The Hitched Hikers have been featured in the Telegraph & Argus both online and in print, check out the full article below...
LIFE is literally one long holiday for Liam and Philippa Doherty. Since marrying in the romantic location of Lake Como in Italy last May, the couple, aptly known as the ‘Hitched Hikers’ embarked on a never-ending honeymoon which has already taken them to some of the most stunning places in the world. “We always knew we wanted to make long term travel a reality, but it’s difficult to say what prompted us to do it, it was almost a decision that came naturally,” explain the couple, who were in China during our interview.
Philippa, 25, whose maiden name was Taylor, and Liam, 30, shared mutual friends but were properly introduced at Leeds Festival eight years ago. They married in May last year at the Villa Del Balbianello, Lake Como and, following a wedding/bon voyage party at East Riddlesden Hall, near Keighley, in August last year, they set off on their adventure of a lifetime. They explain that while in teaching, Liam taught at Shipley College and Bradford College and Philippa was a learning support assistant at Bradford College while finishing a degree in Social Care, they always made the most of their summer holidays travelling around Europe and Asia. “Somewhere along the line the autonomous decision to travel long term was made. After getting married, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to set out on our adventure, because what’s better than a never-ending honeymoon?”
They didn’t set an end date to their travels, although to appease their families they often stated around two years.
“But, in reality, we love not having a fixed plan. We’ve met up with a few of our friends and family along the way and others have plans to come out and see us, so we’re not eager to return just yet,” they say. It is nearly a year since they set out on the open road - but considering how most of us struggle to know what to pack and end up taking far more than we need - where do you begin packing for a never-ending holiday?
“It was hard but items are quickly dropped from the list when you realise you have to carry your life on your back for the foreseeable. For the best part we packed fairly light with shorts, vests and swimsuits seeming the most appropriate attire for the majority of our trip.“However, we love hiking so we couldn’t leave home without our walking boots and waterproof jackets which take up a large proportion of our backpacks."
Liam, who grew up in Clayton and Philippa, who lived in Thornton where the couple renovated a home which they are now renting out to help fund their travels, initially travelled to New Delhi, India. “It was quite the culture shock,” they say.“We feel that India was the best place to begin our journey as it has since made everywhere else appear fairly tame in comparison. We have since been to Hong Kong, China, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and are heading to Japan next with plans to be in Australia for Christmas.
“The journey so far has been incredible. We’ve trekked through the Himalayas, stared down into a live volcano and swam with mantra rays but that’s not to say it’s gone without mishap.... We have probably been lost more times than we care to remember and had food poisoning more than once, however, the hairiest moment was when we got caught up in a civil war whilst hiking through the foothills of Myanmar (scary stuff!)."
The couple say one of their best experiences so far has been riding around northern Vietnam on a motorbike.
Adjusting to the culture is one thing - coping with the change in climate is another. “We think our bodies have now acclimatised to the heat and humidity of Asia although, the local people often think we are crazy as we prefer to walk everywhere, regardless of the heat, but we just feel that we see more this way and it makes a nice change from the wind and rain in England.“In most countries we have managed perfectly fine with the language barrier, however, we have struggled at times to get by in China, even living off crisp sandwiches for a few days, although we have now managed to pick up enough Chinese to get by."
The couple explain how savings and being thrifty is helping them to get by. “After we got married, we moved in with parents in order to save up as much money as possible and combined with wedding gifts we’d saved up enough money to travel for the year. We have a small amount of income coming in with the rental of our house but we just try to live as thrifty as possible which is easy in most parts of Asia.“Accommodation takes up a good proportion of our budget, therefore, we try to stay in hostels and guesthouses to make our money go further. From time to time, we use volunteer websites such as ‘HelpX’ where a variety of businesses offer free accommodation and food in exchange for a few hours work which helps us to travel for longer.”
The couple hope to eventually turn their experience into a profession and are already writing a blog of their travels.“At the moment our future plans are a little up in the air, but we hope to have our own business one day, somewhere in the world - using our brand name ‘Hitched Hikers.’ It would be amazing to be full time travel writers or at least lead some form of travel-inspired lifestyle even after this epic journey comes to an end.”
They explain the idea to write a travel blog developed from a means of keeping in touch with their families and friends and updating them as to where they were in the world.“We’ve had fun developing it into something more serious and we enjoy blogging about our travels because if nothing else, it serves as a memoir of our trip of a lifetime, just like keeping a diary."
Travelling has certainly had a positive impact on both their lives. While Liam has always been confident and free-spirited Philippa has taken on challenges she wouldn’t have previously entertained such as conquering a fear of heights and climbing mountains.“It has also developed us as a couple; who else spends the first year of married life in each others pockets 24 hours a day? Thankfully, we have found a democratic resolve and arguments have been few and far between,” they say.
Will they still be travelling in 10 years’ time? “Hopefully, in 10 years time we will have our own family to teach about the world and take them to new places as well as the ones we’ve already visited, although the ‘Married-with-Kids Hikers’ doesn’t quite have the same ring to it!”
Thank you to the Telegraph & Argus and Sally Clifford for the article which can be found here