Travelling From A to Z with Backpack Me

by Oct 8, 2018Travel Resources32 comments

Backpack ME a great love story

Do you like a good love story?

For me, as long as it involves Jon Snow king of the north hooking up with Daenerys Targaryen the queen of dragons I’m ok with love stories.

This love story, however, involves neither but it’s centred around travel and I love to travel. 

The premise of the story goes like this: Two individuals who grew up in two different countries met in Dubai and fell in love. In 2011 they decided pack their bags and see the world. Several years later, still on the road traveling, still in love and sharing their journey via Backpack ME

In the Departure Lounge this week I get to speak with the power couple behind Backpack ME, Ashray and Zara

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Name(s): Ashray and Zara
Travel Blog: Backpack ME |

Blog Content: Our blog focuses on what it’s like to travel long-term while making a living on the road. Because we come from two different parts of the world, India, and Portugal, our travel stories and tips include a unique multicultural twist.

How do you make writing about your experiences, working online, meeting different cultures and getting the most out of your money as global citizens work? How do you prepare? Can you give us some tips?

The way we travel is highly linked to technology. Thanks to the internet, we can keep on working and making a living no matter where we are in the world. This enables us to keep traveling! On Backpack ME, we often share articles to inspire other folks who’d like to see more of the world but may not have particularly big savings, to simply try to make their jobs as location independent as possible. Even if it’s not all year long, the truth is that many people who may have office jobs or their own businesses could potentially work remotely for a while. If you make travel a priority, in most cases, there’s a way to work things out to make it possible!

Share one of your favourite travel stories. How do these type of experiences change you as a person?

Travel has changed who we are. If this sounds extreme for someone who has never traveled for an extended period of time, especially in a region culturally distinct from their place of origin, simply watch the movie The Motorcycle Diaries and you’ll understand exactly what we’re talking about!

There have been many instances that have touched us during our travels.

First of all, even our relationship has evolved as our connection got deeper and deeper while on the move.

Sharing everything, good and bad, with someone when you are in a place where you know no one else, is bound to make you closer!

The things that touch us the most when we travel are various, but normally have to do with seeing a given reality from “the other side”. Our first year of extended travel, for example, was spent slowly exploring different countries across Latin America. This year was a huge eye opener! We’d always hear stories related to the arrival of the Spanish and the Portuguese to the Americas. Especially for Zara, going to school in Portugal, these stories were often tales of courage, discovery and economic progress. We’d known that the local cultures obviously suffered from the arrival of the Europeans. But it was only right there and then, looking at immense cathedrals erected on top of what had previously been Incan sacred sites, that it hit us how devastating the whole process had been.

When we criticize a country, a region or its people for being less developed, having higher crime rates or any other negative appointment, we tend to forget about the history of the place.

This is what travel teaches you first hand: a much more encompassing perspective of the world, which will tend to make you more understanding and compassionate.

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● Tell us about your book Lisbon In 100 Bites. What inspired it? How did you put it together? Where can we get it?

Z: Traveling around different parts of the world, I learned that people, even so-called foodies, tend to know very little about Portuguese cuisine. I am from Portugal and I may be biased, but I do believe that we have an outstanding food culture. In Portugal, it’s not just about the dishes, it’s about the entire ritual that revolves around food. Both eating and talking about food are definitely very important for us!

As the tourism in Lisbon started booming, I also noticed how several restaurants started catering to visitors that would expect things like Paella and Tapas, which are actually from Spain and have little to do with Portuguese food! So, as someone who loves to explore new cultures via their food, I thought I’d make it easier for those who have the same appetite for discovery and who are planning to visit Lisbon.

After the success of the 1st edition, I have now relaunched Lisbon in 100 Bites, which is an ebook with no more no less than 100 items, that visitors should try while in Lisbon. You can download the ultimate Lisbon Food Guide here!

The book is divided into Petiscos (which would somehow be the Portuguese equivalent to Tapas), main dishes of Fish and Meat, Desserts, Sweet and Savory snacks you normally find in Portuguese cafes and Street Food. Apart from describing the items and talk briefly about their history and how relevant they are in the local food scene, I have also included some personal tips. Lisbon in 100 Bites is meant to take travelers on a tasty journey around Lisbon while focusing on the local food that folks eat every day. There’s nothing gourmet or pretentious in my book, it’s all about real food!

What are your top 5 travel rules that you follow every time you travel and why? (Anything from safety to having the best experience)

  1. Pack light, always!
  2. Keep more than one credit or debit card, in case one doesn’t work
  3. Don’t drive long distances at night
  4. Pack our most valuable items on our day packs that stay with us, and divide them between the both of us
  5. Don’t overthink things and go with the flow!
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What are your top 5 travel hacking tips and tricks? (Anything from navigating a city to booking flights and accommodations)

  1. Keep an eye on FlyerTalk to learn about awesome flight deals.
  2. Use Matrix Airfare Search to work out good flights, especially when we’re doing multicity or we have a lot of flexibility and want to understand what prices are like across different days and even weeks.
  3. Always, always, always use a backpack with wheels. We seriously don’t understand why backpackers would rather destroy their backs carrying all that weight around…
  4. If we book hotels, we always use this method to save around 20%
  5. If renting via Airbnb for a longer period of time, we message hosts to ask for a better price than the listed one. Most time, it works pretty well!
  • What are your top 5 travel things you must bring in your carry on, purse and/or satchel?

Laptop and charger
2 pairs of headphones and a splitter, for when we watch something together on the same device Moisturizer
Compression socks
Refillable bottle for water

  • What is your most prized souvenir you brought back from abroad and what’s its story?

Travelling together around the world! If we had traveled alone, we’d have no one to reminisce on all of those experiences. No one can really understand what it’s like unless they were there. Having gone through everything together, we always have someone to talk about it! Now, or in the future, we have each other to keep the memories alive! There really can be no better souvenir than this…


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Where are you off to next and what are hoping to experience, eat, see and/or learn?

We’re currently in India, recently arrived from a brief trip to Budapest. We’ll be going to Portugal soon and then we don’t know where else. We never plan with that much time in advance, to be honest. We are go with the flow kind of travelers!

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