Who are twobirdsbreakingfree?

The two of us in Hoi An - UNESCO world heritage site in Vietnam.

Our real names are Eoghan and Jili and we are two passionate, long-term shoestring-budget adventure travellers from the Republic of Ireland and India respectively.


We both share a desire for a larger life, a life less ordinary, a life full of adventure and uncertainty.


We’ve been leading a continuous nomadic existence for almost three years now, travelling all over India, Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia and it has been a phenomenal and life-changing journey so far.


We have recently begun to document many of our travel experiences through writing, photography and travel filmmaking, so that we can share our amazing journey with the world and inspire others to travel like us.

Our core philosophy on living

Every living organism needs the right environmental conditions to grow properly and to eventually reach its full potential. Just as the growth of a young tree is stunted by sub-optimal conditions like strong winds or insufficient sunlight, water and nutrients, the growth of human beings is also inhibited when we do not live in a healthy environment.


One of the most important ingredients for healthy growth is freedom. In the right environment, all living beings will grow naturally and vigorously to their full potential if their growth is unimpeded.


On the flip side, it’s obvious that if you keep an animal in a cage or try to restrict the growth of a tree, it won’t be able to achieve its full potential. All animals, including humans, must be free to roam, explore and interact with their environment in the way that they are naturally inclined, if they’re to reach their utmost potential and master the world around them.

But many of us are not free to live as we wish to.


‘’Man is born free, but everywhere he is in chains.’’- Jean-Jacques Rousseau

From the moment we are born, we are indoctrinated by society and pressured to conform; told how to behave, what to believe, what to wear and so on. Our attempts to express ourselves authentically are often condemned or stifled by parents, teachers and peers, until we eventually bury that authentic self deep inside of us and replace it with a false persona that helps us to gain acceptance from the people around us.


The entire process of schooling is a drawn-out and continuous effort to make us conform to the economic model of society, moulding us for a future lifestyle of monotonous work and servitude, which is not very conducive to our continued growth and development as human beings.

In trying to shape us in this way, schooling interrupts the development of our authentic selves and prevents us from growing in the way we were meant to grow.


Perhaps we were destined to become something else entirely, but school forces us to spend most of our time in a classroom, learning subjects that may not resonate with us and also robbing much of our free time outside of school hours, by forcing us to complete homework assignments.


‘’Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.’’ – John F. Kennedy


Many of us will remain in school for a lengthy period of 14 years or longer, because that is how long it takes to fully suppress the human spirit and drive a person into complete submission.


After so spending so many years in the prison-like environment of school, we can hardly imagine an adult life that is any different and the concepts of unbounded freedom and living life on our own terms are alien to us, even terrifying.

At some point, we finally abandon or postpone our dreams and begrudgingly accept the life that has been laid out for us by society. This 9-5 paradigm, we are told, is the only way we can survive. To listen to our hearts and chase after our dreams would be too risky, even suicidal.

We are thus pressured by our teachers, families, and by society at large to choose a single career path, to find a ‘secure’ job in our chosen field with a successful enterprise, live a predictable, monotonous existence working from 9-5 each day, get a mortgage, buy a house, have kids and keep climbing the corporate ladder for the greater part of our lives, until we finally retire at an age where we’re now too old to do many of the things we dreamt of doing when we were younger.

‘’Men spend the best part of their life earning money in order to enjoy a questionable liberty during the least valuable part of it.’’ – Henry David Thoreau

It is usually the two powerful emotions of fear and greed that control us and cause us to put our dreams on the backburner, ushering us into a lifestyle of constant work and toil.

 

There is the very real fear of bankruptcy and ending up homeless or penniless, so we try to secure a stable job as soon as we’re thrust out of school or university into the real world, even if the job doesn’t fulfill us whatsoever. Because of those same fears, we’re then afraid to quit that job, even if we start to hate it with every fibre of our being.  

 

We are also motivated to work excessively by our fears about the future. What if we fall into ill-health at some point? Will we have enough saved to cover the medical bills? Or maybe we intend to cover the bills with our health insurance policy, which we’ll also need to keep working to pay for. What about when we become too old to work anymore? Will we have enough money accumulated to get by? This uncertainty about the future drives us to work indefatigably to accumulate and hoard wealth, even if such vast reserves of wealth are not immediately necessary.

 

Another emotion that drives us to work more than we need to is the greed for material possessions. We are surrounded by temptation and constantly bombarded with advertisements. It is hard to resist becoming a part of today’s world of materialism and consumerism.


