Vivien & Aaron of The Dharma Trails

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Up next in our travel interview series, we have The Dharma Trails, a couple who focus on eco friendly travel and housesitting in the Caribbean! We’ve been following their adventures on Instagram for a while, and love their unique take on the slow travel lifestyle. Their page is also home to the #ecothought of the day, a series of fun facts and inspiration on the state of the environment and how we as travelers can reduce our impact. Check them out on Instagram or their website.

Who are you? Where are you from?

Aaron & Vivien from Queensland, Australia.

Aaron:

I was born in Singapore and grew up around South East Asia for most of my childhood with a commercial diver for a father.

As a Coastal Engineer I worked on various projects around the world. Designing and building artificial islands in Dubai, surf reefs in Australia, coastal erosion protection in India and coral reef enhancement in the Maldives.

I’ve travelled to over 65 countries and have been living out of a backpack for 11 years now. Minimalism is definitely the key.

I wrote a couple of books and toured with a couple of Aussie bands, but nowadays I mostly work from my computer somewhere between the Caribbean and Australia.

Vivien (Viv):

I was born in Australia to Dutch parents and loved being in nature, exploring rainforests and spending time at the beach. We did a lot of travelling when I was younger, visiting friends and family in Europe.

As an Occupational Therapist I loved working in acute mental health in Australia and also went to Madagascar to help setup the first Occupational Therapy course at the university there. For 8 months in Madagascar I was able to provide therapy to children and adults with various disabilities and conditions, as well as working with the victims of severe natural disasters.

I love helping people to achieve their life ambitions no matter how big or small.

Nowadays, Aaron and I work together from our computers as we housesit homes in the Caribbean.

 
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How did you guys meet?

I (Aaron) was working in a floating office in the local marina on the Gold Coast. Vivien was living on her parents’ sailing boat in the same marina while finishing her placement at the local hospital.

Viv met one of my friends in a bar after she’d arrived back from a South America trip. He told her that I was working in the same marina that she was living in and that I’d recently spent a year in South America.

He took Viv’s phone, found me on Facebook and sent me a message. So, the next day I skateboarded down the marina dock to her boat. We talked about travelling for a few hours and our ideal travel life. And that was it. Nearly 6 years later we’re still living the dream.

What’s your travel story? When and why did you decide to leave home?

Aaron: I was born into it, I guess. Have been on the move now my whole life and don’t see that changing anytime soon.

Vivien: I always wanted to live abroad, experience living somewhere as opposed to just traveling through it. Once we discovered housesitting, it made that dream become so much easier.

 
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Any favorite and least favorite housesitting experiences?

Favourite:

I’d have to say that we’ve been very lucky with our experiences. Every house and pet that we’ve sat for has been unique, yet so amazing in their own way.

For me the best part is doing long sits (three months or more) when you forget that it is a “sit” and it just is “life”. Knowing the local fruit vendors, the best spots to snorkel, the best bars for live music, etc. That’s what makes it special for me.

Least Favourite:

Saying goodbye to the pets. We’ve had so many great dogs who really loved us. Sometimes it’s so hard to say goodbye. Luckily, this year we’re going back to sit for a couple of our favourites!

Tell us the story behind the name “The Dharma Trails”.

“Dharma” is a Buddhist term for a kind of life “purpose”.

I (Aaron) first came across the term about 12 years ago (before I got rid of everything I owned, down to a backpack). I was reading the book “The Dharma Bums” by Jack Kerouac.

This book really changed the way I thought about living. The traditional concept of school, work, house, kids, etc…that didn’t make sense anymore…not that it ever really did.

When we were talking about a name for our new project, we thought about the purpose of our lives and what we really wanted to achieve. Our purpose is to inspire others to experience the world, while caring for it as much as we can.

 
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Tell us about how you became interested in eco travel and awareness.

Experience is knowledge. After seeing a significant part of the world, how people lived and how people travelled, we knew that for the longevity of our planet, things had to change.

The idea behind the eco inspired travel was to highlight what was going on out there in the world, who was doing what to help and maybe inspire or encourage people to change their ways for the better.

The sustainable movement is really taking off. It’s incredible.

And while we (and other amazing people out there) may be encouraging awareness, it’s really time for action. Action is required from everyone who becomes aware, because there is no more time for ignorance. To put it bluntly.

What’s your favorite eco fact of the day out of all the ones you’ve shared so far?

Oh, so many interesting things going on right now out there. There’s some amazing, cutting edge technology that really has the potential to change the world for good.

I think my favourite right now is the mushrooms that can breakdown plastic then be eaten.

There is so much need for this, it’s just crazy amazing to think that we might one day get a handle on this plastic pollution issue.

Now that you’re done with a year in the Caribbean, what’s next for you? Any travel goals for 2019?

We’re actually back in Australia to catch up with friends and family at the moment, but will be heading back to the Caribbean soon for the rest of the year. At the moment, it’s just where we feel like we need to be!

 
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What tips do you have for the traveler who wants to be more environmentally conscious but might not know how to start?

I feel like it’s our duty as world explorers to care for the places we love. There are more and more things you can do each day to help reduce your energy footprint on the world. Making some simple changes like switching from plastic throw away razors to reusable metal ones, carrying a reusable water bottle, being aware of what you buy (choosing fresh local products, and items that aren’t wrapped in plastic).

There are so many awesome new, natural products that won’t pollute the environment when you wash, shower or clean.

These simple changes have huge positive benefits and facilitate your “taking action” to save the world.

And that’s it for this week! Thanks so much to Aaron and Viv for taking the time to be interviewed. Make sure to check The Dharma Trails out on Instagram and their website for eco travel and housesitting tips and inspiration, and subscribe below for more interviews!