Get To Know Us: Alex & Lucille from We Moved Abroad
Hi everyone! We're starting a weekly interview series where we interview full-time travelers and travel companies to give you a little more insight as to what it's like to leave normal life behind in favor of endless vacation. What better way to kick it off than by telling you a little bit more about ourselves and our journey?
Who are we? Where are we from?
Alex: I'm 25, from the San Francisco Bay Area in California. I grew up in a pretty normal suburban neighborhood. My family background is pretty complex - my parents are from all different parts of the world! I grew up speaking Spanish and my siblings are trilingual. I've also always had a passion for photo and video, which started with skateboarding and skiing when I was in middle school. Traveling and blogging has given me a chance to focus on those passions and make them a part of my daily life which I love!
Lucille: I grew up in Chicago and then moved to California for college and work. I spent 3 years working as a software engineer before we left to travel the world. My parents are Haitian and Belgian so I traveled a ton growing up, mostly to visit my family in Europe. Traveling definitely became an addiction for me, there's just so many places to explore and so little time! I've always loved photography and art as a side hobby. I also love to do yoga but that's been much harder to keep up while traveling.
How did we meet?
Lucille: We went to college together and Alex was the year under me. We didn't really interact much in college aside from when we were in the same CS class and Alex would copy my homework every Friday. We then started working at the same company and that's when we became friends. Our company was pretty small so we didn't want to make things weird and started dating in secret. We would do stupid things like call separate Ubers to go to one of our houses after work so people wouldn't find out we were dating. We lasted a whole year before anyone found out though!
How did we decide to start traveling full-time?
Alex: After we started dating but while we were still working, we traveled to 5 different countries together. Of those, our favorite was Japan because we both love the food and the culture is so unique. As we thought about the next stage in our careers, we talked about how we had both wanted to live abroad or travel for a while. In the beginning, that was a long-term plan with no real timeline.
At the end of 2017, we both left the job we were working at the same company and started new jobs. Lucille was in LA, so we were doing long distance. A few months into those jobs, we both realized that we really didn't feel like the jobs were right for us so after some planning we sold all of our stuff and moved to Bali! Making the decision to move was pretty scary at first (especially for me I think) but once we started making concrete plans I knew it was absolutely the right choice.
What are some unexpected things we've learned since we started traveling?
Alex: The biggest takeaway from traveling has been a newfound love and care for the environment. I've always loved the outdoors and grew up camping and hiking, but would have never considered myself a particularly environmentally conscious person. Living in Southeast Asia, the damage that we're doing to the environment with plastic waste and air pollution is SO much more evident than back home. It's really opened my eyes to how much things need to change. I'd like to spread awareness and have impact on these issues, whether it's through improving my own day-to-day choices or through our social media account.
What are our goals with this blog and with our social media accounts?
Lucille: While the initial purpose of our blog was just to document the places we went, we now hope it can inspire others to travel as well. We were so hesitant to start traveling, worried about our careers, worried about diverging from the path that society told us to take, worried about what others would think. And in the end, we chose our happiness over all of that. Traveling has been a life-changing experience for us and it's a decision we would make over and over. There are so many people out there who are in the same situation as we were: hating work and wanting to quit and travel. Hopefully, they can look at our blog and be inspired to take the plunge or at least they can get a better idea of what this life is like and decide if they want it for themselves.
As Alex said, traveling also has really opened our eyes to several issues including plastic pollution and over tourism. We'd love to spread awareness about these issues but also build out something to directly impact them. Stayed tuned for that.
What are some things we miss about being back home?
Alex: I'm definitely a homebody. I love having a routine, particularly in terms of sleep schedule and being able to go to the gym regularly. That kind of has to take a backseat when your schedule changes every day and you spend a few days per week moving around, which can be really exhausting! I also enjoy cooking, which I don't do as regularly anymore.
Lucille: I miss having a dog! I really wish we could have one while traveling but that would make logistics way more complicated. Also being able to reliably receive mail and Amazon packages, which is extremely difficult when our address changes so often. And of course, we miss our family and friends, but surprisingly I feel like we have less fomo than expected. It'll be tough when we start missing out on big events like weddings.
What's on our travel bucket list? Both for 2019 and beyond?
Lucille: My list is always changing but renting a camper van and driving around New Zealand is number one right now. I'd also love to live in Japan for a few months to a year since I've been studying Japanese since I was 3 and would love to be able to practice!
Alex: I'm really excited to explore more of Indonesia this year. Java seems awesome, and I'd really like to trek Mt. Rinjani on Lombok. I also want to do more scuba diving, potentially in Raja Ampat or Komodo National Park!
Long term, I'm excited to explore some more of the non-tropical destinations in the world. I want to spend a winter in Lake Tahoe as a ski bum and visit Switzerland. I'm also excited to explore South America, especially so I can practice my Spanish!
What's our favorite place we've traveled?
Alex: There are too many different places in the world to be able to list just one! I loved Kauai, the outdoors there are amazing and it doesn't get as crowded as some places in my experience. I also loved Tokyo to explore a big city.
Lucille: I feel like Indonesia will always have a special place in my heart. It's the first country we stayed in long term and of the countries we've visited, I think Indonesia is the most naturally beautiful. The landscapes are so incredible, I've never seen anything like them.
What are your favorite travel apps/websites?
Alex: Tripcoin is pretty great. I would always try and budget back home but never really stuck with it until I started traveling. For me, it's easier to think about the daily cost of fixed expenses like housing, food, and transportation, but I never really broke things down that way when I was paying monthly rent. I guess it's also more important since I'm not making money now... 😕
Favorite photography gear/photography tips?
Alex: Oh man, I spend way too much time reading about camera gear online haha. I have to say, my Zhiyun Crane gimbal was a little bit of an impulse purchase but I've been so happy with it. It really enables us to get stable footage and use our camera in situations it would be impossible to shoot handheld.
Lucille: For photography, lighting and composition really are everything. Even if you have the most expensive camera, if these things are bad, the photo will be bad. Although, as we discovered when we upgraded our camera, a better camera will definitely help make the most out of suboptimal lighting conditions.
What words of wisdom do you have for couples who want to "move... abroad"?
Lucille: If this is something you really want to do and will make you happy then go for it! The worst thing would be to let fear stop you from being truly happy. I hear so many people saying that they want to do this but its just not the right time but from experience, no time will be exactly perfect. If you just go for it, everything else will fall into place. Make sure you have realistic expectations though. Traveling full-time has its challenges and isn't always what Instagram makes it out to be. When there are hiccups, the most important thing is to stay positive and handle any issues calmly (especially when traveling with a SO)!
And that's it for this week. Stay tuned and be sure to subscribe down below for more behind-the-scenes interviews like this one!