‘’Your salary is the bribe they give you to forget your dreams.'' - 

The emotion of envy can also play a powerful role, motivating us to work harder than necessary, so as to be able to ‘keep up with the Joneses’. We compete for social status with our neighbours and work colleagues by trying to possess more expensive houses, cars, clothes, shoes, watches, electronic gadgets, jewellery and other products than they do.

 

‘’We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.’ – Dave Ramsey

 

If we were surrounded by poverty, it is true that we would not experience the same urge to consume so compulsively, as we would not feel inferior to those around us. We would work hard enough to get by but not excessively, as if life were some kind of competition to possess the most.

 

In living our lives in this way, working excessively long hours, we sacrifice the majority of our precious time for the sake of financial security and material wealth.

 

‘’Time is more valuable than money. You can get more money, but you cannot get more time.’’- Jim Rohn

 

We postpone our dreams, on the bet that we’ll be able to fulfill them in the future when we retire. But is that a risky move?

 

’And then there is the most dangerous risk of all, the risk of spending your life not doing what you want, on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later.’’ – Randy Komisar

 

Why are we so confident that we’ll even live to retirement age, let alone that we’ll be in a good enough condition to still be able to fulfill all of our dreams of youth?


The clock of life is wound but once,
And no man has the power
To tell just when the hands will stop
At late or early hour.


To lose one's wealth is sad indeed,
To lose one's health is more,
To lose one's soul is such a loss
That no man can restore.


The present only is our own,
So Live, Love, toil with a will --
Place no faith in 'Tomorrow' --
For the clock may then be still.

- Robert H. Smith

 

And what if all that hard work does not bring even bring us the security that we think it will? We know that all the money in the world is often not enough to save a dying person in poor health.

 

‘’Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.’’ - Benjamin Franklin

 

Indeed, there is an increased risk of landing ourselves in poor health if we live a very stressful existence of working too much and playing too little. It is then that we may find that our health cannot be so easily recuperated by throwing money at the problem.

 

 “Man surprised me most about humanity. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health.’’ - James J. Lachard

 

Does material wealth even bring us peace of mind? Beyond a certain point, not really. There are people on this planet who are earning millions of dollars every year and yet they keep working as hard as ever, hoarding wealth at a frantic pace. Their greed and desire for more material wealth is apparently insatiable and it seems that they more they have, the more insecure they become.

 

‘’The more security you have, the more insecure you become.’’ – Sadhguru

 

The possessions that we accumulate do not bring us lasting happiness or fulfillment either. They only bring us a transient high when we first acquire them, which soon dissipates as we quickly adapt to our newly acquired toys.

 

‘’Happiness resides not in possessions and not in gold, the feeling of happiness dwells in the soul.’’ - Democritus

We don’t believe that this is a healthy paradigm. Waking up every morning to an alarm clock. Commuting to work. Taking orders from a boss. Commuting home from work. Going through the same routine day in, day out. Forget the hardships of the previous week by getting drunk every Friday night. Spend the entire weekend in recovery. Consume new stuff constantly to help fill that inner void and to compete for status with those around us. 


We’re slaves to the clock, to our boss’s orders, to the advertising companies and to our own emotions of fear, greed and envy.

 

Surely, there has to be more to life than this repetitive routine, this drudgery.

 

What if every day could be different and full of novelty, a new and fresh adventure? What if you could live life on your own terms, not having to answer to anyone and be free to do whatever you wanted with your time most days? Imagine how life could be then. You could finally spend your time doing what inspires you and not what you’re obligated to do. 

Effrata waterfall near lake Toba in North Sumatra, Indonesia.

You could also have a chance to discover who you really are again, now that the external pressures to conform have been lifted and your true authentic self finally has a chance to shine through. You could achieve your full potential and become the extraordinary being that you were meant to be.

Aspects of our philosophy on travel

Travel is natural

Travelling satisfies our natural human impulse to roam and to explore the world around us.

 

Although the last 10,000 years of living in sedentary agricultural societies have made small changes to our DNA, we are still largely designed to live a nomadic or semi-nomadic hunter-gatherer existence, in a dynamic and ever-changing natural environment.

 

The urge to travel is therefore still rooted in our DNA and keeping a human being cooped up in an office cubicle all day is similar to keeping an animal locked up in a cage. 


It is unnatural to work for so many hours each week, especially inside this artificial, indoor office environment that doesn't stimulate our senses.


We cannot delight in the fragrance of flowers, in the sweet melody of birdsong or in the sensation of the wind upon our skin. We are deprived of sunlight and often fail to produce enough Vitamin D. We rarely have a chance to experience a beautiful sunset or gaze up at the night sky with its millions of twinkling stars.

