Ep. 254: How this Brazilian couple swapped traditional marriage life for endless world adventures with Natalie Deduck
In this episode, I speak with Natalie who along with her husband Rob decided to swap the “traditional marriage life” for an endless adventure around the world.
In 2014 they sold everything to become full-time travelers and content creators.
So far they’ve visited over 50 countries and have no plans to stop.
Love and Road is their life project, a travel blog packed with inspiring travel tips, a unique way to explore the world, discover new cultures, and meet new people.
Listen on to find out how they have made it their mission is to inspire people to travel more.
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Ep. 253: How this travel writer promotes the benefits of family travel with Eric Stoen
Ep. 252: How these YouTube creators help connect English speakers to Spanish speaking countries with Jim and May
Ep. 251: How this story teller uses personal connections to land dream clients with Joey Held
Hey everyone. Thank you so much for being here. I am really excited to speak with my guest today. I’m here with Natalie.
Hey, Natalie, how are you? Hello, Deb. I’m fine. I’m so happy to be here.
Thank you so much for having us here. As I said, just me as my partner is not today but I’m so used to talk about us so I’m very, very happy to share a story and talk and chat.
Before we did the interview, I was talking to Nat and I was like, “I’m so jealous.” She told me she’s in Brazil. It’s summer there right now and I’m like, I’m up east, up north, and it’s cold.” So I’m like, “I’m super jealous of you. I’m, like, in my sweater and Natalie’s all nice and comfortable.
I can’t complain. It’s about, I think, 30, 32 degrees celsius here in Brazil.
It’s the middle of the afternoon, the sun is shining.
Yeah, people would be jealous of me. Sorry, guys. So sorry.
That is amazing. We love that but we’re happy for you, whatever, Natalie.
Come on, let’s enjoy the summer.
So, Nat, can you tell us about you and why you live an offbeat life?
I’m Natalie, I’m a journalist. I’m 38 years old and I’m Brazilian. So, now I’m at home after two years of being far away, I’m home. And I have always been passionate about traveling.
Back in 2013, me and my husband, the same story, kind of fed up with our normal day-to-day life. It was a good life, couldn’t complain, everything was fine. We had a house, a car but something was missing.
And we decided to travel and I was very naive at that time. I thought, “Okay. I’m a journalist. I can write, boom, I’ll be a travel blogger and things will happen.”And so that’s how we started and then we became Love and Road, that’s our brand. And that was one of the best things I have done in my entire life.
I have worked a lot, I have done a lot of things but being able to travel the world, be free to work from everywhere, that was some of the best decisions ever. It wasn’t easy, though. I was very naive. I thought it would be easier to make money, to travel, to get all the visas and paperworks and blah, blah, blah. But it was the best decision.
Now, we are back at home because of covid, the pandemic, and everything. So we decided to set up a little bit in Brazil to enjoy summer and our families are here.
Doesn’t sound too bad to me and I’m sure a lot of people do too. I’m like, “Oh, Brazil and the summer. It’s so nice.”
So, Nat, you mentioned that you were a bit naive when you first started out in the journey of starting your travel blog. What are some of the misconceptions that you had about this whole process that kind of surprised you, took you back, and really allowed you to learn as much as you can, even though maybe it was something that was a bit difficult to learn?
Well, first of all, I thought, “I’m a journalist. I have been working on the field for a long time.” So I thought, “I know how to write and tell stories. I will write, publish, and, boom, people will read.” No, it’s not like that.
Back in 2013, digital marketing, SEO, everything was so very, very new, especially for Brazilians. We didn’t have many sources of information even about traveling, being nomadic, or doing house sittings.
So, all the information, I had to find bloggers from the US or Canada, a lot of sources came from Canada. We knew it was possible but we didn’t have any real example that we could follow in our country at that time. So that was one of the first things.
And then I thought, “Okay. I’m brave. I can do it.” But that was hard because when you don’t have much information, you have to dig until you find a good resource then start growing. That was the first thing.
And then the second was I’m Brazilian. I speak Portuguese and at that time, Brazilian marketing for a blog was very, very small. Not many people are doing it. So I’m like, “Okay, let’s venture ourselves in the English-speaking world.”
