Travelling Weasels

FREEDOM FROM THE RAT-RACE

ABOUT THE TRAVELLING WEASELS

dharma

1. Who Are We? (a Weasels Manifesto)

This blog is all about travelling across this planet and your mind to weasel your way out of the habits that don’t serve you, the planet itself or the flora & fauna on it. The blog (along with the Youtube channel and other social media platforms) is the product of the labour and work of Laura (from England), Tanbay (from Germany) and Tamás (from Hungary). It is about our experiences whilst travelling and trying to do travelling cheap and more and more in an eco-friendly way. We still work with big touristic companies but we have our standards: we are, of course interested in the services provided but even more interested in the people who make these things run: those who work in the restaurants, clean our rooms in the hotels, who repair and maintain aeroplanes and trains, who drive the buses. This blog is dedicated to them and to the environment that has endured and endures the travels of these three homo sapiens around the globe.

travellingweasels blog

2. Our Story as Told by Our Host, Laura

Hi I’m Laura, first I was a mathematician & martial artist, then I looked after people’s houses in Australia and Western Europe. Next I was an instagrammer who worked with luxury hotels and tourist boards from Canada to Japan, UAE to South East Asia and back again. Then I randomly became famous in Hungary. Right now I am quarantined on an organic vegan farm in Eastern Europe. Life is weird - here is how it got me to this point.

[Before I begin: if you're interested in getting down to work with us, feel free to head directly over to the Contact/Press section.]


Beginnings: Australia, Doubts & House Sitting

We started in 2013. I graduated in June and I left in July. In Birmingham. Maths degree. My then then boyfriend Tanbay was working at David & Goliath  (trendy clothes for teenagers, ever see that kind of cartoon design: 'Boys are stupid throw rocks at them'? lol) Neither of us wanted to travel originally. Then Tanbay read Tim Ferris's book The 4-Hour Workweek and even though we are currently ambivalent about many of the statements Mr Ferris makes in that book, he also has some good ideas, to be fair... good enough for us at that time & age. Tim Ferris recommends you to write down everything you ever wanted to do, along with how much it would be - that's how much you wanna be earning. Tanbay did that (you know, stuff western middle class teenage boys want do, like surfing and snowboarding and stuff... oh, how innocent we were back then) and then he worked out that he could afford everything he wanted to do if he took out the  600 pounds we were paying for rent every month... plus he had high council tax (I didn't have to pay any as a student). So he looked up ways to live rent-free and the first thing that came up and we thought we could actually do that was house sitting. And so I signed up for the website (THS) but it was expensive.


We saw a house sit on there, in Germany for two years, with a cat and dog and I was like that'd be perfect for us: we could both work, save all the money, get fluent in German... and then they didn't reply to us. But I didn't want to waste the subscription so I applied literally to every single house sit. Most people didn't reply... some did, one person said 'You're like 21, why would I trust you with my house?' (lol) And of course, there were a couple of other replies like that. But we kept on applying until someone in Australia wrote back: 'Well, you're a bit far away but if you're up for it then the job is yours.' And that's how and why we flew across the planet and started house sitting in Australia.

about travelling weasels

That was a six-week housesit in Victora (which is the south-east of Australia) and another one near Adelai. On the map they looked relatively close together but it turned out they were nine hours apart... you know, distances are like in the US, whereas in my native England, big cities are an hour apart so I was like 'oh that looks close!' Anyway, we had eight weeks sorted so we thought to ourselves: even if we only go there for two months, we'll be able to say that we've lived in Australia for two months (eventually we got more house sits there obviously). So I guess that's how we weaselled ourselves out of the pay rent/mortgage kind of thing, the 'accommodation-trap'. Everything is really expensive in Australia, including accommodation. This was 2013-2014.

The Beginning of Blogging, or: the Vicissitudes of Getting out of the 9 to 5 Rat Race

Next was weaselling ourselves out of the 9 to 5 jobs rat-race. I was applying for graduate jobs whilst I was finishing my degree and I wasn't that successful. I did have a job interview at ALDI, actually but I had serious social issues by that point: I couldn't talk in front of more than one person and even that was hard because, truth be told, I was so up myself (oh I was in this really long-term relationship, had a Maths degree, I'm good at martial arts... these were basically the only things I would talk about). I wasn't good at socializing full stop, making friends with people... I was really in a weird place.

