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Who’s Out There Now? Gus and Claudette

Written By: jeff

Posted On: November 22nd, 2011

career break travel adventures in Vietnam, Luggage in Hand

Gus and Claudette in Halong Bay, Vietnam

In this week’s ¨Who’s Out There Now¨ feature, we bring to you Gus and Claudette, the couple behind, LuggageInHand.com. Originally from Toronto, they are on a quest to see 25 countries in 325 days. Now that they’ve been on the road a while, I thought it was time to check in on them and see how they’re doing.

1. So, where in the world are you answering these questions?
Oddly enough, today is our 6 month anniversary of being on the road! We happen to be celebrating it in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam…our 60th city on our RTW adventure.

2. How did you come up with the name of your site? And, how does it describe your travel style?
We struggled for weeks to come up with a name that suited us. We brainstormed words that we thought told our story and that people would remember. Ironically enough, we’re both carrying backpacks…but that’s where the charm of our name comes in since ‘luggage’ can really be defined as anything. Our travel style for this trip has been exactly what our name implies. Luggage, in hand, and ready to tackle the world!!

career break travel adventures in South Africa, Outdshoorn

Claudette riding an ostrich in Outshoorn, South Africa.

3. I see you’ve been busy checking countries off your list. And, I also noticed that you’ve swapped out some countries for others. Bad planning or better offers?

Bit of both really. We wanted to keep our plans loose and not be tied to a set itinerary per se. Part of the adventure is taking things as they come and learning to adapt. Some choices were based on weather, sometimes it was just too expensive to travel there and back. But the truth of the matter is, sometimes you just want to sip sangria on a beach and people watch the day go by (which is why we unexpectedly ended up in Barcelona and San Sebastian)!

4. While going through your site, I saw you are also bulldog parents (Benson’s a cutie!). How did having a pet figure into your decision to go and who’s taking care of him while you’re away?
Oh Jeff, you’re going to make me cry on this one…It wasn’t an easy decision to leave Benson behind. Truthfully, he was one of the biggest factors in holding us back from going on our RTW trip. Benson was my beautiful, happy 8 yr old Bulldog who I shared custody with my ex (we were a Brady Bunch family of sorts!). He was definitely in good hands and we knew leaving would mean big adventures for all of us.

Unfortunately his cancer came back and Benson passed away on July 31st 2011. We got the call while we were in Istanbul, Turkey. I wasn’t myself for weeks after and felt somewhat guilty for leaving him behind. Gus was such a strong rock to me during that time and kept reminding me of how proud Benson would be of all the things we had seen and done during that time. That comforts me and I know he’s up there, rooting for us to keep on going!

career break travel adventures in Kenya, volunteering in Kenya

Claudette with the kids while volunteering in Kenya

5. Career break, nomadic adventure, backpacking, how do you characterize your trips?
It’s all of the above really. For us it was about stepping out of our comfort zone and challenging our own status quo. Leaving it all behind wasn’t an easy decision, but we’re glad we did and wouldn’t change a thing.

6. What are some of the secrets to travel that you’ve discovered that you think more people who aren’t traveling should know?  
That long term travel is possible as long as you keep an open mind and learn not to sweat the small stuff. Yes, there are always going to be tough days while on the road, but that’s what makes “the adventure the adventure”. Knowing that every day is not going to end like the day before is exciting!

7. What was your first ¨We’re not in Kansas anymore¨ moment?
It happened very early in our trip actually. We boarded our very first flight from Toronto to London, buckled in, turned to each other and laughed. We realized at that moment that we never even had a real “adult” conversation about our RTW trip. The decision to take this trip happened fairly quickly. One day we woke up and said, “that’s it, let’s do this!” And the rest is history…

career break travel adventures in England, London

Gus in London, England

8. What’s been your most ¨local¨ experience so far?
We would definitely say it was our 2 weeks volunteering at an orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya. Part of our time there was a home stay with a local family, eating dinner with them every night and even taking a matatu (local bus) to the orphanage every day. That was definitely a local adventure on it’s own!

9. What has been your most embarrassing moment?
Drank way too much vodka one night in Athens, Greece. Had to be carried home by Claudette and my cousin…which was embarrassing enough. Not remembering a single thing the next day added insult to injury. But the topper was surely yelling at the taxi driver the next day to pull over so that I could run to a bench and puke…right beside a kids park. I still think I got roofied.

10. What’s your secret for getting the most out of your journey?
Taking it all in one day at a time. We’re always in such a rush back home running from one thing to another. When our trip first started, we were rushing to see everything we could in each city we visited. Now, we pick and choose what we want to see and do, and sometimes even do nothing at all. Slowing down and taking it all in is much more enjoyable than rushing through the days.

career break travel adventures in Italy

Leaving a heart behind in Cinque Terre, italy

11. Finally, our lightening round.

  • Best dish you’ve found so far: Gus – Dal Makhani in Udaipur, India. Claudette – Peking Duck in Beijing, China
  • Most exotic food eaten: Gus – Kokoretsi which is skewered lamb liver wrapped in intestines in Greece. Claudette – Eating Ostrich the same day as I rode one in Oudtshoorn, South Africa
  • Most breathtaking moment: Gus – Watching the great wildebeest migration in Kenya. Claudette – Ditto
  • Biggest disappointment: Gus – Camel safari in Jaisalmer, India. Claudette – Istanbul, Turkey – I just got some bad news from home and couldn’t enjoy the beautiful city as much as I could have. 
  • Most memorable place: Gus – India – for good and bad reasons. Claudette – Kenya
  • Most memorable person: Gus – Great aunt that I met for the first time in Greece. Claudette – John, an 11yr old from our orphanage. He is going to achieve big things one day.
  • Best thing to have on a long bus ride: Gus – Full battery on the iPad. Claudette – iPod
  • Worst thing to have on a long bus ride: Gus – A big bag between your legs (mind out of the gutter people). Claudette – Diarrhea
  • Best thing you packed: Gus – Silk sleeping bag. Claudette – My fold up “hugging” pillow…aptly nicknamed Tonio.
  • Dumbest thing you packed: Gus – Mini screwdriver. Claudette – A clothesline
  • Funniest travel habit you have: Gus – Wearing my ‘special’ t-shirt for flying. Claudette – Tapping the outside of the plane 3 times before boarding
  • Place you wish you could’ve stayed longer: Gus – Hoi An, Vietnam. Claudette – China. 2 weeks just wasn’t enough.
career break travel adventures in India, Taj Mahal

At the Taj Mahal in India

You can follow Gus and Claudette online at LuggageInHand, on Facebook and on Twitter @Luggageinhand

Every week, Career Break Secrets profiles a different traveler or traveling couple who are embracing the ¨Because Life Is Out There TM¨ travel spirit.  These are people who have taken the plunge to embark on a career break and are currently traveling the world.

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3 Responses to “Who’s Out There Now? Gus and Claudette”

  1. Jeff – we just wanted to thank you for taking the time to talk to us. You have so much useful information on your site…and it was definitely a place we came to before heading off on our own trip. We were more than happy to be a part of this when you approached us. Keep up the great work.

  2. [...] for his ‘Who’s Out There Now’ feature, we jumped at the chance. And so, here is our interview. Related [...]

  3. jeff says:

    Thank you for the kind words. And thanks for the great interview. Clearly you’re having the time of your life.

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