You found us! We are veryitchyfeet.com, an Australian/ Ecuadorian couple who have, between us, visited more than 95 countries and speak three languages, English, Italian and Spanish. Lovers of life, people and culture we are not always in the same place for a long time. We are intrepid travellers at heart.
We often get asked what our favourite countries are. We like really off-the-beaten-track and the less visited places; Slovenia, Georgia, Nagorno-Karabakh, Colombia … just way too many to list!
“Life is too short not to travel!”
The Dream Team
Let me introduce myself. I am Ombi, the Aussie half of the duo (and the writing half as well). I am 40-something going on 25. I started backpacking way back in the late 80s when it really wasn’t common to not be in the same job for 10 years or more! It didn’t feel right for me then and it doesn’t feel right for me now. I was definitely born in the wrong decade. I pushed on, however, and as always, did things my way! I have travelled every year since my first trip, sometimes for two weeks, sometimes for two and a half years. I am a go-with-the flow kinda gal. I now have a multitude of countries under my belt from Nagorno-Karabakh to Antarctica to Paraguay. I am the self-confessed Peter Pan who never grew up, and don’t plan on doing so anytime soon! I want to keep exploring the world because … life is for living! Oh, and although I have had some great jobs in my life, I didn’t ditch my corporate job to travel … I never had one. For me, travel always came first.
I am passionate about life, helping people, doing good, being happy, making people laugh, being kind and coffee, oh very good coffee (I am allowed to be; I am of Italian extraction, raised in Melbourne). I am going to warn you right now though; people who are rude and know-it-alls will never make my top 10.
Enter Alex, the Ecuadorian and photography half of veryitchyfeet. In 1998, after a year of teaching English in Japan for a year, I decided to fulfil a lifelong dream and backpack solo around South America. It was wild and free, a bit like me, and after some eight months of travelling, I met Alex in his native Quito, Ecuador’s capital. You know, we met, fell in love and the rest, as they say, is history. I lived in Quito for a year but could not find a decent souvenir; I thus figured a decent partner was well worth the catch. We moved to Australia in the early noughties. Apparently, Alex thought I made a great visa too!
Alex is easy-going, tech savvy, a great photographer (no I am not biased), lots of fun to be around, and shares my passion for travel. Score! I couldn’t ask for much more than that. He is passionate about equality, respect, food (he gets seriously narky when the food’s crap, whilst realising that this is still a first world problem!), treating people with compassion and dignity and actually photographing people with compassion and dignity. Amongst his pet peeves are rude and arrogant people and humans who shove their cameras into the faces of the people they are photographing whilst travelling. In his words, “I love cycling, hiking, travelling, entrepreneurship, Startups and capturing images/videos around the globe.”
The journey so far!
Together we have been travelling the world since our meeting and blogging about our experiences since 2007. We started with blogger and at first, it was just about letting our friends and family know what we were up to. What makes us special? The really unusual places we have visited on our travels! What makes us different? Definitely, the amount of time we have spent travelling. How many travel bloggers can say they’ve been doing this for 30 years? Well, at least I have … come on Alex you’re almost there!
And so … we are currently back in Melbourne after travelling the world for almost two and a half years. On this last trip, we visited four continents and some 24 countries. It was every bit of wow! Eight months back at home seems long enough so … South America and Easter Island here we come! Watch this space, as we are about to turn our passion into a profession!
We want to share with you travel tales and anecdotes, amazing pictures, raw and real videos and tips and advice on what you can do and how you can do it. Follow us as we take you on a range of detours that will make your travel experience that bit more special and unique. Connect with the locals and learn about their culture along the way. The people and their culture really are the heartbeat of a nation. Sometimes we will also show you the bad and the sad side of travel and the negative social impact this has on its people. We promise to be open, honest, transparent and true. In all that we show you, however, we will always remind you that those who wander are never lost!
Simple. We love travelling and we are always on the move. When we were picking a name, back in 2007, itchyfeet immediately sprang to mind, but it was taken, to which I immediately replied, “why not veryitchyfeet?” And so a name was born.
Why travel detours?
Whilst vertitchyfeet describes us wanting to always be on the move, it doesn’t really explain how we do it. We have both always loved unusual and different places; destinations frequented by fewer people and so we thought that ‘detours’ aptly described this. That feeling of not necessarily knowing exactly where you are going or how you are going to do it, and then being thrilled when you get there. We have always travelled this way. The uncertainty and unexpected twists often take us to places we never imagined amongst people who have surpassed our wildest expectations. The journey continues and we want to share these insights with you.
What’s our travel style?
We are backpackers at heart, always have been and I suppose always will be! We carry our packs on our backs as that’s what gives us the most mobility and freedom, both physically as well as mentally. We do budget but not bedbugs! There’s this misnomer that all backpackers rough it hardcore, sometimes don’t wash and stay in the cheapest place ever to save a dollar. Not us! We do basic but clean accommodation (preferring to save in other ways) and yes we do use soap! Nobody wants to smell us, or anyone else for that matter.
We don’t do a day here and a day there, as ‘ticking places off’ is not the reason we travel. Adversely, we travel to meet people and immerse ourselves in different cultures. Local experiences are paramount. Sometimes we see the major sights, and sometimes we don’t. We tend to mix it up. I can say, however, that each and every country you visit has so much more going for it than simply the sights it is famous for. Go on, take a detour, and surprise yourself!
Where do we sleep? A bit of this and a bit of that really. We aren’t your velcro-couple and we both love meeting new people. We do hostels, most certainly, but tend to get a private room. We also do cheap hotels and apartments as well as Air BnB. After a clean room and bed, a kitchen is the thing we most prize as we cook a lot.
