THE MONTHLY #1: An engagement, a new home, and everything in between
Each month, we jot down a personal wrap of our travels, life updates, and general happenings in the life of The Common Wanderer.
It’s been a looooong time since we wrote a personal update - so long in fact that Mim was probably not yet 30, we'd just started living in London, and the longest winter ever was about to hit.
We’re not going to bore you with everything that’s happened since then because, well, it’s really not that interesting.
But what we are going to do more often is share these personal blogs - once a month in fact. It’s important for us to chronicle our lives beyond editorials and things to do lists, and we know you guys love them… so here goes - our monthly update - for the first time in years!
So, where do we start? With our recent engagement?! Done!
sooo0, We got engaged!
We spent summer back home in Australia and the question that kept cropping up amongst family and friends was “when are you guys going to get engaged?!”. We shrugged it off, but secretly I (Mark) had a plan.
Along with my mum and sister, we visited a local Melbourne jeweller and had a ring custom made, using some family diamonds from the 1920’s. It meant a lot to me that I was able to pass some of my family history on to Mim.
The next question was when to drop to one knee? I knew I wanted it to be our favourite country in the world, Nepal, but we were waiting on a job to be confirmed in India before confirming our return. The day the email arrived confirming our trip to India and Nepal, I knew what I was going to do.
Fast forward a month, and after spending an intense four weeks exploring India, we were finally back in Nepal.
Thankfully, I’d managed to keep the ring safe on overnight trains and crazy city tuk tuks by hiding it deep within our camera bag - my thought was that our whole life (cameras, laptops) is on these bags, so I’ll never let them out of my sight.
Although the ring had survived, we barely had. Mim came down with tonsillitis, putting my best laid plans in jeopardy, but a good dose of super strength Nepali antibiotics had her feeling better in less than a week.
My mission was to propose on the top of Poon Hill, overlooking the incredible mountains of Annapurna Range.
After one of the best and most enjoyable hikes of our lives, we made it to Ghorepani, a town situated just below Poon Hill. We were both in good spirits, and the 4am wake up to watch sunrise was easy. Except, for me.
I had NO idea how I was going to make this proposal happen.
We arrived to the summit to the clearest of mornings, and before long we were taking hundreds of photos. It occurred to me that I should set up the tripod and use it as a decoy! I took the ring out of the camera bag, popped it in my pocket and built up the courage to propose.
I dropped to one knee.
Will you… I burst into tears before the words could come out, but Mim knew what was going on. YES, she replied, in tears of joy!
The next hour was totally surreal. Newly engaged in our favourite country, admiring some of the tallest peaks in the world, being congratulated by strangers, and with a 26km hike ahead of us.
Nepal always has been our favourite country, but it now means so much more to us. It really was the most wonderful occasion for us both, and one we’ll surely never forget.
We've also moved to a new country/city | Budapest
We’ve been on the road full time for about 15 months now (and away from Melbourne for almost four years!). In April 2018 we gave up our south London apartment and flew to Croatia, spending six weeks living and working on the Island of Hvar. Since then, we’ve floated in between cities and jobs over the next 15 months, living in London for a month, Vienna for a month, Australia for three months, and Bali for six weeks. It’s been amazing, but we were starting to burn out.
Really burn out.
We knew we needed a base in Europe, but had no idea where. Somewhere cheap and central was our only prerequisite.
We searched high and low for apartments just about everywhere, including Vienna, Glasgow, Valencia, Seville, Granada, Berlin and Bucharest.
However, it was during our trip to India that we stumbled across a Facebook ad for an apartment in Budapest. It looked amazing. Light, bright, 2 bedrooms, right in the 7th district… it was perfect.
Within minutes we'd put in an offer and were duly accepted. Literally in two days we’d gone from living out of our backpacks in India to renting an apartment in Budapest, a city we’d really only visited once or twice.
We still had six weeks before we moved in, but we were counting down the days… we needed somewhere to call our own for a bit. Somewhere a place we could cook, veg on the couch, have friends over, and most importantly, work in.
On July 1, we flew from Naples to Budapest and accepted the keys to our own apartment.
It’s fair to say we’re VERY happy.
We’ve been here almost a month now, and although we’ve spent a week in London to visit family, we’ve loved every single moment of our new little home.
