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Episode 57 Interviewing Ashley Giordano: Adventurer, Journalist, and Overlander


Show Notes for Podcast Episode #57

Interviewing Ashley Giordano: Adventurer, Journalist, and Overlander


In this podcast from the field, Scott interviews Ashley Giordano at the Overland Expo Mountain West. Ashley has traveled the length of the Americas overlanding with Desk to Glory, and is currently planning her next global adventure while balancing working from the road.




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Full Transcription below:

Ashley Giordano Podcast

Scott Brady: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to the Overland journal podcast. I am your host, Scott Brady. My co-host Matt. Scott is not with us today because he is hopefully somewhere in Tanzania on his honeymoon. So congratulations, Matt. Thank you so much for all that you do. I am sitting in a scout camper at the Overland expo mountain west, and I am here with a guest that I’ve been wanting to interview for a very long time. Ashley Giordano. Thank you, Ashley so much for being on the podcast.

Ashley Giordano: Thank you so much for having me.

Scott Brady: Well, I have to say that your travels with Richard throughout South America, I think, is one of the most inspiring that we have seen in a very long time. There’s a few reasons why it was so meaningful to me, and for those that are listening, we’re going to get some random noises because we are in the middle of the Overland expo. So we apologize for that. Well, we’ve also had podcasts where you can hear rhinos in the [00:01:00] background or birds chirping. So that was a… yeah, that was a waste management truck that just went by. So hopefully that’s the end of that. But one of the things that I love so much about your travels was you picked a very accessible vehicle that is also very appropriate for the tasks, so I think often times people will pick a vehicle that kind of looks the part of adventure, whereas… and yours very much did look the part of adventure, but they will pick the vehicle that maybe they think is the one that they need for travel. Whereas a simple, reliable, pickup truck is oftentimes exactly what you need to go travel the Americas. So I think that your trip down there, the photography that you guys produced, it was kind of the first that we had seen of a North American traveler that was doing a great job of telling their story and a great job of documenting their story. We hadn’t seen a lot of that until you guys [00:02:00] started traveling. So that was, I think like the first high watermark that we saw around content and storytelling. That was when I first started following you guys, so that was very inspiring. So start to tell us a little bit about how you got interested in travel.

Ashley Giordano: Oh yeah. So Richard and I didn’t really start out with a passion for travel when we were younger. We’re both from small towns in BC and it just wasn’t on our radar, but in early adulthood, we came across a pair of flights that were about $500 returned to Japan. Yeah, it was really cheap. It just came on sale. And we had a friend that… she was teaching English in Japan and so we thought of cheap tickets. We have got a friend there already and so we decided to jump on that opportunity, and we had never traveled internationally [00:03:00] before that trip. So being in Japan was an incredible experience and that’s what started this whole thing. We love countries that are so different from our own, and we learned so much about the people there and the culture and just beautiful scenery. It was just fascinating to both of us and we had such a good time. We didn’t even want to go home.

Scott Brady: What were some of the things you liked most about Japan?

Ashley Giordano: The people were really gracious and helpful. We had one man who… we were riding on the bullet train, which looking back now I just think it’s incredible that we could navigate the bullet training system. Everything’s in Japanese and trying to pronounce it in English is, yeah, it was crazy, and we didn’t even get lost once, somehow. I don’t know, except for… actually we didn’t get lost, no. Anyways, so we were on this train and we didn’t know where we were going and this [00:04:00] man spoke English and he was asking us where we’re from and where we’re going and he stayed on the train going in the opposite direction of his house for a considerable amount of time to make sure we arrived safely and at the stop we wanted to be at. We had never experienced anything like that before.

Scott Brady: From my perspective with Japan, it was the first country that I went to that was a first world country that was so different from my own, and different in a lot of very special ways. That doesn’t mean that Japan doesn’t have their challenges around some of those cultural components. But I remember getting on to the train and there were a bunch of younger people working folks, and an older man stepped onto the train and all of them stood up. Like everybody that was young that was able to give up a seat, they all stood up. There was no question and the old gentlemen started walking towards one of them and the young man stood [00:05:00] out of the way and gave him his seat. To see that kind of respect towards elders is so rare to find in the Western world. It certainly exists within certain countries in Europe, but to see that was just so special in my mind.

Ashley Giordano: Yes, absolutely. I also thought that the attention to detail and craftsmanship there is out of this world. Yeah, they have… I can’t remember what the Japanese term is, but there’s a term for somebody who specializes in that one thing and masters it, and they spend their whole life dedicating themselves to mastering whatever that is, whether it’s sake or cabinetry, it doesn’t matter.

Scott Brady: What were some of the things that you encountered in Japan that really captured you in that way? Like, what were some of the things that you found?

Ashley Giordano: We visited and stayed in a Buddhist temple which was also an incredible experience and just [00:06:00] the food spread, I guess in the morning and in the evening, we would sit down on the floor. I can’t remember what the name of the coat was… anyways, we were sitting in this Buddhist temple on the floor, and they had maybe like three or four tables with all of these tiny little dishes of all these different types of food and it was all vegetarian, but it was so creative the way that they presented it and cooked everything, and it was absolutely beautiful. Then we went and attended the morning service, and I was able to ask a bunch of questions to the monks afterwards, which was really fun. So we had Google translate out and I was just asking them all these questions and they were so kind to answer.

Scott Brady: How was that experience being at a Buddhist temple? What did you find you took away from that?

Ashley Giordano: Wow. I think just that ability to ask somebody questions that they live such a different life than we [00:07:00] do and having an insight into their world was the biggest thing for me. That’s a huge part of why we travel.

