Dave Bouskill and his wife, Debra Corbeil, are a married couple from Canada known as The Planet D. They don't just dream about adventure; they found a way to live it most days and encourage others to do the same. Their motto is simple: “Adventure is for everyone."
While working in British Colombia in the film industry (Dave as a rigging gaffer, lighting movies; Deb as a makeup artist), the couple (now married for 20 years), felt they were stuck in a rut. Long working days left no time for travel or each other. They decided to go to Thailand in 2000 at the suggestion of a co-worker for a five-week winter holiday. There they tried rock climbing, sea kayaking, and snorkeling for the first time. “We had never done adventures like that before," said Deb. "Everything was affordable in Thailand so we could try things we couldn't normally afford at home, or that we never thought of trying before." The twosome felt their travels gave them more purpose than their careers and prompted them to change their lifestyle. “Our travels made us feel alive, excited and inspired," said Deb. "We liked the idea of not knowing what each day brought rather than our current routine." "We brainstormed many ideas, from becoming Dive Masters to owning a bar or running cycling tours," said Dave. "Nothing stirred deep passion in us but we kept searching until we found what made us both happy." "That turned out to be travel, writing, photography, and each other," said Deb, a natural extension of what they were already doing. In 2007 they decided to start their blog to showcase the skills they were picking up as they traipsed around the world—hiking, scuba diving, climbing, biking long distances, even packing like pros and selecting gear appropriate to their various adventures. “We wanted to prove to people that average people can live extraordinary lives," said Dave.
Forfeiting the 9-to-5
The duo spent their first year as travel bloggers mountain biking in Sri Lanka and Nepal. The next year they cycled across Africa as part of the Tour d'Afrique. One of the world's longest bicycle races, it traces 12,000 km over about four months. Deb was the first female finisher in 2008. These early experiences led them to develop their "adventure is for everyone" theme. "You don't have to be an extreme athlete or adrenaline junkie to be an adventurer," said Deb. "You just need to be open to trying something new." While working various, one-off, film industry jobs to supplement their income and save for their adventures, the couple also downsized. They sold their house and lived in a trailer. They adjusted their spending habits to limit extravagant meals and outings. They shared one car and tried not to touch the savings they had from their previous careers. They multitasked blogging on the road with finding sponsors for their trips and selling advertisements and affiliate links on their blog. This initiative wasn't an easy task as blogging was a new concept to many companies then, but being trailblazers, just as in adventure travel, requires a lot of risk and unpredictability. Luckily, for The Planet D and their business, the risk paid off. They published regularly for seven years, building their social media presence along the way. Now they work as brand ambassadors and spokespeople for companies like American Express Canada, and are hired regularly to speak, create digital content such as Twitter chats, sell Dave's photography and continue with the affiliate sales on their website to earn passive income. The duo, who live with Deb's parents in Woodstock, Ontario when they are not traveling, which is rare since they are on the road 280 days a year, advises others wishing to emulate their lifestyle to take it one step at a time. The Planet D's advice: think through how to transition from a job to full-time travel. Ask key questions such as how you plan to earn money, whether you want to be a guide, or if you want to open a business. They recommend taking a sabbatical or using vacation days to determine if you really want to make the change; taking classes like they did in photography and travel writing, and even joining relevant clubs or member organizations to network in the industry and learn insider tips.
Turning Your Hobby to Vocation
So what keeps Dave and Deb going nearly 10 years later? “Each time we accomplish a new adventure, we are invigorated," said Deb. "We are reminded that you should constantly try to challenge yourself." They remain inspired by inspiring others. “Some of the best compliments have been when people tell us they would never have tried a certain trek or climbed a certain mountain, but after reading our post or seeing our video, they felt confident to give it a go," said Dave. “We always knew that we could be successful at something if we only knew what we wanted to do with our lives," said Deb. "Once we found that passion, we looked forward to each day and each new challenge." Adventure travel forced the couple to focus on what made them happy. Now their focus is on helping you achieve that, too.