee, only spoke to me in English. I have always wanted to learn Vietnamese, which sparked the idea to become an English teacher abroad and to be immersed in another culture to learn another language.
Teaching Abroad Led to Traveling Abroad for Five Years
In 2009, Shauna and I started teaching English with the English Program in Korea (EPIK) in South Korea. Korea was quite an eye opener that only fueled our hearts to travel even more. Traveling in a drug. You get high from travel experiences and you only want more.
After our one-year contract was over in Korea, we didn’t go home - we traveled and moved to the next place. Shauna always wanted to learn more about Vietnam and her heritage. And we wanted to travel more. So we decided to move to Vietnam. We ended up spending four years teaching in Saigon. We learned about the language, culture and people. Subscribe to our newsletter to catch stories we haven't published from Vietnam.
I always try to learn about the local culture before I visit any country and learn a few words in their language. It has only paid dividends. People love the fact that you actually care about who they are and their life. It has always yielded us only positive experiences.
Expats for Life (Even in America)
Since moving back to the states, we agreed that we need to take yearly trips of out the United States for our sanity. We have been to 50 countries, 6 continents and more than 500 cities around the world.
America is an amazing place that has given both our families many opportunities. Those opportunities are up to you to convert them into your life to make a good living. I always think of the show “The News Room” on Netflix where in the intro the main character was asked, “Why is America the best country in the world?” He pretty much shuts it down.
So how do we afford to travel to all of these countries? It is something that people commonly ask. We both are debt free. We paid off our student loans and credit card bills from college. It took a while but we were disciplined in enough to make a plan and pay down our debt pretty aggressively. We ate at home very frequently and only decided to spend our money on accomplishing our goals.
We also use points, and miles to help meet those airlines tickets or pay for hotel rooms along the way. We will share more about this later in another post.
Traveling will always be our classroom. It always makes our lives richer. Our love for the world goes beyond just visiting countries and checking them off our list. We always try to take it all in and breathe the same air as the locals.