So we started our travel blogging in English too, made it bilingual
So those little things that no one told me how it would be and we had to learn on the way. So I’m so grateful for podcasts, YouTube videos, and all the people we met on the road because we learned so much.
If it weren’t for all those sources, Love and Road wouldn’t make 7 years.
Well, it is.
It’s a really long journey and I think that is a misconception for a lot of people, especially when you’re just starting out in this whole process.
You think you’re going to write, you’re going to blog, you’re going to create all this content. And then people just start coming through and you’re going to make a ton of money and then it’s just happily ever after. Because that is what we see online. That’s what we see on social media, people just leaving their jobs and then all of a sudden they just make a ton of money but it is a long road ahead.
And that’s why I think a lot of people want it but very few people actually achieve it because there is so much work in the middle of it, right? And even now, how long has it been, like, over 7 years for you and your husband, you’ve been doing this and I’m sure there’s still a lot of things that you’re learning everyday.
And that’s another thing. I’m really curious about how that has changed for you from the beginning to now. Have there been really big changes for you? Did you have to pivot especially during the pandemic in your business?
It has been a learning process since the beginning and I think it will never stop.
Our business is based on something that we can’t control: the internet, social media. So that’s, like, changing all the time.
So it’s amazing on one hand because we are always learning but also it’s scary because it’s like, “Oof, what’s coming next?”
And then, as I said, the pandemic. Like, we didn’t shift that much. I’m still blogging and we are still keeping Love and Road alive. Of course, we’re not traveling as much, especially because we got to the peak of the pandemic in Italy.
So we were locked in Italy for one year. That was very, very tough. So no travel whatsoever in 2020. And then, last year, we managed to come home to Brazil and stay here.
So we are still doing a very little traveling, non-international. That was something that changed a lot but I’m doing all the backside of the blog.
So I’m going through all the old contents, updating, doing a really nice check on SEO. Working a lot on things that you keep postponing when you are on the road, traveling.
And new opportunities come up to us as well, thanks to our contacts and network. So, we still work with content creation. Right now I work with some clients here in Brazil towards tourism
So we shifted a little bit but Love and Road is still alive and I can’t wait to go international and start traveling again.
And I think things are starting to change. Hopefully, in the next year or two, things will be even better for travel for all of us. But it’s true. There are a lot of different things.
Also, when you’re doing all of this, you start learning a lot of different skills, right? You kind of become the Jack and Jill of all trades. You start learning how to write, you learn how to do SEO, you photograph, you’re just doing whatever it is that you need to do. And it’s kind of crazy how much you learn throughout this whole process.
And I kind of want to go back to the beginning of this when you and your husband kind of took your life and you decided to travel and do all of this, right? And it’s a completely different life now for the both of you. How did you make it? How did you leave all of that behind?
I don’t know if your husband left his job. How did you create income while you were on the road? While you were still building your blog?
Well, first thing, we are really organized and I think that helped a lot since the start.
I used to work as a journalist, I had my job. Rob at that time used to work with logistics and foreign trade so he also had his job. And once we decided, we decided to save money because we are from, like, normal people. We don’t have a rich father or mother that can pay our bills so we start saving everything.
We put down all of our expenses, things going to the bank, like, to see our savings growing. I started selling our stuff. So once we decided we are going for good, no point in keeping things on the shelves.
So we started, like, selling clothes, furniture. I did two big garage bazaars in our house with price tags on every item. So that’s where we got enough money.
And at that time, I was reading a book, quite an old book but a really good one. It’s from Nomadic Matt, How to Travel $50 A Day. And that’s really inked at me because that gave me perspective of how much I can spend while traveling abroad.
I have traveled abroad before. I lived for two years in Dublin, Ireland, but then I had my job. I was starting so it was a completely different thing. Now, I’m going full nomadic and I need to have an idea of how to manage my expenses.
That book was pretty good and that gave us a go to save enough money for one year. If we could live for 1 year for $50 a day, each of us, including everything, could last on the road for one year. And then we could have one year to make our business profitable. That was the plan.