 

We are therefore deprived of the very essence of life when we live in this artificial corporate world. Our vitality is reduced by living under such circumstances and our growth and development is impeded. We live in a kind of bubble, receiving little exposure to the world beyond our limited reality, which means we do not adapt to it and cannot master it.


Travel can take us away from this unnatural environment and bring us back to the real world of nature. We can go anywhere we please; to an exotic desert island, the jungle, the mountains, the desert or perhaps the middle of the ocean on a sailing boat. We can get far away from the claustrophobic cities and feel alive again.

 

“We must go beyond textbooks, go out into the bypaths and untrodden depths of the wilderness and travel and explore and tell the world the glories of our journey.” - John Hope Franklin

Adventure travel begets personal growth

For us, travel is about more than just leisure, recreation, relaxation or self-indulgence (although it is partially about these things).

 

We also see travel as a vehicle for begetting personal growth and transforming oneself into a better person. Travel can help us to evolve and to self-actualize.

 

“A person susceptible to "wanderlust" is not so much addicted to movement as committed to transformation.” - Pico Iyer

 

However, for travel to be transformative it necessitates regularly stepping out of our comfort zones and challenging ourselves. It is very possible to ‘travel’ and not experience much personal growth if we are comfortable all the time. 

 

‘’A comfort zone is a beautiful place but nothing ever grows there.’’

 

That is why we strongly believe in adventure travel. It's challenging and it forces one to grow. It also improves one's self-confidence dramatically. We believe that if you’re going to travel at all, it should be, at least in part, a daring adventure into the unknown; otherwise you might as well remain at home. This is why we also tend to prefer travelling to developing countries, as everything just feels like more of an adventure.

 

’Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.’’- Helen Keller

 

That said, we are not totally opposed to occasional easy-going periods of relaxation, pampering or luxury but we believe that too much luxury and convenience softens a person and causes atrophy of one’s physical and mental faculties.

Low-budget travel is more powerful

Budget accommodation in Laos.

Even if we do have abundant financial resources, we like to travel on an ultra-low budget and there are a number of reasons for this.

 

Firstly, in developing countries at least, the less money you have at your disposal while travelling, the closer you are brought to the lives of local people and thus you come to better understand the reality that they live in.

 

On a low budget, you’ll be forced to eat among local people in local restaurants, take the same buses and transportation the locals take, buy produce from local markets and will perhaps be obligated to stay in more basic accommodation like bamboo huts and homestays, thus immersing you in the lives of the local people.

 

Having a very low budget thus also tends to bring you closer to nature as you may not always have enough money to pay for a hotel room in the big towns and cities, where accommodation is often more expensive. We’ll often travel away from the big towns and cities to camp out under the stars or stay in ultra-basic accommodation like village homestays, treehouses, or traditional tribal houses. Staying in lodging arrangements like these will really immerse you in nature and exposure to nature is therapeutic and good for the soul.

 

The other main reason why we travel on a low budget is because it just makes things more challenging and thus offers us opportunities for learning and personal growth. Abundant money generally makes things a lot easier on the road and solves most problems. With very little money at your disposal, you have to become a lot smarter and more efficient with spending it.

 

For example, you’ll have to learn how to:


 - Book the absolute cheapest possible flights

- Avoid checked luggage fees

- Avoid banking fees

- Find the cheapest (and best) possible accommodation

- Get from A to B in the cheapest possible manner

- Haggle with merchants for discount 

- Save money at restaurants

- Avoid paying unfair entrance fees 

- Minimize risk (as travel insurance may be unaffordable) 


....and so on, ad infinitum. It’s not necessarily about compromising on quality to save money, but rather about always finding the best possible value.

 

A final reason for travelling on a low budget is that it can help you to overcome some core insecurities that may haunt you on a subconscious level.

 

One of the biggest fears of many people is becoming homeless, jobless or penniless. Why? Because most people don’t have the knowledge, skills or the resources to survive outside the framework of modern society and many folks have little faith in other people to help them out if they were ever to fall into such a predicament.


Ultimately, we fear that we would perish from hunger or from exposure to the cold in such a situation. Perhaps that fear is justified, but how will we ever know for sure until we put ourselves in that situation?

 

If you take this low-budget philosophy to the extreme and travel with no money whatsoever, you will be forced to rely on the kindness of strangers for food, transportation and perhaps shelter (if you are carrying no camping equipment). It will humble you to ask strangers for help and you will learn to deal with the sting of rejection.