Scott Brady: Is to start to soak up other people’s lives in a way. And one of the things that I also love about the Japanese culture is that they certainly have this slant towards perfection, but then they have like this, this consideration of grace towards that, and they call it Wabi Sabi, which is to also embrace the imperfections, like, like a piece of wood that has a, an odd knot in it, for example, would be considered beautiful. Whereas in Western culture, we may say oh it has a not, it’s not a good piece of wood, right? So it’s really very special that they have that ability to be such a perfectionist, but then also to embrace the imperfections as well.

Ashley Giordano: Absolutely. Yeah, that’s what makes a piece unique.

Scott Brady: Yeah. Well, and [00:08:00] it just shows those ancient cultures have that ability to get to that level of consideration. Whereas I think that there’s benefits to younger cultures as well. There’s a lot of enthusiasm and motion and energy, and all of that that can come from that, which I think is a positive thing. But to experience an older culture where they allow for time, for things to be as they are, that’s pretty rare.

Ashley Giordano: Absolutely.

Scott Brady: We’re going to take just a quick brand. I don’t know why this thing is awesome. And where did you travel next? After Japan?

Ashley Giordano: We traveled… After Japan we traveled to Southeast Asia. And so, we took a trip through Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand. [00:09:00]

Scott Brady: That’s amazing. I’ve not been to any of those countries. I don’t know why I have not been to that part of Asia more and I want to, and Matt talks about it regularly. What were some of the things that you loved and enjoyed about that?

Ashley Giordano: I think Lao was such a surprise for us because we didn’t know anything about it. We just added it onto the list, and we had watched Anthony Bourdain’s travel show and he went there and we’re like, eh how about here, and it looks amazing. So, we ended up going and you can go and watch the monk’s alms in the morning. So, this big, long lineup of monks wearing the orange robes, will walk down the main street and collect food from the residents there and so that was quite cool. Vietnam was really interesting. The history, obviously there is very, you know, it’s fascinating, but there’s also quite a dark history. So, we went to the [00:10:00] war remnants museum, and that was very insightful just about the past Vietnam war and the effects on the people that are still alive today with agent orange and all of that. So yeah, as Westerners, it’s interesting to look from the perspective of another country in that way. So, visiting the museum really taught us a lot about Vietnam.

Scott Brady: Well, and how, from, from our perspective, it was this moment in history that is looked back on as a moment in history for them, it is still very much part of their present. I think that that’s the difference once an organization or once a country leaves a place that there’s these long-term effects, and you see it everywhere that we travel. I remember being in Greenland and some locals were pointing over to the other side of this inlet and they said, that’s where the Vikings were. [00:11:00] You could see the ruins of this Viking home, and that was a very long time ago. The locals remember that and it’s now part of their present. The Vikings are long gone, but that is still part of their current life, which is very interesting. And it’s not something that we have as much here in the U S and maybe that’s why when we get the chance to interact with the Aboriginal peoples from this place that it’s so important. You have that very much in Canada. Have you had those experiences as well?

Ashley Giordano: Yeah, not enough as I would have liked. However, when we did our trip up to Tuktoyaktuk, we spent some time with a guide there and he talked to us about his experiences in the area and the history and how he’s trying to bring the culture back in his generation after residential [00:12:00] schools happened in Canada and so he’s learning how to build igloos and learning about medicinal plants and bringing it back, but also teaching tourists who come in about living outside and the history of the Inuvialuit culture up there, which is really beautiful. Yeah. He was saying that they brought some elders in when he learned how to make Igloos and they were crying because they hadn’t seen them for so long or hadn’t seen them at all. So, yeah, it’s so powerful and I was really fortunate to have that experience and have that chat with him.

Scott Brady: Well, and the two of you went at the right time because now that the summer road is there that is such an opening for Tuktoyaktuk of visitors. Before that you would have to fly in, or you’d have to take a long boat trip, or you’d have to go in the wintertime on the frozen river and they just [00:13:00] didn’t get very much visitors and the first time that I traveled there was in spring of 2007 and they had not seen hardly any tourists. So we started interacting with the locals, and this gentleman was very proud of the things that he had done, deservedly. He was a traditional polar bear hunter. So he would go out with his dogs and a spear. He would have no gun and to him that was this acknowledgement of his past and of his culture and that he chose to not hunt with a rifle because he wanted to be as close as… which is what he said, he wanted to be as close as possible to his ancestors in that process, and I’m thinking this guy is amazing… I mean, not that I would ever want to kill a polar bear, but I understand why they do and it’s part of their culture and he brings out this polar bear hide and these polar [00:14:00] bear gloves, and that made a huge difference for his family. That was worth a lot of money, and it also allowed him to gain status in his community. So it was very interesting to see, and then the next time that I went, which was in 2016, there were already little condos that you could rent, like little Airbnbs, so not very long, 10 years and it had changed so much. So how was that when you went to Tuktoyaktuk, what did you experience when you were up there around that kind of infrastructure?

Ashley Giordano: So it was a really weird situation when we were there because COVID 19 had become a pandemic at that point. But it was very early in north America and so we literally just drove up from Inuvik in a day and we went to the sign, the arctic ocean sign and took pictures and went back down to Inuvik [00:15:00] again, because I think the local people were concerned at that time and we didn’t want to interact with anybody or talk with anybody. We wanted them to feel comfortable. And so, we’ll have to go back up again because we were just there and then unfortunately left, but…

Scott Brady: That was very thoughtful of you to do that too, because a lot of those communities were at higher risk and they’re also so remote that when you need that medical support, it’s difficult to get people out of there. So that makes a lot of sense and they probably shortly after you were there, they probably shut everything down, I would think. Outside travelers I would suspect.

