Each week, The Pin The Map Project turns towards the vibrant and endlessly interesting travel community to highlight the stories of travelers, writers and bloggers. This week, meet Ashley Chalmers and Carolyn Godfrey of the popular blog, The Lazy Travelers. These two best friends have spent their nearly life-long friendship indulging their insatiable appetite for travel and wanderlust. Ashley, “the romantic,” convinced her husband to leave chaotic New York for a five-month RTW adventure before relocating to France. Ashely now spends her days indulging in French cheese and wine, while her husband is pursuing his MBA outside Paris. Carolyn, “the wino,” is currently living in New York City in a small studio apartment with her fiancé. Carolyn regularly walks the fine line between balancing her real-world job and limited budget with a constant desire to travel (something I can absolutely relate to!) Here I interview Ashley and Carolyn on their “go with the flow” travel style, how they started The Lazy Traveler and what’s next for them in 2014.
What inspires you both to travel?
Carolyn: I think both of us have this insatiable desire to see the world. It’s weird to me when people don’t have the desire. It’s ingrained in me.
Ashley: Agreed, I don’t understand people who don’t want to travel. I obviously understand people who can’t, or people who prioritize things differently, but the need to travel is just a part of who we are.
For those who don’t yet know you, can you explain your travel style?
C: We’re extremely “go with the flow.” We never like to over-plan, because chances are we’ll end up at a bar or café getting drunk and skipping what we planned anyway.
A: We both realized long ago that we don’t really care about ticking items off a list just to say we have been somewhere. We like to absorb our surroundings—and if that means skipping a day of museum hopping in favor of eating and drinking our way through a city, then so be it.
C: We get this question a lot! Travel is extremely important to us, so to put it simply, we prioritize it over A LOT of things. Neither of us have ever owned a home, I don’t own a car, and we’d rather save our pennies to travel than purchase a lot of the things that other people our age are saving up for. Also, you don’t always have to save up for one big trip. I’m a fan of long weekends or short getaways that help keep costs to a minimum, but still satisfy my desire to travel.
A: Agreed, it’s all about prioritizing. We also have learned a lot about our travel styles over the years. We’ve outgrown the hostel scene, but we can’t stay in luxury five star hotels every night, either. We’ll stay in a luxury hotel for a night or two (usually when we arrive and again before we leave), and then book an apartment or smaller, more basic hotel for the rest of the trip. I also have a Starwood Preferred Guest Amex and a Marriott Rewards Visa, which are hugely helpful for those luxury splurges—they often end up not actually costing anything. It’s extra nice because when I do decide to spend money on non-travel related items, I tell the hubs, “no, it’s ok! It’s a new dress now and a free hotel room later.” He likes it.
Where has been your favorite destination?
C: No matter how many places I travel, I almost always come back to Paris as my favorite. There’s something about that city that can’t be beat. Probs the wine.
A: It might be too broad, but can I say all of Europe? It’s just so easy and relatively affordable to travel from place to place here, especially compared to the US.
If you had to settle down in one location forever, where would you choose and why?
C: Eek, settling down anywhere for too long freaks me out.
A: Ha, seconded! Can’t pick, won’t pick. Though it would be nice if our next city is the same again. It’s no fun being an ocean apart.
What’s the funniest or weirdest cultural idiosyncrasy you have either witnessed or experienced?
C: Mmm, why is my mind drawing a blank? Ashley?
A: I loved when we first went to Eastern Europe and people had giant pints of Pilsner with breakfast. It was like we found our people.
What keepsake do you have to get at all your destinations? (Whether it’s something free like ticket stubs or brochures, or something you have to buy)
C: I rarely come home with a big souvenir or keepsake but I love finding old receipts or ticket stubs in my wallet from around the world. I still have Swiss Francs in my wallet from when I went to Zurich for the first time in 2009.
A: I’m all about taking tons of pictures, they’re usually my best keepsake. On our RTW, I went through a phase of collecting free bracelets. I had a red braided bracelet from a temple in Cambodia, a woven hemp bracelet made for me by a local tour guide in Hawaii while we were on a hike, and a beaded bracelet that our AirBnb host in Montenegro made for me. They all fell off by the end of the summer, unfortunately.
How about the one thing you cannot travel without?
A: She left out the part where she calls it “chappy.” I’d have to say a camera. I’ve been lazy and solely depending on my iPhone too much lately, but I’m always happy later when I lug out my DSLR.
What is the best piece of travel advice you have picked up over the years?
C: Hmm, maybe to do what seems fun to you? Sounds kind of obvious, but on past trips I’ve dragged myself to boring sites that I didn’t care about because I felt like I HAD to see them. Now, I only want to see the things that interest me.
A: Use packing cubes! I’m a chronic overpacker and these babies keep me in line. We can fit two large cubes in our carry-on suitcase, so if I can’t fit something into a cube, it doesn’t go. Or I have to wear it on the plane. The hubs is very bossy about carry-ons only.
Why did you begin your website? And how did you come up with your website name?
C: We were both really bored and really unfulfilled in our old jobs and we needed a bit of a stress-reliever and escape. I honestly can’t remember how we came up with The Lazy Travelers’ name, but I’m assuming it was Ashley’s idea because she’s the creative one.
A: I think it involved a lot of wine. I’m sure of it. But it definitely all comes back to the fact that we’re far more interested in strolling around a city or kicking back on our hotel balcony to people-watch than zipping between “must-see” sites.
C: Do it! One of the perks we definitely didn’t foresee was meeting an entire community of travel bloggers, some of whom have become really great friends of ours.
A: Do it, but do it for yourself and not for the attention or the free stuff. There are definite perks but we only accept the ones that match our personalities and travel style.
What’s next for 2014? (Trips planned, etc.)
C: We have a couple of other trips in the works, and potentially one big one, but our lips are sealed for now!
A: Lots of little weekend trips are in the works for me. I only have a few months left in France, so I really want to get to Champagne and Bordeaux and definitely up to Normandy. But yes, our next big joint project is in the works, so hopefully comes together soon so we can share!
Follow The Lazy Travelers: