Julie and Drew Smith

Meet Julie and Drew of Drive On the Left

What did you see yourself doing when you were in college?

We barely even remember having much in the form of aspirations during college.  We were too busy having fun and meeting each other! But Julie had a secret dream of being a food stylist for a major food magazine. Drew, who played tennis in college, wanted to work for Nike’s tennis division in Oregon.

What do you do now?  

Julie works in marketing consulting, on a big client relationship that’s based in the UK. Drew left his career of restaurant management when we moved, so he’s been managing our website and all the work that goes with it, from here!

Tower Bridge, one of London's iconic landmarks.
Tower Bridge, one of London’s iconic landmarks.

What compelled you to take the leap across the pond?

Julie’s company straight up offered the deal. The first time they asked, we actually said no. We were both immersed in our careers and thought we were settled in NYC for a few more years at least. But, eventually we got smart and when the offer was put back on the table about a month later, we happily agreed to move!

Are you glad you did it?

It is literally the best decision we’ve ever made. Living in Europe has given us the opportunity to travel in a way we never did stateside. It’s expanded our horizons and our thoughts about the world. It has opened up new doors for us and allowed us to reconsider and rethink what we want in life. Plus we get to live in London which we adore.

Julie having a drink at a British pub.
Pub culture at its best.

What are the challenges of expat life?

The initial “settling in” period is complicated, logistically difficult and would tax most people. We did so much paperwork gearing up for the move and when we arrived, we had to learn how to deal with a new country’s bureaucracy. Or “bureaucrazy”, as we like to call it. In the UK, for example, you get charged to call most customer service lines. They really, really don’t want people calling!

What are the rewards?

Endless. We feel at home in London, our dog loves it, we have made great friends and we get to bounce around Europe on the weekends. We’ve also discovered great new food and beer and pub culture, which is amazing!

Basil the dog enjoying the fresh air and grass in Hampstead Heath.
Basil, enjoying the green heaven that is Hampstead Heath.

What is the coolest place you’ve ever been?

We hate comparing places, but THIS YEAR we had a great and exotic trip to the Seychelles Islands. It felt like a once-in-a-lifetime kind of place and it was far removed from our typical way of traveling, but what a place. We’d recommend to anyone.

Julie relaxing in an infinity pool in the Seychelles.
Relaxing in the Seychelles.

What is your craziest travel experience?

We took a 6-week trip in Southeast Asia in 2011, and that trip is home to many of our craziest travel memories. There was the time on the 18-hour train trip where we played iPad games with a bunch of local Vietnamese kids. Or the time when we took a taxi ride in Cambodia and were seriously (and realistically!) terrified for our lives. The crazy bits make it fun!

What advice would you give to a younger version of yourselves?

Neither of us traveled internationally much until we were adults, but we eventually came around. We agree that we probably would have encouraged our younger selves to study abroad (which neither of us did) for a semester or a year, to see the world in a different way. But it all worked out in the end!

Julie & Drew at our favorite local weekend market.
Julie & Drew at our favorite local weekend market.

Fast Facts

Hometown: Bloomington, Indiana (Julie), Portland, Maine (Drew)

Current City: London, UK

Occupation: Marketing consultant (Julie), full time travel writer/blogger (Drew)

College major: Political Science (Julie), Anthropology (Drew)

Hobbies: reading, theatre, brunch (Julie), Arsenal football, cooking, tennis (Drew)

Favorite travel book: We love the 36-Hour series that the NY Times writes that are now in book form. They’re sitting on our bookshelves right this minute!

Number one destination on your to-go list: Sri Lanka is up there at the moment, as well as the Balkans (region of SE Europe)

Boldest thing on your travel bucket list: Visit 100 countries. It’s bold but we’ll definitely do it!

You never travel without: our electronic gadgets – camera, two computers, phones. We’re well connected and proud of it.

Number one song on your road trip playlist: On our recent US road trip, we sang a lot of state-specific songs (California, Sweet Home Alabama, etc. And lots of Bon Jovi in New Jersey.)

Mountains or beaches: We’re partial to cities, actually, with a little mountain or beach action sprinkled in for good measure.

Most overrated city you’ve been to: We hate to bad mouth an entire city but we do keep a list of overrated attractions. Included are the London Eye here in London, the Mona Lisa in Paris, and the little peeing boy statue in Brussels.  Why is that thing even famous??

Follow them on Twitter at @driveontheleft or on their blog, Drive on the Left.

Category: Meet a Traveler

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