 

You will learn a lot about human beings; how some can be incredibly generous to strangers in need and how others can be incredibly insensitive and money-minded. But ultimately, you will learn that losing everything is not the death sentence you feared and that the universe will somehow never let you starve or die of exposure. 

Travel shouldn't be superficial

We trekked for hours to reach this waterfall hidden deep inside the Indian jungle.

We don’t believe in superficial travel. There are a lot of travel blogs out there that portray a very shallow type of travel where the emphasis is on ticking famous sights and destinations off a list, instead of gaining a much deeper understanding of the places we visit.

 

‘’Your soul suffers when you force her to a shallow life. The soul loves beautiful and deep things.’’ - Paul Coelho

 

We don’t try to visit dozens of different countries during a short trip, as some  travellers do. If there are time constraints for a trip, we feel it’s better to focus on just one country or even just one destination within a country, if that destination has a lot to offer.

 

We take every country seriously and respect its depth and complexity. We know that every country holds many secrets and hidden gems that are at first difficult to find. One must look beyond the obvious. Leaving a new country by choice after just a few days would be an insult to the country, as if to say ‘goodbye country, you have nothing more to offer or teach us besides your one star attraction, which we’ve already seen.’

The two of us in the Imperial citadel of Hue' - the former imperial capital of Vietnam

For us then, travel is about delving deeper and developing a relationship with a place, not merely visiting as many countries as possible or ticking tourist attractions off a bucket list. Travelling superficially yields a long list of places that you can mention you’ve been to, but you’ll have very little to say about any of them.

 

‘’Too often I would hear men boast of the miles covered that day, rarely of what they had seen.’’- Louis L’Amour

 

That is why we’ll spend months exploring one country to the point of exhaustion, wandering far off the beaten path until we almost know every nook and cranny of the country, fall in love with it and have to leave a piece of our hearts behind when we finally have to leave it.


‘’To travel is to leave a piece of your heart all over the world.’'


We’ll trek through a country’s national parks and protected areas to learn about its forests and wildlife, visit its indigenous inhabitants living in remote jungle or mountain villages to learn about their unique cultures, summit its highest snow-capped mountain peaks to get the lie of the land, climb to the rooftops of its tallest skyscrapers to gain a bird’s eye view of the cities, sample its unique culinary specialties, attempt to learn the basics of its language, trawl its museums and art galleries to understand its past, present and future, seek out its most breathtaking waterfalls, caves, beaches and other natural wonders, investigate its archaeological sites and just generally leave no stone unturned in our quest to unravel all of the country’s secrets and mysteries.


Pondering the mysterious Plain of Jars in Laos.

We delve deep, deep, deep into the heart of destinations, of countries, of cultures.


‘’ I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life…’’ - Henry David Thoreau

Our story - How we learned to fly

Dieng Plateau, Java Island, Indonesia.

We first met a few years back during a chance encounter on Valentine’s Day in Dublin, the most famous city in Ireland and the country’s official capital. There was instant chemistry between us and we immediately became each other’s partners in crime.

 

At that time we were both somewhat ensconced in the matrix, living a reasonably mundane and predictable settled existence. We both had jobs that fed our bank accounts but they were not feeding our souls. Luckily, we were both fully aware of the limitations of this reality and we knew that we had the potential to do more with our lives. Life could be a bigger, grander and more magnificent affair, if only we could break free from this paradigm we had become so habituated to.

 

“Every man can transform the world from one of monotony and drabness to one of excitement and adventure.” – Irving Wallace

 

We yearned to escape from this ‘Plato’s Cave’ so to speak and embark upon an exciting adventure into the unknown. We wanted an unfiltered experience, to get to know the world as it really is and not as it is depicted in books and maps or on T.V screens, cinema screens and computer screens.

 

‘’The world is not in your books and maps. It’s out there.’’- Gandalf, The Hobbit

 

So it was that our unshakeable wanderlust compelled us to undertake our first series of adventures in Ireland, hitchhiking around the southwestern peninsulas with just our two small backpacks. We thrust ourselves headlong into these formative adventures, mostly camping out under the stars in hammocks each night and placing blind faith in the goodwill of strangers to carry us to our next destination.

 

These fledgling adventures were like training exercises and lay the foundations for what was about to become. They were inspiring us with confidence and teaching us important lessons that we would need to finally spread our wings and fly away to the other side of the world. And they only served to further inoculate us with an even more virulent strain of the travel bug.

