Just a quick note on todays interview: this was originally going to be a podcast, but Deb had put all of her interview emails into one folder, cruised through them, and it wasn’t till after working on this one for over 40 mintues that she remembered it was for the podcast.
So, rather than let her hard work go down the tubes, we’re printing the interview instead. Don’t worry, we’ll have another podcast out soon! And hopefully we’ll still get one with ThePlanetD because, based on these responses, I’m pretty sure it will be an awesome episode ;)
I don’t know if we’ll ever be content to sit down in one place. The longest we ever did was when we owned our home and that was for a whopping three years!
Let’s get to know them better first..
Dave Bouskill and Deb Corbeil are a writer/photographer team who live by the motto “adventure is for everyone”. Married for 15 years, they’ve visited 80 countries on 7 continents. They aim to inspire people to follow their dreams and push their boundaries and have been running ThePlanetD.com and travelling full time since 2009.
Currently they are 2013 American Express Ambassadors, Expedia Viewfinders and HouseTrip Diplomats. They have also been featured in the Expedia Find Yours Campaign showcasing how travel transformed their lives and are Travel and Escape New Nomads. They have appeared on CTV News Network as regular travel experts, been featured in such publications as The National Post, BBC Travel, Lonely Planet Traveller and National Geographic and have been interviewed for numerous TV and radio stations. They have spoken around the world about pursuing your passion. Follow their journeys on their travel blog ThePlanetD.com.
Why a travel blog/how did your blog get started? What is it about travel that you feel is worth the effort of blogging?
We had been traveling for nearly a decade before starting ThePlanetD. We worked in the film business as freelancers, so we had very flexible schedules and instead of staying home to face Canadian winters, we escaped to warmer destinations to have an adventure.
Over time, it was more difficult to fit in at home upon our return and we yearned to keep traveling.
Since 2005 we had been looking for ways to turn our love of travel into a full time career. We were willing to try anything as long as it involved travel.
It was in 2007 when we saw a cycling race through Africa called the Tour d’Afrique that we decided was for us. We trained for a year and in January 2008 we were cycling down the continent. We originally wanted a TV show to showcase an adventure couple who takes on various epic adventures, trains for them and then goes out and does them. We didn’t have a big enough brand or enough experience so that fizzled, but that’s when we decided to look into travel blogging.
We always loved writing and photography and had taken courses and workshops to hone our skills but we never wanted to have to pitch story ideas to publications hoping that we’d get noticed. We had already spent our lives working for someone else and seeking approval from outside sources. We wanted to be in charge of our own destiny, so we researched how to run a travel blog.
We spent the year of 2009 honing our skills, building our blog and planning our future, all while keeping our full time jobs in the film industry to save enough money to have a cushion and nest egg to really be able to delve into our new business.
As our blog evolved, we realized that people could relate to our story. Many people have worked at careers that they don’t love and want inspiration from people. We looked to books and magazines for inspiration and now we want to help people to live their dreams too.
It was travel way back in 2000 that changed our lives. Our first trip to Thailand, introduced us to adventure. We never kayaked or rock climbed before then. After 5 weeks meeting new people and being open to new experiences, we took that inspiration home and changed our lives in Canada.
You don’t have to travel full time to be inspired by travel. We aim to show people that they can turn a two week vacation into a life changing experience. A change of pace can give you exactly what you need to step back from life and see what needs improvement and that is what travel can do for many people.
You say that traveling together saved your marriage – can you tell us a bit more about that?
It did save our marriage. We were in a rough place in our relationship in 1998-1999. We had been together since 1991 and we were at that point in a relationship where you take each other for granted. We met at a very young age and we spent our early years together figuring out what we wanted to do with our lives.
We were constantly thinking about work and career and didn’t work on our relationship. We didn’t even realize that you had to work on a relationship at that point. We were starting to live separate lives. I had my friends and Dave had his friends at work…because work was what he was doing 16-18 hours a day.
We needed to find that spark again and it was on a whim that we went to Thailand. Five weeks alone together seemed like an eternity then. But by experiencing this whole new world together, we were inspired together. By traveling for an extended period together, we were forced to communicate again and to rely on each other.
We both found out that we liked doing adventures together and that we were pretty fun people. We remembered why we fell in love with each other in the first place. We had lost that over time. All we did was go to movies, go out for dinner and watch TV. We had nothing to say to one another when we did go out for dinner.
Suddenly after that one life changing trip to Thailand, we were excited about life again. We took up rock climbing in Toronto. I didn’t even know there was rock climbing near Toronto! We took up scuba diving and mountain biking. We got a seasons pass for snowboarding in the winter and spent our weekends outdoors.
