We (Laura & Paul) left our jobs and home in Seattle in April 2015 to travel across the Middle East and Asia. We set out with no guiding mission or agenda with packs on our backs and open-minded about who we might meet and what we might see, hear, smell, taste and feel. We hope to tell stories openly and honestly about what we experience and, as best we can, let places and people ‘speak’ for themselves through words, photos, sound recordings, and videos.
Professionally, we both have a technology background and we intend to put our training to good use on the road and build apps for fellow travelers or to solve ‘problems’ we encounter.
Our intention is to travel for 16-18 months and we hope to spend time in Turkey, Iran, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, China (Xinjiang), Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, and Papua New Guinea.
Our expectation is that this itinerary will change based on what we hear from fellow travelers and people we meet in the countries we visit.
I grew up in Sitka, Alaska, where there is no road access so leaving town means getting on a plane or ferry. This made me a traveler almost from birth. My first “big trip” was five weeks in Europe with two friends after we graduated from high school. I got my first taste of Asia in a 7-month trip to India, Nepal and Tibet with Paul in 2007. Since then, I’ve wanted to do another big trip incorporating more regions of Asia.
I studied art history in college, but switched to computer science when I realized that being a software developer would be a creative career that could allow me the flexibility to spend more time traveling. Since Paul and I moved to Washington in 2008, we have spent almost every summer hiking and backpacking in the Cascades and the Olympics, which has ignited our interest in doing more of the world’s great hikes.
I grew up in the industrial heartland of the UK. My hometown is Wolverhampton where the finest views were overlooking Bilston Steelworks and my high school’s cricket field! I got out of town at every available opportunity and travel was always uppermost in my mind. My first overseas trip was aged 13 when I was supposed to go to Greece on a school holiday. That was canceled and replaced by a trip to the mountain regions of France and Switzerland. This inspired a life long fascination with high mountain scenery. Sadly, I have yet to visit Greece!
This is my third bout of long term travel (4th if you include a 7 month Doctoral Research trip to India, Nepal, and Tibet). My first trip was organized with 5 days notice and ended up being an epic 18 month North to South journey from Mexico City to Foz Do Iguacu. Two years later, I embarked on a 15 month trip across South and SE Asia.
Hiking is a major pastime. I have hiked in the Tien Shan, Karakoram, Himalaya, Andes, Sierra Nevadas, and, extensively, in my own backyard- the Cascades in Washington State. I am extremely excited to hike in the Himalaya and Tien Shan again, as well as making first time trips to the Fan Mountains, the Pamirs, and the volcanoes of the Pacific Rim.
Professionally, I work as a Sr Program Manager for large software projects. My work ethos is heavily informed by Design Thinking and this will undoubtedly influence the way we travel, solve ‘problems’, and create apps on the road.
I worked for 15 years in the live concert production working with the mega-famous (Nirvana, Soundgarden, REM) but preferring to inhabit the underground (SWANS, Cut Hands, Coil). Expect sound to feature heavily in my stories.
Academically, I studied Asian religions (Buddhism, in particular) so expect to see and hear plenty about Angkor, Borobudur, and the great mosques of the Silk Road routes.
Why Design Think Travel?
No apologies for the slightly pretentious name! Design Thinking is an approach to product design which I use and coach at work. The approach heavily influenced the way we planned our trip. We intend to design apps for travelers on the road so inevitably those apps will be developed using Design Thinking methodologies.