A&Z Backpack ME

WOAH! 2 years on the road today!

Today it’s our 2nd travel anniversary: 2 years ago today, we were leaving Dubai to travel the world. We were basically saying good-bye to life as we knew it.

Much has happened every since. You can read last year’s post about our 1st year traveling. This second year has been substantially different. When I waved good-bye to Dubai in the flight to Addis Ababa in September 2011 I felt a sensation of relief that mixed with the excitement made me the youngest person at heart in the whole world. Not that I feel old now, but I will probably never feel that way anymore: it was a once in a life-time thing, a dream coming true. It was me and my lover sticking up our middle fingers to a life of routine in a stuck-up place, and shouting out loud to the world:


We’re grabbing life by the horns and doing whatever the hell we want with it!


This was the spirit that made me fall in love with Ashray and that makes me fall in love with him over and over again. This is what keeps me going.

Living life to the fullest!

Living life to the fullest!


Some people still think we’re on the longest vacation ever. How many times have I heard the condescendent tone in people’s voice when they talk to us about our way of life or they see us go again. When they imply that we’re some sort of modern hippies, bums, nomads without a purpose. Talking with some people I sometimes get the feeling that we don’t suffer enough: and if you don’t suffer enough (and certainly whine about it even more) they won’t notice you or value what you do. Not that we’re living life waiting for anyone out there to validate our choices, but sometimes I wish more people would understand that there isn’t only one correct lifestyle. You can live life on your own terms as long as you’re not hurting anyone. You can build something as you go, make mistakes too, enjoy, but ultimately not be a robot on auto-pilot, just passing by. Just because we’re not in the same place everyday, do not have to answer to a boss or live restricted by traditional working hours, doesn’t mean we’re not productive members of society. The difference is that we don’t belong to one society only, but we keep on working on the go, we keep on having ideas we want to take further, and as someone once implied, no, we’re not doing this on our parents money (c’mon, I’m 31 years old!!)

Personally, I want to do something to be proud of, I wan’t to do things that fulfill me. I want to enlarge my horizons, and give back to the world. As Macklemore sings: “if I’d done it for the money I’d have been a fucking lawyer“. That’s one of the most certain things I have come to understand during our travels: you don’t need to be rich to enjoy long term travels and certainly not to live a fulfilling life. Furthermore, the less you spend and the more you focus on experiencing things instead of buying stuff, the more you’ll feel satisfied.

These 2 years have been the biggest learning opportunity I could have ever hoped for – I can assure you 4 years in college don’t even start comparing to this! I know we won’t be traveling (at least not at this rate) forever – we want to have a family, we have to develop projects that require geographical stability. Every phase in life has its things, and right now, I’m learning with different cultures around the world as much as I can: experiencing their ways, their food and their habits helps me gain perspective in life.


Travel has made me a better person: I can now look at the bigger picture of the world,  not just my country or wherever I am at a given moment.


Our travel style has changed slightly in the last year. If it’s true that we were never the crazy tourist type, running around with a list of must-sees and ticking things out, it’s also true that right now we seem to be even less interested in seeing things (monuments, landmarks, etc) and much more into observing people’s lifestyles.

These are some of the things we did during this 2nd year of travels:

After 1 year traveling all over Latin America, we did a brief trip to the USA, namely New York City and Chicago. New York felt like we had been there before, thanks for the countless movies and TV shows we have watched set in the Big Apple. And in Chicago I got to meet one of my favorite musicians ever, Chris Carrabba from Dashboard Confessional and Further Seems Forever. That night, exchanging words with Chris about concerts, India and other random stuff, made me realize even more than when you get out of our comfort zone to pursue your dreams, good things always end up coming your way.

One day Chris and I will sing together... he just doesn't know it yet!

One day Chris and I will sing together… he just doesn


After one entire year by ourselves, Ashray and I went our separate ways for a little while. I went to Portugal and he went to New Delhi, to spend some time with family. I later met him in India and lived with his family in New Delhi for a few months. Spending a solid time in a given place is never the same as traveling around for a while. India still is, to date, the country that has impacted me the most – I can assure you no one leaves this place indifferent. Love it, hate it, do whatever you want – but the things one gets to see and experience in India stay with you forever.

A regular day in our hood in Dwarka, Delhi

A regular day in our hood in Dwarka, Delhi


Further travels in India also took place back then: we had some time to explore the state of Tamil Nadu in South India, from buzzing Chennai to sea-side Pondicherry and alternative Auroville.

Exploring the temples of Chennai

Exploring the temples of Chennai


We entered 2013 in one of our favorite places in India: Goa. We spent Christmas in North Goa and New Year’s in South Goa and got to admire how different their vibes actually are.

Great time with friends in Goa

Great time with friends in Goa


As our asses can’t sit still for very long, we heard the international calling once again and headed on a trip to Hong Kong and Macau. It felt so good to explore Asia (so distinct from the Latin American vibes we were still immersed in) and fill our days with steamy baskets of dim sum and even started learning how to cook Chinese food.