Suddenly we had a lot to talk about. We had more energy and we were making plans for the future. It really brought us back together and that’s what has been the key to our success in our relationship, we’re always working to inspire each other.
The goal of ThePlanetD is to inspire people, and help them find their passion, but what about people that “don’t know what they want to do when they grow up”? I’m 32, Becki is 26, and neither of us is closer to knowing what “our passion” is then when we were teenagers. How can people like us find our passion?
That is exactly why we want to inspire people. We felt exactly the same way that you did. We’re 41 and 42 and it took us until our late 30’s to figure it out. I think that we are relatable because we didn’t have it all figured out at a young age. Our message is to never give up, never settle. We knew that we were meant to have a better life but we didn’t know how to do it. But the one thing that we kept doing was trying new things.
At one point we thought we’d become dive masters; we were sure that was the answer. We dove extensively for two years and then realized that it wasn’t the answer. We liked it, but it wasn’t our passion. I was sure that being a Make-up artist for TV after leaving my singing career would answer all my questions. It was creative, it paid well and it was glamorous. But it wasn’t my passion.
Look back to what you really loved doing as a kid. Ask yourself the question now, “What do I really want to do”?
Other people in the business loved being make up artists, they were passionate about it and that was great, but it wasn’t for me and I decided that even though it was a great job, I was going to keep looking until I found what I wanted to do.
I think too many people think that you are supposed to have it all figured out in your 20’s, and that if you start something new in your 30’s it’s too late. But we’re living proof that you can find your passion later in life.
When I look back, Dave and I have come full circle. If we just would have listened to that little voice two decades ago, we probably would have figured it out faster. But it all happens when you are ready for it. Look back to what you really loved doing as a kid. Ask yourself the question now, “What do I really want to do”? Don’t let fear stop you or don’t think about how difficult the road will be or what obstacles stand in your way. Ask yourself the question first and then figure out ways to make it happen.
You may not have the answer yet, but start paying attention to everything. You may have something that sparks something inside of you and reminds you what you buried deep down below. Give it time, and it will come.
It seems like your passion - other than inspiring others - is having new experiences, trying new things, and going new places. What is it about constantly moving and changing that you love?
We’ve always been people who have been on the move. Right after college we moved to Toronto together and then a year later we moved to Vancouver. It’s funny, we were in Vancouver for three years and in that time we lived in 3 apartments. Even when we weren’t constantly traveling, we were constantly moving. We always felt that there was something better, something more exciting.
I don’t know if we’ll ever be content to sit down in one place. The longest we ever did was when we owned our home and that was for a whopping three years!
But for us, we love seeing it all. It’s rare that we go back to a place that we’ve been before unless it is for a launching off point for other travels or for work. It’s too big of a world to stop.
What happens when there are no more new things?
Luckily there will always be more things. Even when we’re doing something that we’ve done before like kayaking. We’ve done it in so many countries, but each place is different and each landscape is diverse. It all comes down to the experience and the people you meet. We’re more worried about getting it all in before we die. I don’t think it’s possible.
I think there’s a lot of people out there that are feeling disenfranchised; they took the standard path, got their degree, are working a solid job, and just aren’t happy; the old Fight Club adage of “working jobs we hate to buy things we don’t need” comes to mind.
Do you think they have to travel to find their passion, or is that mostly your personal preference? Should they start a Fight Club instead?
Haha, a Fight Club would certainly get out their frustrations.
I understand exactly what you are thinking and we always say that travel isn’t the answer to life’s problems. People need to think about what their passion is, what they love. We didn’t sell everything and go traveling forever hoping that it would all work out. We took it slow.
Our first travel was five weeks, then we went away for three months. Then we only did a two week vacation another year because we had to work, but we had a full life at home by that time so it didn’t matter. We were rock climbing, mountain biking and hanging with friends on weekends and felt content. We then started traveling again and went away for 7 months. We lived a life like this for 8 years before finally deciding that full time travel was for us.
We do think that travel can help you find your passion if you combine it with something you love. Maybe you love cooking so you could take a cooking course in France or you like gardening so you could go an work somewhere on a farm. Maybe you could volunteer….
There are endless possibilities to get inspired and I do feel that removing yourself from a situation can clear your head to help you figure it all out. But it doesn’t have to be for a year or even six months. Change can happen in a couple of weeks.
You’ve cycled the length of Africa, driven from England to the end of Asia in a shotty car, and learned Muay Thai in Thailand with no prior experience, and these are only a handful of your adventures; was there ever a time you were really afraid for felt like you were in over your heads?
That’s sort of our favourite part of being ThePlanetD. We’re game for anything. We want to show people that even if you don’t have the skills, you can learn them. We trained for a year for Africa and we did a bit of research on taking care of a car..okay, we could change a tire anyway. We make sure to do enough research to know that we’re not putting ourselves in dangerous situations.