We managed to get the money with a little bit more. After one year, we managed to leave with less than $50 a day because we spent some time in Europe. So of course, in Europe, we spent a little bit more. But then we went to Morocco, Africa, and Croatia so we spent a little bit less.
On average, we managed to be at $50 a day. The money was stretched for more than one year.
On the other hand, it took us more than a year to make a proper income from the blog. I would say that we start seeing some money coming from affiliate marketing and from, like, some sponsorships after 6 months of our blog. But to say that it was paying the bills, it was one year and a half, no doubt.
Before that, we still had our Mercedes and the only thing we kept here in Brazil was our house so we rented it. We had the rent coming every month. But if you think about currency, our currency in Brazil is, like, nothing compared to US Dollars or Euro. Once we got here, we’re like, “Okay, it pays for dinner.”
But once we’re in Asia, for example, Vietnam, the rent helps us to keep going.
So, it was a lot of planning, like, how we could save money, how we would spend the money, how we would invest in a business. And also planning the route because we had the freedom to go everywhere depending on visas, of course, but we had this freedom.
But this freedom also made us think about, “Okay, if we stayed too long in Europe, my mind is going too fast.” So, we had to plan wisely where to go. We left Brazil, arrived in Europe, in Spain, and started traveling towards Asia.
So we started in April and arrived in Asia in November.
You’re very strategic, you and your husband are very strategic. And you mentioned you’re very organized and it seems to be that really the location absolutely matters for all of this.
And we all know that you can’t live $50 a day obviously here in New York City. That’s just impossible if you’re a tourist but you can definitely do that in Southeast Asia, parts maybe of Eastern Europe and parts of Latin America and even Africa.
And so I love that you are able to do all of this and in some places, you were able to live for less than $50 a day, which is mind-boggling. I’m like, “Oh my gosh, how do you do that?” In New York City that is almost impossible but you both are able to do that. And now you’re doing this for a long period of time. And obviously, you’ve learned so much from it.
So what would you say has been the most challenging thing for the both of you when you are traveling together as a couple and on the road and constantly being on the road when you were doing that?
Well, the first thing, of course, is the financial side because we couldn’t live for $50 a day for our whole life. So we need to make the money come more and more so we can live and spend more because we chose this lifestyle to be happy and experience the world.
When you’re on a super tight budget, you need to give up on things and that’s manageable. And then you want to leave because you’re used to the things okay.
Back in 2014, things were cheaper. The stress of making business happen and getting money were one thing that happened. It didn’t hit us hard but it was the first time that we were working together.
So we’re traveling together, living together, working together 24/7.
That’s a lot.
Yeah, that’s quite intense.
I always say that I think we did something right because we’re still alive and together.
Exactly. And through the pandemic, you’re still together.
There were two biggest challenges. Also, work, like, getting to learn things, it’s a challenge but that’s, like, fulfilling. It gives you the energy to go there and be like, “I want to learn. I want to do more. I want to be better.”
But living 24/7 and being able to grow our savings, there were so many things that we had to deal with in the first year.
And then later, we kind of got used to it. So it’s not like I can eat chips alone, going solo sometimes. No hiding from each other. It’s good that he’s not here now.
I do that too with my husband. Before the pandemic, I always left for, like, a month and traveled by myself. I’m like, “We need a little break from each other.” Like, that’s a good thing sometimes.
I’m like, “It’s okay,” especially when you’re with that person, like, every single day. And now my husband works at home too. And we literally are, like, next to each other all the time. I’m like, “Yeah. We need some time apart. You should go downstairs or something.”
You see, you understand me. I’m sure a lot of people out there understand us.
Sometimes even though we work together, we need to have some free time.
And it’s harder now when you’re kind of enclosed in this space because there are a lot fewer places to go. You can’t travel. At least when you’re traveling you can go out and do whatever but now it’s a lot harder.
You get used to it but you still need that alone time. Even if you love your partner, you still need that alone time but it’s good that you guys survive traveling the world together, the pandemic, starting a business. That’s really good.
We have our tactics.
Rob is really patient so it’s good.
