Discovering Ice is the blogging couple Steph and Andres. Similar to us, they are on a nomadic voyage, living a life less ordinary. They started their voyage in Andres’ home country, Colombia (we used their site heavily for travel ideas for our own adventures in Colombia) and have since moved north to Mexico and beyond. They are focused on enabling their travels through online businesses. Check out their budding section on Lifestyle Design and their first online business http://handmadecultures.com. Twitter users can follow them @DiscoveringIce or, of course, through their blog, Discovering Ice.
You have written pretty passionately about Tayrona National Natural Park in Colombia. In your most recent travels, have you come across anything remotely as beautiful?
– We are currently in Mexico City…which you can’t really compare with Tayrona. Honestly we haven’t come across anything as beautiful as Tayrona. It is a place we love and would love to return to one day. It surprises me how few people, who have travelled to Colombia
, have visited the park.
– Well many of the things we have seen, in context, are beautiful. But if I had to compare them to Tayrona, then no, we haven’t seen anything as beautiful. We have seen many wonderful places though, like El Peñol
, the Rosario Islands
on the north of Colombia
and San Miguel de Allende
here in Mexico, but they are all completely different types of places.
Like a number of people that engage in long term travel, you are interested in a location independent lifestyle. How have you progressed so far? What revenue streams do you focus on?
Travel can be a messy affair
Steph – It’s been hard but exciting. We have to spend many days and weeks focused solely on working on our online projects instead of just travelling 100% of the time. In the long-term we hope it will pay off and allow us to continue to travel and live a location independent lifestyle. For us, we intend to explore all parts of the world slowly and wholly; we are in so rush to see everything in a certain amount of time so we need to first create a successfully functioning source of revenue that will allow us to do that in the long-term. When it comes to online entrepreneurship, I was clueless before I met Andres, but he has influenced me a lot in this area and introduced me to his influencers, like Timothy Ferriss who wrote the book, “[amazon_link id="0307465357" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]The Four Hour Work Week[/amazon_link]”…(be warned, you will want to quit your job after reading this!) and now I am hooked on the idea of a location independent lifestyle. I have learned so much since embarking on this adventure and there’s no going back now…only one option…to make it work!
– Well, we are focused on creating online automated technology based businesses. Location independence is for us, a long term goal that can only be achieved with months dedicated to building something that can be automated and which will generate an income that will give us that independence. That means we still find the need to stay in ‘bases’, as we call them, for a couple of months in between travelling so we can concentrate on working and building something automated that will allow us to be location independent in the future.
So with that in mind, we recently just launched an e-commerce store that we have been working on with the help of very talented friends for the last 6 months. As we travel, we are finding so many beautiful handmade crafts from various cultures. Not everyone has the luxury to travel so we wanted to create a place online to sell those crafts so that anyone can have access to them without needing to leave their home. Right now we are working with an indigenous people based in the North of Colombia who make stunning handmade bags. They told us their dream was to sell their bags to a larger audience, both outside of their city and even to other countries. We knew we could both help them achieve their goals while also creating a great project that could help us achieve ours. Right now, the sight only delivers to Colombia but we hope if it is successful that we can export to other countries in the future. Naturally it is also only in Spanish right now, we would love to hear feedback from people: http://handmadecultures.com
Have you had any regrets or doubts thus far in your trip? Perhaps anything you would have done differently?
– More planning
and more saving. In a way though, that wasn’t very possible because we didn’t really plan for what we are doing and where we are now…we didn’t even plan on being in Mexico but we’ve been here for over 3 months now! This whole thing started out as a ‘3-week vacation’ for me to visit Andres and explore Colombia
together…we’ve been now travelling for almost 8 months! We’re very spontaneous and idealistic people so we discussed it in Colombia
and I decided to quit my job and stay to travel with Andres around South America in “6 months”…as you can see its been 7 months and we’ve been to one country in South America and then ended up in Mexico. We still plan to travel through South America and will be returning to Colombia
However, all that spontaneity means we are never quite sure where we will be next month or even next week. We are so laid-back that we are always changing our plans and adapting to the changing situations around us. I think adaptability is a key skill to develop as you travel but perhaps we take the meaning of ‘laid-back’ too far!
Andres – Yes, many. This is something we never really planned…so there has been a lot of improvising, which means also many doubts and insecurities. My advice would be to plan if you are going to do something like this. And by plan I mean more than just a schedule for your trip but a plan about how are you going to sustain yourselves and your location independent lifestyle. Even if you don’t know fully but have a vague idea…at least ensure that you have the funds to sustain yourself for at least a year of travel, so that you can enjoy the travel while focusing on how to continue it for the second year.
What is the best and worst advice or reaction you got when you told people you were embarking on this lifestyle change?
Jump if you love to travel
– Well, as you can see from the previous question, it didn’t really work like that for us. I was already in Colombia
when we had fully decided to travel for longer. The idea of embarking on a location independent lifestyle funded through online automated businesses, developed itself over the weeks following the decision to travel the world, long-term. But still, that hasn’t stopped people from being shocked or worried for our sanity! Most people have been great and really supportive and think what we’re doing is fantastic. The travel blogging community has been particularly supportive and it is those people and the success and happiness they show that encourages me to continue.
