Meet Dean & Laynni from Routinely Nomadic

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I’m excited to share that I’m featuring the bloggers behind Routinely Nomadic.

We’re Dean Johnston and Laynni Locke, two Canadians who have been obsessively traveling for nearly 20 years and documenting our journeys through all 7 continents and 76 countries at Routinely Nomadic. Every aspect of travel fascinates us, but we find ourselves particularly compelled by great hikes, mountain scenery, and cheap Thai food.

Be sure to keep up with their adventures on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

How long have you been blogging for?

Well, back in 2008 we decided we’d had enough 9-to-5 for a while and quit our jobs to hit the road indefinitely.

At that point, it made sense to turn our informal travel stories into something a bit more regular, and in the years since we have continued to expand Routinely Nomadic to include destination guides, maps, and travel advice as well as weird stories.

Now, here we are, more than 12 years later, recently visited our 76th country, and I’m really glad we’ve been documenting it all because it’s getting kind of hard to remember everything.

people smiling in front of a mountain

What tips do you have for new travel bloggers?

Keep your expectations reasonable. If you haven’t done much writing in the past, don’t suddenly set yourself to a schedule of a blog post every two days.

And, especially early on, stick to writing about things and places you know very well.

What’s one thing you wish you knew before you started traveling?

How much more rewarding it is to spend extra time in a single destination rather than continually skip from place to place. When you haven’t traveled much, it is tempting to try to see as many places as possible with the time and money you have available.

And I certainly don’t regret any of the places we’ve been. But now we tend to choose a general location and stay a little longer, which allows us to really get to know it and develop a long-term affinity.

icy mountain by water

Why do you love to travel?

Just the allure of the unknown. We both love seeing strange places, new cultures, different people.

Obviously, we enjoy some places more than others, but I’m always happy to have those others to compare to.

What’s your best and worst travel experience?

It is hard to pick just one, and there is probably some recency bias here, but I think I would say climbing to Gokyo Ri viewpoint in the Everest Region of Nepal last fall.

Just a perfect day, with perfect views and a bunch of equally giddy fellow hikers, smiling and taking photos for each other.

Worst? Well, we’ve had our share of travel days that didn’t go at all as planned and plenty of border crossings I’d never choose to repeat.

But rather shallowly, the experience that jumps to mind first is the time I spent several days laid up in a tiny guesthouse in Varkala, India with a very rough case of “Delhi Belly”.

person jumping into the lake

Do you prefer to travel solo or with people?

Most of our travel has been done as a couple, and that is definitely my preference.

We’ve done some group trips, and they are a lot of fun, but there is typically an expiry date. It is just too hard to coordinate with others on an ongoing basis. A week or so is usually enough.

I usually do a couple of solo trips each year, as well, and they are very enjoyable as a contrast. The freedom of having absolutely no consultation over decisions can be fun for a while.

In the long run, though, I find it more satisfying to have shared the experience with someone else. 

What’s the best place you’ve ever been to?

Our most memorable single trip would have to be the 11-day Antarctica cruise we took out of Ushuaia.

Despite a lot of advanced research, we were absolutely blown away by the variety of wildlife and the enormity of the scenery.

What’s your biggest travel tip?

Well, my facetious answer is usually “earplugs and lots of them”, but that isn’t really an earth-shattering concept.

Probably just to slow down, spend less time racing from place to place, and more time really exploring each destination.

Is there one thing you like to do, see, or buy with every place you visit?

We actually did the postcard thing for a while but stopped when we started running out of places to put them.

And early on we went through a souvenir phase that ended shortly after I returned from Indonesia with a large, heavy, and very inexplicable Spanish dagger.

In general, though, we love hiking, so no matter where we go we end up trying out the “best” hike in the area.

people walking by the beach

What’s the best food you’ve had while traveling?

Pad See Ew – also known as Thai flat noodles.

We’ve spent a lot of time in Southeast Asia, usually using Bangkok as a hub as we move from place to place, and every time we pass through I head straight to Khao San Road for a cheap plate of flat noodles in gravy.

Obviously, I enjoy the taste, but at this point, I think I love them even more because they are closely associated in my head with fun, boozy nights in the city, either coming back from or heading to some gorgeous Thai island or fascinating hill town.

Quick Questions

Plane or train? Train, especially sleepers

Hotel or hostel? Hotel (this one changed at some point in my 30’s)

City or nature? Nature (with a hotel bed to sleep in at night)

Popular site or off the beaten path? Popular site off-peak

Suitcase or backpack? Backpack

Fast travel or slow travel? Slow

Professional camera or phone photography? iPhone

All photos used throughout this post are provided by Routinely Nomadic.

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