Ashley Giordano: Yes. Yeah.

Scott Brady: And what other things from that particular trip were… I know we’re jumping around a little bit on the timeline, but since we’re talking about your… and that was the, that was the solo series with Expedition Overland and you guys did some great [00:16:00] content from that. In fact, we had your story in Overland journal and we also had Ben Clay and his team put out your video series, which was excellent. So those that are listening, please make sure you take a look at the solo series featuring Ashley and Richard on their trip up to Tuck. So, I mean the imagery was incredible, but what were some of the takeaways for you traveling so close to home? Like the fact that you weren’t in another country, you were in Canada, but going to someplace very different.

Ashley Giordano: So the trip was very challenging. I would say in some ways more challenging than our trip to South America was, which was kind of surprising to us. But the weather was just… it was what dictated our travel because we did it in the wintertime, and it just changed everything. As you know, you did that trip in the winter as well. The one thing we love is to live outside and so we were sleeping in Expedition Overland’s Tacoma with the AT [00:17:00] habitat on it. We were always like, battening the hatches down obviously, because it’s the wintertime so it felt like we were in a spaceship, which is cool, but also, we want to take the covers off and open the windows and see the trees and the scenery. So that was a bit tough, and it was such a long trip. It’s so far north. I think we determined that we could have driven to Mexico City from where we were instead if we went south. It’s so far, so there’s a lot of driving,

Scott Brady: And that’s actually, for those that are listening, that’s actually the furthest north that you can drive in the Americas is to Tuktoyaktuk. You know, actually in Canada, excuse me. The furthest north that you can drive in North America is to Prudhoe Bay, but it’s the only place that you can actually access the Arctic Ocean. So a lot of times people will drive to Prudhoe Bay, expecting that they can drive their [00:18:00] vehicle all the way to the water and you can’t do that. You have to get on like the tourist bus and go out there and you can dip your finger or do your polar plunge or whatever. But Tuktoyaktuk because it is so remote, and I think it’s actually a better trip. So that’s, I think my conclusion having done Prudhoe a few times and Tuck a few times is that every time that I’ve gone to Tuck, it has been a much more wonderful experience for me because you get to interact with the locals. It’s not this huge oil field. You can actually get the vehicles to the ocean. We were fortunate to be able to get the Expedition Seven trucks to the ocean, but that took a lot of work. It took a lot of energy and interaction with people and permissions to actually get the vehicles to the ocean. Whereas with Tuck, if you drive the ice road it’s this amazing landscape that you get to drive through to go all the way up to the ocean. So it’s pretty cool.

Ashley Giordano: Yeah. The Dempster highway is quite spectacular. We [00:19:00] really enjoyed that too.

Scott Brady: Did you see any wildlife along the way?

Ashley Giordano: We saw a Fox and Arctic Fox, which was quite awesome. We saw what else?

Scott Brady: Probably a thousand ptarmigans.

Ashley Giordano: Yeah, definitely. I think we saw a moose or two and…

Scott Brady: Any muskox?

Ashley Giordano: Yup.

Scott Brady: They’re totally like out of Star Wars. They’re so awesome.

Ashley Giordano: There’s one section that… well we’ve been up to White Horse twice in the winter and there was one section of the highway that we always see them and that was quite cool, and they’re just sitting around, and they’ve got all this snow in there fur, and they’re so hardcore, but yeah they’re pretty fun.

Scott Brady: They’re so unusual. That’s what I love about them. They’re so cool. Yeah, they’re really neat. The first time that we drove up there, we had gone through Eagle Plains and they just… because again, there was so few [00:20:00] tourists that the locals were in communication and they knew like when the road was going to close and all that, and we didn’t know, and the road was actually closed, they just forgot to close the gate. So off we went like, you know, north into a total whiteout where we were going five miles an hour, going from post to post to try to see, and we got to the other end. And one of the locals was there at the closed gate in the north. Said I was hoping we’d see you, and what was really fun though they took it very well and they said the road was closed. We know we didn’t close the gate, but please make sure you check in before you go across, and he said, but go up into the top of the hill and you’ll see the wolves on a caribou kill. So I start running up to the top of this hill and I’m almost at the top and I’m thinking, what am I doing? Why am I running towards the wolves? And I got to the top and sure enough, there were these… they were giant. I [00:21:00] mean, they looked enormous to me and they were very far away still, hundreds of meters away. And I got a couple of photos, blurry photos, but I just remember that moment of feeling myself move down the food chain. Have you had moments like that with wildlife and your travels?

Ashley Giordano: Not at all. It’s more weather. Like when we were in Eagle Plains, we were trapped there for five days waiting for the road to open because the gate was closed for us. And then in fact, we couldn’t go back the other way. They closed the other gate because the weather was so poor and then in Inuvik it was the same thing. We were there for quite some time, just waiting for the road to open again. That one pass is just… it’s pretty hardcore with the weather. So yeah, it’s more weather problems that we had on that trip.

Scott Brady: And it’s so fun because when they finally opened the road and then you’ve got this huge snow… [00:22:00] it’s almost like driving on the dunes of snow. Or do they clear the road now?

Ashley Giordano: They cleared it. They had a big storm while they were there. So it was definitely cleared. But it was so funny because we had we had the Exo vehicle and of course it’s got all the bells and whistles, but most of the people we met there were in like a van or, you know, they have like no recovery gear or they’re visiting family and stuff like that, and no studded tires and they still made it where they had to go. And truck drivers, they drive that route all the time in the winter. So it was really interesting.