And also we learned to communicate. I think that’s the key. Like, to talk and learn how to talk. Because I tend to be more, like, far more explosive and Rob is quieter so sometimes I’m annoyed, he’s like, “You’re too tired. You’re stressed out.” And I’ll be super stressed out and he’s like, “Oh my God, woman. Slow down. Relax. It’s not the end of the world.”
So we need to learn how to communicate that in a nice way because at the end of the day, we’ll be sleeping together in a hotel room. There is no couch sometimes and I was like, “We need to be together.”
So communication was the key to success, I believe in that.
Yeah. I absolutely agree with you.
I mean, that’s the thing, right? If you can’t communicate with your partner, it’s just not going to work. And I’m the type of person that I will just say everything because I don’t like to hold anything in ’cause then you just start exploding. But do it in a way where it’s obviously healthy.
So, I definitely agree with you on that, Nat.
So you also mentioned that in the time that you started your blog to it, actually started to create income for you to pay the bills, which took about a year-and-a-half. What did you do to get to that point to really make that blog from a hobby into an actual business for the both of you?
I think the turning point, like, since we started, we started thinking, like, it was a business. We thought, “Okay, that’s what we’re gonna do for life and that’s how we’re gonna have money enough to be nomadic.”
But we didn’t know about SEO at the time and I think that was the key point. Like, when I start understanding SEO and learning and putting it in practice, we saw our income growing because when we’re starting we’re thinking, “Okay, we can do affiliate marketing, we can do sponsorships for travels or stays. We can partner with brands.”
But we had two problems. We didn’t have the numbers, the matrix, we didn’t have many readers. Social media was still in the beginning and we didn’t have followers. So that’s one problem and the second was I didn’t master SEO at the beginning. I was really good at telling stories but I was just writing so no one would find me.
It was a turning point. I still remember when we arrived in Chiang Mai in Thailand back in 2014. It’s the place to be if you want to be a nomadic, digital nomad, if you want to do any kind of online job, remote job.
And there, I found someone who started teaching me about SEO. And it was like, “Boom!” My mind just exploded and everything has become so clear.
And then since that moment, we saw things growing and growing because I was like, “Okay, I had affiliate links and now people are finding me. So people are clicking my affiliates.”
And that’s how I started making money and then we started getting more readers and more page views so, in consequence, we can put some ads, and then it just goes on and on.
It’s kind of like a snowball, right? When things start to click, it does still take a little bit of time ’cause obviously, SEO takes some time to work. But when it does, it just snowballs, and then if you keep writing content that has SEO in, it just keeps adding more content into it. So I love that.
I love that you were able to figure it out and that’s usually what a lot of, well, most or all bloggers tell me is like, “SEO is so important.” So for those of you who want to be bloggers or do this, definitely SEO is a huge part of it.
You better master it.
Especially now that Pinterest has been really bad lately for a lot of bloggers. A lot of people have been going back to doing their organic searches and using their SEO to make those higher because a lot of these platforms are really inconsistent.
And it’s just good to know that you own your own blog and if you’re doing SEO correctly, it’s something that you have control over. Well, as long as Google doesn’t screw us over.
I’m with you and I hope the same.
I’m like, “Please…” Crossing fingers.
So now let’s talk about the types of income that you’re actually making from your travel blog. I know you mentioned a few of them. Can you take us a little further into how you’re creating income from that and the different types of income streams that you’re doing?
So we have, of course, affiliates that come from hotels, transportations, tour operators, and so on. Anything that we can add into our articles.
I try to always choose brands that I can connect with and I feel confident in recommending them because I think that’s also the success of people clicking on it and converting. That’s my personal experience and personal choice.
Anyone can do whatever they want. But for me, I feel more confident about recommending things that I have tried. And that’s the ones that usually get more conversions so we get more money coming from them.
We have ads on our website too. So we’re with a company that manages our ads. That comes to a good chunk of the income too.
Before the pandemic, we used to do a lot of marketing campaigns with tourism boards. That was what I love the most because it’s going to the field and discovering things and writing things. We tend to do a big mix of normal things to do with adventure and like hidden gems.
So it was really good to be in the field traveling and collecting information to write. And we do a lot of good partnerships with brands for that.
Rob’s work, he does all the photography and videography so he sells photos and videos too. So that’s another way that we get money.
