For McCool Travel’s 187th travel interview, I am pleased to present Travel Bugs World. Oli and Geoffo are the Travel Bugs World team and their Twitter account is insanely popular and fun.
Oli recently became an official New Zealand citizen (congratulations) and is super duper busy but thankfully took a little time to share some wonderful travel tips, inspiration, and stories. Enjoy!
Travel Bugs World’s bio:
One part Aussie and one part Kiwi met in Thailand over 20 years ago. Having similar life values and ideals, they continued their life journey together to explore and travel the world and have visited over 50 countries.
Jack of all trades, Geoffo has worked as a baker, fisherman, and landscape gardener. Editor Oli has a double major degree and a background in travel publications, writing, and marketing.
After spending over two decades quitting jobs every few years to be able to travel for extended periods, they finally left their full-time jobs in 2014 to pursue their dream of being self-employed and traveling whenever they desired.
Since then, they have been living and slow traveling in Thailand, New Zealand, Australia, Asia, and Europe.
Oli created Travel Bugs World to show people you don’t need to spend all your life working. She is now a part-time blogger/part-time traveler/freelance writer with a work-life balance tipped to more play than work.
Travel Interview With Oli From Travel Bugs World
I am originally from Sydney, though I haven’t lived there since I left my full-time job in 2014.
New Zealand has been my second home for the last decade, and I am thrilled to have just received my New Zealand permanent residency and look forward to setting up a life I don’t need to escape from.
ON EVERY TRIP I MUST BRING …
- A snorkel and mask. It complements the exploration of a destination – discovering the food, culture, architecture, and landscape and then following that up with exploring the underwater world (whether it is the sea, lake, or river.)
- Portable Speaker. Always bring the party!
- A travel kettle for making tea and coffee anytime, any place. Also great for a quick, cheap noodle meal.
3 FAVORITE HOME-AWAY-FROM-HOME PLACES …
- Since falling in love with Thailand on my first visit, I have spent extended months living there over the years, and since 2006 (while working permanently in Sydney), I have visited Thailand at least once a year. It has become a third home to me.
- I absolutely love my two favorite home-away-from-home places, Koh Tao and Koh Phangan. I love the island life, the culture, the food, and the people.
- My other favorite home-away-from-home place is Cairns and Far North Queensland. Like Thailand, I love the tropical temperature, the nature, and the underwater world.
A FAVORITE TRAVEL MEMORY …
It’s hard to pick just one favorite travel memory, so I’ll cheat and give you two!
The first one is taking off as a 20-year-old for my first solo O.E. (gap year) and traveling for two years in Europe and the Middle East without plans or going home. It truly was the trip of a lifetime, and everyone should do it at least once in their life.
The more recent one is from 2006, laying on a hammock, swimming on the reef, cruising on a moped, eating delicious Thai cuisine, and meeting lovely Thai people.
That’s why after that, I made sure to go back to the Gulf of Thailand annually (sometimes twice a year) to recreate the same favorite travel memory!
My philosophy was that you don’t know what the future will bring, so do the things you know you love!
And guess what, the 2020 pandemic came, and not only have I not been back to Thailand since then, but my favorite bungalow, in which I always stayed in the same room, has also closed down. But I will always have the incredible memories!
3 MONEY-SAVING TRAVEL TACTICS I USE …
- Unless it’s a special occasion, stay in cheap accommodation to have more money to travel longer. It’s not about the mod cons and facilities. Also, learn to love camping. If you do, you can have a lifetime of cheap and often free accommodation, allowing you to stay in incredible natural settings.
- Cook your own meals when possible, or buy food from street food stalls. Otherwise, eat where the locals eat for the best food and to avoid tourist pricing.
- Catch overland transport to save money. I love long train trips however often the bus is cheaper, especially in Europe if you haven’t planned in advance.
3 WAYS THAT I HAVE FUN WHILE TRAVELING …
- Exploring antiquity is a fun day followed by food and drinks. Availability of historic ruins and old towns is how places get added to my must-visit list.
- Sometimes I joke that all I really do is eat and drink my way around the world. I discover a destination by its food and drink, and then there are the people watching at cafes, restaurants, or bars and meeting locals.
- Boat trips are where I have the most fun; I love floating past landscapes or architecture or kayaking down rivers.
8 WORD (OR LESS) TRAVEL MANTRA …
If you love it, just do it!
If you don’t, don’t!
Oops, that’s 11! Never mind, I just love it!
FAVORITE NON-TRAVEL WEBSITE …
Based on the huge amount of time I spend there, it would have to be Twitter. However, it’s mainly for the travel inspiration and to meet like-minded people.
MOST MEMORABLE SOUVENIR …
I don’t usually buy souvenirs (I am known to take photos of them, though, lol) due to self-imposed luggage weight restrictions in my backpack when traveling for long periods.
However, I went crazy in Morocco, fell in love with Moroccan ceramics, and bought two huge bowls and two small plates. I then proceeded to lug them around in my backpack, taking care not to break them while traveling overland on public transport to 11 European countries. Surprisingly, they got home safely!
FAVORITE CHEAP EAT …
Nothing beats the street food in Thailand, both for taste and price! Noodles, curries, bbq meats, and seafood for just a couple of dollars. Then there are desserts such as the delicious mango with sticky rice or chocolate banana pancakes.
RECENT DISCOVERY …
Since travel restrictions these last two years, I’ve realized that staycations and domestic travel can be just as fun and exciting as international travel.
I WOULD LIKE TO MEET …
Charles McCool, of course! [ed. note. me? Awww. Yes, sounds wonderful. Maybe in Thailand. Looking forward to really exploring that country. ] I know I would eat the best food (I especially look forward to the lobster meals), get the lowdown on the best places to visit, and meet the most interesting travel people.
Thank you so much, Oli, for sharing your travel advice and inspiration.
McCool Travel presents tips from travel experts in our 5 Minutes travel interview series—featuring travel industry giants, super frequent travelers, and adventurous persons.
Previous 5 Minutes travel interview: David Kliman.