Meet Ivana & Gianni, a Slovak-Italian digital nomad couple who quit their bad habits and later their jobs to travel the world. After traveling extensively through Europe and went for a short trip to Morocco, they wished to know more about people and culture on the other continents. In summer 2013 they finally quit their day jobs, sold and gave away everything they owned, packed their carry-on luggage (8 kilos each) and bought a one-way ticket to Bangkok.
Ivana & Gianni of NomadisBeautiful.com
Learn more about Ivana & Gianni by reading their interesting responses to our travel questionnaire below.
Gianni on the zip line in Tibiao Antique Philippines
When did you start traveling, inspirations?
We had been living in Germany for almost three years when we faced one of the biggest challenges in our lives and quit smoking and drinking alcohol. One of the reasons was our health, but eventually Gianni got an idea to save the money we would have spent on booze or tobacco for travelling. And that’s how we ended up on the road.
Lessons you learned on the road?
We’ve learned that it’s always good to count up to ten before reacting in tough situations where a smile just doesn’t cut it. Also, we realized that to respect the other culture is much more important than one would expect. It’s easy to say, “I don’t have a problem with other nations” when you live in your homeland. But it is something else to face them in reality. To understand the background of some nations without misunderstanding and misinterpreting situations or peoples’ reactions is the one of the crucial lessons.
Destinations on your bucket list?
India, Mongolia, the Middle East, the Balkans and Portugal.
Gianni with our home stay family in Ubud Bali Indonesia
Beach or mountain?
A beach with a mountain behind!
How often do you travel by air / land?
Well, we do our best to fly as little as possible, but sometimes it’s just not possible because of time pressure, visa issues or other reasons. Still, we take flights when we fly overseas and travel over land when we move within the country. But when there is an option to take a bus or a boat to cross a border, we take that chance, as we did in Thailand on our way to Laos.
Ivana with Diane and her mother in Pandan Island in Antique Philippines
What’s your favorite airport?
Hmm, it’s difficult to choose one, because in the end, almost all of those we were passing through gave us more or less the same feeling. But we like the ones in Frankfurt, Prague and Denpasar.
What is your favorite hotel?
Oh, we can tell you more about which ones we don’t like after our terrible last night in Bangkok, which was unfortunately also our very last night in Asia! But to pick one or two, we enjoyed Angkor Boutique Tropic Hotel in Siem Reap and Circle Inn in Iloilo.
What is your preferred airline?
So far Qatar is the one we would choose again when flying from Europe to Asia. But because we are on a budget, we cannot ignore AirAsia, Wizzair or Ryanair. We accept the fact that ‘you get what you pay for’, and if you get more than you expect it’s a nice bonus.
How do you beat jet lag / motion sickness?
Well, with jet lag, we just follow the rhythm of the country where we arrive. This has worked the best. Sure, after a 17-hour flight you want to have a rest no matter which time of day it is.
Speaking of motion sickness, I (Ivana) could write a story book about it. I didn’t have a clue I could get seasick until I boarded a speed boat in Thailand and my face changed colour instantly. It’s definitely not the best condition when you are travelling, but I just beat it with a pill now.
Kayaking in Laos
What are your favorite travel gadgets?
Our MacBook Air laptops, Gianni’s Fuji XT-1 mirrorless camera, a Kindle, earplugs and a waterproof bag.
Any tips on how to travel light?
Our suggestion how to travel light is to PACK light. And how do you do that? First of all, it’s about a frame of mind and becoming aware of the typical habits of possession that we, humans, develop in a society that invites you to be owner of everything without thinking what it is truly good for. If you set your mind in a mode that you go to travel because you want to collect memories, not objects, you are on the right path.
Then, if people still have doubts about whether they are strong enough to carry 20 kg of stuff, they should try to load a backpack/suitcase with all the things they want to travel with and go for a walk for an hour, possibly in hot or rainy weather. We are sure after they come back home, they will know exactly what they want to carry.
We travel with three t-shirts each, two pair of trousers, one pair of shoes and a simple jumper. Of course, we bring some underwear and one pair of socks each. That’s all. Everything you don’t pack and might NEED on the road, you will be able to BUY on the road.
And the best thing about travelling light is that you save money and time, since you don’t need to check your luggage and then wait for it or even worse, be worried that they might lose it.
Snorkeling in Koh Lanta using GoPro
Best backpack brand?
We pack our stuff into our North Face backpacks (Router for Gianni and Surge II for Ivana) and we couldn’t be happier. We don’t go over 10 kg each with them, so we can take them everywhere with us.
Top 3 Philippine destinations?
Oh, can you ask us this question in a few years? Joking! We explored only ONE island out of over 7000 during our trip to the Philippines, so we cannot give anyone many suggestions.
But we can only recommend a visit to Pandan, Tibiao and Manila. The first two we love because we spent most of the time there and we were able to interact with locals, which was one of the highlights of our visit to the Philippines.
And without visiting Manila, you cannot have a complete picture of the country.
Things you love about the Philippines?
People, people, people.
Things you hate about the Philippines?
‘Hate’ is a too strong word. We would rather say that we had a bit of difficulties with food, as we prefer vegetarian meals, but on the other hand, we sampled a lot of local specialties, like with our CouchSurfing host in Manila!
Gianni talking to Mrs. Victoria in Roxas City Philippines
What made you decide to visit the Philippines?
We started to plan our trip there after we spoke to our dear fellow traveller Clelia from Keep Calm and Travel, when she was staying in Pandan. The idea of a small village near the sea allured us and we were hooked.
Top 3 International Destinations?
Puglia in Italy, Iceland and Romania.
Favorite Travel Quote:
“Not all those who wander are lost” J.R.R. Tolkien