Off The Beaten Path Interviews

An inside look at Earth’s explorers

Craig and Caroline (Caz) Makepeace, accompanied by their two beautiful daughters make up the traveling team at YTravel, a blog full of travel tips and stories to inspire you to travel more and create more valuable memories. Originally starting their independent journeys in Australia in 1997, Caz and Craig connected and started the life of travel that’s inspiring many to live their dreams today. To learn more about their travel advice, check out their free travel series: How To Travel More.

Meet Craig and Caz Makepeace

Craig and Caz ytravel blog - New Zealand

First family holiday in New Zealand

What does off-the-beaten-path travel mean to you and what role does it play in your travel philosophy? 

Off the beaten path travel means finding those places that aren’t often talked about. It’s about making the effort to talk to the locals and veer down a road or two to see what lies there. Some of my best travel experiences have come from this as it’s been unexpected and a fabulous opportunity to go deeper into a culture or country.

However, I believe every travel experience has its value, even those that are highly trodden with tourists. For example, the Grand Canyon was one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had. Touristy areas are popular for a reason and I feel it would be an oversight not to visit them just because you feel as if they are too overdone. I think the whole “You’re only cool if you travel off the beaten path” is such BS. There are magical experiences to be had off and on the path.

My advise would be to not show up to amazing places like the Grand Canyon for 15 mins and grab your I was Here shot. I think it has so much more to offer you. Take time and try something that is not as touristy. For example get up way before the sun and hike down into the canyon. You can easily turn a touristy experience into an off the beaten path one.

Traveling with a partner can be tough enough, but add little ones to the equation and it can get even more complicated. How do you juggle the duties of everyday life and still find room for travel? 

I’m so glad you did not add in, and stay sane because I would have had to admit to my massive failures!! We don’t cope with everyday life too well which is one of the reasons why we have decided to give settled life the boot and turn the everyday into travel. I actually wrote about it here: 14 Reasons to Travel Long Term. It’s amazing how much time you free up when you remove those things you don’t want to do like cleaning and the management of all your stuff.

Travel is the thing that brings us most joy, so we make time for it. We try to live as minimally as possible and try not to stuff our time with things that don’t matter. Our big problem when we get on the road this September will be managing the work with the travel as it will just be us and the girls. We won’t have much time out and will do the majority of the work when the girls are sleeping.

We will have to have very strict schedules and systems in place so we can balance our work load with the travel and the girls. We are lucky that the three will kind of be operating in synergy anyway. We’ve created a lifestyle whereby the travel and the work relate and both of those work with the family also.

It’s about minimization and prioritization.

 

Craig and Caz - Whitehaven-Beach yTravel

Craig and Caz at Whitehaven Beach

Many travel lovers slow down once they have children because they don’t know how travel as a family. How do you travel as a family? What sort of activities have you found to work in family travel? And what tricks can you share to ease the challenges of family travel? 

I think the best form of travel with young children are road trips,which is why we have decided to do this in September indefinitely. It is so much more flexible and comfortable, which you need for young children. It can also be a fun bonding experience in the car as you sing, play games, chat and be silly. We love road tripping with our kids; it’s so much easier and way more fun.

We took the girls to Thailand earlier this year and I found it too stressful with a toddler. She just wanted to practice using her new found legs, which was a night mare to control on their transport as there are no seat belts let alone baby seats. I was also sick at the time, as was our baby, and because we were working while on the trip, it was just a little too much even for my usual laid-back self. Places like this are much better once the toddler stage is over (discussed in my post The worst age to travel with kids).

Slow travel is really important when traveling with children. It takes awhile for them to adjust and they tire very easily. You are far better to stick to one or two places rather than try to do too much. You will also have more luggage, so you want to be unpacking and packing as least often as you can. It’s also best to plan your activities in the morning and have rest time in the afternoon. Always make sure you have a bag filled with things to solve the three issues that will cause meltdowns 1. tiredness 2. boredom 3. hunger

You can read our 25 tips for travel with kids

What was the first trip you took as a family? What was it like and what obstacles did you have to overcome to make it a success? 

