Two Broke Gypsies: Part One

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When they first met last year through a mutual friend their last thought was that a year later they would be traveling through Texas and sleeping on stranger’s couches. They met because they were into powerlifting, but soon enough they both found out they had a shared dream: to travel the world, and save money.

Visiting unfamiliar places and going to exotic destinations is something most people want; to immerse in a culture, not theirs, to try the food, trek through the jungle, or share a cup of coffee with a local. However, they soon realized that doing all this costs money, so they figured they would change that.

“We came up with idea because both of us were just like two 23-year-olds, not literally broke, but two broke 23-year-olds, and that’s how we came up with the name Two Broke Gypsies,” Rae said, “it’s to show people that it doesn’t have to cost a fortune to travel the world; you can do it cheap, and you can still see the world and go on adventures and have all these experiences without spending thousands and thousands of dollars.”

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Michelle Rae, one-half of the duo who call themselves Two Broke Gypsies, grew up in Michigan but her family moved to Phoenix, AZ when she was in high school and has lived there for the past ten years. She was a power-lifting youth champion, threw the javelin and went adventuring since she was seven years old when her family visited Yellowstone and Yosemite national parks—she was always outdoors she says. Alexis Barkl, the other half of the duo, was born and raised in Phoenix and says that all her life she has lived, gone to school, and worked within a five-mile radius of her childhood home—she could not wait to explore the world.

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During Rae’s senior year in high school, she went to New York where she realized how big and diverse the world could be; the year before she had visited San Francisco.  “I went to New York, and that was the first time I've ever been to one of those two places,” said Rae. “To me, New York is like many representations of the whole world because you might find someone from everywhere there. I grew up in a sort of like small-town in Midwest America and it kind of opened my eyes; like there is a huge world out there and there's so much to see. I think that's how I got my desire to want to travel.”

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The two, Barkl and Rae, had been friends for a while but the whole reason they began this journey was because of a simple Facebook mistake. Rae had a friend who was only a Facebook friend named Alexa who had, “posted a video, or something like that, about traveling the world,” Rae said. She thought it was Barkl (Alexis) who had posted it—she had confused Alexa for Alexis—and Rae, “was like oh my gosh I had been thinking about that and wanting to do that so badly.” Rae felt a little embarrassed about the mix-up, but it was “hilarious” and “I said Alexis you're never gonna believe what I just did.” Barkl thought it was funny too but “Oh my gosh I actually want to do that,” Barkl said to Rae. They were both pleasantly surprised that the other had this dream they had never talked about, and Rae said, “why not, we’re 23 years old we don’t have kids, and we’re not married or anything like that.”

Rae and Barkl decided they would vlog, short for video log, about their adventures whenever they had the time and money to travel. Michelle graduated from Grand Canyon University with a degree in sports medicine, and Alexis is still working towards her degree. They figured why not call themselves Two Broke Gypsies, and then they created a Facebook page. On the page, they made a Facebook live video to ask their followers where they wanted them to go. They had a hat with pieces of paper all written-in with different destinations, and from the hat, they picked the capital of the Lone Star State: Austin.

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The trip to Austin and all the adventures that followed can be seen on their newly released vlog on YouTube. Part two of this series will dive into the specifics of their travel schedule and what's in store for the future. Stick around!

[For more on Two Broke Gypsies read the second part of this story]

Alejandro Medellin