Caz and Craig Makepeace, a married couple from the Central Coast of Australia, have been on the road for a good part of their lives. The couple have adventured through more than 50 countries and have lived in five! Travelling for almost a decade and half now, the Australian couple continue to inspire others to do the same through their hugely popular travel blog. Their blog, which is pertinently named ytravelblog and has 280,000 monthly visitors, is a wonderful community forum that shares interesting travel stories as well as useful tips and advice for potential travellers. The blog posts have a trademark style that usually involves a reflection of personal account, skillfully entwined with many travel-themed perspectives, such as couples travel, family travel, budget travel, solo female travel and short term breaks.
Caz and Craig Makepeace would certainly know a thing or two about travelling with family. The Aussie couple have two daughters, Savannah and Kalyra, who accompany them on their long trips, adding more to the challenges and excitement.
The list of awards and accolades that have been conferred upon the self-proclaimed “serial travel addicts” is pretty long. Virgin Australia named them as one of their top Australian bloggers for 2014. National Geographic and Lonely Planet regularly syndicates their work, while popular brands like Qantas, Ford, Canon and Expedia have partnered with them. Moreover, they were the runner-up in USA Today ‘Best Budget Travel Blog.’
You are on a mission to show the world that travel doesn’t stop after kids; but would you say that travel style does change after kids? How has your travel style transformed between ‘Caz and Craig travelling without kids’ to them ‘travelling with kids’?
Yes! Travel absolutely changes after kids. It’s certainly much slower and our style is a lot less rough backpacking. We now stay in more comfortable apartments, or in our house on wheels - the camper trailer. We also have to be a lot more organised, ensuring that we have everything we need in our bag each day to keep the children fed, entertained and adequately clothed. Speaking of which, we now pack and carry a LOT more luggage.
We have to plan less activities during the day and make sure we include time for the kids to play and rest. We’re extra careful to plan around the heat of the day as well, as it can affect kids quite a lot.
We’re also limited with a lot of the activities we loved to do, like hiking. We still hike with the kids, but they’re now pretty short and easy trails. And of course we sure don’t party like we used to!
You observed in one of your blog posts that ‘Travelling without a companion or partner can be completely daunting’. You now travel with your partner and even two kids. What did the transition from solo travel to family travel entail and how does it feel?
It always feels great to me, no matter what style I travel in. Family travel is a lot more intense and challenging. You have less freedom and there are far more stressful days as you have to consider your children’s needs first and you rarely get time to rest. Those days spent swinging in a hammock with a good book and a cocktail in Thailand are long gone.
The only transition I feel you have to make is that you have to be more organised and plan better. You have to make different decisions on where you will go and how you will get around as you have to consider the child’s interests and safety. I used to be quite happy getting around sitting on sacks of potatoes on the backs of Utes, but I’d never do that now with kids.
I have a gypsy heart so I don’t think transitioning from any travel style is difficult for me. You just quickly adapt to the new conditions and plan your travel around that.
Have there been any instances of conflict of interest (holiday interests) between Caz and Craig? How do you guys sort ‘em out?
No. We’ve very lucky in that we have the same interests and desires. We’ve always been pretty much on the same par with where we have wanted to go. We always discuss our options and interests beforehand and decide together which destination or experience would be best to suit our needs.
How do you now make choices and what are your preferences in terms of destination to visit, accommodation, flights, activities and moving around at the destination when you travel with your two daughters. Do you travel with same frequency as you did earlier?
I think the age of your children plays a big part in your travel decisions. We were considering traveling through South East Asia, but decided that travelling in that region with our 18 month old daughter at the time would be far too stressful and challenging. Toddlers are just discovering themselves and are energetic darting machines. It would have been too much to manage, so we decided a road trip around Australia would be better.
We love road trips with kids. It’s so easy to manage, gives you so much freedom and comfort and offers a bit of stability for the kids. It helps ease them into a travel life a lot better. You can also carry more things, which is so helpful with kids. Our car is filled with boogie boards, bikes, scooters, snorkels and books and a few toys. All of these add to the enjoyment of our adventures.
Our girls love flying so we are okay to travel with them by plane. We like to choose a destination based upon climate, safety for the girls, and outdoor activities. We love getting out and experiencing nature. We also love to experience the local culture through music, food and festivals so consider this when choosing a destination.
You have lived and worked in five countries, and visited dozen others. Of all the places you have been to, which one is your favourite? Some place that left you craving for more.
We have so many places that we love for different reasons. The three that call us the most are Thailand, USA and South Africa. And now after this road trip, Australia is a place we think holds that special something that wants you to explore it more and more. There’s still so much of it we haven’t seen.
You guys were invited to the White House! Tell us what was the invitation all about? How did you react when you received the invite?
At first, we thought the email was spam and so replied with an answer somewhat saying that!! It’s not every day travel bloggers from Australia get invited to the White House. The invitation was quite informal and asked for personal details over email as well, which made us quite suspicious.
We were invited to attend the first ever White House travel summit to discuss study abroad and global citizenship initiatives. We were amongst the top 100 travel influencers in the world to attend. It was pretty amazing.
You have a very useful blog post on ‘The Savannah Way’ drive tours. It can be a great holiday idea. You mentioned your plan of spending “few days” in the region. How many days did it actually take you to drive from Cairns to the Northern Territory Border?
We took almost two weeks to experience the Savannah Way. There really is so much to see and driving distances are long so we thought it was best to travel it slowly so we could appreciate it more.
Health and safety are big concerns for travellers, especially parents, when they travel abroad. What advice would you give to families who are travelling for the first time?
Visit your doctor to ensure you have the right vaccinations. Take a first aid kit with you with adequate supplies to cover any kind of emergency or sickness. It could be a really good idea to do a First Aid course before you leave on your trip.
Make sure you research the area you are travelling to thoroughly so you can be prepared for any diseases in the area to protect yourself from. Make sure you always drink plenty of water â€“ and be careful to check that it’s safe to drink from the taps.
You have taught students all over the world. Do you agree that teaching is perhaps the best way to understand a local culture and get familiar with it?
Not necessarily teaching, but I do think living and working in another culture is the best way to immerse yourself and get to know it. You could work any job to get this more in-depth experience.
How was 2014 for the Team Makepeace? And what are the plans for 2015?
2014 was a pretty amazing year. We had so many incredible experiences as we journeyed around Australia. It was full of travel. Our business also grew in leaps and bounds so it was all round a year to celebrate.
Our plans for this year are to finish our Australian road trip. We expect to be finished in May. We are not too sure what is in store for us after that. We are considering a road trip across the US, but would like to spend a few months in one place before that so we can plan and organise for it effectively.
This interview with Caz and Craig is a part of Travel Trolley's ongoing 'Best of the Travel Bloggers' series. We are interviewing popular travel bloggers who encourage and inspire people to travel. Check out all the bloggers we have interviewed and learn about their interesting experiences, adventures, travel stories as well as useful holiday tips.