2 Backpackers: Where Are They Now?
In the summer of 2009 we introduced you to three career break couples, including Jason Castellani and Aracely Santos of 2 Backpackers. Jason and Aracely began their career break in Guatemala and quickly learned that they preferred slow travel. So they shifted their round-the-world plans to focus their year in Central and South America.
In between, we checked in with them to see how they were adjusting to life on-the-road and get some travel tips based on their road experience. One of the most exciting aspects of their trip was getting engaged and since their return, have already gotten married and moved to Miami! So we decided it would be a great time to check in.
You obviously survived traveling together for a year – having gotten engaged and married shortly after your return. What insight did you gain about your relationship while traveling?
We figured, if we survived this, we can survive marriage. Which, to us is the long-term commitment of being together and tolerant of each other all the time, while still staying in love. I had planned on proposing during the one year of traveling if we were getting along. And we did get along. Looking back on that journey now, after 7 months of being home, I still feel as though that was our best time together.
What advice would you give to other couples planning a career break?
We suggest not using a travel career break to find out if you are compatible. In our article 5 Tips for Traveling as a Couple we suggest that you each have a clear understanding of your travel preferences. There will always be compromise, but you don’t want to discover one loves hiking and camping while the other is a foodie and sun bather after you just landed in Guatemala.
Aracely – you originally quit your job but your employer asked you if you would be willing to do some consulting work during your travels. How did you juggle traveling and working? And now that you are back working full-time, how has the transition been?
Working on the road was almost the perfect set up. I had established projects I needed to complete and set time lines. This helped because all I needed to do was manage my own time. It also meant that we did have to keep some sort of schedule. Meaning, I needed to have reliable internet and access to “cabinas” to call in for conference calls at designated times during the month.
The biggest challenge was finding a reliable phone line in a quiet, private location. I was never completely disconnected from work, but having the income overruled any frustrations with that sentiment. The transition back was as smooth as it could be. I had the opportunity to ramp things up gradually. However, it is difficult to stay focused sometimes as part of me just wants to get back out there right now.
Jason – what are your career plans now and how did your break influence your decision?
My long-term travel journey absolutely influenced my decision regarding my future career plans. I am working full time on 2 Backpackers. It doesn’t pay enough to live off of right now, but we both feel we can make it work in the long term. After working 15 years I have saved enough money to invest in 2backpackers.com. That investment is mostly my monthly income, since I draw very little from the blog at this time.
I believe in approaching this venture like any other business. I have goals and timelines; if I can’t make it profitable in two years, then I will focus my attention elsewhere. Traveling on our own time has created this eagerness to work on my own time. When I want, where I want. When we traveled, we made our own decisions and hoped for the best. That is how I want my career to operate. I want to be my own boss, making my own decisions, and either suffering or benefitting from them.
What’s next for 2Backpackers – both the site and travel plans?
2Backpackers will continue to grow as a blog, gaining more followers and expanding our coverage beyond Central and South America. Our niche and hopefully our ticket to success will be our travel videos. Unable to produce much from the road, we now look to expand our library of HD travel videos by at least three a month. Aracely and I just returned from a press tour of San Antonio, Texas. We will take those opportunities when available, allowing us to continue to explore new places around the world. Our trips will be short, but exciting. Now living in Miami, we can’t wait to travel down to Key West. Neither of us have ever been.