Dave and Deb are the smiling faces behind The Planet D. The couple have been together for 20 years and weren’t able to find their true passion until the year 2008… which turned out to be traveling. They used to live in Toronto but decided to relocate to Vancouver to chase their dreams of being famous musicians. However, it didn’t go exactly as planned as they both ended up working in the film business.
Dave worked as a Rigging Gaffer while Deb became a Make-Up Artist. Just like any other diligent employees, they became really focused on their careers which resulted to working 16 hours a day. They fancied of having a well-deserved vacation, and luckily, they were able to take some time off during one winter season. The couple explored the lands of Asia, Africa, South and Central America and soon enough, they realized travel should become a part of their regular lives.
Now, Dave and Deb were named one of the Top 10 Travel Influencers in the world by Forbes Magazine. They also won multiple awards for Best Travel Blog in both the Society of American Travel Writers and North American Travel Journalists Association.
We live by the motto “Adventure is for Everyone” because we believe that you don't have to be an uber-athlete, adrenaline junkie or a part of the ultra-rich to be an adventurer! All you need is the desire to achieve something more.
1. You've been married for two decades but only started your travel adventures in 2008. What took you so long to find your real passion?
When we first met, we were in college and both of us had dreams of being in the music industry. Dave was a drummer and I was a singer so after graduation, we moved out west to pursue our dreams.
We ended up having a bit of success in music, Dave was in an excellent hard rock band and I booked a lot of gigs singing. I think I caught the travel bug first through my work. I worked on a cruise line as a singer and I landed a contract singing in a club in Yokohama Japan. I wanted to see the world, but not without Dave. It was after that contract in Japan that I came home and talked to Dave about making a career change. I didn’t want to keep flying off to do singing contracts without him and his bandmates weren’t as dedicated as he was to finding gigs around town. When we heard that the Vancouver movie scene was booming, we both decided to go for it and applied for PA (production assistant) positions around town.
It worked because, within a couple of weeks, we both had jobs and never looked back. The next couple of years were spent working in the BC movie industry. Dave was quickly promoted to grip while I stayed working as a PA and TAD (training assistant director). We got into the industry at the right time and it was very lucrative so we ended up working in that business for more than a decade. We did take a lot of extended vacations throughout the years though. It started with 5 weeks in Thailand in 2000. We loved it so much that we decided we’d go on long vacations every year after that. The luxury of working in the movies gave us the opportunity to travel a lot.
We did another trip through SE Asia for 6 or 7 months, we traveled through Central America for 3 months, we explored Europe on several different vacations. We always knew we loved to travel because it brought us together after being apart at our film jobs but we didn’t know how to make it happen.
Each time we left, we came home with renewed inspiration to make travel a career. At one point we thought we’d become dive masters and lead scuba tours around the world, we kicked around leading cycling tours and we even thought we might buy a bar in Belize.
But it was in 2007 that we decided to sign up for the Tour d’Afrique (the world’s longest cycling race) that really got the ball rolling. And after having all that previous travel experience blended with doing something epic like cycling Africa, we managed to get some publicity and The Planet D was born.
2. How did traveling change your life?
Travel completely changed our lives. We used to only focus on our careers and spent a good decade of our lives barely seeing each other. We lived separate lives, had separate friends and when we were together on weekends, we had very little in common.
It was travel that sparked our interest in adventure. When we went away, we reconnected and got to know each other again. When we left for extended trips, we fell in love all over again. We communicated and inspired one another. We also pushed each other out of our comfort zones trying new things.
This made us more interesting to one another and it made us more interesting well-rounded people. It seemed that with every trip we took, some new opportunity came up in our lives. Perhaps it was because we were more open or perhaps it was because we had new-found confidence, but by going off to travel, we saw our lives at home improve too. Travel changed our lives so much we searched for ways to make it a career for seven years before finally succeeding.
3. What's the most daring adventure you've ever done so far?
We’ve done a lot of adventures. I think four months cycling Africa was the most grueling adventure, but probably trekking in Northern Canada in the dead of winter was the most daring.
We spent 10 days traditional winter camping and snowshoeing in a remote region of Northern Ontario where nobody could come and pick us up if we felt it was too difficult or exhausting. The weather was a constant minus 30 or more, we had to chip through the ice for drinking water, we cut down trees for firewood and we slept on spruce boughs for beds.
We pulled sleds loaded with gear across frozen lakes and rivers, through snowed in portage trails and faced frigid temperatures. It was the hardest thing we ever did in our lives and it gave us a new appreciation for the early fur traders that used to walk this route.
4. You've visited numerous countries already. Can you tell us which of them is your most favorite and why?
Dave loves Antarctica as it is truly the final frontier. The animals are not afraid of humans and nowhere else on earth have we ever had the experience where wildlife walks right up to you and pecks at your boots. Penguins are curious creatures and if you sit quietly watching, they will eventually walk over to you to say hello. (note, you are not allowed to approach penguins or come within 5 meters of them, but if they come to you, that is totally acceptable).
We kayaked through brash ice as minke whales surfaced to say hello and floated silently by leopard seals basking in the sun on massive ice flows.
Antarctica is astounding with glaciers and icebergs, wildlife and beauty.
I always say I left my heart in Africa. I love the energy of Tanzania and Kenya and can’t get enough of seeing the wildlife of the Serengeti or Masai Mara. The people are so welcoming and friendly and when you visit you can’t help but fall in love with its culture and beauty. What I love about the area is that there is the adventure like climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, beautiful beaches of Zanzibar, wildlife safaris and fascinating culture.
5. What's the best piece of advice you can give to couples who are planning to travel together for the first time?
Take baby steps. You need to see if you are compatible as a traveling couple. Being together 24/7 can take its toll so you have to be able to communicate, compromise and be flexible. Don’t be too hard on one another and know that travel can be stressful.