Dave and Deb are well-known travel personality in both online and mainstream media. Their highly acclaimed website, The Planet D, won the 2014 Gold Medal for Best Travel Blog by the Society of American Travel Writers and best Photo Illustration of Travel. Dave and Deb founded ThePlanetD in 2008 after cycling the continent of Africa and have travelled to more than 100 countries on all 7 continents. Follow them in real time on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
What do you think you would be doing if you were not on the road now?
We’d both probably still be working in the film industry and traveling every spare moment we had.
How do you share your work while travelling? Who does what?
We split things up pretty equally. Deb does most of the writing, Dave the photography and photo editing.
We both split social media. Deb does the video editing, but we both do the filming and shooting. Deb answers emails and Dave works on website issues such as newsletters, back end work and all the technical stuff.
How do you take decisions together for next destinations?
Lately it’s been about where the work is. We are invited to many places around the world on a regular basis and we choose which destination we want to work with based on if we want to go or not. Have we been there before? Most of the time we’re intrigued if we haven’t been to the destination yet.
We’ve visited more than 100 countries, so the list is growing shorter, but there are many places that we still haven’t experienced that we want to see. Also, we look to see if the activities are appealing. If we’re going on safari, or kayaking somewhere, is there a site that we really want to see… things like that.
Are there any personality changes that you can observe on yourself and on your partner since you have hit the road?
We are far more open to new ideas and ways of thinking. We’ve always been open minded, but I (Deb) will admit that a lot of times, we would secretly think “well my way is really the right way” Now we are very open to other ways of living life and viewing the world. We’re also much more confident. Traveling forces you to communicate with all kinds of people in different situations. We can strike up a conversation anywhere anytime. We used to question our purpose in life, travel gave us a purpose.
I also think we are more aware of our own faults. Travel gives you a lot of time for introspection. We have grown in many ways and have definitely become better people. I think it’s impossible not to become a better person when you travel. It educates you and opens up all these new experiences. Travel expands the mind and lets you see the world in a new light. When you see so much you gain an understanding that you never had before.
On the flip side, I think we are more outspoken than we used to be. And I don’t know if that is necessarily a good thing. When we had regular jobs, we were good at censoring our opinions and thoughts, now we tend to blurt out what we are thinking all the time. I’ve become a little more blunt in my conversations and I need to work on that. When you spend a lot of time behind a computer or only speaking to your spouse, you forget what it’s like to talk to regular people. I’m working on getting my nuanced conversation skills back.
Living and travelling together 24/7 may bring stressful moments related to disagreements, changes of mood or misunderstandings. How do you cope with these situations?
Communicate and Compromise. We always stress how important it is to communicate. When we are feeling a certain way, we talk it through. We also, don’t have a problem having a good argument. One thing though, is we never hold a grudge. We make sure we talk (or yell-haha) until we’ve worked through our differences. There’s no sense leaving things lingering. You don’t want to bring up past arguments that will get you nowhere.
Mostly, we are sensitive and aware of each other. We know that we’ll be grumpier if we haven’t eaten, we know that if we have a lot of deadlines we’ll be short with each other and we know that if we haven’t had a lot of sleep or are suffering from Jet Lag we’ll be irritable and more emotional. We really do talk things out a lot.
We’ve actually said to each other. “listen, I’m tired and I know my jetlag is bothering me, I’m not going to be fun to be around right now.
You also have to be flexible traveling as a couple. You need to be willing to give a little and compromise once in a while. Don’t be rigid or set in your ways. The more adaptable and fluid you are, the less stress you will have and the more pleasant the situation.
But most importantly, have fun! Be able to laugh at yourself. We’ve been in the middle of an argument and then burst out laughing because we realize how ridiculous we are being. A big hug then fixes everything.
Which is the most beautiful moment you are glad you have experienced together?
Oh my, there are so many. It’s the one thing we always say about traveling together…we are so lucky to be able to do this together and to experience the beauty of the world together. A sunset it beautiful, but to be able to share it together is magical.
I do think though that it’s the times where we pushed ourselves together that really stick out. Summiting Mount Kilimanjaro together, witnessing Mount Everest Base Camp, Cycling 12,000km through Africa together, those were all amazing experiences. They are impossible to explain to someone who hasn’t gone through it. We were right there with each other every step of the way.
Through the struggles and the triumphs and to accomplish something together creates such a unique and strong bond in a relationship. We’ve done so many amazing things together, that we often know exactly what each we’re thinking. We now have a wordless bond. A look, a movement or even a glint in the eye tells me exactly what Dave is thinking without one word between us.
Can you tell us about one crazy or risky thing you’ve done while traveling that you would and one that you wouldn’t want to repeat again?
I must say, we don’t take on a lot of risks. People may look at our blog and think that we do, but we do our research and either hire experienced guides or know what we are getting ourselves into. People may say cage diving with Great White Sharks is risky, but we went with a reputable company. When we took part in the Mongol Rally, we traveled in a group and had a SPOT emergency device with us in case something should happen in the Gobi Desert.
It was terrifying trekking across frozen lakes and rivers in Canada’s Arctic Watershed, but we had guides that were experts on moving ice and rivers and could read the elements assessing what was safe to walk on and what was not.
I’d have to say the biggest risks we’ve probably ever taken are bus rides through South America and Asia.
Or possibly some ferry rides in South East Asia. While we’ve done some hair-raising adventures over the past decade through 100 countries on 7 continents, I don’t think there’s anything we wouldn’t repeat again. I’d do it all in a heartbeat.