Scott Brady: Those are important reminders, those humbling reminders of… I mean a vehicle like the Tacoma that you guys drove, it does allow for very remote, very poor conditions and that’s the upside. But oftentimes even when you think you’re on an expedition in a way, here comes like the mom and her kids in the minivan. Cause they’re just [00:23:00] trying to get to school or they’re trying to do whatever, and Matt and I talk about that. A lot of, you know, you could be in the middle of Africa, like I was in the middle of Uganda and I was in low range in the G Wagon thinking I was… and then here comes the locals Tercel and it’s just… but I love that because it just brings me back to the fact that if feels like I’m in this other universe, but for them, this is their day to day and it’s just not a big deal. The more that we let go of feeling that we have to be prepared for everything, the more it opens us up to experiencing things truly on a deep level, because then you become a little more dependent upon the local resources and you go shopping where the locals shop. The more that we open ourselves instead of closing ourselves up in a vehicle, the better, I think. Yeah.

Ashley Giordano: I think you want to have control of what’s going on and as soon as you kind of give up control and start saying yes to things or accepting [00:24:00] a road closure for five days, that’s kind of where you learn a lot. So being in the Eagle Plains hotel for five days, there’s only so much you can really do there. So we learned a lot from the other people that were staying there or the people running the place, or they have a lot of historical photos all posted up. Just learning about the history of the area, it was great, and we got a little bit of a break. We got to embrace rest. So that was quite important.

Scott Brady: It can be rare for us to have those moments of stillness when we travel, because we’re always… I shouldn’t say we, I can oftentimes be so goal focused that I’m pushing towards whatever it is that I’m trying to get to and having those moments, like where you’re stuck for five days. So did you find yourself reading a bit?

Ashley Giordano: I definitely did read, and I was taking a lot of notes [00:25:00] and they had TV in the room with cable somehow. So we watched Bones and Frazier a lot. There was no… There was a little bit of cell service, not cell service, but you could pay for something like Wi-Fi. And so we would go on, but not very often cause it was pricey, but yeah it was interesting.

Scott Brady: And different. Right?

Ashley Giordano: Very different.

Scott Brady: So let’s go back a little bit. We’re going to go back in time a little bit. So you go to Lau, you go to Vietnam, you go to Thailand and at this point you’re still traveling by air. When did you start to travel by vehicle a little more?

Ashley Giordano: So all of this traveling that we did was all during our vacation time. So I think that’s important to bring up too with our jobs. I think I had three weeks of vacation time as a paralegal at that point. And then I would ask for an extra week unpaid and they [00:26:00] always said yes, because I was going… I wasn’t staying in town. I was going somewhere abroad. So they were like, sure, go for it, which was amazing. I don’t know how common that is. So I was really grateful for that. Anyways, so the next trip we went on was Israel, Jordan, and Turkey, and that I think was the trip that put a little kind of seed into our head because we saw… Well, we traveled through Wadi Rum in Jordan in the back of an old Toyota pickup truck with the local Bedouins and so that was like an, a little bit of an introduction into Overland travel. Then we saw a sticker for what’s that Overland company name? They’ve got those huge trucks. It’s escaping me right now. I think it starts with an M. Anyways, there was a [00:27:00] company…

Scott Brady: Mission Overland?

Ashley Giordano: No, huge, huge vehicles. Almost like a bus where they have a whole bunch of people and they go Overland through all these different countries.

Scott Brady: There is one that’s called Overland Mission or Mission Overland, something like that. There’s a bunch of them.

Ashley Giordano: Okay. I guess it doesn’t really matter what it is, but we saw a sticker in Turkey at a hostel, and we were like, what is this? And so we started looking into it. Anyways, then we got home and we were living in Vancouver at the time and unbeknownst to me, Richard had been reading some blogs about traveling through the Americas in old Toyota’s. So LandCruising Adventure was one.

Scott Brady: They’re amazing.

Ashley Giordano: Yeah. A Home on the Highway, LandCruising Adventure, and [00:28:00] Ruined Adventures, and the Dangers, they didn’t travel in a Toyota, but they had that really old VW bus. So he was reading all of those blogs online, so we had this impression of Overlanding is, oh you take an old Toyota or an old vehicle and you traveled the Americas. We had no idea about vans. We had no idea about any of the other types of vehicles anyways. So at that time we were working desk jobs and doing our side hustles and we just got burned out because we started looking at our life and we’re like A we’re not having any fun and we’re not doing anything that fills us up. It’s all work, work, work, work, work. We knew that we had to make a change and that was really hard because we had to pull out the programming, you know, like we are kind of [00:29:00] conditioned in life to be like, okay, this is what you do. You go to school and then you go to university and then you get married and then you have kids and you buy a house and you get a dog.

Scott Brady: And, and then 60 years goes by and you think I haven’t done anything I really wanted to do.

Ashley Giordano: So I think that realization was actually really hard and making the decision was really hard because we thought, oh, we’re doing the responsible thing we’re working and this is just what you do. To pull out of that was, it was hard. But we knew that we had to do it and shake things up cause we were still in our early twenties and we thought we should just do it. Let’s do it now. So the blog posts were basically what inspired us to go and we only really thought we were going to go to Panama.

Scott Brady: And is that kind of what inspired the name kind of going from the desk?

Ashley Giordano: Yes. [00:30:00]

Scott Brady: Got it. That’s great.

Ashley Giordano: Yeah. Yeah. We had watched dust to glory about the Baja 1000 race, the documentary. We’re like, oh this is kind of an interesting name, but we’re going from our desk to glory.

