Bali, Cinque Terre, Reykjavik, Kyoto... The list of beautiful and adventurous places that Chris and Danika Garlotta have been together goes on and on. Meet No Destinations, aka one of my new favorite couples/travel bloggers. I’ll be the first to admit that I totally “fangirl” for these two. Chris and Danika are a dynamic duo that up and left their jobs and home in San Francisco to venture around the world together and become digital nomads/modern day explorers. Right now, they are currently staying in Berlin as a stationary “home” for a couple of months while jetting off every few weeks to a new destination (or should I say “No Destination”??).
This past weekend, I had the pleasure of interviewing No Destinations to learn more about their journey into this exciting chapter of their lives and what unique adventures they are planning next.
*See their website here: No Destinations *
Ana: Tell me about your background story and what brought you to where you are now.
No Destinations – Danika: I think travel has always been a huge part of our lives. We were always bummed out that we could never take more than a 2-3 week vacation because of work constraints. We were living and working in San Francisco, where I was working in marketing and Chris was working in tech. Chris had traveled through Europe more than I had because of work.
One night we were having cocktails at a restaurant and Chris looks at me and says, “Do you want to take a sabbatical?” My response was, “Haha...Yeah...Ok...” Then four cocktails later, we had a plan for quitting our jobs and leaving for 6 months. When we looked at the list of places where we wanted to go, we realized that there was no way that we could do it all in 6 months. So 6 months became a year...and now we are at the 1-year mark and it is going to be another year. That is how it started!
Ana: That is awesome. How was the leap of faith to quit and give it all up?
Danika: *Giant sigh and eye roll* Very hard!
No Destinations – Chris: It wasn’t that hard...
Danika: This is where we are different.
Chris: Well, we made sure that we had someone who was renting our apartment. We sold everything so we wouldn’t have any fixed expenses besides the apartment, which someone else is paying for, and we didn’t have to worry about all of our stuff because we had sold it. So it really wasn’t that hard to do once we decided to do it.
Danika: Yeah...It was hard!
Chris: Well, maybe it was harder for Danika to come around to getting rid of everything.
Ana: But was it all worth it?
Danika: Oh, ABSOLUTELY! And once we sold everything, we had about 16 boxes left that are in storage (most of which are my shoes and purses). So now looking back, I’m upset that I didn’t sell more. One thing this trip has taught me is that I don’t need much. Before I used to be a total over-spender, shopper, buyer, and now I realized that I don’t need as much. All of my stuff now somehow fits into a carry-on backpack!
Ana: What made you decide what city to see first?
Chris: That was pretty easy. When we decided to do this, Danika hadn’t really gone anywhere. Danika hadn’t been to Europe and she was really excited about pretty much everything. So we figured, “Why not start in Rome?” because we both wanted to go. Once we decided on Rome, one day we found a really great airline ticket for around $300 per person from Los Angeles to Rome.
Danika: Yeah, we took that as a sign that it was time to leave!
Chris: Exactly. We saw this non-stop flight option from LA to Rome and knew it was time to go. We ended up leaving 3 months early because of that!
Danika: We always find cheap flights, but nothing like that. THAT was a special flight.
Ana: Sounds like it was meant to be!
Danika: Yeah! And I remember I was upstairs in our loft and Chris says, “Hey, I just found this ticket for $300,” so I told him to book it! We ended up having to leave in 2 months instead and so it was really time for it!
Chris: And once we started getting rid of stuff, it made it easier to leave because it was inconvenient to be at home. We sold our sofa and then it wasn’t fun to be at home with just a chair and nothing to do, so it made it easier.
Ana: What has been your favorite trip so far and why?
Danika: *Looks at Chris* Hmm. What’s yours?
Chris: I think it changes weekly. I think we both really like Bali.
Ana: Your pictures there were so beautiful!
Danika: It was honestly hard to take a bad picture there.
Chris: I think I like Asia more. Before, I had only gone to Japan in Asia, so I really liked Bali and Vietnam. Actually, I really loved Hong Kong. But in Europe, I liked Prague, Amsterdam, and love it here in Berlin [where they are currently stationed for 2 months]. The city is really laid back and great.
Danika: I think one of my favorites has been Cinque Terre in Italy. It was the most amazing feeling being on a scooter...being on what felt like a deserted road, driving down the mountain towards the sea, and seeing everything... It was a really special place and I still can’t believe it is real! Like people actually live there, and it is a town, and it functions, but it looks like it is out of a fairytale!
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Ana: How do you decide where to go next?
Chris: It is somewhat based on our “list” of places where we’ve always wanted to go. We went to Iceland last week and the week before we left we were actually thinking about the Maldives or London and decided against it. Then I saw a picture of a place that looked really awesome without knowing where it was. So I asked her, “This looks awesome. Do you want to go here?” and Danika agreed. We found out it was Iceland and the next day we booked tickets and left a week later.
So sometimes we see a place that looks cool and we want to check out--like Halong Bay--and just go. We don’t really plan things too much in advance though. We are going to Thailand soon and all we know is that we are flying into Bangkok, but we don’t know much about what we will do when we get there.
