#FBF: Followback Friday is a weekly interview series where we get real with some of our favorite travel influencers. We want to learn what makes them tick, their best tips and tricks, and share stories of (mis)adventures from the road.
Most people enter travel contests to win a once-in-a-lifetime dream vacation, but Jade and Bob of Vagabond3 got a little bit more out of theirs. Aside from a dream vacation in Australia (and around the world), the trip helped them get their start in travel blogging and photography. Now they’re one of the leading influencers in the business, frequently sharing their adventures with their thousands of followers worldwide. With the birth of their daughter in 2015, the traveling duo has had an additional — and just as enthusiastic — travel partner thrown into the mix. We caught up with Jade to learn more about that life-changing travel contest, what they’ve done since, and how she and Bob became such cool travel parents.
Where and when did you first get bitten by the travel bug?
I think I was born with the travel gene; both my parents grew up surfing and traveling the world to find the perfect wave. In high school, I performed in the International Fringe Festival in Scotland and knew I wanted to live in London in college. Two years later that study abroad experience was one of the top of my life and afterwards I knew I wanted to have a travel-filled life, I just didn’t exactly know what that would be.
It seems like you’re living the dream lifestyle! How did you get started in travel writing and blogging?
Thank you! I do feel like I’m living my definition of a dream lifestyle and feel very lucky. I first got into this whole travel world in a very unbelievable, once in a lifetime kind of way: my friends and I won a Twitter contest with Virgin Australia. The challenge: to tweet for every minute we were in Sydney (4320 times, to be exact). Our prizes, as if the James Bond type experience wasn’t enough, were around the world flights on Virgin Airlines. After our first Sydney trip, we started a blog, and started treating it like a business from the beginning. We all pitched other travel websites, became Lonely Planet featured bloggers and pretty quickly started freelancing. Along the way, I stepped up my photography, and have sold pictures to National Geographic, Turkish Airways and other print magazines.
On the side, we pitched tourism boards and brands to come to their destinations and create blog posts and videos. After a few years I got a job with a soon to launch travel website – we had no name, no site, no writers, no content, nothing- as the social media manager, which was actually more like social media/influencer marketing/writer/influencer/wear every hat under the sun job later to be known as TravelMindset.com. It’s been four wild years and it’s been fun to watch the industry change and evolve so much. I think since my introduction was such a fun creative way to advertise a destination I really love working on projects that are a little more out of the box – let’s throw an event or meet-up, with 360 degree videos and progressive dinners. I try to pitch ideas that everyone from a seasoned veteran in the travel industry to a normal traveler would get really excited about. That’s when I have the best days – executing a really fun project and getting to travel to new places.
You’ve recently added a new travel partner to the party: your little girl, Augustine. What are your secrets to making sure even she can be involved in the big adventures?
Yes, we have, thank you! From early on we just strapped her to us and brought her along for the ride, so she is pretty used to being thrown into a variety of situations and going with the flow. She loves trying new foods and things, playing in the woods or the snow or the sand or the ocean. Our secrets are actually the same as traveling with a partner: make sure everyone is fed (we bring a few fruit and veggie pouches so she can eat on the go). She even has her own travel Instagram, documenting all her travels.
How often do you travel each year?
I travel several times a month. My daughter had flown on 27 flights before she turned nine months old. We travel a lot.
The difference between my travel plans and other peoples is that I usually don’t know where I’m going until about a month out. So my schedule is always changing and being updated. This year I’ve been snowshoeing in Canada, skiing and ice climbing in Mammoth California, sipping rum punches in Grenada and photographing bison in West Yellowstone, Montana.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about family travel?
The biggest misconception would be that you just can’t do it, that your adventures have to stop because you now have this little person with you 24/7. I won’t sugar coat it — having a kid throws a wrench in your own routine but a little planning goes a long way in making everything run as smoothly as possible. The first six months are so easy to fly with babies. You feed at the start of the flight and they could sleep the whole time. But they get really fun after 12 months, when they could be walking and are just so curious about the world. We’ve used our travel time to meet up with far away family members more often. They can meet us in a new city and while we are working they get to spend time with their grandparents. Also, call your hotel ahead of time and see if they do anything special for traveling families. Some hotels, like Omni, have special check-in gifts for kids with toys, books and snacks.
How would you describe your travel style? How has it changed over the years?
Overall we are pretty laid back, go with the flow travelers. We usually research a bit before we arrive so if there are any logistical notes we can figure it out. Otherwise, we like to leave time in the itinerary to explore on our own, get lost-ish, and also make time for a good beer and taco tasting.
I’d say the biggest part that has changed is our preference of lodging options. Ha, when we were on our round-the-world trip we slept in hostels with 20 other people in the same room, on the outskirts of town, down a dark alley if that meant we saved a few bucks. We would have slept in our car if it meant being the first person at an awesome attraction — now this I might actually still do — I like being the first or only person around. But overall, we have stepped up our luxuries as we’ve gotten older and started making more money. Also, one thing that changed pretty quickly when we had a baby was figuring out good lodging options. If there is an option for a bedroom and office set up, we go that route so we can put Augustine down at night but we can still stay up if we want to. I’ve known families who are working in the bathroom because their kid is asleep in the hotel room.
What are your top three favorite travel memories to date?
Ah, so many! I feel weird that none of these include Augustine because we have been on so many trips together and they have been so fun, but these three were all life changing moments.
- The Round the World Trip was an unbelievable adventure with my two best friends. We visited Australia, Italy and Iceland (all bucket listers for me), climbed Mt. Fuji, snorkeled the Great Barrier Reef and jumped off rocks into the Mediterranean Sea. It was pretty spectacular and jump-started my career in the travel industry.
- Does my entire Study Abroad experience count? If so, those five months were life changing. Even though I had moved away for college, I only moved a few hours away and felt the safety of living in Florida near family. This was truly my first big move away, where I traveled solo a few times and learned a lot about myself and the type of person I wanted to be ‘when I grew up’.
- A week long Mexico Surfing Trip with Bob, my parents, brother and sister in law. It was the first time we had all traveled together as adults. Our rooms were upgraded to suites with our own private chef and private pool with the best left hand point break. It was all very fancy and felt like the paradise people talk about in movies.
Do you have any bucket list adventures you haven’t crossed off your list yet?
I’d love to go snorkeling with whale sharks, a week-long yacht trip around the Galapagos Islands, road trip and cruise around Alaska and stay in an underwater bungalow. I’m pretty sure my spirit animal is Ariel from The Little Mermaid.
What advice would you give to couples — or families — who want to travel more?
Sign up for travel deals and flight alerts. Make a list of dream trips and research the best times to go- for example, if you want to snorkel with whale sharks, they only migrate off the coast of Cancun during a very specific time of the year. You wouldn’t want to book a trip and then not be able to do the thing you want to do.
How do you decide where to go next? And, where are your upcoming travel plans?
A lot of our travels are dictated by our clients and now with Augustine, planned around when we could see family. We usually try to extend client trips a few days. Our upcoming trips are England, Northern California, Florida, and Hawaii. We are dabbling with the idea of moving to Hawaii for a few months. But we’ll see…