Throughout our lives, both together and apart, we have been lucky enough to experience some truly incredible things. Highlands2hammocks was born as a way to share these adventures with the world, in the hopes to inspire and educate you guys about just what is possible on a budget. From the day it was born and until the day we sign off our final adventure, we will always strive to see, do, taste, smell and experience as much as we possibly can, as cheaply as we possibly can.
So that is what highlands2hammocks is, now lets dive deeper into who the couple behind it are.
For as long as I can remember, I have always had a sense of adventure and wanting to see what our beautiful world has to offer. I always remember my family visiting us from Australia and Canada, and dreaming that one day I could go and visit them. Well, here I am, making those dreams come true.
Growing up, I lived in a small town outside Glasgow . Despite how close we lived to the airport, it was never somewhere I went. Growing up, camping was a huge part of my life , as we explored many areas of the UK as a family. We started off in a tent, before progressing to a trailer tent and onto a caravan. The freedom that this kind of budget travel gave us is why I have wanderlust today. We loved this lifestyle so much that my first trip abroad wasn’t until I was 13, on a school trip to Barcelona ! We ventured further as a family a few years later, exploring Dubai , Singapore and Australia, visiting some family I had never met before.
Whilst at University I had the opportunity to travel for 2 of my summer placements. I leapt at this opportunity, which came with a lot of self-organisation and money saving but I made it to my dream destination, Australia. I worked here for 2 months before exploring the beautiful east coast in a campervan with Campbell and our friends. This was followed by Fiji, Thailand, Hong Kong and Singapore and it was safe to say, we had definitely caught the travel bug.
The saving and planning for our coming Australia trip happened after this trip ended. We completed our degrees and I moved to Guernsey to work as a nurse. We were apart for around 2 years, visiting as often as we could afford, before finally moving in together in London. During this time, we visited Malta, Canada and the UK and Channel Islands.
Sport has always been a huge part of my life, growing up I was sharing my time between, gymnastics, athletics and horse riding. Last year I joined the local rugby team whilst continuing to enjoy the gym. Whilst travelling we are making sure we continue to move our bodies so we are mixing up HIIT workouts with running, cycling and A LOT of walking.
Of course, alongside being sporty, comes the nutrition. This has been an area of interest of mine over the years, I enjoy cooking and experimenting new foods. On the road, it has been harder to keep on top of this but of course we are doing the best we can do whilst living on a budget.
Travelling has opened my eyes to so much history and culture, and allowed me to meet some amazing people, who have become good friends. It has left me constantly dreaming and hungry to see more. If you’re ever thinking about taking that leap, to travel, do it. You will not regret it!
Born into a small village on the outskirts of Glasgow, Scotland, my upbringing has always been a rather humble one. From a young age I was taught the value of money, and how adventures are possible without an excessive amount of it. My youngest memories are filled with happy family moments, tucked away somewhere cold and rainy in the countryside of Scotland.
My parents raised me to be adventurous and hard-working, just as both of them had been, and from this my passion for sport was born. Starting with football, quickly shifting to swimming and finishing with rugby (so far..), I have always loved competing in one way or another. It is from this that I believe my inability to sit still derived; i am always searching for the next project or the next adventure. Queue my first adventure abroad!
My first bite from the wander-bug happened just as I was leaving high-school. A volunteering opportunity in the small African country of Malawi took me on an adventure south that would end up life-changing. This two week expedition to one of the poorest countries in the continent gave me a whole new look on the world and what I wanted to achieve from life. How the people lived here, with love in their hearts for complete strangers, and the most beautiful smile on their face despite their little to no possessions, opened my eyes to what true happiness looks like. I arrived home from here to the same house and life, but with a new addiction to satisfy; See everything!
As my life at University began (5 years of Chemical Engineering), small trips and holiday breaks satisfied my cravings for adventure, for a while. Into my second year, a rough night out and a missing friend introduced my partner in crime into my life. Introducing Gemma Spence. It was this girl who dragged me across the world, and who opened my eyes to everything that there is to see. It was Gemma who would eventually change my mind about never wanting to live anywhere but bonnie old Scotland, and inspire me to crave a life on foreign shores.
After being together only one year, we would face our first tough decision. Gemma was offered the opportunity to complete a trimester in sunny Australia. Of course I would join her down under eventually, but this opportunity meant spending 3 very long months apart. For six weeks I completed my third year at university, chatting whenever we could online and on Skype. For a further six weeks I took on a job of my own, working as an engineer on a deep-sea exploration vessel, stationed off the coast of San Diego. A fascinating and memorable experience, however a very difficult and testing one at that. For these six weeks, communication with Gemma consisted of one message on Facebook a day, basically saying we are both still alive.
My work in San Diego eventually came to an end and I joined Gemma on the east coast of Australia. For a month we lived in the beautiful city of Surfers Paradise, exploring the surrounding area and soaking up the (albeit winter) sunshine. For the next two months we would embark on our first ever backpacking trip, which would include campervaning around Australia, snorkelling with manta rays in Fiji, eating street food in Bangkok, reinventing the word “flexible” with a Krabi Thai massage, watching Formula One from the Marina Bay Sands, as well as so many more incredible memories.
Over the next few years, Gemma and I would spend more time apart than we would together. When Gemma finished university, the opportunity of a lifetime presented itself, and we began our first spat of long-distance relationships. These two years only stoked the embers of our burning wanderlust, with so many incredible experiences spread across the UK and Europe. With nothing to do while we were apart but work, we managed to save an incredible amount of money, all geared towards our epic, RTW adventures.
During the final years of my university degree, I would between live London, Nancy, Guernsey and Glasgow, never sitting still for more than a year. Looking back now, it is clear that the nomadic chapter of my life began then. Four years later, there is still not one place that I can truly call home, which I find both refreshing and saddening, but that is the price we pay, I guess.
From here the rest is history, really. Gemma and I finally reunited in London, where we both called home for 12 months, before quitting our jobs to live the life we lead now. The year of 2018 was spent experiencing as much of the UK, Ireland and Mainland Europe as we possibly could.
Life on the road is definitely not for everyone, and without Gemma by my side it would definitely not be for me. Every day, I thank my lucky stars to have found someone so like-minded as Gemma, supporting me along every step. Here is to the future and all of the adventures it brings!
What Does the Future Hold?
So that is our past; unpolished and imperfect, but ours nonetheless. The important question is, what lies ahead?
As we sit and write this, we are gearing towards the next huge chapter of our lives: a life down under. Since we arrived home 4 years ago, we have been planning this return trip. Yes, the “when, where and how”s have changed countless times, however we have always had this goal in mind.
The next year is going to be one of the biggest of our lives, and we couldn’t be more excited. Join us on our journey to the other side of the world and see what adventures lie ahead!