Introducing the “Passport to People Series” where I’ll take you around the globe, via inspiring, creative souls I’ve met while on my travels!
Meet the roving duo, Brian Barry and Noelle Kelly. For the past 8 years, the couple have been actively traveling around the world as bonafide digital nomads, focusing primarily on their epic travel blog, Wandering On, which was voted Blog Awards Ireland’s 2015 ‘ Best Travel Blog.’ I first met Brian and Noelle in Daejeon, South Korea, maybe a week after I had touched down. We met by chance circumstances, with me purchasing the loot Noelle had accrued in her year living in Daejeon that she couldn’t take back with her. I had just arrived to South Korea with not enough clothes and to this day, I still carry around in my moving closet two pairs of Noelle’s custom-fit jeans, which perfectly fit me (a miracle for my short-legged self!) But at the time, these complete strangers were the first to invite me out for lunch in Korea at this brunch place called ‘The British Pantry,’ an act of kindness I will treasure forever. During the meal, they told me about their travel blog… of which I later learned was this actually legit, full-scale operation of a blog. Two years later, the two have inspired a serious blogger in myself and graciously took the time, in between bouts of traveling in the RV’ing around New Zealand, traipsing around the highlands of Scotland ,and house-sitting in Korea, to make this interview happen!
Hello again Brian and Noelle! Look at us after two years, thank you for staying in touch! Let’s get our reader’s acquainted. How long have you two been together?
We’ll have been together for 10 years this coming October (2016).
Whoa a full decade! Congrats guys! So going back to the beginning: what was the first trip you took together?
Brian: Our first trip together in Ireland was a camping trip in terrible weather in Kerry. The wind and rain was so bad we almost nearly didn’t manage to put the tent up! Our first overseas trip together was when Noelle flew out to join me for a week when I spent a month driving around France for the Rugby World Cup in 2008. I bought a Toyota Hiace for the trip, which I converted into a camper and lived in as I travelled around France.
What do you two love most about traveling?
Travel turns every simple daily activity into an adventure, whether that’s finding your way around a new place, finding somewhere to stay or your favorite café in a new town or just trying to communicate in a foreign language. Everything becomes new and exciting, like being a child again!
Do you have a bucket list as a couple?
We don’t really have a bucket list. What we want to do and where we want to go develops over time as we travel more and hear about more cool places from people we meet along the way. We just want to see and do as much as we can in this great big world! With that being said, we have made some great bucket list memories already like standing on top of the world at Kala Pattar with 360 views of the Himalayas, watching the sunrise at the Taj Mahal, climbing north Africa’s highest mountain in Morocco and sleeping under the stars in the Sahara desert. There are a few places we would love to travel too, like Iceland, South and Central America, Tibet, Central Asia. You see? This is why we can’t stick to a bucket list!
What’s a song that puts you in the traveling mood?
Newton Faulkner “Gone in the Morning,” John Butler Trio “Better Than,” Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson & Kris Kristofferson “Highwayman,” Xavier Rudd “Twist,” and Jack Johnson “Banana Pancakes.”
So let’s jump into the couple talk! What do you find is the most challenging aspect of traveling as couple?
One of the most challenging aspects is definitely meeting other people. When you travel as a couple, you tend to shy away from group travel and do things independently as much you can. You have each other and there’s someone there with you at all times so you’re less inclined to put yourself out there as much as a solo traveller would. Also, because there are two of you, solo travellers are less inclined to approach two of us and strike up a conversation as they would a fellow solo traveller.
Do you have any traditions on the trips you take?
Since we started travelling together, we always hold hands during take off and landing on flights as Noelle still gets a little nervous! Also, when we arrive in a new city we always go for a walk around as soon as we can to get our bearings.
What are your individual strengths?
While we work pretty well as a team getting around the place, Brian is definitely better at navigating in maze-like cities like Kathmandu and Fez and driving in new places. Noelle is better at planning and one of her hobbies actually includes browsing Skyscanner looking up cheap flight combinations!
What’s the most romantic thing you’ve done while traveling?
Standing on top of Mt Fuji in Japan for sunset is one of the most romantic memories we have. It was just the two of us up there as the sun set and it was a huge contrast to the more popular sunrise the following morning. Also watching the sunrise at the Taj Mahal, the world’s greatest monument to love, was pretty romantic too. As you can probably tell, we’re suckers for a good sunset or sunrise and have been lucky enough to share loads of sunsets and sunrises together in exotic, romantic places.
You, unfortunately, have been condemned to die, but fortunately, you get to have any meal in the world before you go. What is your menu?
Brian: That’s a really hard question and one that we’ve discussed countless times. It would have to be some combination of Nigiri sushi, Thai green curry and papaya salad, Korean Kongnamul-Gukbap, Vietnamese Pho, Indian dahl and hummus or falafels or both. Could I just have a buffet? I’d wash it all down with red wine.
Noelle: I agree with all of these and would add chocolate, a cheese board and chips! Proper Irish spud chips though, no French fries! Oh and tea!
Best foreign word you know and why?
Brian: Radiergummi, the German for eraser, I learned this word in school and have aways thought it sounds hilarious. We met a German guy in Morocco and he told us the word for shooting star: Sternschnuppe – this is definitely a close second.
You have just won a trip around the world! List twelve cities on your flight path.
Noelle: Cairo, Athens, Istanbul, Melbourne, Shanghai, Dar es Salaam, Quito, Medellin, Lima, La Paz, Rio de Janiero, Havana
What was a memorable ‘first’ abroad?
Brian: There have been so many amazing firsts since I started travelling; my first bungee, skydive, shark dive, scuba dive, teaching experience, overnight hike, etc. Having these first time experiences and looking forward to having more firsts is one of the main reasons we choose this lifestyle. If I was to choose my most memorable first, it would probably be leaving home for the very first time, not knowing what was in store.
Noelle: I agree with all the things that Brian said, but also I’d add the first time I saw such enormous mountains and Mount Everest in the Himalayas in Nepal, so mind-blowingly beautiful.
Here are some pictures taken on Brian and Noelle’s travels…
Best purchase abroad.
Noelle: An electricity cup in India. We don’t have it anymore but it was basically just the element part of a kettle that you could boil water in a metal cup with. Perfect for tea on the go!
Weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten.
Brian: Some silkworm larvae in the Philippines.
Noelle: Boshintang (soup with dog meat) or sang-nak-ji (live octopus) in South Korea.
What’s your best travel-related investment?
Brian: It’s a toss up between our Macbook Air and our Osprey Farpoint backpacks. The Macbook Air has made working as we go so much easier and the Osprey backpack’s have everything we’ve aways wanted in a backpack –we’ve tried a few in our time and it’s by far the best.
What is the oddest place you’ve ever been to?
Noelle: We’ve done a lot of strange things and we’ve been to a lot of strange places over the last few years. The Penis Park in Gangwon-do, South Korea has to be up there though!
What’s an activity you want to experience on the road?
Noelle: I would love to become a qualified yoga teacher at some stage during our travels.
Brian: I’d love to become a qualified scuba instructor at some stage too.
Thanks so much for your time guys. We are all wishing you two the best of luck in life and in love!
Be sure to check out their blog and social media!
Travel blog: Wandering On
Facebook \\ Wandering On • Instagram \\ @wanderingon • Twitter \\ @wanderingon_bn