When I got to Australia I got a job in a café - like on the second day, as well! It was surprisingly easy. On the one hand, I hated it, because I really hated my boss - he was trying to touch me and I was just like... don't touch me! (#fuckthepatriarchy) On the other hand it really helped me with my confidence in talking to people because I had to do exactly that, every day. It also helped in bringing me down a peg or two cause I was like 'oh I have this first class Maths degree blah blah' but then I got to the café and realised I can't do anything: I can't remember orders, I can't make coffee, I can't clean, I can't cook... it brought me back down to Earth. Sure, I did have some previous experience: I used to work at Weatherspoons in the UK during my first year at uni but that was all in the back (in the kitchen) and in some ways that was harder but no one ever saw me dropping things and swearing (plus, once again, being molested by my male co-workers... I remember at the job interview they said: ‘To be frank, it's a tough job because of the boys... I'll let you have it only because I can see you have considerable martial arts training’ lol... does anyone need any better proof for the existence of patriarchal oppression?). The kitchen in Weatherspoons was all boys and the café in Australia was all girls (apart from the boss), which made things easier. 

Travelling Weasels Australia

When we went there, Tanbay had already been trying to make money online for years: cryptocurrency and stuff like that. And then in Australia we started writing for a website: you basically wrote an article on anything you liked + liked other people's articles... the more likes and views you got, the more money you got. The income depended on the adverts on the side and stuff like that, of course. We did that for a little bit but had very limited internet in Australia. Also there I started working for Fiverr, so I took pictures on beaches saying 'Happy Birthday, Ned!' or whatever ... yeah, people paid me for that. That's also when I started writing my book again which I had started when I was 16 or 17 but then I hadn't looked at it at uni and then when I was in Australia I started writing it again. I wrote loads of it but then my laptop broke and I lost it. Luckily I had some of it written down on paper and then some of it I remembered from memory. Anyway I was already writing a blog there, to tell my family what I was doing - that's where Travelling Weasels was originally born. Then Tanbay showed me Sabrina's blog and that's when were were like: ‘yeah, we could start doing this’.

travelling weasels story

Then I kinda got freaked out about money: Tanbay broke his arm (yo, never forget travel insurance) and I thought we would have to pay 20 grand for it. That's when I was like I'm ready to go back to England... I was really freaked out but we had a few house sits left to do so we couldn't leave immediately - we had to be there for four more months! In the end we went back via China and had an overlay there for nineteen hours (which felt like ages...) But whilst I was at the airport I was like 'oh I actually wanna go to Asia'. We flew back to England and I went for this teacher job interview which I realised I didn't really wanna do. So we started this blog - the one that you are currently reading. I was like: yeah I wanna continue travelling... I looked at my map on my wall and I said: 'I wanna go to Brazil, South Africa, Canada, Asia, Japan, India...' Then I took it back a notch and asked myself: 'What are the places I really want to go to?' And even that was around 15 countries... as a teacher I would've had six weeks in the summer so I thought I'd just go to one country every year - but that would still have taken me fifteen years! And I was just like: 'I can't do that, I wanna go to these places now!'

So we booked a bus to Amsterdam that went overnight and spent 24 hours there and then we went to Tanbay's mum in Germany and stayed there (she was really really kind, paid for food and rent), where we continued building up the blog. That's when it started, really. In Germany I also started working properly on Fiverr: teaching English and doing translation work. We must've been there like for 3-4 months and then we had this house sit in Spain - our first ever European house sit! In 2015 we did a lot of house sitting, like back to back in Europe: Finland, Italy, Portugal, Netherlands, Greece and England. We also went to the Azores without house sitting. Then, in 2015 September we met aforementioned blogger Sabrina in Berlin, stayed with her overnight (slept on her floor). She gave us so many tips about blogging (saying these things might sound impressive but at the time I very often had no idea what was going on).


Travel Blogging Success, aka: the Pleasures of Fast Food Tourism

Then we had this awful housesit in Greece in October 2016 and I had enough of not living the life we wanted to live and I made this vision-board of the places i wanted to go to. And so we went to Asia for three months and that's when we started working with hotels and tours. That's when we first started feeling like real travel bloggers. We were making Youtube videos every day. That's when things started kicking off: we worked with all these hotels and did all these tours and met all these people and then came back to Europe -- that's when we first went to Hungary, in June-July.