Big Buddha & Big Baruah, in Hong Kong

Big Buddha & Big Baruah, in Hong Kong


Back in India once again, the big day arrived: we got married!

Our wedding day

Our wedding day


We managed to squeeze in a few days in South Goa with our dear friend Anita Catita who has back then initiating her love affair with India, but as our Hindu marriage didn’t exactly have legal validity, we headed to Vegas to make it all official! 50 days of road tripping followed, alongside days by the Pacific, adventures in several national parks and a lot ( I repeat, A LOT) of burgers!

See what else we did around the USA!

At Glacier National Park, USA

At Glacier National Park, USA


We spent a couple of weeks back in Delhi recharging batteries and going mostly vegetarian to detox.

Dosas: quite probably, my favorite vegetarian food on earth!

Dosas: quite probably, my favorite vegetarian food on earth!


Summer was an European affair this time. We visited family in Portugal, spent some oh la la days in Paris, explored the Czech Republic and discovered that this is a great country to travel around, way beyond Prague. We also fell in love with Berlin and Amsterdam - we even think any of these cities would be a great place to live in!

In multicultural Amsterdam

In multicultural Amsterdam


After a brief stay in Delhi once again, we headed for our South East Asia adventure that shall last until the end of 2013. Right now, we’re in Thailand: one of the greatest destinations a budget traveler could ever hope for. Intense culture, great people, rich cuisine and incredible value for money.

A&Z in Ko Phi Phi

A&Z in Ko Phi Phi: we came for 3 days and it's been a week! Probably easy to see why!..



Backpack ME is 2 years old too now.
Can you believe it looked like this when we got started?

What Backpack ME looked like in October 2011

What Backpack ME looked like in October 2011


This site is a major part of our travels because through it we get to share inspiration with the world – and this is one of the things that makes me happy on my daily life. During the past 2 years, we have received so many messages of people asking us how they can go about doing what we’re doing for a while too, or simply asking for suggestions and recommendations for their trips.

We have also come to know about 2 people (1 in Asia and 1 in Europe) who decided to quit their day jobs after reading Backpack ME, and do what they love: travel and volunteer. The fact that you can connect with people in different sides of the world and somehow make an impact on the way they see their life, is such a powerful thing!

Sometimes we come to know of people who have been reading Backpack ME for a while and we didn’t know about. So if you’re one of them, don’t be shy today and do SAY HI in the comments below! We want to know about you… if only you knew how cool it is to have you on the other side! :)

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  • Agness Says

    Guys, first of all congratulations on your anniversary. It’s such a milestone. Wish you more adventures and another 10 or 20 years on the road. Secondly, what a great journey in Latin America. It’s on my bucket list so I’ve been dreaming of going there. What a great wedding! You both looked so beautiful and happy. All the best!!!

    • Zara Says

      Thanks Agness!
      Let us know if you need any tips when you finally head to Latin America. We had the time of our lives over there!!
      All the best for your ongoing travels too! :)

  • K Says

    Amazing! This post really resonated with me, as my boyfriend and I are currently planning to leave our jobs (as lawyers – that Macklemore quote was particularly on point!) and begin our own adventure. We’re ready to start accumulating experiences instead of things, and we’re figuring out how to respond to people that think we should just keep slugging away (as robots on auto-pilot, as you said). Reading your post, I’m sure we’re making the right decision. Your adventure sounds like it has been incredible; I look forward to trolling through your archives!

    • Zara Says

      Hey K!
      Nice to read you guys are planning to quit your jobs to do something you love!
      Hahaa.. the Macklemore quote was really spot on! :D
      Don’t worry about people who’ll discourage you (sometimes even not willingly, but simply by choosing the wrong words) – you’ll always come across people who won’t understand and others who are simply jealous because they might not have the balls to make a move themselves. Don’t let them bring you down – go and have the time of your life instead!
      All the best for you and your boyfriend – keep us posted, do let us know how it all goes! :)

  • You two have a great story to tell. It’s good to see a couple living the traveling lifestyle. How long will you two be in Thailand?

    • Zara Says

      Hi Tim! Thanks for your comment!
      In a few days it completes 1 month in Thailand and gotta head out ’cause the visa on arrival is only good for 30 days. We shall be visiting nearby Laos, Cambodia and maybe Vietnam.. and then we will be back to Thailand to explore some more in the North.. this country is pretty awesome and there’s tons to see, do.. and eat! ;)

  • Irina Says

    You guys are always an inspiration! I love your international family that reminds me a lot of my own. Congrats on the anniversary and for many more to come!

  • Inês Alves Says


    As I already told you Zara, this year I was really hating my job, the place I was living was awful, the work partners were even worst…..
    so I started looking for travel blogs! Backpack me was such an inspiration that I quit my job (I screamed out loud like Mrº Wallace: FREEEDOOOMMM) and actually in 10 days I’ll be arriving in Kathmandu for a 3 months trip around Asia!!!Woooohooooo!