And for a while, I had some friends that I helped by doing SEO for their websites and doing their digital marketing campaigns. Brainstorm ideas and develop campaigns for them. Not linked to Love and Road but we use our expertise to help them work better with their brands.
So that’s all of the things.
Well, I mean, that’s really how you keep a flow with all of this, right?
When you start a blog, you start any of this stuff, you really have to have different streams of income and I love that. And you have all of these active and passive incomes. I love doing passive income, especially affiliates you mentioned.
And you have a lot of companies that you work with because really, you do a lot of the work. And once you finish the work, it just keeps paying on its own.
And I don’t know if you’ve heard of this company, Natalie, but one of my partners and sponsors is actually a company called Travelpayouts, and they’re actually one of the largest affiliate platforms that are specifically for travel creators like Natalie here.
And they’re really incredible because they help you earn different types of income with the travel services that you’re already promoting on your blog. Like, he talks about accommodations, car rentals, it could be even flights, and a ton more things that you do. And it’s probably from companies that you already use as well.
And that’s one of the things that’s really important, right? Like you have to make sure that you trust these companies. But the one thing that I have found myself, and I know a lot of bloggers and travel bloggers do, is where do you find these people that actually give you affiliates and really good-paying ones.
So one of the things that I love about Travelpayouts is that they have it all in one place and you don’t need to do your own searches, they all have it in one spot for you.
So it makes it a ton easier for you to just really look for those brands that you absolutely love and you absolutely use. And then they do most of the work, you just put in the links and then you’re good to go.
So if you’re all ready to learn about Travelpayouts and earn more doing what you love because being a travel blogger, you’re doing what you love. And then, if you could make money doing that, that is even better. Which is why I love talking to people like Natalie ‘cause I’m like, “That’s such a dream job.”
So make sure to visit theoffbeatlife.com/travelpayouts to learn more about it. Learn more, sign up and they have a ton of different information there for you to use and you can get started like Natalie here who has been doing this for a really long time.
And now look, Natalie, you have this incredible life that you are living, being in, like, South America and Asia, and oh my gosh, I’m so jealous.
Just to compliment. One thing that you mentioned, it saves us time and energy when you have all your affiliates on one platform.
Because it’s so stressful when you have to look up a lot of different platforms and websites to keep up with your affiliates: check the links and check how much you earned. So when you have everything packed in one place, it’s a lifesaver.
Yeah, it’s true.
I’ve had those types of affiliates too, and I get really confused because there are just so many different companies. I’m like, “Oh my gosh, I need, like, one place to have all of this.” That’s why I love Travelpayouts.
But yeah, I love that and I love that you do. You have all of these different streams of income for you, Natalie.
And I think that’s another thing as an entrepreneur, as an online entrepreneur, when one thing tanks, maybe you’re not making as much income, especially with the pandemic, you have another ace up your sleeve as they say.
Because then it’s like, “Okay, you’re not making as much here but then you’re creating content for others or you’re helping them or you’re creating photographs like your husband is doing.”
So there are so many different things that you learn and then you can also create income from all of the skills that you’ve been learning. And this is one thing I always wonder about, what has been one of the craziest, maybe strange, jobs that you’ve taken on once you decided to leave your old life to start this new Incredible one?
That maybe is a bit strange, maybe something that was a little funky for you but fun for us to learn about.
Well, I have done a lot of things since I was young because I had to get my money when I wanted to buy a car. So I worked at nightclubs and a lot of things.
But since we decided to create our, let’s say, normal life and travel, we haven’t done much weird stuff but there is one thing that we did that is quite interesting and it was really good for learning. And now I laugh about it. We did a photoshoot for a stock photo website because Rob used to be a model when he was young.
So he was like, “Okay!” He knows how to pose and blah blah blah. And that’s how he taught me how to pose on our Instagram. So if you look at my Instagram, you’ll see I can pose but I’m very clumsy. I’m not a model-type person but I learned how to do it for work.
When we’re living in Bangkok, Rob saw this ad on Facebook: “We need a Western people with this type of features for a photoshoot for a stock photo website.” Rob was not a photographer in his life. He has been working with foreign trade before so he taught himself.
