The Independent talks to Nick Wharton and Dariece Swift, the founders of travel blog Goats on the Road
Seven years ago, Nick Wharton and Dariece Swift had full-time jobs, a mortgage, a car and an average twenty-something life firmly routed in their native Canada.
Fast-forward to 2015, and the couple have been swimming with sharks in Mozambique, lived in an Ashram shrine, trekked through the Himalayas and seen five of the Wonders of the World.
Now, they are encouraging others not to be afraid to ditch the nine-to five to travel the world and “create a happier life”.
Both aged 23 in 2008, they were already feeling a “bit too tied down” with their well-paid jobs, mortgage and car, when a one-week holiday in Mexico triggered a desire to plunge into the unknown.
Dariece said they left their “typical all-inclusive resort” for tours through the jungle and into local villages.
“We were left wanting more,” she told The Independent. “Visiting underground caves and having Mexican children run up to us with huge smiles on their faces really sparked something in us.
“We returned home recharged with a new found love for the unknown.”
Just weeks after returning to Canada, Nick arrived home from work to ask his girlfriend where she would like to visit most in the world.
Her answer was Southeast Asia, and nine months later the couple had sold their home and left on a year-long backpacking tour.
Dariece said their sudden departure left family and friends “pretty shocked”, despite being supportive.
“Our decision to quit our jobs and sell our home, vehicle and belongings was a pretty sudden and drastic one, and although no one directly told us, we could see the concern on many of their faces,” she said.
“Perhaps it was concern for our safety, concern for the fact that we had only been dating for a little over a year, or maybe it was simply the fact that they were going to miss us.”
The couple toured through Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, India, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore before eventually returning to Canada once more.
But far from satisfying their longing to see the world, the adventure solidified their resolve to make travelling a way of life.
Nick and Dariece were re-hired at their previous jobs, at a printing press and as a paralegal, and returned to replenish their bank accounts, which were running dangerously low.
“After a couple of months back at work, we knew we couldn’t continue to live and work in Canada for the rest of our live,” Dariece said.
“That year abroad changed us and we found ourselves struggling to fit back in with the ‘normal’ way of life.”
Within a year, they had saved up enough for another 16 months of travelling, this time through Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
It was to be their last “holiday” from Canada – as they chose to live in China teaching English instead of “returning home to the grind”.
Since then, they have been documenting all their adventures on their Goats on the Road blog.
The website, carrying their chronicles, videos, advice and travel guides, is now their main source of income.
To top up the advertising revenue of between $3,500 (£2,300) and $5,000 (£3,200) a month, they also take jobs as freelance writers and video producers, as well as teaching English and house and pet sitting to cut accommodation costs.
So far, Nick and Dariece have visited 45 countries together and say they feel “nowhere near finished exploring the world”.
Although they said they could not pick favourites, destinations that made a particularly strong impression include Mongolia, where they trekked through the wilderness and met nomads, Grenada, which they “fell in love with” while being paid to pet-sit last year.
Dariece said they encountered “unbelievable” hospitality in Iran, where families would invite the couple into their homes to converse over tea, or even stay the night.
When asked what they missed about their old lifestyle, Nick said the distance from family and friends could be difficult but that it was “less relevant” with the ability to communicate over the internet.
“Until there is a digital hug however, we’ll still return to Canada each year or so for a visit – or better yet, people come and visit us,” he added.
Nick said the past seven years has completely changed his world view and understanding of what is important in life.
“We’ve learned that media doesn’t always portray places and people the way that they deserve to be represented and there is often an ulterior motive behind many of the things that we see on TV back home,” he added.
“We’ve learned that despite our endless differences and fascinating cultural uniqueness, we are all the same in this world. We all have the same core values and we all love each other.
“We’re all human and we’re all in this together. That’s probably the most important thing that we’ve learned from travelling, and our life is better off just by knowing that simple truth.”
He and Dariece have written advice for other people considering making travelling a way of life and say they try to make readers realise that what most people dismiss as a dream is, in fact, attainable.
“We had barely left Canada before 2008 and now we’re travelling full-time, and we had no idea what a blog was before creating ours and now, Goats on the Road funds our travelling lifestyle,” Nick added.
When asked what he would tell anyone considering making a similar move, this was his advice: “If you really want change, then just jump towards a world of freedom and adventure. Don’t put it off another day.
“Once you take the plunge, there are always safety nets that appear to cushion your fall.
“One thing is for sure, if you’re heading on the right path in your life, then everything will work out and fall into place.”