Danika: We plan the big things, but all the little side trips we do spur of the moment. But I very much like knowing where we are going to be and having a “home” to go to when we get there.
Chris: We will also cancel our plans if we need to though. We were recently in Switzerland and planning on staying for 2 weeks. After about 1 week, it was super expensive to live there and the weather wasn’t really on our side, so a lot of the things we wanted to do were not possible. So we looked at each other and said, “Why are we sitting here in a hotel and not doing anything fun?” And then that night we booked a ticket for Milan, canceled the remainder of our plans, and went to Milan for 5 days. So there is stuff that we do that is spontaneous, but we also have backup plans.
Danika: Plus, this whole year, nothing has really gone wrong. The worst thing was that an apartment we rented didn’t turn out how we wanted, which was an easy fix. So it all works out as long as we go with the flow and still are cautious while traveling.
Ana: Here is a question that travelers get a lot... How do you afford to be able to travel?
Danika: We both still work. It is all just remote now.
Chris: I still do a lot of freelance tech work. Right now, I have clients that still call me (some know I’m traveling and some don’t), and it is still the same way that I would work in San Francisco. That is one of the ways that I was able to rationalize this trip to Danika because this is still how I would work back home. For instance, someone emailed me last night, with whom I haven’t spoken with in 2 years, and now I’m going to be doing some freelance work for them. So nothing financially has really changed for us. Danika can’t go into an office anymore, which is the only difference.
We were wondering if we could do this before we left. We were living in San Francisco, which was really expensive, and had a lot of fixed expenses. Once we got rid of it all, it was so much easier. Now the only real expense we have at home is rent—which we have renters to cover. So when we travel, the only bills we have are the bills we create. When January rolled around, we knew we wanted to take a small break and save up some money for a month or two. We found this apartment through a friend here in Berlin and decided to stay here for the winter to be able to save up for when we travel more in the summer.
Danika: The transition of not working in an office anymore was a bit hard for me. Luckily, I do have some clients that I would do some work with through designing graphics, marketing collateral, or doing online marketing (which is my background). When we left, I tried to nurture that and still keep those relationships, but now my focus is starting to shift on the blog and putting time and effort into developing that.
Right now we do collaborations with various restaurants, hotels, adventure companies, etc. just to be able to share the story. The value, I believe, we bring to that is the photos, which they can use for social media, websites, or anything. We are also really active on social media now, which definitely helps.
Ana: What advice would you give to couples that are traveling together?
Danika: I think what makes it work for us is that we know what each other’s strong points and bad points are when we travel. I know what pushes his buttons and he knows what pushes mine. As long as we know that, we can tell when the other needs to step in. For instance, I’m not good with change so when our flight plans get changed or if an apartment we rented doesn’t work out, I get super anxious and nervous and Chris is really good at stepping in and making it work. However, Chris is not always the most patient person, so when we have to wait in line for passports or be on the phone for visas, that is where I can step in and deal with that.
Ana: So it sounds like you have a nice yin and yang balance!
Danika: Yeah! And it is really hard to stay mad at each other now.
Chris: She can’t stay mad at me anyways...
Danika: *Smiling at Chris* In San Francisco, I could leave and go sit on a bench and be alone. But when we are in a new city, we don’t know anyone or know what places to go. Now if he goes somewhere I’ll be asking him, “Where are you going? I want to go!” and vice versa. So if we are mad at each other, we sit in a room mad for a few minutes and then just go find something to do like going to a bar or exploring the new city. We’re kind of obsessed with each other--I’ll admit that--but we have learned a lot about each other! Now that we work together and sit in the same room, I have learned so much about him and now I can see his ticks and what bothers him, which I never knew before.
Ana: Where do you see the future of No Destinations?
Danika: Chris and I love staying in luxury-type places and having that comfort of living, but we also love going to dive bars, eating street food, and finding those “hole in the wall” type places. We like everything from really fancy to super grungy. Most travel blogs that I find are solely for backpackers who are on a strict budget or really high-end luxury travelers, so I haven’t seen anything that is really the best of both worlds. That is what I want our website to be and to showcase: a place to find both of those ways of travel.
Ana: Highs and lows?
Danika: Yeah, exactly!
Ana: Give me your Top 3 Locations of where you REALLY want to go next.
Chris: Well, that is why we are adding another year! And adding an extra year isn’t even going to get us everywhere we want to go. But that is hard... There are places that I want to go back, places I want to visit and have never been...
Danika: If it has to be places we HAVEN’T been to... I would say Thailand, Spain (even though Chris has been there), Greece, and... Maldives...Sri Lanka...Cambodia...
Chris: Danika loves making Top 5 lists...and I can’t do the lists. Definitely Thailand though because we have tried to go a few times in the past and it didn’t work out for one reason or another. I’m really excited about going back to Indonesia this summer...
Danika: So if we had to narrow it down, I would say Thailand, Bali, and Greece
Ana: But you have Spain on your personal list, Danika?
Danika: Oh, yes!
A big thanks to No Destinations for taking the time to sit down for this interview! Chris and Danika are such a lovely couple and I’m looking forward to seeing what adventures they partake in next on their journey around the world! Visit their website at www.nodestinations.com