poles apart

Mike Hart and Kelly Pauze live their life poles apart from the majority of people in society, who work a 9-5 and count down to their 4 week vacation once a year. This Canadian couple have made the decision to work solid for 6 months then travel for 6 months, not as a one off but continually. They couldn’t stand waiting until they were 65 and retired to keep travelling, so they flipped that idea on its head and have started now. 

Your philosophy on life and work?  Live simply, be happy, healthy and not stressed! Work to live not live to work and don’t take life too seriously.

The realisation of how it came to be?

We had done a few 6 week trips and always wanted to go longer. So we decided to pack up the van and drive down to Mexico. Six months later, we came back from our journey with a new outlook on life. We learned a lot about each other and what we wanted our futures to be. We made it our mission to work hard and set goals so we could do it again.

What do you guys do for work so that you can escape the winters?

We are self employed and enjoy being our own bosses. We focus mostly on property maintenance and construction. We like working outside and with our hands. We have combined our skills and make a pretty good team. Mike the handyman, machine operator and Kelly the stonemason, landscaper and painter.

When you tell people that you manage to work 6 months on and 6 months off - I imagine they light up with jealous eyes. Why do you think most people don’t follow suit in this style of living?

There is no college course or manual for this lifestyle. The culture we live in is work 9-5 retire at 65, it’s not easy to break out of that mould. We made the choice to put kids on hold and focus on our seasonal business and exploring the world. 

What are your top three budgeting tips that help cater for a six month vacation?

1. Eat where the locals eat and self cater when you can. Fresh fruit and veggie markets save you heaps and keep you healthy, especially for us being vegetarian. Bakeries are great too. Too much night-life will suck you dry.

2. We sometimes avoid staying by the beach. A simple room with fan, a block or two away can be more economical.

3. The more you move, the more it costs. Research wisely where you want go. You don't need to see everything. 

Where was your favourite holiday escape?

Sri Lanka was one of our favourites. We've been twice. White sand beaches, aqua blue water, surfing, snorkelling, wildlife, vegetarian food, amazing people and very safe. We were fortunate enough to live with a family. They taught us a lot about respecting the land, animals and each other and just being happy and content. 

What is the most valuable life lesson learnt from travelling?

Embrace all cultures and religions with an open mind. Success is not what we accumulate through material objects. We only live once, no regrets!

Is there any country left unturned? If so where do you want to go?

That’s a really tough question as there is still so many we want to see. China, South Africa, Bangladesh, Nepal, the list can go on and on. That’s the beauty of travelling, there is always somewhere to dream about going which motivates us even more.

The average person gets around 2-4wks of holiday a year, what do you guys get up to for 6 months?

When we are home, we work a lot and don’t make the time to do the simple things, like reading a good book or lying in the hammock for an afternoon siesta. We really enjoy birding, wildlife watching, swimming, snorkelling, surfing, yoga, hiking and exploring cities and national parks. There is plenty to keep us out of trouble.

Travelling for you looks like it is more than just ticking off lonely planets top travel destinations. Describe your style of traveling.

We like to travel slow. We like finding a quiet place, soaking it all in, hanging with the locals, getting to know the surrounding area and relaxing. Travelling too much can get stressful and exhausting. We don’t pressure ourselves into seeing every little thing. 

How do you decide on where your next holiday will be? Do you flip a coin, spin the globe or something else?

We have a list that we have compiled over the years. We look for places with a hot tropical climate, surfing, swimming, snorkelling, good beaches, hiking, food, culture, architecture, national parks and archaeological sites. Basically a little of everything.

Mike you’ve been snowboarding for years now, can you describe what the early era of snowboarding was like?

The first snowboard kinda thing I rode was called a Scurfer. It was like a wood water ski with a rope tied to the nose to hold onto and half embedded staples sticking out of the top for grip. Then we moved onto Burton, Barefoot, Sims, K2, Avalanche and a few other boards that were pretty primitive. There were no real magazines or anything to get much info on what to do with the boards at first, so we made it up as we went. Some people tried ski poles not knowing better at the time. Once we figured it out we just took skateboard tricks to the snow. My favourite was the cross rocket back then.  

If you could choose an 80's or 90's theme song that sums up your go getter attitude what would it be?

Kelly: Footloose by Kenny Loggins.
Mike: Take the Power Back by Rage Against the Machine.

If you could offer some advice to people that have dreamt about doing what you do what would it be?

Over the past few years the internet has made it easy to research, review, see images and pre book your holiday. Guide books like Lonely Planet and Rough Guides can help you with, where to go, what to do, maps and budget. Be realistic on time frames. It can be overwhelming with so many choices that you don’t want to cram too much into your trip and then need a vacation after your vacation!

photos by Kelly & Mike (Except for opening image)