It’s hard to pin point this one as both our girls started travelling with us not long after they were born. I think the first as a family of 4 was a five day trip to New Zealand when Savannah was 8 weeks old and Kalyra was 4. It was a fairly relaxed trip. We ensured we did not overdo it with activities. And we travelled with a Baby Bjorn so Savannah spent most of the time curled against my chest as we moved around. A baby carrier makes life so much easier.

We allowed time for rest and planned activities around feeding time. The last thing you want is to be in the middle of a tour and have to start feeding your baby in front of the tour group. We also stayed in apartments which makes life much easier with young babies, especially if you are not breast feeding.

yTravel - Grand Palace Bangkok Thailand

The family at the Grand Palace, in Bangkok, Thailand

What does being “cool” mean to you? 

Cool to me means being totally authentic to who you are, not what you want people to think you are. It’s not a beat your chest or try hard kind of thing. I think the coolest people are those who stand up for their values and live by their own set of ethics. I think when you start to care what people think of you, you lose your cool factor as that is when the power of who you are is diluted in an effort to please or look better than others.

It’s about doing what makes you truly happy, so in the aspect of travel I think the cool ones are those who just quietly go about travel in the way that best suits them. It’s not just about checking things off their list, visiting the most amount of countries, or only travelling off the beaten path. It’s about climbing the Eiffel Tower too, or taking a cruise, or sleeping in a five star resort if that is what makes you travel happy.

I think those who judge how others choose to live their life in an effort to highlight how great their choices are are totally uncool.

You have been fortunate to work with some great sponsors who, I imagine, helped pave the way to consistent long term travel. What is your recommendation to other travel lovers who want to capitalize on this kind of opportunity? 

Do not (start a travel blog) just to get free travel. Your success will be short lived and your objective will be transparent. It has to be a win win win situation. Firstly, why are you doing it for your readers? They must come first. You have to be blogging because there is something you can contribute. What are you giving to your readers? How are you inspiring them to change their lives? How are you helping them to travel?

Of course you need to be blogging for yourself as well, but if you don’t have a greater why that involves your readers you won’t have as much success. If you are truly passionate about travel and if you work hard to give a truckload of value to your community, then companies will be more enthusiastic about working with you. If you work with a sponsor it is just not about what you can get from them. You have to be thinking of how you can also help them achieve their goals too without dropping the value you provide to your community.

It’s not easy and it all comes down to authenticity, transparency and value. Those who do this will capitalize the most on the opportunity to work with sponsors. If you over-deliver you will have outstanding references and build incredible relationships which will open up so many doors of opportunity.

What inspired you to create a website and blog dedicated to travel? And what inspirational message would you like to leave with your readers today?

Two things:

  1. I had so many years of travel experiences where I felt I had learned so much, yet I wasn’t doing anything with it. I had this burning itch telling me there was something more I needed to be doing. I felt I was wasting the privilege of travel that was granted to me. Through a lot of self-reflection I learned that our experiences in life are not for us alone, they are there in order for us to share what we learned. It’s about contribution. That’s when I woke up and realized I needed to share in order to help others travel more.
  2. I believe so much in the power of travel. I know how it can transform your life and help you to understand yourself better and in turn become a better human. I also believe it teaches you so much about compassion, tolerance and understanding which helps to smash down those barriers that are causing so much hatred in the world. I believe very much in Ghandi’s philosophy of Be the Change.  I really want to help other people travel so their lives can be changed for the better, they will have more fulfilling memories, and will be more aware of who they are in order to contribute more.  I know that can only then mean a better world for everyone.

My message for everyone: Your memories are the only thing that stay with you throughout your life and to the end. When the end comes what are your memories going to tell you about the life you lived? Did you live it well? You are in control of that answer.

A very special thanks to our friends Craig and Caz over at yTravel blog! Be sure to keep up with the off the beaten path adventures, and lessons in parenting while on the road! Thanks again, guys!

Are you a family who travels long term? Do you find it challenging to get off the beaten path with the young ones, or do you tend to be able to move around as naturally as you may back home? What is similar about travelling abroad with kids to staycations for you?

Please share your stories and feedback in the comment section below!