Scott Brady: That’s great. Those that are listening, you can follow their adventures at Desk to Glory and you guys still have your website too, right? So, great Instagram page as well. So go check that out for sure and see all the places that they’ve been. So you end up getting an old Toyota, just like the blogs told you to, and you start heading down through the Americas with the goal of just going to Panama. So what changed between there and Panama that made you want to go further?

Ashley Giordano: So we got on the road and we absolutely loved what we were doing and we met all these people that were going north or south on the Pan-American highway and they’re like, you have to go to South America. We were doing some research about it and I just saw [00:31:00] the scenery and we knew that we loved the mountains, and so we decided why not go all the way. But unfortunately, when we planned the first phase of the trip, we left after four months, and that’s not a lot of time. So we kind of were scrambling to get ready. We threw the vehicle together quickly and we didn’t really prepare financially, so we had a little bit saved up, but we decided to park the truck in Costa Rica for a year and go back to work and fill up the bank.

Scott Brady: Gotcha. Yeah. So then you went back and you made it all about putting dollars in the bank to go travel again.

Ashley Giordano: Yes and we learned so much from the first half of the trip that we were great at not spending money and so we knew we had a goal that we wanted to get south America, and we rented a 900 square foot [00:32:00] apartment, and we just made sure that we didn’t spend money on hardly anything at all and it paid off because we were able to do the second half of the trip.

Scott Brady: Because you wanted to travel again so much, talk a little bit more, I think that’ll be interesting for the listeners. How did you kind of construct your life to maximize the ability to save? So talk maybe even in a little more detail about the things that you guys decided to do differently to save money?

Ashley Giordano: Well, first of all, we knew per day what our budget was on the road. So we could say, well, I could buy such and such, but that will cost us four days on the road. So when we went… we would still go out for dinner with friends occasionally, but we would split a meal, no appetizer, no drinks. We still got out every weekend to go hiking, which was great, and I think that was important for us to get out of the city. So we just prioritized. [00:33:00] So that gas money was really important to us to be able to sort of enjoy our time when we were back. So we made it a priority and just accepted that Vancouver is a really expensive place to live in even more so now. So we looked for the one of the cheapest apartments we could find and convinced the lady who owned it that we would be okay living in a tiny little apartment. She was like, this is for one person only really and so we showed her pictures of us living in a rooftop tent and she’s like, okay this’ll be fine. Yeah. It was pretty funny.

Scott Brady: That’s so that’s such a great idea to understand how much money you spend a day when you’re traveling and then recognize that when you don’t spend that 60 or $70 on dinner, you’ve given yourself X number of days on the road, and maybe that’s worth [00:34:00] fleshing out real quick. For those that are listening. Typically, on a motorcycle, you can plan somewhere between as low as $27 a day. Stephano Mel Grotty from Italy, Road a 250 Yamaha around the world and he got down to $27 a day on average, some days much less than that. But his average for his whole trip was that including food and fuel. But typically, the motorcycles come in between 30 and $60 a day. And then the vehicles, the four-wheel drive vehicles typically come in between 50 up to $150 a day. But what did you guys find that you were able to do in a Toyota… and that had a four cylinder, right? So it got a little bit better gas mileage?

Ashley Giordano: A little bit?

Scott Brady: So what did you find that you guys came in at per day when you’re traveling in the Americas?

Ashley Giordano: So it ranged from about $75 and then in the US or Canada, [00:35:00] it was closer to a hundred. Yeah. So it did vary quite a bit and Baja was quite inexpensive for us and so it was Ecuador. So it just depends on the country you’re in. But I would say let’s say… I think we’re about 70, let’s say $78 a day on average.

Scott Brady: Well, as I recall, you guys did a great job of actually recording a lot of those expenses and you’ve even done some articles for us around like the cost of doing these trips and for those that are listening, like what an interesting way to look at how you spend money every day in your day-to-day life and recognizing that, that new iPhone thousand dollars, $1,200. That can be a couple of weeks of travel and maybe the old model is just fine to be able to facilitate our goals of seeing the world. I think that that’s such an important reminder that you’ve just given me also today [00:36:00] is just remember that everything that we spend money on doesn’t go towards our goals or towards whatever version of a rich life that we want to live. That stuff costs us in some other way. We’ve gained maybe a new widget, but we’ve given up something else in the process. Also staying debt free too. I have found that in these conversations that I have with travelers, the most common facilitator towards them, seeing the world is not being in debt and maybe a house would be something that you could consider outside of that cause it’s something you could rent or Airbnb while you’re gone. But it seems to be in general that having little or no debt really facilitates seeing the world.

Ashley Giordano: I would say we did not do that, but I wouldn’t change it for the past. Like I would have done it over and over and over again. However, the next journey for us, we want it to be [00:37:00] be more sustainable. So we’ve needed life changes to be able to work online so that we don’t have to keep going back home.

Scott Brady: Well, that’s an interesting question then. How are Richard and you focusing on creating either businesses or jobs that facilitate you working from the road? I think people will find that interesting to how you make it sustainable, how you sustain traveling around the world while you’re working.

Ashley Giordano: So we’re pretty green with this whole thing right now. However, we… so I was a paralegal, and I did some nutrition consultation on the side and Richard was a mechanical engineering technologist and he did wedding photography on the side. We kind of switched our skill sets a little bit and started on kind of like the media side. [00:38:00] So Richard’s running some social media accounts and doing photography…

Scott Brady: And he works with Expedition Overland?

