His 'n' hers blogging on "Couple of Yuppies"
For twentysomethings Jamie Munro and Kyle Foot, the couple behind the travel, food and relationship blog "Couple of Yuppies," blogging is a two-for-one deal.
In the latest instalment of Canada Blogs, our series on great Canadian bloggers, we caught up with Jamie and Kyle in Laos and chatted about enormous spiders, cheap seafood, and how to write as a team.
Tell us about yourselves. Who are you? What do you do? Where do you do it?
After meeting in first year at university and tiptoeing around the fact that we might actually be good for each other, Kyle and I finally (with our roommates' encouragement) decided to take the plunge and start dating in our final year of studies at McGill. Three years later, we are still together and currently travelling through Southeast Asia for six months before heading back to Vancouver. As if backpacking couples don’t have enough potential arguments to deal with, we decided to throw another wild card into the mix and start a travel and food blog together titled Couple of Yuppies. Using my background in video production for an online magazine and Kyle’s experience in marketing and sales for Canadian Pacific Railway, we’ve managed to build the site from scratch and cover everything from our favourite restaurants in Toronto to my advice for surviving toilets in China.
Where are you as you write this?
As we write this we are currently in Vientiane, the capital of Laos. However, by this time tomorrow we will be arriving at the Kong Lor Cave, known for its sheer size, terrifyingly dark interior, and its absolutely enormous spiders. Supposedly it’s one of the most incredible caves in Southeast Asia and a contender for the coolest spot in Laos, so we couldn’t be more excited (although Jamie is bringing an extra pair of underwear for facing those eight-legged monstrosities).
When and why did you start blogging?
In the spring of 2012, Jamie and I decided that for our next big trip we’d love to visit Croatia.
This surprised a lot of people back home, including family and friends. The war in Yugoslavia wasn’t all that long ago and Croatia isn’t nearly as globally recognized for tourism as somewhere like Italy, Greece, or Hawaii. However, after posting photos of crystal-clear water and tweeting about the endless access to fresh, cheap seafood, we managed to convert a few skeptics to the travelling possibilities in this part of the world. This ability to inspire others to explore areas they previously deemed unworthy was an exciting prospect: what if we could expand this reach beyond close friends? At the time we were also living in Toronto, a city with some of the best culinary delights I will ever sink my teeth into, so we couldn’t start a blog without throwing in some advice about food too. From that, Couple of Yuppies was born, and we’ve been posting our opinions and experiences ever since.
Couple of Yuppies is like two blogs in one. What made you choose this format? What has the response been like?
Like most couples, Kyle and I do not agree on everything. Even if we do, we are both too opinionated to let one of us do all the talking, so we needed to find a format where both our voices could be distinctly heard. Because of this, all articles are labeled “His Take” and “Her Take,” which allows us to share our own individual thoughts, and gives readers two perspectives in one cohesive site. Other couples who don’t always agree can glean insight from this format, since what a man deems worthy in a restaurant or vacation is not always on par with the female vantage point (always helpful for those significant others planning the perfect Valentine’s dinner or getaway). Even if you’re a single person coming to the site, it’s still helpful to read two opinions over one, and so far the response has been great. A lot of our friends joke around with us when we’re at parties, if Kyle’s telling a story then afterwards people will ask, “So, what’s her take?” It’s worked well on a branding level to help distinguish ourselves from other bloggers, and readers constantly receive a two-for-one deal each time they visit Couple of Yuppies.
You do most of your travelling together. How do you make sure that your voices are distinct? Do you talk to each other while blogging?
Out of all the questions we’ve ever been asked about Couple of Yuppies, this one is probably the most common. As mentioned previously, the purpose of the whole “His Take/Her Take” angle is to give our readers a bit of variety. Jamie and I aren’t always going to agree and there’s no doubt that it’s valuable to be able to take more than one opinion into account when deciding where to travel, or what restaurant to choose for that first date (especially when there’s a good chance that although guys might generally love the place, girls generally hate it). However, we are a couple and we do talk about things. Communication is the key to any successful relationship, and yes, I’m sure that what I say will likely make Jamie see things in a way that she may otherwise not have, and vice versa. However, that doesn’t change the fact that Jamie and I are very much our own people with our own perspectives and writing styles. I’d say that half of creating a good blog is what you say, whereas the other half is how you say it. Even when we agree, Jamie and I have very different approaches for how we choose to describe our experiences.
They say travelling together can make or break a couple. How about travelling AND blogging? What have the two of you come up against while writing this blog?
Travelling, on its own, is a piece of cake for us. I like to be overly cautious and Jamie likes to throw caution to the wind, so while we do clash from time to time, we more often than not laugh about these differences and even manage to take risks (or avoid them), when needed.
