Traveler of the Month- James and Sam from Two Tales Travel

In another edition of Traveler of the Month, I wanted to feature the travel bloggers behind Two Tales Travel! NYC-based, yet permanently World-Bound, this couple made up by James and Sam have an adventurous spirit when it comes to travel. Check out their Q&A and learn more about their travel tips. Also check out their Instagram @twotalestravel that highlights the storytelling adventures of this traveling couple! Enjoy!

Could tell us a little blurb about your blog and how you got started? 

James: Wherever we go we both have different experiences, interpretations, and favorite moments. So we decided to put those different POVs to use in a blog. We started primarily just as a record of all the trips we take together, but we quickly realized we had a lot of recommendations and advice to give.

Sam: What James said!

Why did you create the blog and who is it for?

James: I like telling stories. And the more we traveled, the more stories we had to tell, so it seemed logical to put those stories somewhere that people could read them – even if it’s only my mum who does so! We also learn through experience as we go about our travels, so if we’re able to give someone a bit of advice that makes their trip better, that’s a bonus. And who’s it for? Anyone that’s looking for some travel inspiration!

Sam: We both love to travel, and we often get questions from our friends and family for recommendations and advice. So James had the idea of starting this blog as a way to share our experiences with our friends and family, and to also document our adventures.

Must haves when traveling?

James: A sense of curiosity. Without it you’ll just end up seeing the things that everyone sees – which is cool, but there’s always so much more out there. To me curiosity makes the difference between a tourist and a traveler. There’s nothing wrong with being either, but I know which one will come away with a better tale to tell.

Sam: A game plan. Spend the time before a trip to do research and figure out all the things you want to do, instead of deciding while you’re there; you’ll end up wasting loads of time. I also hate organized tours. When I travel, I want to get the local experience, and being in an organized tour is like having ‘tourist’ labeled on your forehead. You end up going to places that are an illusion of the local culture, instead of the authentic experience.

Best travel experience?

James: This is a tough question to answer! There’s one that always springs to mind, maybe not as the best, but definitely an interesting one. We were in a van one night in Thailand and our driver decided to turn off the well-lit roads and onto country paths – long story short, before we knew it we were sitting in what looked like the village hall drinking whiskey at one of the villagers’ bachelor party.

Sam: Hands down, Llama Path in Peru. The team was professional, knowledgeable and friendly. We didn’t have to worry about a single thing on our trek because everything was prepared in advance.

How do you decide where to travel next?

 James: I usually take this upon myself, purely because I want to travel to pretty much everywhere I see a picture of! I’m always keeping an eye out for the next place to check out. I do a fair amount of research to find places that have a lot of potential to be a great trip, then Sam researches the detail. It’s not a strict requirement, but if I feel surprised by a place when I’m researching it, then it goes on the list.

Sam: We’re going to a wedding in Chambery, France next week, and we’re making a quick trip to Zurich, Switzerland afterwards. We have a running joke that our trips always involve us climbing up some kind of mountain – biking in the mountains of Yangshuo, trekking to Machu Picchu, snowmobiling up the Canadian Rockies, hiking in Hawaii, so I’m really looking forward to a trip that’s more about culture and history. Plus, I’ve never been to Switzerland. Our last few trips have been driven by family obligations, so I hope we can fit in a trip of own some time this year!

First trip experience?

James: The first trip I can remember was camping with my family in France – we used to do it every summer. But the first trip to give me the travel bug was probably a trip to Sri Lanka. The feeling of complete unfamiliarity and remoteness was strangely unsettling and inspiring at the same time. I remember there being machine gun turrets right outside the airport, traffic stopping to let elephants walk across the street, and the sweet earthy smell of the jungle in the mountains. It was shortly after the 2003 tsunami and one night there was a tsunami siren, which forced people to rush back to their hotel – it all felt very exotic.

Sam: My first memorable trip was to Vietnam. I’ve traveled a bunch before, but there was something life changing about this one. Every year the school closed for “Interim Week”, where students were sent to different places for charity work and personal development. I was assigned to go to Hanoi, where we’d spend the first couple of days working in the rice fields and volunteering at a local orphanage, before sightseeing in Hanoi for a few days before going home. Vietnam was different from any of the places I had been to.

Best money-saving advice while traveling?

James: Always try to save on flights. It’s the most expensive part of the trip and one you can’t get around. We’re always on top of the latest flash sales and offers. We’ve also taken to making the most of credit card points. The Points Guy has some solid advice on doing so – definitely worth a read.

Sam: I don’t take cabs when I’m on holiday. Take public transport – or even better, walk. We spend too much time with our heads down. Use travel as an excuse to look around and notice the world around you.

Favorite travel magazines/blogs to follow online?

James: I’ve always been a fan National Geographic Travel, so I follow those guys. There’s also a bunch of instagram accounts like @discoverearth that I follow just to see cool places. @secretflying is a great one for quick deals, and I also follow a lot of airlines on social media – they often post deals or travel inspiration from their home country. I recently discovered Atlas Obscura, which is dedicated to uncovering off-the-beaten-path experiences – check it out.

Sam: Most of my travel inspiration is from Instagram, my favorite ones are @passionpassport, @cntraveler, @jetsetterdotcom, @beautifuldestinations and @thepointsguy.

Advice you have for any newbie travelers? 

James: Don’t expect every place to be as good as the last; just take it for what it is, because each location will offer a unique experience. Make sure you embrace that experience rather than trying to make it something it’s not.

Sam: If you’re not picky about where you’re going, sign up for flight deals and make travel plans based on what’s on sale. I sign up for daily emails from SecretFlying and TheFlightDeal, and I also get alerts from AirfareWatchdog and Kayak for specific destinations I want to go.