Hello and welcome to our website! We’re happy that you found us and hope that we can help you plan your travels!
We’re Maggie and Michael, the founders of The World Was Here First, and we’re passionate about travelling to off-the-beaten-path and lesser-visited areas of Europe and beyond. We like to look further than the main tourist sites of popular cities and try to understand the people and the culture of the places we are visiting.
About Michael & Maggie
We both started as solo travellers and neither of us ever really thought we would want to do anything differently. That is, until we met on one rakija-fuelled night at a hostel in Belgrade, Serbia. After that, we joined forces and travelled throughout the Balkans, Central Europe, and the Baltics before finally deciding to establish some roots and settle in London.
We lived in London for three years and in between working full-time and exploring the city we called home, we took advantage of whatever time we could to explore more of Europe.
During our time in London, some of our favourite trips have included:
- Road tripping in Iceland and Scotland
- Exploring the Emilia-Romagna and Umbria regions of Italy
- Uncovering the culture and cuisine of Malta
- Travelling around the Moravian-Silesian region of the Czech Republic
- Spending more time discovering the Baltics
- Digging deep into the culture of Istria, Croatia
At the end of 2018, we packed our bags and decided to hit the road for another stint of long-term travel. During that time, we had a number of unforgettable adventures, including:
- Road tripping through Arizona and California in the USA
- Enjoying the laid-back lifestyle and warm weather of Madrid and Andalucía, Spain
- Returning to one of our favourite underrated travel destinations: Bulgaria
- Winding our way through the Caucasus countries of Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan
- Rediscovering what we initially loved about the Balkans countries of Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Croatia
- Spending time exploring Malta once more
Our nomadic life was very different from our life in London, but we’re incredibly grateful to have it we tried to enjoy every minute!
2019 was an amazing year and we ended up falling hard for the Caucasus. One place, in particular, had a hold on us more than anywhere else: Tbilisi, Georgia. We spent a few months in Tbilisi throughout 2019, exploring the city, working and generally recharging our batteries.
Eventually, when the nomadic lifestyle became a bit too overwhelming, we decided to settle in Georgia’s capital and were based there for the majority of 2020 and into 2021.
In the first half of 2021, we determined that our time in the Georgian capital was about to come to an end (though we still have a deep affection for Tbilisi) and settled in Prague, Czech Republic.
In 2022, we made up for lost time and travelled extensively. Some of our favourite trips included:
- Eating our way through Bilbao and San Sebastian in Spanish Basque Country
- Getting to know the Czech Republic a bit better by exploring towns like Cesky Krumlov and Karlovy Vary
- Exploring the state of Maine in the USA
- Returning to the countries of Estonia and Latvia
- Road tripping around the island of Sicily in Italy
We also had an incredible road trip in the west of Ireland, exploring Connemara, Achill Island and County Donegal. And then we jetted off to explore the Croatian islands of Hvar and Korcula just as summer started to set in.
However, halfway through the year, we uprooted our lives once again and relocated to Melbourne, Australia – Michael’s hometown! We’re not hanging up our travel boots just yet, though, and plan to have many more adventures while living Down Under.
Our Travel Style
We like to advocate for slow travel and we try to take our time and spend more days than most in the majority of places we visit. We like to ensure that we can fully appreciate a destination and we don’t think we can do that if we only have a short period of time there.
Even though we’re not the penny-pinching backpackers we once were, we still tend to travel on a fairly small budget. We like to stay in self-catering accommodation where it makes sense or small, locally-run guest houses. We cook meals sometimes if we have access to a kitchen, and we rarely stay in big-name hotels if we have other options.
We like to take public transport (especially in cities), but we’ll also rent a car when we feel like it will be easier or help us get to further-flung places. We also don’t necessarily shy away from splurging on a good meal! But we always take note on how much we spend on everything so we can give all of you readers accurate information about how much things cost.
We’re not big-budget, luxury travellers by any means. I’m not even sure if you could call us mid-range travellers. Even though our general income and travel style has changed over the years, we still keep the broke backpacker mindset and want to show that travel can be accessible to a wide array of budgets.
About The World Was Here First
Alright, enough about us and our travel style…you want to know what this website is all about! We have travelled extensively and our advice has been featured in publications ranging from the New York Times, the Washington Post and CNN.
And, as we’ve said earlier, we’re absolutely passionate about getting off the beaten path in Europe and around the world and exploring corners of countries that few tourists think to visit.
We advocate for supporting locally-run, small businesses and want to encourage responsible travel. As such, we aren’t fans of travelling in large tour groups or patronising multinational chains. We think that the goal of travel is to immerse yourself in the native culture, to learn about the nation or city’s history, to minimise your negative impact on a destination, and to try and see each destination from a local’s perspective.
This website is for independent travellers looking to get off the typical tourist trail, but that doesn’t mean we don’t like to visit popular cities and countries! Quite the contrary, actually — I mean, we lived in London and Prague, after all! We just think that there is always so much more to a destination beyond the top tourist attractions, and encourage you to try and find them.
We started this website because we were frustrated with the lack of decent information available for travellers who wanted to be a bit more intrepid than your average tourist in Europe. So many travel blogs out there only write about the main attractions in the biggest cities and fail to venture anywhere beyond. We think this is a HUGE mistake and we’re trying to change that right here.
You’re not going to find inspirational lists about which things to check off your “bucket list” or the best places to take the perfect selfie. What you will find is practical information about how to sustainably and responsibly travel to specific destinations.
We work with a team of writers who all have intimate knowledge of the destinations we’re covering and travel in similar ways to us. Our collective goal is to give our readers the information that we wish we would have known before visiting that destination.
All of the articles published here come from our own (or our team’s) first-hand experience. If you’re interested in all of the amazing destinations we’ve covered, then make sure to check out our destinations page!
So, if you want to get off the beaten path in Europe and beyond but aren’t sure how, then wander through our little corner of the internet. And if you want to keep up with all of our latest posts and travels, make sure to sign up to our mailing list below.