Stuck in the workaday rat race, Dave Bouskill and Deb Corbeil ditched their jobs to follow their passion for adventure around the world. They both worked in the Toronto film industry — Dave as a rigging gaffer and Deb as a makeup artist — when in 2008 they decided to participate in the world’s longest cycling race, the Tour d’Afrique, from Cairo, Egypt, to Cape Town, South Africa.
Based on that life-changing experience, they became full-time adventure travellers who have now driven overland from England to Mongolia; kayaked in both Antarctica and the Arctic; climbed to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro and reached Mount Everest Base Camp; and flown a stunt plane in New Zealand.
Here, they share their hard-earned tips on the road.
“When people ask us how they can do what we do, we always say, ‘start small.’ We started our travels in 2000 on a five-week backpacking trip to Thailand where we went rock climbing and sea kayaking for the first time, and did our first jungle trek.
When we came home, we were inspired to try new things. We joined some clubs, took some outdoors courses and started our life of adventure on weekends and evenings. For the next seven years we honed our skills.
Every year we took a trip that furthered our adventure travel credibility. We became rescue divers with PADI and went diving for a month in Honduras. We climbed Mount Kinabalu in Borneo and learned orienteering.
We took our time to understand what we loved about travel and what made us stand out. We’ve now been to more than 100 countries on all seven continents. You don’t have to jump in with two feet right off the bat.”
“When we arrive at a new place, we love heading out on foot to explore. We always hire a local guide. The best advice we can give is to think local. When we want eat out, we look for a place that’s packed with locals. Chances are it’s authentic, reasonable and delicious.
We also always strike up conversations with locals. People are friendly everywhere and a smile or eye contact will let them know you are open to conversation. Sometimes they are just out to sell you something, but often they’re open to talking and can give you a lot of advice and recommendations.”
“We have never gone into debt for travel. Before we made a living travelling [as travel writers, photographers and bloggers], we lived frugally and saved for trips. Choosing the right destination for your budget is important to make your money last longer. Fiji or Tahiti are going to be much more expensive than Thailand or Laos.
We also use rewards credit cards. You’d be amazed at how quickly rewards add up to get free hotel stays. Also, we always try to fly Star Alliance to accumulate airline points for free flights.
We save a lot of money on eating out by staying in apartments and also using street food, local stalls and food trucks. We also use local companies for guides and tours, which cuts out the middleman. We climbed Kilimanjaro for a fraction of the price that others pay because we booked our tour in Arusha, Tanzania, with a local company. And we felt good knowing that all the money was going straight to the local economy.”
PACK LIGHT — BUT DON’T FORGET GOLD BOND
“We travel with a rolling duffel bag and a backpack for camera gear and electronics as our carry-on, which is actually heavier than our checked bag. We make sure to pack layers for different weather conditions and climates. All our clothes are lightweight, breathable and wrinkle resistant.
We have a few staples that we can’t travel without. Number one is travel insurance. Dave broke two vertebrae in the Amazon in 2014 and had to be airlifted out and flown home by air ambulance. Without insurance it would have cost us more than $50,000. We’ve been in hospitals on four different continents.
Other must-haves include Gold Bond medicated powder that relieves the itch and discomfort from a day in the heat or from not showering for a few days in the backcountry; Merino wool socks for both hot and cold weather treks; lightweight, breathable, quick-dry boots; and external battery chargers for extended camping or hiking trips.”
“In today’s world it’s easy to keep in touch with family and friends. We can chat instantly via text messages, Facetime or Skype. But, we have found it difficult not having roots. We don’t have a home base and we’ve lost that connection of having a circle of friends. We find that even though we talk to a lot with people on social media, we miss the personal connection. But we are lucky because there are two of us.”
SLOW DOWN AND SMELL THE ROSES
“The biggest challenge we face is finding a balance between work and travel. When travelling, you want to have fun, make the most of your time in a destination and get out and do adventures. But we also work and travel full time, so we find that we end up with very little time to really soak in the experience. We’re constantly thinking of how to document it, photograph it and film it. By turning our love for travel into a career, it’s easy to let it be all consuming. What made us love travel in the first place was how it helped us block out all the noise and stress from the world. It’s important for us to also be able to put down the cameras and phones and just be.”