Passenger Profile: On the road with Jane and Duncan from To Travel Too

Jane and Duncan from

Regular contributors and diehard travellers, Jane and Duncan Dempster-Smith, blog all about their adventures around the world on their blog, but today they’ve sat down with Travel at 60 to impart some knowledge about housesitting, downsizing and hitting the road. 

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Name:  Jane and Duncan Dempster-Smith
Age: Jane 59 and Duncan 61
Country/Suburb:  Northern Beaches in Sydney, Australia

How did your love of travel begin?

Jane: I started working for a small country airline in Quirindi, New South Wales, called Skyways that no longer exists. That started my long career in travel from working at Sydney Airport with small country airlines, charter flights, and hostessing on private jets to corporate travel in Sydney and then working for American Express in Southampton, UK. Whilst working in travel in Southampton I had the opportunity to fly on Concorde.

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Duncan: As an expat kid of British military parents I was born in Malta and lived abroad for most of my life. Travel and change were constants in my life.  I went to Australia and met Jane and in our family life we have also been working and living in different countries and we have learnt to live in different cultures. So now we are in transition to retirement age, we have rekindled that love of exploring and experiencing the globe. We had thought we were experienced travellers until we started this journey of continuous travel four years ago. We have so much more to explore and now we have many more destinations and cultures to explore.

What are some of your favourite travel destinations?

Jane: Everywhere is a favourite for me – each destination I am able to learn more, experience more and just “be there”.  If I had to choose, it would be the Greek Islands, Croatia and the Caribbean – I just love to be near water and as I don’t do cold anymore, it has to be somewhere warm.

Duncan: Really difficult question. Like kids you don’t want to have favourites. That being said, love Central and South America: Mexico, Peru, Guatemala, Ecuador, Brazil, etc.

What advice do you have for travellers over 60 who are thinking about travelling but are nervous about taking the leap?

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Jane: Our motto “age is no barrier when it comes to travel” comes to play here.  It does not matter whether you are 16 or 66 everyone should travel. Take small steps at a time, maybe a week or two on an island close to where you live or a small cruise until you become more confident, then venture further each time.

Duncan: Nike. Just Do It! Our other tag line for our website is “chase time not money”. We travel to places that folks consider dangerous, for example Mexico. Well, once you get to know us you will find out that we have never felt scared in these countries and, in fact, the most scared we were was in South Beach, Miami, USA!

What have you learned about yourself through travelling?

Jane: I challenge myself each time I travel. I have overcome my fear of putting my head under water whilst snorkelling in Belize and just recently in Barbados. Other fears I have conquered is trekking Machu Picchu in 2013 when I have never trekked before and the fear of going up in a hot balloon (open sides, open to the elements) in Turkey and Myanmar.

Duncan: That I am flexible, going with the flow, allowing for the cultures to present as we explore and experience each country or city. There is no rush. There are no problems. Know that we can and are comfortable being in the height of luxury and also sleeping in a hostel room. Finally that we are able to travel on the equivalent of the Australian Aged Pension for a couple which is around AUD$90/day.

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What countries or cities were you concerned about visiting but exceeded your expectations?

Jane: Naples in Italy and Marseille in France. Both of these cities have reputations of being edgy and dangerous. In fact it is their edginess that is what makes them both, they were a delight to wander around and I felt safe in both.

Duncan: Cuba. Not having access to the planning tools, communications and banking systems that we become so used to. This turned out not to be a worry and we managed our way around this before and during our wonderful month in Cuba.

How often do you travel?

We have been on the road continuously since February 2013 with no plans to stop. We do have travel in sectors, or pivots as we call them, and we do like to get back to Australia (not winter) to catch up with family and friends. This last year has been, Thailand, Spain, France, Sweden, Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia, Portugal, Atlantic crossing to Panama, Mexico and we are here as we write this in Barbados. For the remainder of the 2017 calendar year we will be in the UK, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, India and Thailand and back to Sydney for another birthday celebration for Jane and Christmas and New Year with family and friends.

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What is your favourite mode of transport?

Jane: I enjoy bus travel.  Mexico, Spain, France and Turkey spring to mind for comfort, Wi-Fi and safety.

Duncan: Tuk-tuk, so much fun. Tt’s a really good way to connect with the locals as they travel, its affordable, quick, efficient and we get to see amazing places often far away from the tourist path and where the locals live!

What’s the best food you’ve ever tried on a trip?

Jane: That’s a tough one. Mexico – Tacos.  Naples – Rum Baba.  Florence – Gelato.

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Duncan: So difficult. Mexico, fish.

What country or city can you not help but keep returning to?

Jane: Oia, Santorini – it is like a second home. Have spent eight weeks there over two trips staying in the same apartment overlooking the Caldera – it is a touch down spot for us where we can relax and regroup after long travels on the road.

Duncan: Barcelona. It has the European feel, with Catalan Spanish uniqueness, great climate, and is an affordable destination.

Do you plan your holidays, or do you travel on a whim?

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We travel to low cost destinations that are far way from Australia and have unique and rich cultures that we have not experienced; Central and South America. We also plan our trips around TBEX (Travel Bloggers Exchange Conference) and we are recognised as International House Sitters and this allows us to make choices in regards to travel destinations. Our focus is slow travel, we can do flash packing and we can travel high end. We have the choice now and we do like to mix it up. It’s not always good to travel high-end and fast. That being said, we do love a bit of luxury. Who doesn’t, right?

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Jane: Our home area, Northern Beaches of Sydney. You can’t beat it.

Duncan: As the song goes “I Still Call Australia Home” and it is and will be the Northern Beaches of Sydney. The insular peninsula!

Do you have any stories about an exciting travel adventures you’d like to share?

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Jane: My first hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia in Turkey. I woke up the first morning in a sweat thinking, “there is no way I can do this” – the car came at 5am to collect us and drive us to our breakfast meeting point. The ride had to be cancelled due to high winds. Such a relief. I had another 24 hours to go through the panic. 5am the next morning and off we set again (inside I was hoping it was going to be cancelled), we took off at 6am and what a sight to behold flying peacefully over the eerie landscape of Cappadocia. The chief pilot of our company Royal Balloons was our pilot and I was in good hands. It was one amazing experience! So much so that I repeated it again over Bagan in Myanmar.

Duncan: Ecuador. Passports, PC, credit cards, cash travel cards, all stolen. Don’t ask! Took us three months to have the Australian Passports replaced with original birth certificates. The procedure was as if it was a brand new application with documents traveling from Ecuador via Chile to the US to Australia back via the US, Chile to Ecuador. Three months in total to get brand new passports. There is a story in there somewhere for us to tell one day. Watch out for the article in our lifestyle and travel website.

What is the best travel experience you’ve ever had?

Jane: Flying Concorde from Miami via Washington to London and drinking too much champagne to celebrate the experience.

Duncan: Will never forget being upgraded flying from UK to Australia. Silver service and crisp cotton napkins, glorious food and free-flowing wines and liquors.

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What is the best piece of travel advice you’ve ever received?

Jane: Do not let your fears come in the way of your travel experiences.

Duncan: Take less packing items, take more time to travel.

Read more of our Passenger Profiles, or get in touch about sharing tales about your own travels via the Travel at 60 Facebook page. 

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