He learned photography and videography. He spent hours watching video tutorials. He’s now really good at photography but he wants to go towards the stock photo style not just traveling lifestyle.
That was a great opportunity for us to learn how they do it. We can apply and if they hire us, we get some money. And I know how they do all the shots, the angles, it would be good to have some learning. “Okay. Let’s have fun.” And we were doing photos in a nice beach hotel in Thailand.
Well, at least twice or three times a month, I get a message from someone who finds out our photo is somewhere down the road.
Oh my gosh.
And it’s so funny because we’ve been doing ads for car sales, for apartments, real estate selling apartments here in Brazil, with our faces on the billboard.
Oh my gosh.
So many things. We were in a newsletter for a cruising company. We didn’t expect that people would like our photos so much.
That is awesome.
And then most would say, “Oh, you worked with these brands,” I’m like, “I wish. I was just in the photo.”
I love that.
So your photos are popular. Like, stock photos that people are using.
They use my face while eating a watermelon. I was in a magazine in UK. Well, I got one page of a magazine that was an ad for that company. It was Cosmopolitan.
Oh, my gosh. That’s amazing.
Can you imagine where else you’ve been? You and your husband have been and you just didn’t know. Like, all of these different places.
That freaks me out because so far it’s for positive things. And if everything is for creepy stuff or for an article that says bad stuff about people, I don’t know.
We hope not. And even if there are, we don’t want to know about it, okay.
If you find them, just ignore them, don’t send them to me.
Exactly. Oh my goodness.
But that’s so fun and that’s so interesting. And I love that your husband is like, “Let’s try new things,“ and you’re always up for it. And I’m like, “That’s awesome. Always up to new adventures.”
Always. We cannot waste our precious time.
Exactly. I love that.
So, Natalie, let’s move forward to about 30 to 40 years from now and you’re looking back at your life, what legacy would you like to leave and what do you want to be remembered for?
I hope people will remember me as someone that was really trying to live a good life in a sense of being a good person, helping people to achieve their dreams because I know for a lot of people, having a month’s vacation or a week’s vacation is something very, very special.
And if somehow, my articles or my travel tips can help them make that little moment even more special, I’m happy with that because that’s why I chose to work as a journalist. Because I believe information is so powerful and we can make other people’s lives better and it includes traveling because it is something so important for a lot of people.
So I want someone to think of me as someone who inspired people to travel more. And also a silly one that enjoys life.
And hopefully, they’ll see your photos everywhere.
Oh my God!
That’ll be part of your legacy, Natalie. Like, one day, a hundred years from now, they’ll see, like, an ad and be like, “That’s Natalie me…”
Oh my God. That’s me with the watermelon. It’s everywhere.
I bet you I’m going to start seeing you in places now, Nat. I’m like, “Okay, now that we talked about this, I’m going to start seeing her and her husband in ads.”
It’s fine because when he did the photoshoot he had a long beard and, like, salt and pepper hair.
His beard was big and gray. So now, he shaved and it’s like, “Okay, it’s kind of a different person. But for me, okay, I changed the haircut but it didn’t change much in the face.
He was incognito, nobody knew but you. No one could forget your face. It’s, like, it’s out there but it’s good. Hopefully, it’s all positive. It’s all good, right?
I hope so.
I love that.
Well, thank you so much, Nat, for being here with us. We really appreciate you, sharing your journey with us. It’s been so much fun. If our listeners want to learn more about you, where can they find you?
Thank you for having us here, me here.
It was good to talk, laugh, and share a little bit of our story.
People can find us at LoveAndRoad.com and @loveandroad everywhere: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter. That’s the brand.
But don’t forget, it’s Nat and Rob. Behind the brand, there are two Brazilians that are crazy about traveling and a good talk.
I love that.
And I love that you have Love and Road everywhere. That’s your thing. So it makes it a lot easier for us to find you two. So that’s good branding right there.
Thank you, Nat. We really appreciate you.
Thank you. Hope to talk to you soon.
Listen to Natalie’s extended interview where she shares how to get started with bilingual blogging.
What you’ll find:
In this episode, Natalie will show you the steps in starting a bilingual blog.