I am so happy to say that I've had the opportunity to interview Jess who is a travel blogger at "Jess is a Wanderer". I first met her through twitter chats and then in looking at her blog you just become fascinated with all that she's been able to accomplish! She's so inspiring and I hope that this interview inspires you to step out and do something that you've been wanting to do for a while!
P.S. this is from the archives! I was unable to transfer some blog post over after the switch to SquareSpace and wanted to be able to share them still!
A little bit about Jess before you read her interview!
Hi! I'm Jess and it’s been ten years since I took my first solo trip. Back then, I caught malaria or as I affectionately call it, The Travel Bug. Since then, I've lived in three countries and travelled to six continents. Most of my travels of late have been funded by my job as a teacher in Cairo, Egypt. I've been fortunate to travel to many places on account of my motto ‘I’ll never have enough money to do it, so I'll just do it anyway’. It’s worked well for me so far!
If you could go anywhere in the world right now, money not an issue, where would you go?
A: This is always a tough question because there are so many places I would go back to and yet still so many I’d like to explore. If money were no issue then I would have to island hop around Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and the Philippines. It would be an expensive but momentous trip!
Are there any places you don't want to or won't visit? Why?
A: I think being a solo female traveller, there are always places which seem to be off limits. The mountain ranges in Afghanistan, the beautiful sights of Iran and so on, may be places I'll just have to dream about for a while. On the whole, there’s nowhere I would turn down should the opportunity arise.
How many countries have you visited? Which is your favorite?
A: I think I've visited over forty countries but stopped counting at around thirty. I now value experiences and places more than the specific number of countries I've been to. It’s terribly difficult to choose a favourite as there are so many special places – Italy is a fantastic country, Czech Republic was swarming with culture, Australia is so diverse and I've come to love Egypt since moving here.
To you, what is the key difference between a tourist and a traveler?
A: A tourist has an itinerary. A traveller has an idea. A tourist has a plan. A traveller has a purpose. A tourist turns right where a traveller turns left.
What are the most and least livable cities you've visited?
A: I grew up in the Cotswolds, UK, lived in Sydney, Australia, moved to Swansea, Wales and am now located in Cairo, Egypt. I've had fantastic experiences in each place and long to live in New York City one day. Having visited several times, I can’t get enough of the place! Also Canada was fantastic, as well as Scandinavia. And Iceland! So many places to choose from. I think if a place has good weather, good food and friendly people then you can't go wrong.
With so much travel under your belt, do you ever get homesick or scared?
A: It was almost the tenth anniversary of my first trip when I was in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil for the World Cup during July 2014. I was in the wrong end of town when I was mugged (and bitten, yes actually bitten) by a man. This was the first and worst major disaster that had happened to me and for about thirty-six hours I genuinely considered going home. I knew deep down inside that if I did leave at that point, I’d never get on another plane. My confidence was shaken, my ambition was severely damaged and the only thing to do was to get up and carry on – in true British spirit! I booked a ticket to Manaus in the north of Brazil and spent the next few days in the Amazon Rainforest. The perfect way to get over my escapade!
What is the most creative thing you've done to save money for your travels?
A: I'm the worst person to look to for advice about saving money. My motto is ‘I’ll never have enough money to do it, so I'll just do it anyway’. It may mean paying for a trip on a credit card and then using the following month’s salary to pay it off but this works for me. I’m impatient and if I want to go somewhere, I want to go now!
What’s the 1st trip you took by yourself?
A: I have two answers for this question, as both of the trips I'm about to mention are so poignant to me. I travelled to Ghana, West Africa when I was seventeen. It was with a group of under-eighteen year olds but none of us knew each other. I then drove overland from Ghana back to the UK with two of the charity workers – that’s right, just the three of us. In January 2006, aged eighteen, I bought a one-way ticket to Australia and stayed there for almost two and a half years!
What’s your favorite food you've eaten while traveling?
A: I booked a flight to Bangkok and had arranged for a friend to meet me after six weeks. I didn't really have a plan but someone suggested I go to Vietnam for a few weeks. I spent a month travelling from Ho Chi Minh in the south to Hanoi in the north, also going as far west as Sa Pa and east to Ha Long Bay. This was when I discovered amazing Vietnamese street food. I did most of this trip on the back of a motorcycle and everywhere we stopped for food was just one tasty treat after another.
Any travel advice for beginners?
A: Travel can be an extremely daunting prospect, especially if you're thinking of going solo. The important thing to remember is that you can always go home if it doesn’t work out. On the other hand, there are so many people out there doing it that you’ll have made friends in no time. The travelling community is super friendly and people are more than willing to exchange tips and recommendations. It may sound cliché but you really don’t know until you go and you can't regret what you've never tried.
Additionally, people often say to me ‘That’s amazing, I wish I could just get up and go somewhere like you do’, the funny thing is, you actually can. All I do is book a ticket and turn up at the airport. Most other things happen by chance or on the recommendation of others. Buying a ticket and making that decision is the hardest part. Once your airplane has landed, that’s the fun part, that’s where the unexpected, the adventure, the thrill begins.
I've been fortunate enough to marvel at the Northern Lights, walk in the footsteps of the Incas, ice-fish in Canada, fly over Iguazu Falls, stand on top of the Empire State Building, watch Sydney’s New Year’s Eve fireworks, take a train across Europe, sunbathe on Miami beach, sail through Niagara Falls, fly over Christ the Redeemer, drive through the Outback, get lost in Venice, venture inside a pyramid, camp in the Amazon and I could go on, but I won’t. I'll just encourage you to get started on your own journey so you can experience all the great things our wonderful world has to offer.