This week’s Travel Blog interview:
David & Veronica from Gypsy Nesters
1. Who are you and where are you from? We are David & Veronica James, these days The Gypsy Nesters. Where are you from shouldn’t be a difficult question, but in our case it has several answers. David was born in Wichita Kansas, but spent a good deal of childhood in Colorado, which feels more like home. Veronica is from Southern California, and was, like, a Valley Girl. However home, as in where we lived the longest and had our kids, was Nashville, Tennessee. Then we moved down to The Caribbean, living on St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands. That’s where all three kids graduated from high school, so in a way that also feels like home. Now, as full time travelers, home is wherever we happen to be.
2. Favorite thing about your hometown? Neither of us feel much connection to our childhood hometowns, but love St. Croix and could very likely see ourselves back there living on a boat someday.
3. #1 Reason you travel? We have both loved to travel and see new places all of our lives, but of course traveling was not so easy with three kids. We did manage to do some, and felt it was important to expose our children to new places. David has always traveled as a part of his work. Musicians have to go where the people are, they seldom come to them, so touring took him to 48 states and 23 countries before our kids were grown and out of the house. Once the nest emptied, Veronica was free to become a vagabond as well and took to it eagerly.
4. Job you left behind? Veronica designed websites, basically ever since there was such a thing. She ran a company in Nashville that did dozens of music sites, as well as many others. On St. Croix she worked in the technology department at the school that our kids attended. All of that experience helped immensely with setting up GypsyNester.com once we hit the road. David was a musician, singer, and songwriter, then had a radio show on St. Croix. The music on many of our videos is his.
5. What thing(s) did you give up to save money for travel? We didn’t really save up for travel. We started out just looking for a way to catch up with family and friends that we hadn’t seen in years since it was not often we made it up to the states while living on St. Croix. We thought a beat up used motorhome might do the trick. Something that if it died, who cares? We could see everybody, and then sell it. So we set out in a $3000 Ebay RV. After all of our visits, it didn’t die, in fact it ran great. So we just kept going. Somewhere along the way we realized that we didn’t want to stop.
6. What kind of backpack do you carry and why? Just a small Targus, we aren’t really backpackers, it’s just for computers, cameras and equipment. We’re more rolly-bag people, easier on the old bones.
7. Funniest Travel/WTF moment? Wow, there’s been a bunch. Our website is filled with them, often involving eating weird things. Just recently, eating silkworms in China was pretty amusing. Then there was the day in Italy when Veronica couldn’t figure out how to get OUT of our hotel room. She was trapped inside for hours simply because she couldn’t figure out how the knob worked and was too embarrassed to call David up and ask for help. She knew she would be teased mercilessly. She finally broke down and called and, of course, was teased mercilessly. She got her comeuppance a few hours later when David, in the same cursed hotel room, tossed himself across the room by being careless with our electrical inverter. Nothing like a good jolt from 220 volts to wake a person up!
8. Favorite ‘Off-the-beaten-Path’ place: It’s always hard for us to pick favorites. We usually like wherever we are best, until we see the next place. Still, the little town of Wangen, Germany stands out as one. We had no idea what it was, we were just pulling off the autobahn to find a hotel for the night, and it turned out to be such a wonderful place. There’s also a winery that has guest rooms in northern Italy, Cave di Moleto, that was incredible. Puerto Peñasco, on The Gulf of California in Mexico, is a fantastic little fishing village with an RV park right on the beach. The fishermen walk through the park selling their fresh catch every day. Hard to beat that. In the U.S. there are several, Cedar Key, off the gulf coast in Florida is a gem. They call themselves the island that time forgot. We really like Bozman, Montana too, and Acadiana in South Louisiana. But probably tops for us was discovering the Gullah food and culture along the sea islands of South Carolina and Georgia.
9. Your MUST HAVE(s) while on the road: Obviously camera and computer, and we love our new iPhone with the built in wifi hotspot. Also, when flying the inflatable neck pillow is a must.
10. Laundry: Send it out or use the sink? We are most definitely travel-light-and-wash-it-in-the sink folks.
11. Favorite book: Like we said before, it’s hard to choose favorites. David: I would say probably Slaughter House Five, by Kurt Vonnegut, even though I haven’t read it in years, but I recently read The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz and that might be up there too. Veronica: I have read 1984 so many times that I’ve worn covers off several editions. My favorite children’s story is Charlotte’s Web.
12. Stay out late or get up early? Used to be very much the stay out late types, but not so much anymore. We still will occasionally, but now it takes two days just to recover. Plus we’ve found that we get a lot done in the mornings.
13. DSLR or Point & Shoot? What brand(s) and lenses do you carry? Point and shoot. While pictures are incredibly important to us for fully telling our stories on GypsyNester.com, we don’t want the camera to interfere with what we are doing. We want to capture events as they happen, so we need to be ready to shoot at a moment’s notice. We love the Canon Power Shot. We have two of them, an old SD 850 that we use for underwater, and a SD 970. Part of our philosophy is to see the world as anyone can, take photos that anyone can capture. If we get too fancy, we believe we will lose that connection with our readers.
14. Favorite kind of Pizza: The kind you get in Italy. Seriously, pretty much any little pizzeria in Italy will blow away any pizza from anywhere else. That said, quatro stagioni, four seasons, which is artichoke for spring, olives for summer, mushrooms for fall, and prosciutto for winter. If Italy is too far away, John’s on Bleeker Street in New York City makes a mighty good pie.
15. What is your average daily budget? It varies wildly. There are days that we don’t spend a dime, stay in a Walmart parking lot. I guess there’s gas money then. But we really try to live cheaply. On a lot of our overseas trips we are able to combine travel with other work. David still plays some shows in Europe so we can go from there sometimes. No matter where we are we like to travel “low to the ground.” In other words, see things as they really are, more like the natives. So we don’t stay in fancy hotels or five star resorts. After our first year traveling we figured up what we spent and it was really no more than what we were spending living in a house.
16. How many countries have you visited? Hmmm, let’s try to count… we think 32… if we didn’t forget any.