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Thanks for stopping by Crawford Creations!

We’re Cara and Justin, an American couple with passions for travel, adventure, and photography. Both riders, Cara on horses and Justin on bikes, we share a love for the outdoors and are content anywhere with a mountain range in sight. Currently living in Zhuhai, China, a small city (by China standards) bordering Macau we plan off the beaten path trips, often with the accompaniment of our tandem bicycle, Double Trouble.

Stopping to admire a gorgeous mountain lake on a cycling trip through the Himalayas.

How did we end up in China?

Justin, who works full time as an engineer, grew up fascinated by the stories of his parents’ expat adventures in the Middle East and dreamed of one day experiencing the expat life for himself. When the day came that his company asked for volunteers to move to China his name was first on the list.

So how did Cara fit into the picture?

Well, it pretty much went down like this:

Justin walks in the door after work “The vice president came around today asking for volunteers to expat in China, and I volunteered!” he said hardly containing his excitement.

Cara, failing to wipe the stunned expression off her face blurts out “What?! Why in the hell would anyone want to live in China?!”

See, for Justin, it wasn’t about China, it was about living outside of the U.S. For me, it was 100% all about China, a country I had absolutely no desire to live in. Oh, and did I mention I had a horse? Not exactly the most portable animal on the planet.

Then came freak out number two, not only could I not take my horse with me, but there was nowhere to even ride a horse in Zhuhai. This might not seem like a huge deal, but for someone who’s been riding horses her entire life it was devastating. Like rip all the passion out of my heart devastating. If you’ve ever met a horse girl then you know what I’m talking about, we’re a pretty rare breed.

Discounting the no horses fiasco, which was red flag number one, and we move on to problem number two, I was supposed to start graduate school within the next year.

Let me tell you about this rock and hard place.

My animals, horseback riding, and graduate school in the U.S., and the love of my life and would be husband in China. Somehow this just wasn’t the happy ending I was picturing when Justin asked me to marry him. I mean maybe it’s a stereotype but married people are supposed to live together right? Stereotype or not I kinda liked the idea, was pretty attached to it actually.

Seeing as I’ve already mentioned we are living in Zhuhai, China I guess the outcome is pretty obvious. But that decision wasn’t easy, and came with a lot of conflicting emotions.

The fisher girl statue on the coast of Zhuhai, China where we live.

From Newlyweds to World Travelers

We’ve lived in China for two years now, and it has been one roller coaster of an experience. Coming from the Virginia countryside in the middle of the Appalachian Mountains, arriving in China was a shock to the system. Sandwiched between the megacities of Macau, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen there is not much countryside left in this part of the world. The sheer amount of concrete is astounding. Not to mention the people. They are everywhere. Moving from a town of 7000 people to a city of 2 million took a little getting used to.

Learning to love life in China didn’t come easy. Like every other expat I’ve met there were bouts of homesickness, frustration, anger, and depression. We don’t like cities, huge crowds of people, or super loud atmospheres, but China is all of these, and it’s great!

How did we learn to love our life in China?

By embracing the amazing opportunities living in China presented us: The ability to travel and experience a different part of the world, endless opportunities to explore our surroundings and learn a new language, and being part of an amazing community of expats from all over the world.

Now we want to use our knowledge and experience to inspire and guide you on your own expat or travel journey in China.

All smiles at the start of the Salkantay trek in Peru on our honeymoon.

What we do at Crawford Creations

Crawford Creations is a resource for fellow travelers and expats looking for first-hand knowledge and information on budget-friendly adventure travel and life in China. China can be a scary place. With limited English, an unintelligible written language, and a culture as mystifying as its government, it’s no wonder China often loses out to more popular Asian countries on travelers’ radars.

Combining our experience living and traveling in China with Cara’s conversational proficiency in Mandarin Chinese, we are able to navigate places virtually untouched by tourists, and experience a totally different side of China.

At Crawford Creations we share these experiences with you, raw, candid, and always personally experienced and tested by us. We are here to help you plan your own self-supported tours, travel without breaking the bank, find off the beaten path destinations, and adjust to life in the crazy country of China.

Our Travel Philosophy

At Crawford Creations we believe in traveling slowly and with purpose.


When you travel slowly you gain more meaningful travel experiences, get to experience more of the places you go to, and save a TON of money on transportation costs.

What we’ve found through our travels is that transportation is by far the biggest cost of traveling, especially in developing countries where the cost of living is cheap.  So, by limiting your in-country travel, meaning going fewer places, you cut out a big chunk of the cost of your trip.

When you limit the number of places to visit on a trip, naturally it seems like that means you get to see less right?  WRONG!  You actually see more!

The beautiful view from our campsite.

How does this work?

Not only does transportation cost a lot of money, it’s extremely time-consuming as well.  All those hours on a plane, bus, or train add up, and you can easily add an entire day to your trip if you simply cut out a lot of that travel.  That’s an entire day more of sightseeing, exploring, and adventuring.

This means you get to see more of each place you visit.  Instead of just hitting the highlights advertised and marketed to tourists, you can really get a feel for a place, it’s culture, people, and landscape.  Ask the locals about cool things to see and do, and you will be surprised how many more awesome adventures you can go on that you never even knew about.

Simply put, by traveling slowly you can:


Come explore China and the world with us, and create your own adventure.