Have you ever fantasised about packing in your job and moving to an exciting and far-flung destination? Let’s face it, who hasn’t?
Well, for one couple that dream became a reality. Mark and Nadine currently live in Thailand and write all about their exciting travels on their wonderful blog, If Not Now.
We caught up with the couple to find out more about their amazing adventure so far. From a long distance romance to creating a home across the world, their story might just make you want to hop on a flight.
Our blog/Instagram page is primarily a travel blog. We aim to share our own experiences of our travels and life abroad with others. Hopefully, we can inspire people to take the leap and travel themselves.
There is also an element of lifestyle to our blog. We share advice on how travelling can benefit mental health, our tips for surviving a long-distance relationship and discussing what life is like post-university. We tend to write about things that we feel are relevant and that we believe in.
Mark is originally from England and I (Nadine) am from Ireland, but we actually met by complete chance in Thailand.
I spent three weeks participating in Camp Thailand, teaching English in a school in Bangkok and decided to do the “add-on” island hopping tour for a week at the end of the camp. So, I checked the additional box in my initial form and paid the requested amount. Little did I know that checking that box was going to change my life completely.
Mark was working in Thailand at the time as a tour leader for the company TruTravels. We crossed paths a few times over the course of the week and just really hit it off! Unfortunately, I still had to return to Ireland to complete the final two years of my degree and Mark had no intentions of returning to the UK - ever. We messaged on and off for a few months but it soon fizzled out.
Fast forward one year and Mark was back in England for the summer as he was asked to be best man at a friend’s wedding. While studying, I was working as a bar tender and after a few (too many maybe) pints with my friends to wind down after a shift, I spotted Mark’s latest Facebook status stating that he was back in the UK. I decided to chance my arm and invite him to Belfast. To my complete surprise, within a week, Mark arrived at Belfast airport and we got to spend the weekend together.
That was the beginning of our long-distance relationship. We spent the next six months flying between Ireland and England and the following six months doing long-distance between Ireland and Thailand. I completed my degree, Mark returned home for my graduation and we both flew from Dublin to Phuket together four days later to start our new lives on the other side of the world.
It’s something that I (Nadine) have wanted to do for at least four years now, ever since I spent a semester studying abroad in Madrid. I remember thinking that by sharing my experiences I could really help people who find themselves in the same position.
Unfortunately, I was far too good at making excuses for not doing it. I worried that I didn’t have a good enough phone/camera for photos. I was concerned that I wasn’t good enough at writing for my blogs to be any good. I was constantly wondering what people would say.
I’ve grown a lot these past few years. I’m no longer the worried girl who’s concerned about other people’s opinions. I’m not sure what clicked or when it did, maybe it was the fact that I packed my bags and moved to the other side of the world.
I spoke to Mark about wanting to start a travel blog and how I think it could really benefit people wanting to travel and/or move abroad and he was incredibly supportive. He said that it was a great idea and that he’d love to do it with me - a project to work on together.
We feel our page is different for a few reasons.
First, honesty. We aren’t afraid to talk about the downfalls or challenges that we’ve faced – experiencing homesickness, struggles of having a long-distance relationship, difficulties while travelling together or challenges faced while travelling in general. We think it’s incredibly important to be authentic and to not sugar-coat everything. The internet and Instagram in general has enough of that.
I think we show people that long distance can be worth it if you know what you want and are committed to working hard to achieve it. Our experience was by no means easy. There was a seven hour time difference, Mark was working 15-16 hour days managing a party hostel and meanwhile I was at home in Ireland completing my degree and working 30-40 hours a week in a bar job. We were lucky to have a phone call once every fortnight. However, we had a light at the end of the tunnel, an end-goal to work towards, and that was to be living in Thailand together at the end of the six months. Now almost one whole year later, we can honestly say it paid off and was worth it all.
We also feel that our content shows people that if you’re willing to take risks and stop allowing fear to control you, anything is possible. You don’t need to have a lot of money to go after your dreams. “In the end, we only ever regret the chances we didn’t take.” – Lewis Carroll
One misconception that we feel people have about our page is that you need a huge sum of money to be able to move abroad and/or to travel. We feel like this is a major misconception towards travel in general and for most people, it’s the main thing which deters them from pursuing their own dreams.
Another misconception that we feel people have towards our page is that we are “living the dream” and that for many people the life we are living is unattainable, because it just isn’t true. We both knew what we wanted, we worked hard for it, booked our tickets, got our jobs and here we are - making it work and loving every minute. We are 23 and 26 years-old and very happy.
You don’t have to accept that you will work in the same job for 50 years and plan your travels for when you’re retired. The world is a different place than it used to be and it is full of opportunities for you to find the work/life balance that works for you. Anyone can do it. Fear is the main thing stopping people from taking the leap.
Everyone has bad days, no matter how good your life may seem through those little Instagram squares. On our down days or days when we aren’t feeling ourselves, we don’t pressure ourselves to upload because we don’t want to put up a front. No couple is perfect and we won’t pretend to be. It’s easy to put pressure on yourself to be achieving more and doing more. There’s almost a feeling of guilt with not sharing constantly.
This is such an exciting question to even be asked. Ideally, we would want brands that we believe in and that relate to our content.
Primarily, as a travel blog, we want to do our bit in promoting the need for sustainability while travelling and show our followers how they can do their bit to make the world a better place. So, to be able to work with brands that promote sustainable products that can be used by travellers would be great.
It would also be great to work with brands that promote community outreach. This is one of our favourite things about working with TruTravels – they’re always lending a helping hand to those in need in the communities which they travel to.
As content creators in general, we would love to work with brands that have gadgets that would allow us to continue developing and learning when producing our content. From tripods to Go Pros, waterproof cases to drones – we can dream!