We’re not really drinkers (just not our thing) but love great food. Whilst we go out to eat occasionally we are always scouring the local markets, as not only are they the heartbeat of a nation, but you can also get some amazingly cheap produce. It’s always great to try and cook with the local fare, spices and herbs too. I have been known on more than one occasion to cook up a storm and share it around with the people I am staying with, locals and foreigners alike.
We are hikers and explorers, we are city-slickers, we like to roam off the familiar track, hang out with locals, chill on a beach, and jump in the back of a truck to get a ride to a place that has no transport. We … just … love … exploring this amazing planet we live on!
There’s only one life! We’re living it!
Q: What’s your most brag-worthy adventure?
A: For me, it was conning my way onto an Argentine Hercules fighter plane in Argentina (Rio Gallegos) in 1999 and flying to Antarctica for free. For Alex, it has to be his seven trips to the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador.
Q: How can you travel so often and for so long?
A: Apart from commercialising our blog and making a go of it professionally, we basically worked and saved our money. We aren’t lucky, we just made choices that would enable us to live the life we wanted to. Eating in, not drinking, buying second-hand stuff, minimising purchases to what we need rather than what we want. No flashy car, no $4000 engagement ring, no keeping up with the Jones’. We have always valued experiences over ‘things’.
Q: How did you meet?
A: In a bar in Quito, Ecuador, corny but true! I had spent a year teaching English in Japan, and another backpacking through South America solo. Towards the end of my South American sojourn I was out dancing in a club in Quito and I spotted this great dancer on the floor. Our eyes locked, and the rest, as they say is history. I spent a year in Quito, after which we moved back to Australia, and got married in New York a couple of years after that. Ain’t love grand!
Q: Do you ever get home sick?
A: No. We are both gypsies at heart. Home is wherever and whenever we stop.
Q: Do you ever get bored of travelling?
A: Short answer: No. Long answer: Sometimes travelling can be all-consuming and tiring. Being a traveller is not at all like being a tourist. Quite frankly, it can be really hard work sometimes. There have been times that just the thought of packing my backpack (again!) has made me want to scream … very loudly! But … the new and exciting experiences that we are constantly being dished out makes it all worthwhile.
Q: What’s your main form of transportation?
A: A little bit of everything. Sometimes you clearly have no option but to fly. We use trains and buses, really for anything up to 20 hours. We mostly only use taxis when either absolutely necessary or when and if the price is comparable to local transport, as this clearly helps save money. We also use a lot of ‘foot-power’; walking keeps you fit and really helps you to see things that you wouldn’t otherwise.
Q: What’s your favourite country?
A: Ah, the million dollar question. Ombi: Sorry, can’t just give one and would struggle to give only five, but here goes. Colombia, Ecuador, Slovenia, Georgia and Turkey. Alex: Guatemala, Slovenia, Myanmar, Armenia and Georgia.
Q: Do you worry about your safety?
A: We are ‘healthily aware’ of our surroundings at all times. I mean, anything can happen anywhere. My Dad has recently been broken into twice in Melbourne, once successfully, by drug addicts.
Q: Has anything ever happened to you or have you been robbed?
A: Yes. Ombi: I was mugged in La Boca, Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1999, but I chased the thieves and got all of my stuff back! I had a camera stolen in that same year with all of my Antarctica photos on it. There was no ‘cloud’ then, just point, shoot and develop. Oh well, never developed that lot! I also had a jacket ‘razored’ in Ecuador later that same year and they stole my purse! But … that’s not where my ‘real ‘stash was. It cost me USD $3.00 to repair my jacket. 1999, what a year! But guess what? Absolutely nothing since then! Alex: Yep, a few times in his native Quito, Ecuador. That’ll teach him to walk home tipsy! Seriously, don’t drink and walk home. Just don’t! In fact, when travelling, always think about where and how much you drink. You are a walking bull’s eye!
Q: What’s your most valued travel possession?
A: For me, it’s my self-assured ‘don’t f$%k with me look’ if I think someone shady is walking behind me. I turn around and give it to ’em. One of two things happens: If they weren’t thinking of doing something shady, they’ll just think I am a psycho. If they were thinking of doing something shady … that ferocious eye-contact will send them running. Shady people choose victims! For Alex, it has to be his camera and computer.
Q: Will you ever stop travelling?
A: How can I answer that? Maybe one day we’ll have to, but for now, no. We just keep yearning for new experiences. It’s a big, wide world out there.
Q: Are you going to have kids?
A: No. Let me keep this sweet and simple. Some people want them, some people don’t; we never did. Next question.
Q: Describe yourself in three words.
A: Ombi: Honest, passionate, compassionate. Alex: Direct, perceptive, good sense of humour.
Q: Ethical travel. What is it and why do you do it?
A: I could get all technical but let’s just say that ethical, or responsible travel is simply the art of travelling mindfully. It’s being aware of our impact as we travel the world. Travel is now the biggest industry on Earth and as travellers our impact (both good and bad) is enormous. We thus have a responsibility to tread carefully and leave the smallest footprint. We try and use companies who are local providers and especially those who help their own communities as well as looking after their land. When looking for accommodation, again, we try and look for a place that is run by locals rather than foreigners. When buying something from a market we don’t pay triple but we don’t bargain to within an inch of our lives; consider the livelihood of the person you are buying from. Whilst the learning curve is a constant process every little bit helps. We believe that together we can make this world a more equitable place for all.
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