Ashley Giordano: Yeah. So we both have been on the team for quite some time, so I’ll do copy writing for their newsletter and for their blog and we’ve both been on trips with them and then…

Scott Brady: Clay and Michelle are amazing. Amazing humans

Ashley Giordano: Yes. Yes. They’ve given me so much clay and Rochelle has offered both of us incredible opportunities to… I guess we will improve our skills in so many different areas from Rochelle teaching me how to drive off road to giving me the opportunity to put blog post material together and trusting me to do that. And so we’re really grateful for that and even taking off on that solo trip, you know, they trusted us. That’s a big… yeah and filming it and everything that’s… [00:39:00] we felt pretty honored that somebody would trust us to take that to the next level for us. So yeah, I gained a lot of skills. I think also Richard and I wear a lot of hats and so I run some social media accounts as well and do content writing for some Overland companies and yeah. Then you guys at Overland Journal and Expedition Over… or Expedition Overland… Expedition Overland, Expedition Portal, Overland Journal.

Scott Brady: All the Overland. All the expeditions. Yes.

Ashley Giordano: So I’ve been really honored to be writing for Overland journal and expedition portal for the last, I think it’s been a couple of years now at this point and that’s another way that we work from home or work from the road or work remotely.

Scott Brady: Well, we’re certainly grateful for all the content that you’ve been producing and Tina, our [00:40:00] editor at Overland journal speaks so highly of the work that you’re doing and for those that are listening, it’s recognizing that there is a way oftentimes to facilitate travel and being enthusiastic and being open-minded to learn, and then doing the good work. We oftentimes many of us forget that you just have to chop wood and carry water some days and that facilitates this dream of traveling the world and doing the hard work and delivering on it and you do that for us, and you do that for Clay and Rochelle and others and that is now what’s allowing Richard and you to have that life on the road. So it’s very possible. It’s possible for people to do that. It seems so daunting in the beginning to think that somehow you could make money and still see the world, but it is possible.

Ashley Giordano: Yeah. Especially now I think a lot of companies are going remote, so I think there’ll be a lot more opportunities in the future.

Scott Brady: Yeah. Most of our [00:41:00] employees can work from home or work from the road and I don’t care where they deliver the content from, or do the work from as long as they chop wood and carry water. That’s it. That’s what we really need to do is just spend the time. In fact, right now we’re recording a podcast in a scout camper that I’ve been driving across the country and so it’s totally feasible to run a business or contribute to a business from the road now and I think that the technology will just continue to improve to allow us to do that.

Ashley Giordano: Yeah, I think too, not being afraid to ask, like reaching out if you’re interested in a company or you’re interested in a specific job, don’t be afraid to ask if they’re hiring or ask, if you can help out in some way, because you might be surprised what they say.

Scott Brady: Yeah. I remember… Tina gets a hold of me, and she says Ashley’s interested in being an intern. I said, well she can’t be an intern, but we’ll pay her. That’s exactly what I told Tina, because I’ve [00:42:00] just… I’ve never liked not paying people. I prefer to just pay people well, and then it just always ends up being a better outcome. So the only intern we’ve actually ever had was Chris Cortez. Actually, we’ve had a couple other people do some very short intern type things through the colleges in Prescott. But Chris Cortez was our first intern, and I technically couldn’t pay him. So I’m trying to get rid of fridges and other things like that because I’m technically through college. I was not allowed to pay him, but we hired him very shortly thereafter. But the internship thing can work out really well for sure. Then it sounds like you’re doing social media. You’re doing some writing as well, and then it seems like that there would be opportunities for Richard to explore more of the technical things that he has experience with as well.

So have you guys ever thought about doing product design and other support in that way?

Ashley Giordano: No. We haven’t thought about that at all, [00:43:00] actually. But when we were living in Calgary recently, when everything was locked down, he spent some quality time at the local… There’s a boutique four by four shop in Calgary called the gear shop. So he was helping with quotes and brunching and just doing all the… and their social media too. So he’s really talented in so many different ways, so he can really fit in anywhere, which is awesome.

Scott Brady: That adaptability, right? It’s so important, if you want to go see the world. Now let’s talk a little bit about the writing side of what you do. You’ve done a lot of variety of writing for us, including a lot of interviews and a lot of, you know, following other travelers and talking about how other travelers have moved around the world, and some of your historic pieces, I think, have been some of the most meaningful content that we’ve had on the site, because it’s a reminder [00:44:00] of the past and it’s also the reminder that anyone can do this, that it doesn’t need to be a certain kind of person. It doesn’t have to be this grizzled adventurer that can travel the world. Anyone can do that, and I believe that the diversity of those stories is one of the most important things that we can do as Overland international is to continue to tell the story from every perspective that we can find and what have been some of the more inspiring stories for you that reflect that diversity?

Ashley Giordano: Oh my gosh there are so many, but let’s go into history first. I don’t know why I got so inspired to write about the history of Overlanding, but I think it’s because when you think of the history of overlanding, I think everybody kind of thinks of one trip. I don’t know if that’s accurate, like what automatically comes to your mind when you think of the history of Overlanding?

Scott Brady: Well, I definitely think of the Westcotts. Those are [00:45:00] some of the ones, Gary and Monica Westcott definitely come to mind because they were so formative for me when I first started looking at doing this. The Camel Trophy very much did that as well. But it’s interesting the number of people that I talked to that are new to the industry, and they don’t know what the Camel Trophy is, or they don’t know who Gary and Monica Wescott are. You know, both of those are very formative for me.