It’s perfect, although it currently lacks in the plants department (this needs to be rectified ASAP!).
We’ve cooked meals almost nightly, found a new local (with cheap Aperol Spritz!), taken afternoon walks along the Danube, spent our weekends exploring the parks, and generally just loved being in one place for a while.
Budapest is a stunningly beautiful city with so much to see and do, and we can’t wait to explore more over the next 12 months.
So what does that mean for us and our travels?
We’re prioritising European travels for the next 12 months, trying to reduce our emissions from flying while exploring the continent as much as possible. We plan to do trips to neighbouring countries, while taking it slow.
We can’t wait.
We worked with some amazing new clients
In January, an email popped into our inbox from one of our favourite travel companies, G Adventures, asking to catch up and discuss collaborating. We did a little happy dance, as this was a company we’d wanted to work with since day dot of TCW.
It’s company we respect and that shares our responsible travel ethos, and embodies everything we love about travel.
We quickly locked in three jobs: a three-week rail journey through India (read all about it here!), a G for Good trip checking out G Adventures’ social enterprises through India and Nepal, and a Local Living tour on a Limoncello farm in Sorrento, Italy.
Each tour has been absolutely fantastic, and we couldn’t recommend travelling with G Adventures more.
We’re normally independent travellers, but group tours are an easier way to travel. Planning and logistics are taken out of travel, and all that remains is to enjoy the experiences and have fun, and with G Adventures, they’re generally authentic and positive for local communities.
With the way tourism is developing, it’s important to spend your money with a company that values responsible, sustainable tourism practices, and one that invests a large amount of their profits and resources into helping local communities around the world.
And that’s why we’re super happy to partner with G Adventures and promote them to our audience.
Remembering the value of Family and friends time
Never for a second to we take when we do for granted, but it does have some downsides - in particular being away from family and friends.
Over the last six months we’ve been able to spend a considerable amount of time with family, which for travellers like us, is a rarity. And it’s been bloody amazing.
Our three months in Australia included a wedding, Mark’s nephew’s christening and first birthday, Christmas and New Years, and many birthdays. Being able to be part of each of these occasions was really special, and one which we’ve totally missed.
Recently, we spent a week in Athens spending time with Mark’s rather spritely 92 year old grandad. While he might sound old, he’s so switched on and young at heart that it’s like hanging out with a mate.
And just a week ago, we were in London to celebrate what would have been Mark’s English grandads 100th birthday. Seeing all the uncles, aunties, cousins and kids was a special time.
We’ve also been able to see our European friends at the recent Traverse conference in Trentino, and at our various London visits. These guys are so supportive of what we do, and although we’ve all only known each other for three years or less, it feels like a lifetime.
Shoutout to all the family and friends who have made the last six months amazing - love ya.
Some of our favourite blog posts this month
We’re keen to share some of the content online that inspires us, as well as some of our best stuff. Below is our selection from July.
Our visit to the Panauti Community Homestay in Nepal | Discover how this group of inspiring Panauti women are tearing down barriers to equality, building businesses, and connecting with global travellers like never before.
Can going camera-free make you a more mindful traveler? | This article by Adventure.com asks a seriously important question, and this quote says it all - ”There are repercussions when we start thinking of the world as a series of photo ops and Instagram spots; when we start imposing our own vision on places without giving them a chance to reveal themselves.”
A story of origins | Our friends Along Dusty Roads go deep inside Italy to the source of what makes gin, gin. And what’s better than travel + gin?!
Travel Better WITH THESE ESSENTIAL POSTS
AIRBNB GUIDE | Our essential guide to getting the best out of Airbnb
TRAVEL INSURANCE | Don’t leave home without travel insurance (seriously, don’t!). Click here to get the best deals with World Nomads, our trusted travel insurance provider
PHOTOGRAPHY | Love our photography? Wondering what gear we use to get all of our photos around the world?
RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL | Responsible travel is important. REALLY IMPORTANT.
Learn our top responsible travel tips to help you, your family and friends travel more consciously around the globe
ECO FRIENDLY PACKING ESSENTIALS | Don’t leave home without our favourite eco-friendly travel essentials
We want our monthly updates to be a mix of our life, thoughts and musings.
If you’ve got anything you’d like to hear our opinion on, or want to know more about, let us know in the comments!