 

With our sights now firmly set on breaking free, we began saving as much of our incomes as possible, eliminating every unnecessary expense and living a Spartan existence with just the barest essentials for living. It didn’t feel like a sacrifice though, as we knew it was a necessary step to prepare us for our big upcoming adventure.

 

This phase of accruing a financial safety net continued for almost an entire year, until we eventually reached a point where we felt we had accumulated enough. We knew in any case that saving even more money would not necessarily make it any easier to take the ultimate leap. We now needed something else to push us over the final threshold: courage.

 

“Travel is never a matter of money, but of courage” - Paulo Coelho

 

Summoning all the courage we could muster, we committed to abandoning our jobs, saying goodbye to our friends and family and taking a leap of faith into the unknown. Not knowing when we would return, we booked one-way flights to Goa in India and let the universe determine the rest from that point onwards.

 

Since that fateful day, we have been having the time of our lives travelling all over India, Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia and we don’t regret abandoning our old lives for a moment.

 

Yes, it has been very challenging and even quite stressful at times (our bank accounts have fallen below €500 on several occasions!), but all in a good way, because we’re doing what we love and what we’re passionate about. 


We had to quickly become competent with previously alien skills like photography, filmmaking, website designing and earning money online, but it has all been worth the struggle. 


In fact, learning to fly was the best decision we ever made.

Waiting to feast a spectacular sunset at Mui Ne, Red Sand dunes, Vietnam.

Where we've been

Since leaving Ireland behind over two years ago, we’ve travelled throughout 9 Asian countries and they are:

 

1. India

2. Sri Lanka

3. Myanmar

4. Thailand

5. Cambodia

6. Vietnam

7. Laos

8. Malaysia

9. Indonesia

 

Many of these countries we have travelled quite extensively (we spent 7 months in India alone) and a few we have returned to several times. Our aim for the time being is to keep delving deeper into some of these countries while gradually expanding our reach to other new Asian countries that we haven’t yet visited.

Our mission

"When our hearts were as light as the wild wind that blow" at Little Andaman Island, India

Our mission is simple.

 

We’re here to help you break free from the 9-5 prison so that you can finally live the lifestyle of travel and adventure that you were meant to live. You don’t have to wait until your retirement to do this. It’s possible to break away in the near future and our website will provide a lot of the necessary resources that you need to make this happen.

 

The first part of the process is to get inspired to travel. You can start by reading the inspiration section of our website, where we have written a few articles to help you get inspired.

 

The second step is preparing for the big launch. You’ll need to accumulate enough savings, perhaps pay off any outstanding debt and sell most of your possessions that won’t serve any purpose once you leave your old life behind. Duties and family obligations can be a hindrance for many people at this stage.

 

To make this lifestyle a long-term reality, you’ll also need to know how to sustain your travels for as long as possible without going bankrupt. The articles section of our website contains a slew of articles about saving money on the road and they are some of the most comprehensive articles on the web on these topics. In this articles section we also cover many other important travel topics like travel security, travel gear, travel technology and so on.

 

At some point during your journey, you will also need to start earning money, as your savings won’t last you forever. As we add more content to the site, we will also write about many of the ways to earn money on the road, including methods that we use to earn money online.

 

You will also find many free, in-depth travel guides on our website, which may come in useful if you decide travel in the same part of the world that we’ve been travelling in. Within these guides you will also find some of our inspiring photography. The guides cover many off-beat hidden gems that are not well documented online or in travel guidebooks and some include our own personal tales of endurance, struggle, and victory. Most of the guides are comprehensive enough to provide all the information you need to get the most out of any destination.

 

In the future, we also plan to write helpful articles on travel photography and travel filmmaking, as we have a lot to share on these subjects, but for the moment we will be focusing on the above.

 

If you haven’t subscribed to us yet and you’re interested in travel, then what are you waiting for?

 

It’s completely free to join and we keep you updated with all our latest articles, travel guides and YouTube videos, as well as providing exclusive travel tips that we don’t share with the public. All delivered straight to your inbox.

We will leave you here with one of our favourite poem.


Caged Bird


A free bird leaps
on the back of the wind  
and floats downstream  
till the current ends
and dips his wing
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and  
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings  
with a fearful trill  
of things unknown  
but longed for still  
and his tune is heard  
on the distant hill  
for the caged bird  
sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn bright lawn
and he names the sky his own

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams  
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream  
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied  
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings  
with a fearful trill  
of things unknown  
but longed for still  
and his tune is heard  
on the distant hill  
for the caged bird  
sings of freedom.

- by Maya Angelou

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