Hungary was the first place where we worked with tours in Europe  (even though we originally went there because it was cheaper than Croatia, ha). It was like freedom: not as foreign as Asia (where you can't drink or brush your teeth with the water and gotta make sure you're careful what you eat and people don't necessarily speak English + very different customs... first world problems, I know but still) where in Bp it was like oh I'm actually living the life, it's familiar and it's cheap too.


Then the video about eating Hungarian and Italian snacks became hits... but we became vegan at the end of 2016 so I was like: oh fuck we can't do that anymore... what’s a similar thing? Let’s try speaking the language! So we did a video on speaking Hungarian and that went viral. The we went to Canada in 2017 and that was a big turning point because the Canadian Touristic Board invited us out there and they paid for our flights -- that's when I first felt like a professional travel blogger. We went to the US, as well and then we went back to Asia... and meanwhile, the Hungarian video took off and we were like oh shit we're on the wrong side of the planet. We worked with a Phillipino airline in Asia, they flew us to Japan, to the Phillipines, to Dubai, and then we came back to Bp and did these meet-ups with fans. We also started collaborating with Interrail, got passes and went to Nordic countries and then at the end 2017 we moved to Bp, basically. We took trips from there: Israel and Jordan. 2018 was when we started breaking up. We did a house sit in the UK then went back to Bp.


Crisis: Break-up & Hungary

You never really know when stuff starts falling apart. Was it when we first moved in together? Maybe. Was it before that even? Or was it when we fancied people from work or school (or was it just a case of being raised in a culture of toxic monogamy?) Was it kinda like we could've broken up but we stayed together? I think we broke up multiple times during our 12 year relationship (first ever serious relationship, we started dating when we were both in secondary school). It was just that we were always travelling or doing something else and we didn't have the time for it. Another big part of breaking up was coming off the pill. I stopped taking it and I had a real hormonal / chemical change when I came off it... it was like a flood of hormones! After ten years of them being dampened, I suddenly felt happy, horny - and awake. Like I had been asleep for years. That's partly why my personality is still kinda similar to my personality when I was 14 because that's like the truest version I knew of myself because that's when I started taking it. I was drugged for 10 years. It's really hard to say this cause people will judge you and say that you are not a feminist bc it sounds so ungrateful when women have fought so hard to get contraception and the NHS is one of the leading countries when it comes to state-financed contraception... what I'm saying is that it's still not enough. It was amazing that I could take it and not get pregnant but that's not good enough. I think it stole part of my personality, my honest and a deacade of my f*cking life. My connection to my own body. If you're not connecting to your own body, how are you supposed to connect to the environment through that body: a tree, a non-human animal, another person? I still makes me angry. There were no reals highs and no real lows, either. On average, I was just under 'okay', ranging from slightly happy to depressed. When I came off it, I did expreince suicidal thoughts for the first time in my life, so that was a new kind of low (remember the slogan: you can't medicate / meditate childhood trauma away. it takes more than that) but also I had much muhch higher highs and in general I feel i have been averaging on happier (as much as one can be happy in a world of....). I do feel less anxious and depressed - or at least I'm learning how to cope with them without drugs when I do get there. As opposed to sitting and being depressed for months.

Also, when I came off the pill I was able to orgasm whilst thinking about people that I knew as opposed to either abstract thoughts of porn people... that was the first time I had that. I had never been able to come thinking of an actual human that I knew, which is weird. Then I started talking to guys online, pushing the boundaries of what was cheating and what wasn't (it was). I also started wearing less and less make-up and let my leg & armpit hair grow. We liked living, travelling and working on the business together - we said those things at the time - so we thought maybe polyamory is the way: we love each other like family but we wanna have sex with other people. We signed up to Tinder initially and one of my matches told us about OKCupid (highly recommended!). That's where I met Tamás, who was also in a polyamourous relationship at the time. After a month of texting, voice messaging, calling and video calling, we decided to meet. I was travelling and he was living in a Hungarian town, so we decided to meet up in a Holiday Inn Express, next to Stansted airport, England (it was Tamás' first time in the UK). The day before we met, I was at one of my best friends' wedding in Amsterdam, then flew over to London to see another one of my close friends and then I met this Hungarian person for the first time at hotel.... crazy 36 hours. Some of the best sex we've had.

