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From Everest to Antarctica - Q&A with Coming Home Strong

by Sam Stephens |

Jeremy and Joanna are the united force behind Coming Home Strong, a budding travel blog that combines a shared passion for adventure and healthy lifestyles while promoting tourism and physical activity through one colourful anecdote after another. From swimming with crocodiles to conquering Everest Base Camp, the pair are determined to continue chasing the travel dream, all while taking their readers along for the ride.

As we here at the Scrubba wash bag love a good adventure and can’t help but vicariously live through those who are out there exploring the world in a thoughtful, sustainable manner, we jumped at the chance to further chat with Jeremy and Joanna about their recent adventures and their travel philosophy. 

1. Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hi! We are Jez and Jo, a Kiwi/Aussie couple who met in Scotland, lived in England, and got hitched in Melbourne in 2016. We are both physiotherapists, so we love to lead active lifestyles while exploring the world.

Over the past few years, we have dedicated our time and money to seeing the world and experiencing the best that it has to offer. After all, the world is an amazing place and everyone should have the opportunity to see what is out there. This is why we love to travel in an eco-friendly way and keep our carbon footprint as small as possible, impacting the globe positively.

Whenever possible, we offset our carbon footprint when booking flights, use solar panels to charge our devices, and try to travel with and use services from companies that have the environment in mind.

Wedding in MelbourneMarried in Melbourne

2. Where have you travelled to in the past and is it possible to choose a favourite?

We don't normally like to 'count countries', but since you asked, here goes. We have been to over 65 countries (between us), and had many more epic adventures to boot! Some of the more memorable countries are Iceland, Japan and Zambia.

Iceland really stuck out to us for its landscape. We were there during the summer solstice in 2014 and it was amazing to see the midnight sun. When you have daylight for 22 hours of the day, it is so easy to pack in truckloads of sightseeing, so we were on the go the whole time!

Japan is such a unique place where people are very friendly, the food is top notch, and the best coffees around come from a vending machine!

Zambia has many great things going on as well – we stayed in the tourist area on the banks of the Zambezi River, Victoria Falls. We soaked up the landscape from a microlight aircraft high above the falls, before walking the paths around the massive canyon that forms the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. What a way to see this amazing part of Africa!

Normally, our trips consist of plenty of activities, awesome sights and great company. The company really makes the trip, as you can be in a dull town but still have an amazing time if you are around the right people.

In saying that, we just returned from an 11 day trek to Everest Base Camp in Nepal – it ticked all of the boxes, and you can't really go past that!

Everest Base CampEverest Base Camp

3. Where are you travelling to in the future?

We are stoked to have signed up for the ANTARCTICA marathon in March 2018. We are currently training our butts off to be able to make it to the start line and not stop until we finish with the penguins at the 42.2km mark.

It will be hard training in the scorching Australian summer, but preparation in all conditions is necessary if we want to get ourselves ready for this unique race.

We are looking forward to learning about the ecosystem down there and are stoked to have an opportunity to cover the distance by foot as well.

4. Tell us about some of your greatest travel achievements?

We love to combine our passions of travel and running, and have travelled to a lot of cities (especially around Europe) for half marathons. There is nothing better than a long-weekend active escape that allows you to join a race in a location you would not normally travel to.

Some of the best races have been at night time, a particularly memorable one being when Jezza lined up at 10pm under the midnight sun in Iceland to run 21.1km through some superb scenery. Another one that stands out, this time in a small town in Italy, is the Valentine's Day run for love. The race finished in Terni where Saint Valentine's body is located and the story of Valentine's Day began.

It is always great to come home with a medal that you can hang up in the lounge and reflect on each day while drinking your morning coffee!

5. Tell us about some of the most wild and exhilarating travel experiences you've had.

Jezza did a storm chasing tour in Tornado Alley in the USA and came within 125 meters of a roaring tornado. That was fairly hair raising! The day started like any other for the week-long tour: we found out where the supercells would be kicking off (they could have been anywhere from Oklahoma to Nebraska) and drove for hours to get to a certain area. It was about 3pm when we finally saw a massive supercell start to light up and rotate. At this stage we were still within a safe distance, so we were instructed to get back to the van so we could travel alongside it for a while. Suddenly, however, the tornado made a right hand hook turn towards us, forcing us to seek refuge in the closest town. We parked next to a house and watched the storm's progress on the radar. As trees and power lines fell down around us, we quietly said our prayers, but were lucky at the end of the day to be able to drive out of the town without too much damage.

We have also done some canyoning in Slovenia which was ace, and Jezza has skydived above the Swiss Alps, but we have not gone as far as bungee jumping... yet!

Swimming with Crocodiles in DarwinSwimming with Crocodiles in Darwin, Australia

6. Do you have any 'must-have' travel gear that you'd recommend?

Our backpacks by Osprey are pretty comfortable and hold all we need. We also had a solar panel for our trek to Everest Base Camp which was awesome in helping us keep all of our devices charged up so we didn't miss a moment!

7. We recently gave you a Scrubba wash bag. How did it hold up and has it been useful on your journeys?

We used our Scrubba wash bag regularly on our trek to Everest Base Camp - I reckon we were the nicest smelling people on the mountain!

The bag held up well and was super easy to use. All you had to do was throw in your clothes, a soap bar and a bit of water. A few minutes later you had clean clothes for the next day of trekking.

We love how versatile the Scrubba wash bag is, and it was so easy to carry – in fact, we even used it to hold our dirty clothes, keeping them separate from our clean clothes in our bags!

The Scrubba wash bag in NepalThe Scrubba wash bag in Nepal

8. What advice would you give to anyone hoping to explore the world?

One of the mantras we live by is to 'Make Sh*t Happen' (MSH). In other words, just do it.

A lot of people get stuck at the first step, which is deciding to go. Leave with an open mind and be ready to come back a changed person.

Get out there and don't overthink things. You can always buy another pair of underwear or the toothbrush you left at home when you were late to the airport.

9. How do you juggle your travelling/blogging pursuits with other life commitments?

Both of us work as physiotherapists at leading hospitals in Melbourne, Australia. We work hard, but play harder.

After creating our blog, Coming Home Strong, in early 2017, we set ourselves goals each week to MSH. Our blog has been gaining traction over the year and is designed to help inspire people to go on epic and adventurous holidays.

10. Where can people go to connect with you and to learn about your journeys?

We are located at www.cominghomestrong.com. We love to share our journey with our readers, from tips on how to start travelling, including booking cheap flights and accommodation, to detailed insights into different destinations. We love connecting with fellow travellers, so head on over to share our adventure!

We are also very active on Facebook and Instagram so check us out there too!

2018 is going to be a big year when we run the marathon in ANTARCTICA and travel through South America afterwards. I am sure our Scrubba bag will come in handy on many occasions. Bring it on!

Scrubba wash bag in Nepal

A big thanks to Jez and Jo for sharing their exhilarating adventures with us as they inch ever closer to climbing, running, and flying their way around the globe. We can't wait to follow not only their chilly challenges in Antarctica, but also the many exciting explorations that are bound to follow. If you need a little more travel inspiration in your life, head over to Coming Home Strong to sample some delightful tales of adventure great and small. 

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