I don’t think anyone should go into anything blind. When we knew we’d be kayaking in Antarctica, we made sure to go to the pool for a refresher course on the wet exit. We’ve done it before, but we wanted to make sure we had all our kayaking skills strong because there is no room for error in freezing water covered in ice.
I think that the latest thing we did that we were in over our head a bit was when we went back country snowboarding in Whistler. We forgot just how good of shape you need to be in and because we’ve been traveling so much, we haven’t been able to work out as much as we would like.
We had a guide so we felt safe, but we realized that we’re not as young as we used to be and to do something like this, we can’t just “wing it.” We knew we were good snowboarders, but it was the hiking up the mountains that killed us.
We will never take being fit for granted again. Hiking up mountains at altitude is tiring and the last thing we wanted to do was hold the group back because we didn’t train enough for the experience.
How was the kickboxing? As a former Muay Thai student, training in Thailand always intrigued me, but it mostly looks like an international a$$kicking.
Dave loved it. I loved the workout, but I hated the sparring. Once we got into the ring, I didn’t like it. I realized that I am more of a ‘let’s punch the bag sort of person’ instead of ‘let’s punch each other’.
It was really cool to do because it’s such a huge part of the Thai culture and we met some amazing people, but it definitely wasn’t something that either of us wanted to pursue. As you can tell, we have a bit of a short attention span, so a month of the same routine day in day out was difficult. Especially for me. I prefer to mix it up. I remember seeing kite surfers training at a nearby beach while we were training in Muay Thai and all I could think was how I am so over this and ready to be in the water.
But that’s life right? You win some, you lose some and you never know unless you go!
How do you do it? You’ve been traveling for years without a “real” job, and I think lots of people want to know how you make ends meet. A lot of people are terrified of living a life without a paycheck. How did you do it, and how are you keeping yourselves going?
Lucky for us, we’ve always lived a life with an unclear future. I remember Dave’s dad always asking him when working in the Film business, “how do you live not knowing when your next job will be?” He couldn’t understand because he worked at the same job for 35 years. But the film business was unstable.
You weren’t hired for a job, you worked from contract to contract. And at first, we’d get a movie or commercial, make great money for a month and then not know when we’d be working again. Eventually we became established enough that it became completely stable and we never had to worry about work.
Before that even, when I was a singer, I would get a great contract for six months and then come home with no prospects in sight. I was never worried though because I was resourceful and knew that it would work out.
Travel blogging is no different. At first it’s difficult to make money and figure it all out. You get one great contract and think, yes, I’ve made it. And then the next couple of months nothing happens. But then over time, as you work hard and become more established, things start happening.
We’re back to making what we made in the film business now and the difference is, we love every minute of it. We aren’t obsessing about retirement like we used to because we could do this job the rest of our lives.
Sure we still save and plan for retirement because we come from that Canadian attitude of always being prepared for your future, but it’s not as desperate as when we worked in the film business. Then, I kept thinking, I’ve got to invest, I’ve got to invest so that I can retire in 10 years so I can have the freedom to do what I want to do with my life. Now we have the freedom.
Q: What’s the greater adventure: the Mongol Rally, or listen to all of Nikky Minaj’s songs in a row?
A: Oh god, listening to Nikky Minaj while driving through the Gobi desert in Mongolia. It’s hard enough driving on their roads, add trying to listen to every one of her songs and concentrating at the same time.
Q: Tip out of a kayak in Antarctic waters, or be attacked by a lion?
A: Tip out of a kayak in Antarctica, that water is cold!
Q: What’s the grossest thing that happened to you while traveling?
A: I can’t tell you that. I haven’t got the nerve up to write about it yet, but maybe one day.
Q: Biggest “Oh Shit!” experience while adventuring?
A: Bungy jumping off of the Nevis in New Zealand for Dave. He’s done bungy jumps before, but this one came at a moment when he thought, I’ve done enough of these, I have nothing to prove, why am I doing this?
Q: I couldn’t even do it, I was shaking standing out on the platform watching. When it comes to bungy’s I like to use the phrase made famous by Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon, “I’m getting too old for this shit”.
Q: Most amazing landscape you’ve ever seen?
A: It’s a tie between the Himalayas while trekking to Everest Base Camp and the glaciers of Antarctica. Both are astounding.
I just want to say, “Thanks again” to the inimitable Deb from ThePlanetD for this interview. I first met her and Dave at TBEX in Denver, and I’m happy they were my first meeting with big-name bloggers. They’re such a nice, down-to-earth couple, and are completely genuine when they say they want to inspire you and help you find your passion.
If you enjoyed this interview, go check out their site, have fun reading about their adventures, and feel free to leave a comment on their stories to let them know!