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. Almost 3 years later, we are still together, seeking to travel the world. Together, we have traveled to many places in China and South East Asia. Every holiday we had, we always looked to the map to see where we would explore next. It turns out the Summer and Spring Festival Holidays were not long enough. After saving up some cash, we decided to leave our jobs, embark to Morocco and make our way back to Asia over 14 months (or more). Come follow us on our epic journey that will bring us over 3 continents, many places, and many friendly faces.
Hailing from small town Salt Point, New York, Eric graduated in 2012 as a History Major. Ever since retiring from competitive swimming, it has been a constant struggle of maintaining shape (never again can Eric eat 4 plates of food for dinner). 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 where he first started as an ESL teacher and then moved into a social studies position at an international school. Over the past 4 1/2 year, Eric has worked in China and traveled during his spare time. Prior to their 14 month trip, he has traveled in China, Japan, Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam, The Philippines, Turkey, England, and The USA. As a big foodie, Eric can’t wait to see what ends up on his plate as they begin their journey.
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). In addition to being talented in language and serving as Eric’s spellchecker, Claire has a passion for reading, playing the piano, and traveling. Prior to Claire’s and Eric’s 14 month trip, Claire has been to China, the USA, England, Myanmar, and the Philippines. (She just corrected several grammar mistakes on this page for me…) In addition to being Eric’s foodie sidekick, Claire can’t wait to meet all the new friends that await us on our path around 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.
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 with you 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 in 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 a closer look, you see that they’ve spent barely anytime in all 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 to but rather gaining 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.