The blog, however, is different. It’s not (and never has been) our lifeline, but we’re both extremely determined and we don’t do anything at half effort. Thus, we want Couple of Yuppies to be the best that it can possibly be and often we disagree on how to go about making that happen. In the past we’ve disagreed on things such as the design of the website, how many times we should be plugging our articles on Facebook, SEO tactics, and how often we should be writing articles. These debates are not exactly the most pleasant to be having while on vacation, and that can be frustrating. We both come from very different backgrounds in education and line of work, so we think about things and approach situations quite differently. Have you ever had a disagreement with someone at work about how things should be done, or what decisions should be made? Have you then come home and vented to your spouse about those differences? Obviously that’s not possible for us. Travelling magnifies those disagreements, as no one wants to feel irritated on the one and only day in their life that they’ll visit the Great Wall of China. So, you have to learn how to be patient with each other, talk calmly, and just take things down a notch.
You have travelled throughout Canada, from Croatia to France, from Vietnam to Ireland and many places in between. What is the most impressive/scary/exciting/awe-inspiring/insert adjective here experience you have had through your travels?
His Take: The most awesomely jam-packed vacation that I’ve ever been on was when my parents took me on a road trip from Winnipeg to San Diego (and back) for my cousin’s wedding. I was about 9 or 10 at the time and my parents, grandparents, sister and I were all packed into a Chrysler minivan for what must have been about 3-4 weeks, so many of my best memories from childhood were from that trip. Visiting countless misty beaches in Oregon, hiking through the Redwood Forest in California, nearly wetting my pants after a scary-as-hell tour of Alcatraz Island in San Francisco, Disneyland, the Grand Canyon, the strip in Las Vegas, Salt Lake City it was, quite simply, the best trip that a kid could ever ask for and I’ve been addicted to travelling ever since.
Her Take: Our recent trip to China gave us the biggest rollercoaster ride of emotions and experiences I have ever encountered. Before coming here I was set on exploring all ends of the Earth, no matter how risky or difficult. China made me adjust my perspective on this, but at least it gave me a few stories I will never forget. We were travelling there during National Week, a public holiday when the entire population of 1.3 billion people goes on vacation. Flights are fully booked, buses are jam-packed and I have never in my life seen so many people crammed onto a train for a 16-hour journey (which included Kyle having his foot puked on by a three-year-old child). After a bus ride to a spot called Huangshan Mountain, we were told that our hostel had been given away and that the entire village was fully booked. As I felt myself on the brink of tears, a kind local who we had met on the bus and shown us to our accommodation invited Kyle and I to stay with him at his parents' place for the duration of our visit. We thanked him endlessly and took him up on the offer. His mom greeted us warmly, cooked us breakfast, lunch and dinner, and even shared the family’s homemade (yet potent) rice wine. To this day that is one of the kindest acts I have ever experienced from a complete stranger.
What is your dream trip?
The destination bucket list for Kyle and I will most likely never end, so we could tell you about the endless spots we’re planning on visiting in the future. Iceland, for one, is at the top of the list, along with South America. When it comes to our dream trip, however, it’s safe to say we are doing it right now. The opportunity to travel non-stop for six months with a significant other does not happen often, and we are at the perfect age to explore Southeast Asia. We’ve talked extensively about how different this adventure would be if we were to do it twenty or thirty years from now (namely less partying, which is a huge part of the Southeast Asia experience), and agree that we chose the perfect time to come here. It’s also an exhilarating feeling to knock off eight countries in one go. No one country is alike over here, so we are constantly exposed to new cultures, standards of living and sceneries. Finally, from a monetary standpoint it’s actually saving us cash in the long term, as multiple return flights to this part of the world from Canada would cost us a fortune if we were to see one country at a time. This trip will certainly be hard to beat in terms of the sheer range of experiences we’ve had in only half a year.
Do you have any advice for aspiring bloggers?
Man, where to start. First of all, if you’re serious about blogging, don’t expect it to be easy. Unless your blog is in some form or another all about your random thoughts, then it’s likely going to be geared toward something that you do or have a passion for. In order to have a better-than-average blog with enough content to keep your readers satisfied, you need to tackle whatever it is that you’re going to write about head on. If you’re a travel blogger, you need to get out there and travel. If you want to dedicate your blog to Downton Abbey, then you’re going to need to keep your head up for any breaking news about the show or actors and never miss an episode. Write regularly and be yourself, it’s what will naturally differentiate your blog from every other one out there.
All images courtesy of Couple of Yuppies.
>>Check out Couple of Yuppies
Read profiles of other Canadian bloggers: