Have questions about travel? Want to know how to make traveling affordable? Just need some inspiration? You have come to the right place! Welcome to Once Upon a Backpack!
Claire and I first met while working at the same international school in Qingdao, China. More than 3 years later, we are still together, seeking to travel the world. Before our Gap Year, we had traveled to many places in China and South East Asia. Before every holiday in China, we always looked to the map to see where we would explore next. It turns out the Summer and winter Holidays were not long enough for us. After saving up some cash, we decided to leave our jobs, embark to Morocco and make our way back to Asia over 14 months. Come follow us on our epic journey that will bring us to 3 continents, many places, and many friendly faces.
Hailing from small town Salt Point, New York, Eric graduated in 2012 as a History Major. Throughout his travels he has always struggled explaining to people where he is from (only people from New York who are outside of New York City will understand).
After graduating, Eric decided he wasn’t ready to settle down in a school district somewhere in The States and decided to teach abroad. He ended up landing in China as a clueless American where he first started as an ESL teacher and then moved into a social studies position at an international school a year later. Over the past 4 1/2 years, Eric has worked in China and traveled during his spare time, becoming a bit of a travel guru along the way. Eric’s travel experience in many areas of the world was the main reason for him to start this blog, in order to share and encourage others to start epic adventures of their own.
Claire comes from the coastal city of Qingdao, China. After graduating in 2010 from the top foreign language school in China, Claire completed her masters in TESOL in Birmingham, England. Despite all her education, she credits the TV show Friends for her ability in English (it’s better than Eric’s… seriously) and tortures Eric with re-runs of the show on a daily basis.
In addition to being talented in language and serving as Eric’s spellchecker, Claire has a passion for reading, writing her own blog for China, and more recently oriental rugs (She just corrected several grammar mistakes on this page for me…).
Born the year of the Dragon, Claire is a bit of a fire breather herself as she is constantly craving spicy foods. She normally laughs at warnings given by wary locals of how hot dishes are and gulps it down as if its the blandest of porridge. As a consequence, she has probably caused several holes to form in Eric’s stomach.
Everyone travels differently, and there is really no wrong way to travel as long as you are open minded and respect people and places wherever you go. With that said, in order to understand how we travel, here is what we believe when it comes to traversing the world.
Claire and I firmly believe in independent travel as we cringe every time we here the words ‘package tour. Traveling independently gives you the most freedom to explore where you want and opens up doors that would have never been available if traveling in a tour group. Hitting the road on your own gives you the opportunity to meet locals, taste food where the locals do, and provides you with the opportunity to…
Get Off the Beaten Path
While we always make sure to hit up the big sights when visiting a country, Claire and I always make sure we get off the beaten path when visiting countries. Getting away from the mass tourism can often be a challenge and takes time, but the rewards are totally worth it. The culture tends to be richer, the people friendlier, and having a place to yourself creates a much more intimate experience that you will carry for the rest of your life.
Traveling Doesn’t Have to Cost a Fortune
Growing up, I always had the idea that only people with a lot of money could afford to travel the world. Ever since moving abroad, my world and thoughts on traveling have completely changed. Traveling Independently allows you to decide how much to spend and for most places in the world, it doesn’t have to cost that much. Much of the world is rich in epic places and peoples that can be visited for a fraction of the cost of what you might expect. Want to travel to Egypt? You could go with a tour agency for more than $150 a day… or you could do it yourself for less than $15 a day. Even dreamy places like Europe can be done on lower budgets, meaning as a budget traveler… the whole world is at your fingertips.
Stay Long Enough to Get to Know a Country
Many of the blogs you read today boast about how many countries they have traveled to but on closer look, you see that they’ve barely spent anytime in most of these countries. Sure it is cool to say you’ve traveled to 100 countries, but what have you learned and experienced by only staying in each one for 3 days or less? We don’t feel traveling is about counting the number of places you have been, but rather gain a deeper understanding about the world around us. Rather than race to put dots on a map, Claire and I pick countries and make an effort to get to know them.
Where We Have Been
To get to know our travel experience a little better, check out our travel timeline below. You can also check out our travel map.