We are Ashray and Zara from India and Portugal. Until 2011 we were living in a far away land called Dubai. It was where we met and fell in love. However, for a number of reasons, life in Dubai no longer appealed to us, so we decided to sell all our stuff, pack our bags and travel the world!
Back in 2011, our plan was to travel for one year. But as it so often happens, destiny had different plans for us.
Since then, we’ve time traveled in Cuba, got engaged in Machu Picchu, learned how to surf in Costa Rica, swam with sharks in the Galapagos islands, eaten grasshoppers in Mexico, discussed Bollywood in Ethiopia, seen the Northern lights in Norway, and participated in exotic festivals in Thailand.
Backpack ME started as a small project to share our adventures with friends, family, and a few interested readers. Today, we share our stories with tens of thousands of readers around the world! We’ve worked with major brands to inspire our readers to travel more and explore this fascinating world we live in.
Our life and responsibilities have been structured in a way that we can be completely location independent. We work online and live in different places across continents for as long as we choose, and often, as long as our visas allow. We have not had our own house since 2011.
To give you an idea, recently we’ve spent time in Istanbul, Taipei, New York City, Puerto Rico, Antigua (Guatemala), Helsinki, and Stockholm. We often intersperse short intense periods of travel and exploration with longer periods of staying in a new city and catching up with work. We feel like we are taking full advantage of the 21st century economy by working online and living a life that isn’t tied to just one location.
On Backpack ME we write about our experiences traveling, working online, meeting different cultures, getting the most out of our money, and our life as global citizens.
I grew up in India and my parents loved to travel. We traveled all over this beautiful and enormous country. Then I moved to Dubai. I traveled a bit around the Middle East and Asia during my time there. After living in Dubai for 5 years I got sick of the superficial lifestyle, the horrible summers and the obvious disparities. I decided to take my sweetheart and leave on a jet plane – that makes me better than John Denver at least ;)
I decided to take my sweetheart and leave on a jet plane.
So here we are. Traveling around the world has been a dream of mine and now I am living it. I write about working as a programmer on the road, my challenges traveling with an Indian passport, and about what it means to live life on the road.
I am half Portuguese and half Spanish but, obviously, belonging to two countries wasn’t enough for me. I have always wanted to travel around the world but, as many, always thought money would be an issue.
After working my butt off for many years, I managed to save some cash. Only later I understood that time is way more valuable than money and the freedom of movement is what you really need to get going. For all of the people that tell me: “you are so lucky, I wish I could travel!” my only advice would be to put yourselves out there and make a move. If you don’t, there will be a day when you regret dreaming more than doing.
Put yourselves out there and make a move.
I consider myself a very lucky person for finding Ashray, the perfect travel companion. He keeps me entertained, inspired and grounded. Traveling with your partner could be considered “the true test of true love”. If you can travel long term with each other and still be together by the end of it, there is definitely potential! I would recommend all lovers to travel out of their comfort zones to test how strong your connection can be.
Right now, I am enjoying life to the fullest and hope our articles, photos and videos inspire you guys to do the same… whether it’s traveling long or short term, go see the world and open up your mind. It will make you a better person!
I write about how food connects you to different cultures, digital nomad spaces in different locations, and lots of quirky observations about the places we visit. I have also written a book about Portuguese food.
Why we are different
It’s well known that the world is full of travel bloggers, traveling couples, travel guides, and more. So what makes our experience unique?
To put it simply, everything we are makes us different! We’re east meets west, yin and yang. Don’t get it?
We’re from India and Portugal. We grew up in our respective countries and we bring to the table a unique mix of eastern and western perspectives. Most travel guides that you will find, are by westerners, for westerners. This creates a huge gap in perspective as well as challenges faced. A very simple example of our unique trials and tribulations is the famous Indian Passport. Unlike most people with USA/European/other-awesome-passports, the Indian passport is unique. It does not get you visa on arrival or visa free entry in most places. This becomes a great challenge for long term travelers. We deal with this and write about it and our experiences will help people who don’t possess such passports (most of Asia/Africa/etc.) travel with greater ease.
Another thing that makes us different from most travelers is that we do not have a home to come back to. We come from different sides of the world and, although we used to live in Dubai, we do not have a house over there any longer. So where are we going to settle next? We really don’t know. We’re seeing as much of the world as we can, before we decide on a new home.
That’s just the beginning of how our experience is very different from other travel writers. You could imagine that our perspectives on food, culture, etc. are unique as well!
We have traveled to more than 50 countries around Latin America, Asia, Europe, North America, Africa and the Middle East. As we make our way around the world, we write about the unique challenges we face as a couple working on the road, without a home to go back to.
Some of our adventures:
If you’re new on Backpack ME, dive in by reading about some of the good and bad things that have happened to us over the years. You can also explore the menu at the top of every page to navigate around the site. Here are a few of our articles to get you started:
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