Teaching Overseas and Travel Tips with Craig and Linda Martin

When I started travelling there were a billion things that were scary and confusing. It helped to see what other travellers and expats were up to. In the following  interview with Craig Martin from Indie Travel Podcast, I got to ask him about how ESL affected his life and the difference between living and working in a strange place, and simply stopping  for a brief visit.

Craig and Linda Martin

1) A flightless New Zealand bird told me that you and Linda started your travels in early 2006, off to see Malta, yet you’d been teaching ESL since 2003. Did you feel that ESL offered a lot of freedom of movement at the time? How did that career path hinder or help you get to where you are now?

As a qualified and experienced native English speaker, teaching the language opens a lot of doors. There’s often jobs available for short or long periods, but pay rates vary widely from country to country. With the same qualifications and a similar workload you can jump from US$5 to $50-plus an hour, so it’s definitely a job you can geo-leverage. Of course, work visas are another issue.

Teaching gave us the chance to travel while earning, so it definitely laid a foundation for the lifestyle we’re living now … and when we want we can jump back into it.

2) I leafed through to page 221 on Indie Travel Podcast and found this. It looks like Episode 20, but no link! SoundCloud has Episode 59, but the secret of Episode 1 eludes me. Do you remember what the first podcast you two ever put together for Indie Travel Podcast was about?

We listened to those early episodes about a year ago and promptly purged the archives! There’s a bit of nostalgia, but a whole load of poor production throughout the first year. Our first concept was two to four minutes, all tips, no chatter. Our audience certainly let us know that they wanted more about our travels, so we’ve gone through several format revisions. Now, we start with a few minutes about our week with some sounds that we’ve recorded on the streets. Then, a feature with tips, a destination focus, or an interview with an expert or interesting traveller we’ve met.

3) The podcast started fairly early in your travels; the first that I can find was June 2007 (correct me if I’m wrong!). What made you start? It doesn’t look like you’re regretting it at all, but if you could give your old self, chatting away into your laptop’s microphone in a foreign country, three tips, what would they be?

We started in 2006, actually, but we regularly purge old content from the website so people aren’t finding bad information. Travel changes so fast, it’s important to trim away incorrect information, even if it was good at the time. Three tips:

  1. Pack light. Get down to one carry-on sized bag and give away everything else.
  2. Stay longer. We now travel fast for two-to-four months then rent an apartment for two-to-four months and stay in one city. It’s a nicer rhythm than always changing city.
  3. Work less. Our business comes with us – we’re working as we travel rather than vacationing. But whenever possible, work less and explore more.

4) You spent almost three years in Europe, living and working, after leaving New Zealand. I feel like the living and working part differentiates you from a lot of travellers who might visit a place, have two or three adventures, and backpack on. What are the differences between working for extended periods locally and taking shorter trips? Which do you prefer?

I love them both equally. When you’re on the road, life is full of new experiences: sounds, food, culture, architecture, art … the list is endless. When you’re in one place, you have the chance to find a rhythm, discover your local and drink there regularly, make friends. One isn’t better; they’re just different and you can enjoy them both for what they are.

5) You’ve mentioned before that you made some pretty big mistakes when you started travelling. Which do you regret and which do you think really opened your eyes the most?

I feel like I’m learning something new every week. I’m constantly making mistakes – from small things, like not taking the time to check an address or opening hours, to big things, like flying into a city with no accommodation booked on the day of a massive festival or trade show.

The thing I find most valuable day after day is the go-with-the-flow mindset I’ve learned while travelling. I could be quite driven and highly strung as a teenager; I’ve learned that that isn’t a helpful way to be when you’re at the mercy of transport timetables, weather and the kindness of strangers. But it all works out.

Linda Martin Pictures

6) Being an ESL teacher probably exposed you to a lot of expat blogs. I know my first was a series by a teacher on the JET program in Japan. Although I can’t remember his name, his ridiculous yet true adventures pulled on my travel strings. Who were your influencers starting out? Bonus, what other travellers do you follow or would like to give a shout out to?

There’s so many people doing interesting things all over the place, I barely know where to start! Maybe with some of the long-haul travel podcasters like Chris Christensen [of Amateur Traveler, who we just interviewed!], Corey Taratua [of Ireland Travel Kit], Heather Cowper [of Heather on her Travels], and Mark Peacock [of Travel Commons].

7) No one really asks the right questions. In China they always asked me if I liked spicy food and whether I could use chopsticks. I’m sure I’ve skirted your favourite topic by the radius of a small continent. What’s one question that you haven’t gotten, but wish you had, about yourself, your work or your travels? 

One of my favourite ways to see a place is by hiking it; and one of my favourite ways to taste a place is through its wine and spirits. So I guess the perfect trip for me is hiking around wine regions: Navarra and Rioja in Spain spring to mind, as the Camino de Santiago infrastructure makes that easy. Likewise, the Marlborough and Queenstown/Gibbston Valley regions of New Zealand make for a good combo.

Thanks for taking the time to interview me. Your readers can find me at Indie Travel Podcast or download the podcast for free from iTunes.

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