Chris is an adventure photographer from Belgium, Freya is a scientist turned travel writer from Australia, and together they venture to far-flung corners of the globe, documenting the world around them as they go. We chat to Chris and Freya, aka The Sandy Feet, about their travels..
What are the three things you never travel without?
Freya: A library of podcasts and audiobooks for long journeys, all important snacks and my camera.
Chris: My camera, flip flops and a decent pair of headphones.
What has been your most eye-opening travel experience?
I think for both of us it was our trip into Nicaragua's Indio Maiz Natural Reserve where we stayed with an indigenous Rama family. In a remote corner of the jungle, the families survive almost completely off the land, hunting or fishing for food and growing a small collection of crops. Seeing these almost feral children gutting fish and hacking up wood with machetes and being so extraordinarily capable at such a young age was so far removed from any kind of childhood either of us could fathom that their way of life remained a topic of conversation between us for months.
The flip side of this was stopping off at a nearby Caribbean beach which is largely uninhabited to find piles of trash that had travelled across the ocean to make this sorry stretch of sand its final resting place. At the time we had consciously been making small changes to reduce our own plastic consumption, but this was a major wake up call. The contrast of a primitive jungle existence right alongside the collective waste of modern society.
What is it that you love about travelling? Have you noticed a change within yourself or do you see the world differently since you've been exploring it?
Freya: I think there are so many aspects to love which just makes travel kind of addictive. It’s the waking up in a foreign place, setting off without a plan and allowing yourself to get completely lost, it’s trying new and delicious foods and passing through incredible landscapes, it’s the old cliche of seeing how differently people live their lives and yet realizing that, actually, we’re all very similar. It’s also knowing that there is so much out there we don’t quite understand and the challenge of trying to see every situation through someone else’s eyes rather than our own western lens.
Chris: I love how the same things are done or problems solved differently almost anywhere. In almost every country, we do something very simple that is done just about everywhere else, and yet we all have a different way of doing it. As societies, we look across at each other and say, 'oh, that's a smart way of doing this or that’, but if we all worked together, things could be much better.
Was there a particular catalyst that pushed you towards a life of wandering, or have you always had itchy feet?
Freya: My family always travelled a lot when I was a child. We spent five years living in South Africa where both my parents are from and were fortunate enough to visit places like South East Asia and Patagonia or return to South Africa to visit family. I guess setting off to explore on my own was just a natural progression of that. When I began university I had the idea in the back of my mind that when I had finished studying, I would take a year off to travel. Though I have come and gone from my home and job in Sydney, I certainly didn't expect that travel would become my new normal.
Chris: Similar to Freya, I was fortunate to travel a lot with my parents as a kid so I got to see many places and have exceptional experiences during my childhood. I suppose the travel bug has been with me ever since and it was only a matter of time until I started heading out to travel on my own.
What's your favourite place you've ever travelled, and why?
Freya: I think that list of favourites just gets longer each year. A few years ago I probably would have said Ecuador, Colombia and Spain. Since then I’ve added Namibia and Kyrgyzstan, and fallen even more in love with Spain. There’s also something wonderful about returning home to Australia.
Chris: Probably the Faroe Islands. I’ve been there three times now they are just so raw and remote, untouched from everything else in the world, full of legend, mystery and the most amazing people I've met.
Best piece of advice you would give to another traveller?
Freya: Don’t sweat the small stuff (advice I always struggle to follow), plans change and try to keep an open mind.
Chris: Open your mind and give everything a go! That's what you're here for.
Where to next?
The Faroe Islands, Spain and Belgium!
To see more of Chris and Freya's adventures, head to @thesandyfeet