Then I came back to Budapest, had a fancy f*cking (pun intended) apartment in District 1, in Buda and led the polyamourous lifestyle: I felt like a princess who had her own castle. There were some awful parts as well -- after a twelve-year relationship, I was having sex with a lot of different people suddenly. The first month was like party but then at the end of that month I got worried about money and so we I moved back together with Tanbay, into this run-down little AirBnb at the edge of Distric 8 (but I can't complain, there are plently of homeless people on the streets of Budapest). We stayed there for two months and I really regret that, that was a bad step. I was living there with him but I was also spending the weekends with Tamás and had this British boyfriend in Budapest... I was basically living with three people, constantly travelling. Then Tanbay found his current partner in Poland and left, so I moved in with Tamás and his ex-gf who was dating one of Tamás's friends but they were still cohabiting - so we formed this little commune, the three of us, in their detached house with a garden, had a go at permaculture, cooked all vegan, and the momma cat gave birth to five kittens between my legs in one of the enchanted rooms that I marked as my territory, pissing all over it (the day after the childbirth has been documented). We used to have these amazing meetings, did yoga together, talk about our feelings and meditate, sometimes we would shout or cry or whatever humans do in communities but mostly it was a lot of talking and listening to and supporting each other, we ate together. It was a feminist commune, as well, with period blood everywhere from bed sheets to textile hankies and the white walls. We imagined we were hippies.

Then Tamás's ex moved out, and we settled into a comfortable monogamous lifestyle without the hassles of travelling to partner's places and then the covid-19 situation hit. It was the perfect time for us to start revamping the blogs, the Youtube channel and basically all media platforms and concentrate more on gardening - so we did. 


Travelling Weasels Now: Eco World Travel & Vegan Feminism

So I did all this for five years before slowing down. Now that the borders are open again, we have started travelling - but more carefully. I'm currently trying to be the most ethical, conscious version of myself that I can possibly be. I don't own a car, or a mortgage or a pension, I walk, hitchhike, carpool and take public transport when I can - we don't fly anymore. We're all vegan (more about travelling the world vegan on our sister site) and we've been trying to go #zerowaste for a while now (even tried making eco-bricks from all the plastic we had at home). So we're without meat, eggs, dairy and plastic now. Whatever place we're staying at, I always collect and chop up our organic waste, mix it with some earth to then fertilise the ground at the root of an old tree in a public park (#guerillagardening style). Yeah, we're treehuggers.

But what I do have is geographical independence, which is a great privilege that the COVID-19 situation has made us realise: we suddenly became legally unable to leave the country we were in which is the situation that many citizens of Global South countries are in (a British, a German an even a Hungarian citizenship and passport is 'worth' more than someone's from say South Sudan, Nepal or Guinea.)


Final Words: Our Ultimate Message About Whether or Not to Travel 

You can choose to secure your finances with a steady job; secure your housing situation with a mortgage; secure your elderly life with a pension - the security of Western middle class life. But security is an illusion - travelling to some of the countries of the Global South have shown us what life is like for masses of people who don't live in states that provide them with security, welfare, healthcare and a supporting economic and ecological infrastructure (note: there are people living in such conditions in our Northern 'Developed' states as well). The only thing that's guaranteed is the what you can do here and now, so if you want to travel, don't wait, do it NOW - there are ways to do it in eco-friendly fashion and you can also help a lot of people on your way and locally, where you end up on your travels. Going local is essential: we did a few years of 'fast food tourism', we do not support that anymore. Go for longer periods of time, integrate with local communities, find out where you can help, spread the word & report truthfully, either through a blog, a newspaper article, a FB or Insta post, trough a video or by chatting, texting or emailing with friends, it doesn't matter. Not remaining silent about social issues is a political act, the first step. The second step is doing something, anything.


P.S. Doing something can be as simple as just changing your diet to change the lives of many sentient living beings on this planet. For readers interested in how travelling to different cultures with different cuisines and different attitudes towards non-human animals made me question my diet & views on our fellow earthlings and ultimately, go vegan, I wrote this blogpost on our sister site. Go green & save the Earth - plant power rulez ppl :)