(P.S. this photo is of Elizabeth training a gelding in Penang, Malaysia)
A Little Deeper
We have always loved tea. We have always loved travelling. Combining the two remains an obvious decision, and one that continues to open up new adventures. Many of our destinations are chosen because of their teas and the culture surrounding them.
A few key things about us:
we are pro FIRE (financial independence, retire early) and also utilitarianians.
FIRE is a general goal to focus effort on building assets and passive income rather than falling into the standard spend-all-you-earn lifestyle once you have the basics covered. It's a confusing term as people in the FIRE community don't want to actually retire, it's about having the ability to work on new businesses and projects that may not pay off immediately. It's most definitely true that not all people can try this, but it's also true that one's choices make this goal easier or harder especially for many people in the global north where we both grew up.
Our spending for a moderate lifestyle for a month in Kochi India, for example, would be less than minimum wage living in the UK....and still allow us to save or invest the difference. We own very few things as well! One big way we substantially differ with the FIRE community however, is that we really aren't interested in working ridiculously hard in any particular job 24/7 to invest in index funds for years and years earning a few percent on that investment - living as a means to an end and hoping it's all worth it one day. We seek to do things we enjoy and that means starting businesses, property and travel, with the hope that this work will result in much larger payoffs than the "4% rule".
The utilitarian side is connected: it's how we think and live our lives. What is the highest standard of living we can achieve with the least spending or work? We are constantly assessing our actions and decisions in work or leisure in order to find the pareto efficient point (we both studied economics!). Sounds a little privileged? Well we are always ready to cut our living standard, rather than opt to fill every moment with work to pay for the luxuries of life (or a car to match the neighbour's). Most people we meet are surprised how little we spend. Living around the world for 4 years, and in Madrid for 2 years, was all at a far lower cost than in our native UK/London. This sort of constant analysis of ourselves, our decisions and our lives is with us in every day life too. Even down to "Wow this biscuit is nice...but why? What about it makes it so?". This may seem a little bizarre but we find this focus on the little things makes us remember and appreciate our experiences - being mindful as much as possible is another word.
Our other interests are centred around inequality and inequality of opportunity hence our study of economic development at university. We have great faith in science, engineering and technology to problem-solve wide-scale, and in self-reflection and self-awareness to improve one's own life. In terms of less grandiose thinking, our interests include tea (obviously!), travel (obviously!) and photography & horses too.
How do we give back? Apart from helping our families like we all try to do, in the same ways we are lucky our families always look out for us, we find a good portion of our time each week, each month, is spent on advising friends we meet around the world on their hopes and ambitions. Whether it's a starting a bakery in India, a catering company in Wales or the hundreds of hours of conversation with everyone we meet who just has an idea in their head...we try to help as many people as we can in this way. It's a mix of 25% life-coaching and 75% helping people start up businesses. Owning one's own business is a liberating experience.
One day we plan to start up a co-working space / business accelerator where we can give our advice feely, and have a physical space to promote fledgling businesses and meet new people. It's been a dream for so many years, and now we're settled again rather than nomadic it's not so far away.
Elizabeth is our writer.
A chronicle of our travel+tea journey can be found in our Blog, where there is the running series 'Teas of the World' that is an entirely 'serious' review of how tea is consumed in the countries we are visiting. We also have the Living Kerala Series chronicling our time in India, and then there are a variety of pieces on a wide range of subjects.
Vientiene is our photographer.
A selection of our best photography from all these countries (50+ so far!) is found here.
We hope you enjoy, and maybe learn something too!
P.S. Have we mentioned yet that we sell tea?! Check out our shop here!