You’ve heard that more than a billion people live on a dollar a day, but have you ever tried?
For a whole month?
We first came across Danica and Nathan, the Canadian couple behind ‘The Ticket to Travel’ while they were filming their first YouTube documentary ‘Living on a Dollar A Day’ which showcases what life is like where they live together in Hetauda, Nepal, and how to be content on less. They’ve been doing ‘out-of-the-ordinary things in out-of-the-way places’ ever since, and they’ve just wrapped a new travel documentary and published a guidebook about trekking in ‘Nepal’s Diverse Triangle.’
We caught up with them after they’d come down from the peaks, for this interview:
Scroll down to watch the film!
How did you two meet?
Our families knew each other. They were trying to get us to meet. We kicked against the goads for a while
until we finally relented, met and found we had a lot in common. The rest is history. We’ve been married for almost 7 years now!
Was living abroad part of your plan from the start of your relationship or did you grow into that together?
From the start, it was a strong desire for both of us. We have always enjoyed travelling, learning new ways to live and broadening our perspective. Seriously, we have! Before we were married, we had both lived abroad separately in Mexico and Ireland and together, we’ve visited over a dozen countries across the globe.
Where were you in your lives when you decided to head out on the road?
We had already lived in two parts of Canada when we were first married that were new to us. That took a lot of adjustments and helped us wade slowly into moving abroad.
You’ve visited a bunch of countries together. What have been your favorite spots?
Chiapas, Mexico; Northern Ireland; Uganda; Nepal have been favorites. I guess what they all have in common is they are quite real, like considerably uncommercialized, with humble people and beautiful nature. But to be honest, it’s hard to pick favorites. Places that are off the beaten track where we can interact with local people are very close to our hearts.
You describe Hetauda, where you live now as ‘a small city in southern Nepal that has a spoonful of foreigners (like a teaspoon…for babies). How did you decide to settle there?
We liked the culture and heard about the beautiful, humble people there. There’s not a lot not to like about Nepal. It has been a good choice, and we’ve both grown a lot from the experience.
The eastern mentality has been molded over generations by culture and religion into something totally foreign to us. Things like privacy and having our own kitchen or bathroom were very important to us in the beginning. Slowly our view of these things has changed and although we still cherish a measure of privacy, we share a kitchen and bathroom with others and are okay with it.
Additionally, before leaving North America, we hadn’t experienced squat toilets and the absence of toilet paper, and seeing that seemed really weird at first. But over time, we have learned that there is not always a right and wrong way of doing things; there is simply more than one right way of doing things. The ways are just different. Eastern toilet habits, for instance, have a lot of benefits. Eastern community living keeps us from being introverted.
Realizing there is more than one right way of doing things has helped us to be more understanding of different cultures. Adapting to certain things has actually enriched our lives as opposed to just staying in our comfort zone. We complain less, stress less and enjoy more!
Do you consider yourself nomads or full-time residents of Nepal? Is this still a grand experiment or a permanent lifestyle?
It’s been about 2 and a half years now, and even though our faces can’t blend in with the crowd, we consider ourselves locals, as in, we feel we’re at home. We like living in Asia as a home base and wish to continue that. Unfortunately, it is not easy to get a visa to stay long term. Visas together with other factors, have us considering a move to neighboring India. But that won’t be a crazy change compared to Nepal.
It seems like you’re focused on living as locals rather than expats or travelers. Why is that important to you?
If we stay stuck in our ways, we won’t grow, and the things we learn from others won’t have much worth. We believe there’s more than one way of doing things, not just “our way, and the wrong way.” All cultures have good and bad aspects, but we wish to learn the good from others, and to do that we have to live like locals.
What choices have you made to make that happen? What have you sacrificed and what have you gained?
Choosing to keep our minds open to new ideas, I guess. We’ve sacrificed some comforts, a degree of privacy and have had to get out of our bubble, but we’ve gained a fresh outlook, an understanding of others way of life and viewpoint, and I think that is a very important treasure that is worth any little sacrifice to gain.
What do you love about Nepal? What have been your favorite moments living there so far?
There are few cultures that are as humble and modest as Nepali people, in our feeling anyways. Personal moments outside our videos with local friends are memories we will always cherish. It feels good also to have adapted enough to speak the language to a degree, know our way around and to a small degree, fit in. That gives us a small sense of accomplishment.
What’s your favorite thing about your new lifestyle?
I think the simple lifestyle frees us from a lot of stress, which is a welcome thing to reduce. Also, closing the gap between “you people, and we people” makes us quite content.
What’s been the most difficult thing about living as locals in Nepal?
We’ve sometimes been stared at because we’re different, or when people try to rip us off, that can be hard. The language barrier has been a struggle but is getting better. Visa complications and rules for staying/entering countries always proves to be a headache we could definitely do without.
What are you working on now and how can people find out about it?
Sharing our travels was just a way of making ends meets while living abroad. We both disliked English teaching and we thought we’d give this a try. But now we get real satisfaction from entertaining and informing others. Our motto is to do “out of the ordinary things in out of the way places” which essentially means staying off the beaten path. Our catch phrase is to “embrace the human race, and open your eyes to the world,” which means to keep an open mind.
We are now traveling through China and Southeast China. Our last project traveling through Nepal with our Minaal backpacks and our North-East India documentary were the first projects that have helped shape what we plan to do in the future: more documentary style videos on exotic regions, peoples, and food. A little less vlogging, and higher quality videos overall.
Follow us on Instagram, Facebook and visit our site: TheTicketToTravel.com where you can sign up for our monthly newsletter can be able to keep up to date about what’s going on now. But of course, anyone interested should subscribe to our YouTube channel, which is the core of what we do. The support of others who enjoy what we do keep us doing what we do.
After all of your travels, what’s your top travel hack?
I think back to the humbling fact that if we admit, we’ll do well: “There’s more than one right way of doing things.” Learning another way helps us to grow.
What couldn’t you live without at home in Nepal or on the road?
Well, we have to say each other, but we want to say it too, haha! A good partner and good friend will enrich any journey, any path of life. But some good quality, well thought out equipment, be it clothing or electronics makes things a lot easier. Good footwear like Keen’s, Rockports or Hush Puppies, merino wool clothes and reliable electronics like Apple products keep things slim and smart. Our Minaal backpacks that are sitting at our feet as we write this from a train in China are a good example of a solid product like this. They keep all our other stuff safe inside.
What advice do you have for someone who’s about to buy their first ticket to travel?
Enjoy the journey with an open mind, allow time for the unexpected, and avoid commercialized facsimiles of real culture. That’s the secret, or the “Ticket to Travel” in our experience.
Nepal’s Diverse Triangle: Travel Documentary