Why there's no place like home ...
Published on: 30 Sep 2016
CORY Varga had a light bulb moment when sharing her holiday snaps on social media. She realised the images looked exactly the same as those of her friends'. They were typical holiday photos and the formula was simple: tourist + famous landmark = holiday fun. But in reality Cory's holidays weren't as fun as she would have like and often left her feeling unfulfilled.
After much soul-searching she decided on a change of tack -from now on she would see the world through the eyes of a traveller, not a tourist. Her decision was to prove life-changing.
Cory said: "The tipping point was when I started posting some of my photographs on Facebook and realised half of my friends have the exact same pictures in the exact same spots! It was like being in a competition to see who could get the most pictures in front of the most landmarks.
"It made me think about doing things differently. Now I grab my journal and camera and don't make plans. I go with the flow. If your heart tells you to take that cute little street, take it. You might get lost but that's when an adventure is about to happen. It's happened to me so many times. I can't recommend it enough."
Once Cory, 26, had discovered a new way of travelling the world, she was full of inspiration. This new-found lust for life would lead to a change of career which would allow Cory to fund her trips and launch a website devoted to helping others who may be stuck in the same travel rut that Cory was once in.
Bucharest-born Cory came to the UK in 2008 to study law and criminology at the University of Manchester but after graduating was instead drawn to the field of technology. A job with Apple brought her to Bristol where dedicated her spare time to learning how to become a website designer. It was also the place where she met her future husband Gergely - or G for short - Varga, who had studied computer science at Bristol University. It was a match made in heaven - they both shared the same passion for travelling and technology.
It didn't take them long to work out how to combine full-time jobs and travel the world - they would simply take their work with them. The pair set up a digital agency called 42droids, with Cory as website designer and 33-year-old G as website developer, and off they went.
Cory said: "G explained to me that if we created our own company and started to seek clients from across the world, it would be so much easier for us. It would mean we could go off on our travels and be independent, especially location independent. If we worked for someone else we'd never be given all that time off! Essentially it enables us to fund our travels across the world."
Since 2013, Cory and Hungarian-born G have been what they call "digital nomads", scaling continents and wringing out what the world has to offer.
This year Cory decided she wanted a more tangible record of those travels and so it was that www.youcouldtravel.com was born.
The website is a real gem, with Cory offering travel guides and tips to ensure you make the very most of your time away. It also features Cory's blog where you can enjoy her personal stories and recollections of her travels.
One thing that really hits you about the user-friendly website is the quality of Cory's photographs. Yes, they might include some famous landmarks, but she has now discovered there are other ways to bring a country or city alive and you will find mouth-watering food photography, unusual camera angles and vivid colour. Her eye for colour really brings the places she has visited to life and I would defy anyone who has idled away some time looking at her website not to get itchy feet. Mission accomplished, Cory.
"I decided it was actually time to put my adventures in writing," she said.
"It's nice when you look through a photo album but when you get to write about what happens to you on your journeys, it's so much more personal.
"I had the capability in-house to design and develop the website, which was very handy. About two months ago I started doing this full-time and I'm now travel blogging much more than I'm doing website design.
"My website is essentially off the beaten path adventures geared towards adventure seekers who want to get out of the routine and do something different. My main selling point is that I'm very honest and don't mind telling people what went wrong. I'm also not afraid to try things a little bit differently.
"I really believe people really need to get out of the tourist zones and really experience a place for what it is really like not something which has been tailored for them on their behalf."
It was Cory's grandfather who gave her the travel bug: "When I was a little girl I used to go hiking in the mountains with my grandfather. We had so much fun that ever since I've hated the prospect of being static! Even when I was at university I was still travelling the UK trying to discover new cities and new places."
Cory has lost count of how many countries she has visited but at a guess tells me it's around 30. She lists her favourite place as Japan.
"If I could move anywhere in the world, it would definitely be Japan. It's completely different to anything I've experienced before. Even though it's one of the busiest cities in the world, everyone is really efficient. Everything is user-friendly and you feel very safe. It's also very clean - you can actually use the subway station without getting dirty! It's great for shoppers, foodies and party people. It's got something for everybody. It's amazing."
Sadly Cory can't say the same for Barcelona. An unpleasant experience with a passer-by who was rude may have clouded her judgement, although she does concede the city would be beautiful "if they cleaned it a little bit". Certainly no one can accuse Cory of glossing over the realities of travel.
She is also a huge fan of London where she gets her Japan fix without the 11 hour flight.
"I really enjoy the fact London has such a large Japanese community. In Ealing there are a lot of Japanese shops and it reminds me of Tokyo. It's much cheaper than going to Japan!"
Closer to home, Cory loves hiking in Cheddar Gorge and visiting the historic city of Bath, a world heritage site right on her doorstep.
"When I need to switch off, I always go to Bath. It feels like Bath is a true British city. When I was young, it's just what I imagined Britain to look like."
Cory, who surprisingly says she loves the UK weather, particularly the rain, has recently settled in Downend although that doesn't stop her travelling throughout the UK every weekend and abroad at least once a month.
"We had been looking at houses in areas where people are passionate about travel and have similar interests as we do. We narrowed our search down to Downend or Emersons Green but it's been very difficult to find something. We're very pleased we're here now!
"Downend is beautiful. I really love the high street and don't feel the need to go into the city centre. Everything I need is here. People are so nice here and everyone has a lovely garden. People really look after themselves and their houses. It's a very welcoming place."
By the time you read this, Cory and G will be in the Seychelles. Indulgent? Well, it is their honeymoon and follows their recent wedding at the Mansion House in Clifton on September 30.
"It's fair to say the trip won't just be work; it's also for pleasure!" jokes Cory.
Once Cory returns, it will be full steam ahead on another project - writing two books, one on helping others to create a successful blog and the other on Japan.
"The book on Japan is going to be really cool. I'm going back there in February as part of my research. It will be a travel guide specifically tailored to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. It will help people decide where to stay and what they can do while they are staying in Japan for the Games."
In true traveller fashion, Cory will also fit in trips to London, Vienna and Bratislava before the end of the year.
"I don't ever stop, which drives G crazy! Sometimes he just wants to sit on the sofa and do nothing but I'm so energetic and can't keep still for one minute. Writing is the only thing that keeps me still otherwise I'd be bouncing off the walls. I always have to be doing something."
* Look out for Cory's new travel guide blog which kicks off in Downend Voice next month. In the meanwhile you can get your travel fix by visiting www.youcouldtravel.com