We met with Melissa and Constance of Lezbackpack in Seoul, South Korea to learn more about their blog and how they travel.
1. Hey guys! Tell us about yourselves.
We are Constance and Melissa and we write for the blog Lez Backpack. We are both Texas born and consider ourselves native to the city of Austin. I was an Air Force brat and was raised in at least 5 different places around the world. Before moving to Korea, I spent 6 years teaching middle schoolers Algebra.
I spent my years growing up on the East Coast in Connecticut. I actually spent a year in Busan before Constance and I met but before that I had been working in a law office in downtown Austin, Texas.
2. You guys run a blog, how did you get started in travel writing?
We started the blog just a few months ago. It felt like a good way to document the ideas, travel experiences, and other things we’d learn during our time away from friends and family. We also wanted to develop a new hobby and have a project we could work on and share together. We gave Hostgator $100 and 2 minutes later, Lez Backpack was born.
3. Where is your favorite place in the world?
I don’t think we’ve been there yet. But if I had to choose one place for myself it would be the places I have felt the most connected to Melissa. So, I would say the time we went to Beijing for the Lunar New Year or the time we spent the weekend on some little island off the coast of Korea. In these two places, we really had to rely on each other to have a great time. China was freezing and everything was closed, this island had nothing on it but seafood restaurants. We just had to be very present with nature and each other, but those are the times I remember the most. If I had to say something a little less mushy, then I’d say Gili T in Bali. Crystal clear waters, plenty of recreational activities and watching Melissa haggle over the price of a bbq’ed red snapper…I’ve never witnessed anything sexier.
I would have to say my favorite place in the world is the kitchen island in the house where I grew up. Standing around, preparing dinner and talking with my sisters fills me with so much love. I’m deeply connected to my family, and though I love to travel, there is no other place like home. But in the last 3 years, having Constance as a part of my life has helped to make me feel like I’m always traveling with a piece of home.
4. You teach ESL also right? How can we do that
We are both ESL teachers. I instruct an after-school program for elementary students in Seoul. This is my “full-time” job. Melissa’s work situation is little different; she has several part-time gigs. So, Melissa took a part-time position at a private English school and they were willing to sponsor her visa AND give her permission to work other jobs in Seoul. Melissa actually supplements her income teaching “salary men and women” who work for big name companies like SK and LG. These classes start very early in the morning, we’re talking 7am, but she gets to facilitate interesting conversations with adults for big money. I, on the other hand, work with 6-13 year olds 5 days a week. Anyone can come to Korea and get a teaching position very easily. There are a ton of online resources to help explain this process step by step. It’s smart to look at the date of the article as well, requirements in Korea change rapidly. If you are curious as to how Melissa and I moved to Korea, you can check out an article we wrote for our blog. It’s not how people typically move here to work, but if you want to make the most money, live in the best area of Seoul, and make this an experience you are 100% in control of, this article will surely help.
5. What is one of your wildest travel memories?
We spent 10 days in Thailand and our vacation time fell during the monsoon season. We had been stuck indoors for 2 whole days and on that third day, the rain stopped. We immediately went outside and decided we would go to these marked viewpoints. We climbed up to the first view point which didn’t take long so we thought, why not head to the next viewpoint? There were three. When we got to the third and last one, we saw a sign pointing us in the direction of a beach we thought we were familiar with. I will spare you all of the details but we ended up on a private resort with no water, no money, a broken camera, and a plastic rain poncho. When we asked for directions, the man drew a map with a red sharpie marker of Koh Phi Phi Island with a line going from one end to the other. Then told us to take a path through the jungle to get back. This was not the way for tourists. It took an hour, but we made it. We should’ve been on an episode of, “I Shouldn’t Be Alive.”
6. Any advice for our readers who want to live the travel life?
Honestly, we don’t live a travel life. We work our day jobs and we jump up and down when we get any extra time off. This is very standard for most people. What we do differently is, we prioritize travel. So we maintain a typical lifestyle but when we get the chance, this includes any weekends, we make it a point to plan a trip. This is just a part of something bigger we incorporate into our lives. We like to take advantage of our time. Right now, we are in our late 20’s, early 30’s and it’s the best time to travel, so that’s what we’re doing. Travel is just a piece of this puzzle. We are health conscious, too. We like to study food and be active. That’s just as big as the travel piece. We also like to practice being mindful and learn new ways to communicate. Our blog incorporates travel hacks and logistical advice and these things are very concrete and resourceful but our message is more about a way of being. We hope people will take away whatever resonates with them but know, for us, travel is what helps enhance our way of being.