    P.S – And I keep reading the blog as I became a huge fan!

    • Zara Says

      Once again: congrats on making such a bold move. Way to go!! :D
      We’re happy to have shared some positive vibes with you!
      Best of luck for Kathmandu.. let us know how it goes, ok??
      And as Mr. Wallace would say “they may take our lives, but they’ll never take… OUR FREEDOM!!!”
      Enjoy your well deserved freedom!! :)

  • Mariya Says

    Happy anniversary! I’ve been following you for a while and really enjoy your posts. My husband and I just finished a 21-month trip around the world and now we are back to the States trying to get used to the American life again. It will be difficult. We’ll start with a couple of weeks road trip around the US – your post about the US national parks and the one membership card was really helpful. Keep on traveling!

    • Zara Says

      Hi Mariya,
      Thanks for your comment!
      Oh boy, I can imagine coming back home after 21 months traveling must not be easy!! But worse than that would have been to never travel and see the world, right? ;)
      Enjoy your travels in the US and keep that adventurous spirit alive!

  • That was an emotional post, man! left me with a little “lágrima no canto do olho”!!

  • Franca Says

    Guys a massive congratulations for your travel-anniversary! I wish you can keep traveling for another 10 and more years! :)

  • Ruby Says

    Just ran into this blog from Pinterest;) looking for a vegetarian recipe and was thrown here,for some much needed inspiration:) I traveled for a month allover mexico in 1999 and my husband now says that is something i never stop talking about. U know why? U guys know why,because it is in those moments tthat precious memories are made and kept deep in your soul. I now have a family with 4 kids that I Adore. It isn’tmuch like single years were like for me but Hey! I still manage to sneak in some traveling experiences as much as we can afford to do. This year we wwere in Florida,Mexico,California and the Hubby/youngest babe and I Utah. At times try to lure my husband in to the thoughts of what if we could make a better peaceful life in another country? Peru my native country:) but it is the thoughts of wondering if it all would workout well specially since we have kids. So maybe one day,I feel it in me,I know so that one day I will find my self embraced under the sun of India,Egypt,Thailand, Japan,Brazil,Europe & plenty more unique temporary homes that I will experience. For now I will settle for my 14 day trip to Peru in march with the Hubby:) next year crossing fingers I hope to b in India 2015:) wish me luck! I just wish it would b much easier to vanish into a more less stressful,no routine a non push push world but it never really is once kids r involved. Who knows maybe ,just maybe our dream more like my dream:) to live else where but the US,will become a reality,u never know what awaits ahead. Best of luck to u guys too,tonight u were my Muse. Best to u & Safe travels. Enjoy it beforefore the babes r in the pic;)

    • Zara Says

      Hi Ruby!

      Thanks for such a nice comment! It’s funny that you ended up here looking for a vegetarian recipe.. good coincidence! ;)

      We sure know why you can’t stop talking about that trip. We know the feeling!
      We LOVE your home country, Peru. We got engaged over there last year itself, in Machu Picchu… we had such a great time in Peru. And THE FOOD… oh boy, the food! Nos encanta el ceviche!!

      As you say, we’re enjoying a life full of travels before the babies come in the picture. That’s why we decided to do this now, before other responsibilities make mobility more difficult. We travel on the go (on projects online) – that’s how we can afford this life style (apart from the fact that we also saved money before we got started).

      We hope you get to travel as much as you wish.. and maybe when your kiddos are grown-up you can go on a round-the-world trip and have plenty of things to talk about for a while! Keep us posted on your adventures!

      Saludos! :)

  • Ruby Says

    Oh yes one more thing I guess a question, can I pls know how is it that u r able to afford all these wonderful adventures? So curious!;) do u work in each country u visit? Would live to know how u do it.

  • Vik Says


    First of all congrats to the two of you..that is some achievement. I guess I would fall into the category of the ‘shy reader’ who has been following your blog for at least a year now ( when you put it that way it does sound kinda creepy ;-) )…I guess its only fair that you get to know a little bit about me too..I’m originally from India; have lived in Dubai and then India and now in Europe, have a german girfriend and we enjoy travelling. I guess that’s how I started following this blog. Its been fun and looking forward to more stuff from you guys. (and that Postcard!!..he heh:))

    • Zara Says

      Hi Vik!

      Nice to hear from you… and don’t worry, it does not sound creepy! ;)
      Glad to know you’ve been following.
      So India – Dubai – Europe, eh?! I see we’ve got some things in common then!

      Cheers and I hope you continue reading about our adventures and do share yours sometimes too!

  • Cracked it! Keep it up, may see you somewhere in the near future!

  • Dixie Phillips Says

    Awesome! You are living the dream ;)

  • Christina Says

    I’m obsessed with your posts and vids. I’m considering taking a 1 month long trip to mexico. I’m mexican American and I’ve always dreamt of exploring my mother country. How much money do you think I’d need to live and explore during that month.

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