– Well, luckily, I haven’t really had a ‘worst reaction’. Any people I’ve told are people who know me, and know that even if they advised against me doing it, I will still go ahead and do it. So they kind of know that even if they criticized, I probably would ignore them. Most people I’ve told have told me they would love to be doing the same thing. The best reaction has actually been from my parents, who have both expressed admiration for what I’m doing. My mother has always wanted to travel when she was young but never did it. Now she has a bad knee that she thinks will not allow her to but I am trying to convince her that she can still travel, maybe not scale El Peño
l as fast as we did, but still she can. My Dad’s reaction was basically encouraging me, giving me the confidence that I could do it. He knows I am a geek, and he knows the power of technology and the freedom it can give to those who use it well. So he believes that we can create an online technology based business that will allow us to achieve our goals. I always talk to him about technology and even though he doesn’t understand, he still believes that I’ll be able to do it.
You spent a good deal of time traveling through Colombia even though Andres is from Colombia. Why did you decide to spend so much time in one of your native countries? Are you planning on doing the same for Ireland?
– Our travels started out as a vacation, and very quickly turned into a long-term travel plan. Colombia
was the obvious first choice. Andres has always said, “how can I have fair eyes to judge the rest of the world without knowing my own country and having something to compare cultural differences to”. As for Ireland, we would love to do the same some day. Travelling so much and getting to know other cultures has made me want to get to know my own country even more. However, when it comes to travel, the world is not very fair to Colombians compared to Irish people. Andres will need to get a visa to visit Ireland, separate from the Schengen visa which he has had many times, and he is not guaranteed it even if he has all the relevant documents. Travelling has taught me a lot about how much prejudice still exists in the world, based on the country you are born in. It may seem very easy for people from North America, Europe and Australia
to travel but we should also remember people don’t always have the opportunity like we do, merely based on the country they were born in.
– Well…I wanted to impress Steph. Being Colombian has a special meaning because in Colombia
people are not used to seeing many foreigners. I’ve had the opportunity to visit many countries in my past so to value the beautiful things Colombia
has, I wanted to first travel through my own country. Knowing my country could help me to better understand other cultures and their differences as well as similarities.
So I wanted to bring Steph, coz if she hadn’t met me, she probably wouldn’t have ever travelled to Colombia
, but just to where the mass media would tell her to go.
Also I take very high risks in my life, but not in a stupid manner, so I knew that if I was going to learn how to travel the way we are doing it, it is better to start with a place we knew. I know the language, the people, the social and cultural norms and this gave me an advantage.
How have you managed traveling as a couple? Has it changed your relationship?
Steph – I must say Andres is the perfect travel companion for me. We’re both very laid-back and easy-going and not too fussy about anything. We share the same interests in regard to where we want to travel and what kind of things we want to see. Even though we’re together 24/7, we know it is still important to get some time to ourselves, whether that’s escaping in a good book, or catching up with friends back home. Travel has changed our view of the world and of modern society and its extreme consumerist driven existence. We have learned to be content with less things, live simpler and have dedicated lots of time to educating ourselves on things we think matter. Watching lots of good documentaries and experiencing things for ourselves in the real world has brought us together a lot and it is something we share just between us that will be irreplaceable and unrepeatable by anyone else.
Andres – Definitely, it has strengthened it. We have travelled together great. Steph has been the perfect girlfriend for travelling. Many guys will understand me here and identify with me but just imagine a girlfriend who never complains and that’s Steph. Just to be clear, the fact that she doesn’t complain doesn’t mean I have lowered my standards as a boyfriend and I always try to keep her happy and impressed and enjoying what we are doing.
What have you learned about yourselves as a result of your travels?
Steph – I have realized how laid-back and relaxed I am. So many people I have met have told me how calm I am and that I don’t get ‘fazed’ by much. However, I have also realized that I am not as patient as I thought I was. Despite being very relaxed, patience is a very different thing. I am also very proud at how much stuff I have learned to live without. I thought I had packed very little but I have taken out over half of the clothes and other things I brought at the start and haven’t missed them at all. The very odd occasion where you get invited to a formal-ish place, you sometimes wish you had your nicer things from home but the rarity of this makes it not worthwhile lugging it all around the world.
Andres – I have learned that your cost of living can be as expensive as you want it to be. Many of the things we posses, we don’t really need on a daily, weekly or even a monthly basis. I have learned to love that fact that I use only one shirt for the week and I love to tell everyone about it just to see their faces and reactions even if I don’t wear it everyday. I have learned that if you have all your time for yourself, you pass a phase where you feel guilty; where you feel you are not spending your time ‘productively’. So I have learned something that really keeps me with a mental tranquility; it is to do ‘goals of the month’. So every month I put categories for me that are important…health, family, education etc and then whatever I am doing during the days, I analyze back and if it fits into those goals then I feel the most productive ever, even if one of those goals is to surf 4 out of 7 days of the week, or to watch Dexter season 2 or to learn a web application development framework or launch an e-commerce site to sell bags online. Whatever my activity, if its linked to my goals, I feel productive and living life as I want it.