Backpack Me - Ashray & Zara

Ashray and Zara have catalogued their journeys across the world through their blog Backpack Me. Narayanan Menon finds out the secret to their love life and their passion for the road.

Transcending borders, they are united by a shared outlook, their love for each other and a strong passion to travel. Wandertrails talks to Zara and Ashray of Backpack Me as they talk about their life on the road.

1) Could you tell us when and what made you decide to go out, travel and explore the world together?

Zara: We always had a passion for travel. While living in Dubai, we painted one of our walls with chalkboard paint so that we could draw and write on it. What we ended up writing though were plans to travel in the future. Destinations on our bucket list, experiences we wanted to have, and more.

In 2010 and 2011, we ended up taking five weeks off to travel to different parts of the world. But that wasn’t enough. So, finally, in September 2011, we sold everything, packed our bags and took off. We haven’t looked back ever since.


2) Do you feel that travelling together has impacted your relationship and if so, how?

Zara: Traveling together is definitely a good test for any relationship whether it’s friends, parents, romantic partners, or spouses. If anything, travel has only strengthened our relationship and deepened the bond we share. When you’re far away with no one else to count on, and the one person you’re with comes through and saves the day, there’s no better feeling than that!

3) Can you narrate a couple of memorable incidents that brought you closer as a couple during your travels?

Zara: There have been so many moments that we believe have brought us closer together. It’s hard to pinpoint just a few.

  • My first visit to India when I got to see the people and places from Ashray’s past.
  • Ashray visiting Portugal and meeting my friends from university and high school.
  • The road trip deep South of Chile and Argentina, where it’s still truly wild and unexplored.

  • Breathlessly (because of the altitude) climbing a volcano in Ecuador.
  • Taking a dip in the freezing waters of the Arctic ocean.
  • Sleeping in a tree house inside a volcano in Hawaii.
  • Hunting for the Northern Lights above the Arctic circle in Norway and finally finding them.

4) What do you like about each other as a travel partner and what irritates you?

Ashray: I love Zara’s spontaneity and can-do attitude. She’s always up for adventure and will rarely say no to the idea of going somewhere new and doing something exciting.

She sometimes frets over minor expenses and that can get annoying. I don’t care if the tacos are five minutes away or are 20% cheaper. I’m hungry now.

Zara: I really appreciate that Ashray is very good at planning flights and hotels, he will do all the research and find the best deals. I’m better at planning itineraries and activities, so it’s a good complement.

Ashray sometimes gets super-obsessive and will want to take a flight somewhere to the other end of the earth just because it’s a great deal. At times, I like to be in a place and exist in the moment, not think of another place far away.

5) Would you suggest couples to travel together and why?

Zara:  Yes, absolutely! Traveling together is teaming up together. Whether you like it or not, you’ll have to cooperate to get things done. Booking flights, catching flights, booking hotels, checking in, finding tours, taking them, it’s all a team effort. If you want a team building exercise for your relationship then travelling together is definitely a great one. Beware that it can just as easily go the other way.

6) Your best travel experience together thus far and why?

Zara: Definitely getting engaged in Machu Picchu, you can read more here.

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