Giselle and Stephen, a Californian travel couple with the adventure and travel blog The Lovers Passport, are full-time workers with 9-5 jobs. But at the weekends they love to travel and inspire others to go on adventures on a budget even if they have full-time jobs.
The couple met back in college at the University of California, Santa Barbara and have been adventuring ever since. From backpacking and camping to travelling abroad, their blog offers hopeful travellers lots of great advice.
A brief chat with Giselle and Stephen opened up a pandora’s box of travel tips and motivations, as well as hiking gear and financial advice.
What motivated you to start travelling? What’s your travel style?
We started traveling to see the world and experience different cultures. Stephen grew up backpacking and camping with his dad, and I grew up traveling to new countries because her mom was a travel agent so we both loved to visit new places before even meeting.
Our travel style is adventure travel on a budget. We sleep out of the back of our Toyota 4Runner and embark on an adventure from sunrise-sunset. We only have the weekends to see as much as possible, so we usually jam pack them with adventures such as hikes, paddle boarding, road tripping, backpacking, rock climbing, etc.
How do you support yourselves financially?
When we first started traveling we were doing so working our 9-5s! Stephen is a Taekwondo Instructor and owns two studios and I was working as a Marketing Director at a personal care company. We just would allot about 10-15% of our paychecks every month for travel expenses and would minimize buying material things to prioritize new experiences.
Since Giselle quit that job in October, she’s been making all of her income from full-time content creation and we still pay for travel that way! We have about eight streams of income including things like sponsored content, image licensing, portrait galleries, affiliate links, creator funds, our digital products like our Photography E-Book, and more.
How many countries have you been to? Tell us about where you are now.
I have been to 15 and Stephen has been to five. We’re currently based in California, USA! We love living in southern California because it’s so close to the beach, the mountains, the forests, and even desert-like landscapes where we can really have our pick of the lot when wanting to choose our next more local adventure!
What accommodation do you prefer when travelling?
The only accommodation that we look for when traveling is the bathroom, honestly. We both have travelled so long by sleeping in the back of our car, that we are used to sleeping anywhere, do not need to shower every day, cook on the road, and bring solar panels for electricity.
The one accommodation that we always look for on the road is a nice, clean bathroom! When traveling abroad, this changes to a complimentary breakfast. We love a good complimentary breakfast at the hotel we stay at because it helps us fuel up for the long day of adventure and can really help us budget on trips.
Do you have any tips for travellers on a budget?
Our biggest tip for traveling on a budget is to find cheap or free places to stay. We use freecampsites.net when traveling in the US because there is so much free land to camp on, and look for hostels or cheap places to stay when traveling abroad. This could save hundreds of dollars a night by sleeping somewhere for a very cheap price because that is usually the most expensive part of travel.
You love hiking – what’s the highest mountain you’ve climbed? And what’s the most beautiful mountain view?
The highest mountain we have climbed together is Mt. Langley which is a famous 14,000er in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Our goal this year is to finish climbing Mt. Whitney, which is the tallest mountain in the lower 48 states of the US! The most beautiful mountains we have ever seen are the Sierra Nevada mountains. It is hard to beat the view at Temple Crag off the Big Pine North Fork trail. This 11-mile backpacking trail was one of our first trips together and will always have a special place in our memories.
What is the hardest experience you’ve had whilst travelling? How did you overcome it?
The hardest experience we have had traveling was on our way to Iceland! We only had seven days in the country and were going to try and see as much as we could. On our way to Iceland, the plane had a mechanical error. It took over 4 hours to fix. So our flight was delayed, leading our connecting flight to be delayed by an entire day.
After losing a full day of our trip to Iceland, we also lost our luggage on the airline, and they did not deliver it to us until four days into our trip. So not only did we lose a full day of our trip, but we also lost a lot of our luggage for the majority of the trip, making it a very long and brutal adventure. We overcame it by just living in the present and making the most of the time that we had there. Travel is a lot of adjusting and going with the flow because you never know when something is going to go wrong.
What gear is important to take with you on hikes? What one item could you never be without?
We always bring the ten essentials on every hike that we go on. If you do not know what the ten essentials are, we highly recommend looking into the REI blog. Learn all of them because they will help with safety on every hiking trip.
The one item we could never leave behind is our camera. We love the process of capturing the outdoors and documenting our adventures. Stephen has a terrible memory. So he loves the pictures to look back on and relive some moments from our adventures.
Do you have any upcoming plans for 2022? What are the top locations on your bucket list?
We have a lot of travel plans for 2022! We just got back from Abu Dhabi in the Middle East, and have London, Guatemala, Argentina, Chile, Iceland, South Africa, Costa Rica, and a few others on the list of places we want to go to finish off this year!