Ashley Giordano: Yeah. I think the other one that comes up a lot is the Oxford, Cambridge expedition. Yeah. That one comes up pretty much all the time, which I think is amazing cause that was an incredible trip. But also Barbaa toy was traveling at the same time in a Land Rover series one by herself, through Saudi, through Yemen, through Syria and two women in a Jeep driving around Africa, ran into [00:46:00] the Oxford Cambridge guys in Northern Africa at the beginning of their trip. So there are all sorts of cool historical pieces that are out there and yeah it’s really inspiring. That’s like a lifelong work putting all those together.

Scott Brady: And all of those little nuggets that you pick up from that, and then you’ve been able to start to even interview some of these folks that are maybe towards the end of their life, and they had these incredible journeys. What is maybe the top two or three lessons that you’ve gleaned from that, from talking to these travelers who had these absolutely incredible journeys that actually would be very difficult for you and I to ever have, because we have GPS now, we have satellite, we have all of these technologies that allow us to remain very connected. Whereas if you think about it like the first Overland, there was no way other than the [00:47:00] occasional posts that they could send in the mail that they could know what was going on in the world or communicate back to their families. What did you find in talking with these people that was two or three bits of wisdom that you’ve applied to your own life and travels?

Ashley Giordano: I think it’s incredible because although they traveled at a completely different time and in sometimes through countries that we can’t actually access now, there is like a spirit of Overland travel that is the same, like they have written in books or told me in interviews this same thing that we feel, you know, like getting out there and just leaving and the importance of travel and how it’s almost like the media or the world wants you to believe that it’s a dangerous place, but you have to go see it for yourself. That was almost every single book or interview I’ve done [00:48:00] in some way has said that.

Scott Brady: So you have this huge group of people that have all said the same thing and it’s… I wonder why it can be so hard for us to believe it. Maybe it’s just that the media is so effective at keeping people afraid. I guess the more that they’re afraid, the more that they watch television and the more that they watch television, the less that they’re interested in going anywhere. Like you said, breaking this cycle of this is what is expected of my life: that I go to school, that I go to university, that I get married, that I have children, to interrupt that you’re right. It sounds like it is painful to do that. I wonder what we can do as an industry, as a community to help people feel less afraid. What are some thoughts that you have on helping people take that next step? When someone asks you how did you do that? What do you tell [00:49:00] them?

Ashley Giordano: Hmm, what do I tell them? I think we were so desperate to leave that we just felt like there was no choice, that we had to go, but the fear part the best kind of advice that I’ve ever heard given was by sunny Eaton of the Vega Broads, and she said to focus on the people that have actually done the trip. They’ve actually been in Africa, if you’re going to Africa, they’ve actually been in Guatemala, if you’re going to Guatemala, not focusing on the naysayers that haven’t even been there because what did they know? You know what I mean?

Scott Brady: So they want to keep you in a box. Like the media does, it seems as if when you hear the naysayers, they’re projecting their own fears onto you. [00:50:00] They haven’t done that trip yet, or they are afraid to do it themselves. So it seems to be that they can be a very loud voice to the contrary of going, because then it keeps all of us from going and having those experiences.

Ashley Giordano: Right. I think Eric and Brittany of Hourless Life, I was sitting in on a presentation of theirs yesterday and Eric had made a really good point that if they traveled the world for 10 years and had an amazing time, nobody would ever hear about it, but if they got kidnapped or, you know, of course they would make the news. So how many travelers are there? And there are a lot of them. You never hear about them. You never hear their story. You never hear about all the positive things that are happening.

Scott Brady: And that’s been the general consensus in people that I’ve talked to is they’ve all had these very positive experiences and it doesn’t mean that you don’t have a couple of bumps along the way. Those things [00:51:00] absolutely happen, but they happen in real life. They happen in day-to-day life as well. People get their car stolen and people get robbed in downtown Vancouver and I mean, I think about parts of Phoenix that I wouldn’t want to go to, but maybe it’s because those things are familiar that they don’t seem so scary.

Ashley Giordano: Yes, and really digging into the fear, like what are you really afraid of that’s going to happen and why? Fear is a big deal.

Scott Brady: It is, and the amount of energy that we spend worrying about things that haven’t actually happened. It’s a lot of energy, and I think it probably served itself well for humans a hundred thousand years ago, like anxiety probably had some kind of benefit to the human species, but I don’t think it works as well today. In fact, I think it limits people’s opportunities because the world is safer than it’s ever been. [00:52:00] Statistically. I mean, there’s a great book called fact fullness that actually goes into the actual statistics of the world being way safer than it has ever been. Way more peaceful than it’s ever been. Way less death than there’s ever been. People are healthier in most ways than they’ve ever been. But we believe because of what we see on the news, that it’s the exact opposite. That it’s the most dangerous time and it’s the most divisive time and it’s the most unpeaceful and none of that is true. The truth is that the world is a very safe place. And once we believe the facts and once we do the research and we look into the facts we’re not so anxious. I think that as a community, the more that we can encourage each other and say, you know, I haven’t been there, but this is a person that I know that did go to Guatemala and you should talk to them. I think that that would be a way to change the script instead of [00:53:00] saying, oh, I don’t know, it seems so unsafe. They have so many kidnappings there or whatever and the truth is that there are dangerous places in the world, but they’re very isolated or they’re even very regional. So you can go into a country and there is a hotspot, but you can be in another city and it’s totally fine. Everybody’s getting their groceries and going to work and it’s very safe. So I think that’s an important reminder and thank you for sharing.

Ashley Giordano: Yeah. We’ve tried to be really intentional when we were traveling so that we weren’t on the defense. We were always very open and always smiling and always very open.

Scott Brady: Well, you are Canadian… Oh, that’s wonderful. Now, when you’re looking at going forward, talk a little bit about where you want to go next and what some of the goals are for your upcoming trips.

