What I’m about to do is a little bit cruel. (Sorry in advance.)
I’m about to send your wanderlust into overdrive. I know we can’t travel right now, so consider this Talking Shop interview a necessary pre-read in your planning for the first trip you’re going to take post-quarantine.
I’ve been so excited to talk with Sam and Ryan of Our Travel Passport, husband-and-wife bloggers and jet-setters who share the most gorgeous video, photography, and online travel guides for exploring the world. Their adventures will make you majorly swoon.
Today, we chat about best travel advice, their favorite destination, and how Our Travel Passport has helped strengthen their marriage.
Everyone, meet Sam and Ryan!
How did you two meet?
We met the first night of our freshman year of college. Sam’s sister walked up to me (Ryan) and pretty much said, “You guys should date!” We dated briefly but then stayed friends for a few years before getting serious.
How did OTP get started?
Sam was always big into blogging in the OG blogging/Blogspot days. When we got married, we vowed to travel the world together, so that summer (2015) during internships in DC we took every opportunity to explore the Northeast. Our friends and family started asking questions about it so she decided to start writing and posting to a new blog called “The Looney’s.” It turned into Our Travel Passport when we created the Instagram account in February 2016 right before our first big trip to India!
What is your best travel advice?
Don’t have any expectations.
What we see on social media is generally edited, colors are enhanced, the weather in the photo you saw could’ve been perfect while you might be there on an overcast day, etc. etc. etc. If you go in with expectations of exactly what you’re going to do, see, and feel you’ll probably be stressed about checking things off a list and disappointed when things aren’t exactly how you imagined them.
Going in with an open mind and exploring a new destination with completely fresh eyes will allow you to be present and enjoy the destination for what it is and not for what you thought it might be. Ninety-nine percent of the time, how you actually experience it is way better than what you thought it was going to be!
For each of you, what has been your favorite travel destination? Favorite travel memory?
Ryan: The Serengeti, Tanzania. This is easily one of the best destinations in the world as far as I’m concerned. I love feeling free and experiencing wild life. It was also an amazing glamping experience as well. Falling asleep to the sounds of lions, hyenas, and hippos was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before!
Sam: Milos, Greece. All of the Greek islands are absolutely stunning, but this tiny island stole my heart. Between the white moonscape beach of Sarakiniko, the traditional fisherman villages, tiny Greek churches, and the clearest blue and turquoise water we’ve ever seen, Milos truly can’t be beat.
Ryan: I don’t think I have just one favorite memory, but here’s a thought I just had. Sometimes I look at some of my friends’ lives and wonder what life would be like if we didn’t spend so much time traveling and had a more normal looking life. Maybe we’d have a bigger home because we’d spend more days in it and maybe we’d have two cars because we’d need them to commute to separate jobs, or whatever it is. But when I stop to think about it, I would never trade the lifetime full of memories and experiences that we have together over the last 5 years, exploring the world, building a business, and watching sunset after sunset for literally anything. And it’s just beginning.
Sam: It’s so hard to decide, but one of my favorite memories was from our trip to Turkey last September. We were on a week-long sailing trip and one of the days, while we were on land, we took a taxi to a beach called Kaputas Beach. It was the most beautiful beach and we stayed all day. Once the sun set, everyone else on the beach left, and we had the entire beach to ourselves. We spent the next hour watching the sky turn the most amazing shades of red and orange and pink, and we played in the waves and just laughed and laughed with our friends. It was truly one of those nights that, even in the moment, we knew we never wanted to forget.
You spend a lot of time and effort creating content designed to help others have rewarding travel experiences. How do you continue to create new, authentic, and meaningful content? What do you enjoy most about helping others enjoy traveling as much as you do?
It’s always a process. We’re constantly learning and improving so it’s always different.
For example, we’re in the middle of a full website rebuild just to make it easier for readers to find a destination and use our guide or itinerary. It’s been almost a year since we started this and will be completely done in mid-June, so it’s always changing and we’re constantly adapting by asking people what they want and simply delivering.
