Jackie and Joel Smith have been traveling together for 38 years and have been writing the blog TravelnWrite for just under a decade. They call themselves The Scout (Joel scouts out the deals and destinations) and The Scribe (Jackie is the former journalist and blog writer) their aim is to entertain armchair travelers and inspire others to expand their comfort zones and visit those destinations they've always hoped to see. Jackie and Joel quit their '8 - 5' work world 20 years ago so that they could travel further, stay longer, and visit more of the world. Last year they sold their home of 30 years in the Seattle suburbs and moved as full time ex pats to Greece.
Jackie and Joel were kind enough to spend time answering our questions below.
TA: How many years have you been traveling and what got you hooked?
Jackie and Joel: Our first Christmas trip 38 years ago took us to Hong Kong. We were young, inexperienced travelers who fell into its exotic Asian spell. From that point on we were hooked and traveled further in Asia, expanded our travels into Mexico and then into Europe.
TA: Do you specialize in a particular type of travel?
Jackie and Joel: Affordable luxury (The Scout has found some incredible deals and ways to save on luxury travel).
TA: What is the best vacation you've ever taken?
Jackie and Joel: A 34-day cruise from Bangkok, Thailand to Istanbul, Turkey on Oceania cruise line. We visited so many varied ports of call that would have been costly to visit had we flown between the destinations. It was a 'taster trip' as we call cruises, we discovered during our brief stops places that we hope to get back to such as Jordan's Wadi Rum, India's Cochin and Mumbai, and Oman. We've already been back to Egypt several times as result of that first stop on the cruise.
TA: What's one place you've always wanted to visit?
Jackie and Joel: Difficult to limit it to one, but one each is Budapest for Joel and Morocco for me.
TA: What's one thing you ALWAYS pack when you travel?
Jackie and Joel: A change of underwear and toothbrushes in our carryon when checking baggage.
TA: If you could only give a traveler one piece of advice, what would it be?
Jackie and Joel: Leave home at home - be open to new foods, customs, ways of doing things as that is why you are traveling in the first place.
TA: What are some of your favorite travel blogs and communities?
Jackie and Joel: FB communities: Boomer Travel Bloggers; We Travel We Blog; and Packabook Explorers
TA: Do you have any good airport or flight hacks for people traveling by plane?
Jackie and Joel: Ask when checking in about the cost of upgrading to the next higher class .i.e., from economy to premium economy or premium economy to business. If the flight is overbooked and they need your seat, you might be surprised at how little the cost to upgrade is.
TA: Is there something you think most travelers worry too much about?
Jackie and Joel: Too many worry about setting off on their own and feel they need to book a tour to make sure they see every 'tourist site' and cover an area completely. Doing it on your own instead of participating in the confined itinerary of the tour group allows for serendipity and chances to meet locals and really experience the local flavor; something that you don't get when you travel as a group, eat as a group and visit as a group.
TA: What was the most romantic place you ever visited with a partner?
Jackie and Joel: Four Seasons Hotel, Lanai, Hawaii
TA: What is the most beautiful and affordable city you've ever visited?
Jackie and Joel: Hydra island, Greece. No motorized vehicles allowed (aside from the garbage truck) transport is on foot, by donkey or pack horse. The city wraps around a bay. Spring and fall are beautiful seasons and prices are surprisingly affordable in those shoulder seasons.
TA: Which underrated destination deserves to be more famous? Please explain why.
Jackie and Joel: The island of Kythira, Greece. Picturesque villages, expansive sand beaches, restaurants and bars from which to choose in any number of small villages that dot the island. It can be reached by a flight from Athens (in season) and by ferry year round. Still undiscovered by tourist hordes the place is magical.
TA: What's one piece of advice you'd give to travelers your age?
Jackie and Joel: Don't try to do too much in too little time. Be flexible. Don't try to see every 'tourist site' in the area. Sit back and savor the experiences, like sipping a cappuccino at a sidewalk café while reading the morning paper or spend a sunny afternoon sitting on a park bench people watching.