Ashley Giordano: Oh my gosh. So we’ve been just dying to do the silk road. We were going to go in [00:54:00] 2020. I had an Excel spreadsheet already with, you know, Feeser requirements and this and that and Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan and, oh my gosh. I’m in love with the history of that part of the world and the route and just everything about it, and I can’t wait to go when the time is right. But yeah, unfortunately I don’t think it’s going to be happening till I don’t know when… I’m not sure, but that’s our goal. I think if we can get the truck to Europe, even just as a starting point. Part of me is like, whatever, I’ll just stay there until the road opens up.

Scott Brady: Wouldn’t be so bad.

Ashley Giordano: So yeah, that, that trip I’m really excited about. And I would love to get into Northern Africa on that trip too. That’s the thing about the historical stuff is I just keep reading about all these places and keep adding them onto the list. So yeah, but we’re [00:55:00] also interested in the middle east again. So if an opportunity came up flying by, you know, we would do that too. So we’ll see what happens. We’re excited to find out.

Scott Brady: Well, just getting the vehicle to Europe, like you talked about, then you’ve got a bunch of options to go and maybe you start moving east and surprisingly things can open up and you make it to Turkey and then you go from Turkey into Georgia, and then you’re like, oh Azerbaijan’s open. So then you make it to Azerbaijan and then the Caspian Sea Ferry is open again and Turkmenistan is allowing people in and the next thing you know, you’re moving your way across and then you’ve got options for there. I mean, Iran… it was the one regret that I had from the silk road was not having the courage to just do it and go into Iran and I missed that opportunity on that trip, and I wish that I had done it.

Ashley Giordano: Yeah. I would love to go, and I think as [00:56:00] Canadians, we can get in if we hire a guide, I don’t know since COVID. Obviously, I don’t think we can get in right now, but I haven’t been keeping tabs on it, but pre COVID that was what we were thinking we would do.

Scott Brady: That sounds amazing. Share to the listener how people can follow your trips, Richard, and your trips where you guys are on all of the social interwebs and so that they can follow you.

Ashley Giordano: Sure, so our website is Destaglory.com, and I wouldn’t say it’s kept up regularly right now, but if you are looking in for any Pan-American content, we have done a lot of blog posts. So there’s a lot of information on there, and then on Instagram DustToGlory, and my personal one is DustToGlory_Ash, same with Facebook. We do have YouTube. Dust to Glory on there too and we’re hoping to [00:57:00] update with more videos as we hit the road.

Scott Brady: Oh, that’ll be amazing, and since I know you’re a voracious reader and this is one of my most favorite things to ask, this is an entirely selfish ask that I do in almost every interview because I like to read. Talk to me about your top couple favorite books.

Ashley Giordano: So I was thinking about this last night, because it’s such a hard question for me and I don’t think I have top favorites, but I’ll tell you what I’ve been reading recently… So the one recently that I really enjoyed is called Quiet and it’s about differences between extroverts and introverts and how the loudest room and the voice isn’t necessarily the one with the best ideas. So yeah, the author also has a Ted talk that’s really good and it’ll kind of summarize the book if you don’t want to read the book, but I highly recommend the book too because there’s a lot [00:58:00] of really good studies and personal anecdotes. So yeah, that’s a great one. I really like Russian spy books. So Agent Sonia is one I’ve been reading recently about how she was a communist Russian agent that was quite instrumental in I think it was World War II… yeah, world war II.

Scott Brady: Is it fiction or nonfiction?

Ashley Giordano: It’s nonfiction. She traveled all over the world and she was under this guise because she had a couple kids and so nobody suspected this woman with a family to be sending Intel back to Russia. Interesting. Yeah, it’s quite good. What else? When I was younger, I really loved Rebecca by Daphne Demaurie. It’s fiction. It’s like a Gothic novel with a lot of twists and turns and [00:59:00] there’s a movie on Netflix now, but I would highly recommend the book over the movie. It’s better.

Scott Brady: Well, thank you for the book recommendations. I always love them and to check out Quiet, that sounds like a great read. Probably a nice one even as an audiobook while you’re driving and then are there any other travelers that you’ve been following recently that are particularly inspiring to you that other people could check out?

Ashley Giordano: Oh my gosh, there are so many, I mean Richard and I always go back to Grizzly and Bear because they’ve been everywhere and they’re also avid climbers, and hikers, and we love overlanding because it takes us to those places where we can get out of the truck and so yeah, we really appreciate the footage of them hiking or climbing.

Scott Brady: Sure. Oh, that’s excellent.

Ashley Giordano: Yeah, they’re great.

Scott Brady: Well, thank you so much, Ashley, for being on the podcast and yeah. For those [01:00:00] listening, Ashley has developed this fantastic way of interviewing over Landers from the past and currently traveling around the world. So we’re actually going to have some podcasts from Ashley where she’s going to be interviewing other travelers and kind of gleaning from them, their experiences, and some other insights. So look for more of Ashley in the future on the Overland Journal Podcast and we thank you all for listening and we will talk to you next time.

Lisa Williams is an Arizona native that spent much of her childhood exploring backroads with her family in whatever project vehicle her father was wrenching on at the time. She has traveled the continental United States by foot, by Ford Econoline, and, most recently, by Jeep Cherokee. All her passions center around driving, connecting with nature, and a deep love for adventure. Though a practicing weekend warrioress, she aspires to write, photograph, and eventually rally race around the globe and share her journeys through photojournalism. Upcoming goals include competing in the Rebelle Rally, the Baja 1000, and an immersion into the less-traveled roads of New Zealand in her 2019 Toyota Tacoma.