My favorite part about what we do is that we get to be ourselves. We get random people stumbling across our website or Instagram and will say something like “You should have more diversity in models on your blog!” (Hi, it’s a personal blog and we aren’t models lol) or “This is just a bunch of nonsense about pretty places.” (Uh yes, we love all things pretty!) and we just laugh because we can only travel how we travel. All we have is us. So we get to share our travel style, our thoughts, our opinions, and the best tips we can give, and that’s all we can do! It doesn’t matter if someone isn’t interested in that, because there are so many people that enjoy our travel style, so we show up for them!
How has OTP strengthened your marriage?
This is such a good question, because honestly OTP has been so important for our relationship! Sam and I are really different people. At our cores we have the same values, but our interests don’t overlap much, except for travel, sunshine, and hustling to make a life for ourselves. It’s given us something to bond over, fight for together, and lets us succeed together.
How do you push yourselves out of your comfort zones in new destinations?
My first thought was to say that we do some pretty adventurous things like hopping on the back of strangers tiny mopeds to speed down gravely steep mountains, go paragliding in Turkey, or hike to cliff sides for a jump into the ocean or just a picture, but even though we aren’t adventure travelers, we’re pretty comfortable with that.
Honestly, while we’re traveling we sort of stick to ourselves. I’d like to make more friends, slow down and become part of a community somewhere we stay for a while. I think that would push us the most!
How do you achieve mindfulness in a job that requires so much time on social media and with technology?
This is a battle everyday, to be totally honest and open with you. About a year ago, we were in Italy and I just about broke. I hit the end of the line and got completely burnt out. We’d been going for weeks, traveling and working 200 days a year, and when we were home we were working 12-14 hour days every day. I started to experience severe anxiety and started to go to therapy.
It’s something I’m just feeling like I’m getting on top of, but mindfulness is everything. For me, I need a routine, I workout, eat fats and proteins for breakfast, meditate with a guided meditation on Spotify, journal my thoughts for at least 5 minutes and slow down.
I realized my anxiety was coming a lot from not being present, worrying about things outside of my control, thinking I needed to do more. To combat it I’ve had to become more generous, forgiving, and compassionate with myself. I needed to allow myself to fail and not call myself a failure. To practice this I had to change the script in so many ways, changing my internal dialogue from “I have to do this” to “I would love to do this” and in so many other ways. I could go on forever.
If this is something you struggle with, practice breathing and only thinking about your breathing. When other thoughts come to you, don’t fight them but just let them be there as you continue to focus on breathing. Your mind literally changes with this practice and it’s been so amazing for me in my life! In regards to the technology, sometimes I have to delete all the social apps on my phone for a day or two. It just helps me reset and not be so reliant on them!
The Fun Qs:
What are your favorite L.A. spots?
We currently live just off of Abbot Kinney in Venice and it’s our all time favorite spot. We walk up and down it, get Salt and Straw ice cream, and end up at the beach. We always watch sunset from the pride lifeguard tower in Venice because of how close it is to us, but we’re moving a bit North, so I’m sure our routine will change. We love driving PCH and going to El Matador State Beach at the end of Malibu, walking out on the Malibu Pier, or checking out the homes in Pacific Palisades.
What song is currently stuck in your head?
If it’s on TikTok it’s stuck in my head right now.
Favorite thing to do on date night?
Get pizza from either Abbot’s Pizza (Chicken Curry Pizza – LIFE CHANGING!) or Butcher’s Daughter (Kale Pesto w/ Vegan Cashew Cheese) in Venice (my favorite part), go watch the sunset, and then cuddle and settle in for a long night of Netflix binging (Sam’s favorite part).
Latest Netflix/Hulu binge?
I never thought you’d ask haha! Little Fires Everywhere, That 70’s Show, Brooklyn 99, All American, Bless this Mess. (Missing Friends!). Past shows we’ve binged: Parks and Rec, The Office, The Good Place. We like to laugh!