Traveling with a Purpose: An Interview with Tammy Lowe


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Tammy and Chris, founders of the travel blog Tammy & Chris on the Move, are more than your average adventurers. They believe that there is more to traveling than taking in sites, experiencing new cultures, eating street food and shopping in local markets. Although they do love all of those things, they believe that an important part of traveling is giving back to the people in the areas they visit through volunteering.

Right now, they’re in Cambodia – a trip that was supposed to be six months of volunteer work quickly turned into two years. Despite a 12-hour time difference, Tammy’s broken computer and the difficult WiFi in Phnom Penh, we were able ask her a few questions, and because she’s not one to hold back – we received some compelling (and often comical) responses.

LR: What song title best describes you?

TL: It’s “Born to Run” by The Boss. I think that probably best describes me, because the song is all about leaving the rat race behind, and the big city — it’s killing you — and if you don’t go and do what you want, you’ll regret it someday. That song really brought it home to us.

LR: Dream travel companion? (Living or dead.)

TL: My dream travel companion is somebody who is adventurous and likes to do something out of the box and a little bit different, but also who cares about people he meets locally. Somebody I think I’d love to travel with, even though he’s not alive anymore, is Che Guevara.

His book “The Motorcycle Diaries” was one of the first travel-related books I’ve ever read, and A: it inspired me, and B: it showed me that as a traveler, you don’t get to just see amazing places, but you get to make a difference while you’re there. That’s why I like volunteering so much. I don’t just want to take from a country; I want to give back as well.


LR: What’s the best item you’ve found on the ground?

TL: I nearly said my husband then. He’s English, he likes his drinks.

LR: Where are you dying to go that you haven’t been?

TL: There are a million places I’m dying to go actually. One is Burma, but luckily I’m going to go next month. And then there are loads of countries in South America. Peru and Bolivia are really high on my list.

LR: What’s the nearest you’ve come to death? rsz_9471249288_1dbc05b7df_z

TL: That was probably in April this year when I attempted to trek to Everest Base Camp in Nepal, and I was overcome with light hypothermia and altitude sickness. I literally thought I was going to die. My tour guide had to half-carry me down the mountain to the nearest launch. I had just reached the 5,000 meter mark, and I started feeling really nauseous and dizzy, and it just started to snow as well. I had to stop every five steps basically to get my breath.

I just started seeing dots and was getting really dizzy, and my tour guide was kind of starting to panic, which is when I thought, “Oh my god.” It took me about 20 minutes to get down again, but I can’t really remember anything, it was just a big blur.

LR: Who do you miss most when you travel?

TL: I probably miss my family most, but the thing is, I’m from Germany originally, but I haven’t been living in Germany since I left university, which was 10 years ago this year. I’ve always been living far away from them, so I kind of got used to not seeing them very often, which makes it nicer when I do get to see them, because it’s more special, and you appreciate your time with them more.

LR: What destination disappointed you most?

TL: Hmm. You know what? I don’t think I’ve ever been to a place where I thought, “This sucks.” There might be a place, for example, if you go to New York or something. There are things that amaze you, but there are also things where you think, “Oh god this is really annoying me right now,” but it’s never so bad that I think, “I’ve really hated my stay here and I’d never come back.”

LR: What travel app can’t you live without?

TL: It’s probably my WordPress app. I don’t use it to write blog posts, but I use it to approve comments, or reply to comments, or just make really quick edits if I see something. That’s really handy, because you don’t always have access to a computer. It’s really helpful and time saving.

LR: Where would you most like to have a layover?

TL: Maybe Dubai, because I don’t think it’s a place I’d want to stay for very long, but it’s kind of intriguing, and I’d like to see for a couple of days what it’s all about.


LR: What’s the coolest stamp in your passport?

TL: Probably China because it was the first Asian country I’ve been to, so that was a time and place where I fell in love with Asia. It was also a Communist country, and it was well before the Olympics, so it was a kind of intriguing but scary place at the same time.

LR: Have you ever been arrested in a foreign country?

TL: No. Thank god no. Never.

LR: Where is the strangest place you’ve peed?

TL: It’s kind of embarrassing, but I’ve got to tell you anyway. The strangest place I’ve peed is in a sink. It’s a bit disgusting, but I was in China. We went to China for our honeymoon, and it was the first time I was exposed to squat toilets. We were on a bus going from one location to the other, and we stopped over for a toilet break, and the toilets there were just hideous, I’d never seen anything like it. The smell wasn’t very pleasant, the look wasn’t very pleasant, but they had an attached sink in the same room, so I decided I’d rather pee in the sink than squatting over the hole in the lou.

LR: What’s the weirdest item you can’t travel without?

TL: That’s probably toilet related as well. I’ve got a theme going on here. I’ve got a little pouch with me that contains hand sanitizer, a toilet roll and a Shewee. Do you know what a Shewee is? It’s a kind of travel device for women,and it’s basically a little plastic thing shaped like a man’s genitalia.

If you don’t want to sit on a toilet, or if you’re out camping or something, and you don’t want to expose your bare bottom, you can use the Shewee. It’s a bit disgusting when you think about it at first. And when Chris saw it first, he didn’t want to speak to me for a whole day, because he thought I was so weird, but it’s just so helpful.

LR: Where was the most beautiful sunset you’ve seen?

TL: Definitely Cambodia. You get spoiled with sunsets here. The most beautiful are down the coast, there’s an island called Koh Rong. It’s about two hours on a boat from the mainland, and it’s one of those “The Beach” type places where you don’t get many tourists, the sands are white and the water is turquoise. The sunsets there are just spectacular.

LR: Writing or photography?

TL: Photography, I love photography, and I even studied it at university. I’m very passionate. I take my camera everywhere with me.

LR: Cash or credit? rsz_6415808779_97098e55d8_z

TL: Cash. I don’t like credit at all.

LR: Coffee or tea?

TL: Tea. Because I’ve been living in England for such a long time

LR: Coke or Pepsi?

TL: Coke can’t stand Pepsi. Don’t know why.

LR: Buy new or carry extra?

TL: Both, that’s why my backpack is always too full and too heavy. I take too much stuff with me and then when I like something on the way, I buy that as well.

LR: Hostel or hotel?

TL: Hostel when I was still in my 20s, but now I’m in my 30s — definitely hotel.

LR: Luggage or backpack?

TL: Backpack.

LR: City or beach?

TL: City. I’m not really a beach person. I like it for a day or so, but then I get too bored.

LR: Dehli belly or Montezuma’s Revenge?

TL: Ya know. I’ve never heard of Montezuma’s Revenge, but I love the term so much that I’ve got to go for that one.

LR: Shark or bear (attack)?

TL: I think the bear attack, because I saw a documentary on tele once that said if you talk to bears, like if you say, “Hey bear,” they will be alright, and they don’t think you’re a threat. And with sharks, you don’t have much chance aside from poking them in the eye or something, so I think I’ve got more chances with a bear than with a shark.



About the Author: Courtney McCaffrey

Courtney McCaffrey is a travel writer and editor based in Wilmington, N.C, Mexico and around the world. In addition to writing, she lives for travel - seeing new places, experiencing new cultures and surfing new waves.

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