This week we would like to introduce Jessica of Ways of Wanderers. Jessica has been slowly working and volunteering her way through Europe and Asia with her partner, Brent, since September 2011. They’ve done everything from managing a bed and breakfast in Wales to teaching English in rural Thailand. Catch up with their stories on her blog, Ways of Wanderers, where she provides travel inspiration and advice for anyone who dreams of having an adventure.
1. What inspires you to travel, and how would you define the word ‘traveler’?
Traveling allows me to meet new people, see new things, and step outside my comfort zone every single day. I love the constant change – I don’t think life is meant to consist of the same thing year after year, with one day blurring into the next.
The definition of “traveler” has changed for me over the last few years. I used to think of it in the literal sense – someone who is adding new stamps to their passport. Now, I think anyone who is seeking out new experiences is a traveler in a way, whether they’re abroad or at home.
2. How do you afford your travels?
Before my boyfriend, Brent, and I left Canada in 2011, we spent 6 months working full-time and saving up for the trip. We lived off those savings for the first 8 months, and then when our funds started running low, we transitioned into teaching English. Lately, however, we’ve been making more and more of our money from freelancing writing.
3. Where has been your favorite destination? Where has been your least favorite?
It’s hard to choose, but Italy continues to be one of my favourite places. I love the cadence of the language, the warmness of the locals, and the fact that you can walk into any random restaurant and you’ll probably have one of the best meals of your life.
I’d have to say that Indonesia has been my least favourite place. We started our trip on Kuta Beach in Bali, and we couldn’t have chosen a worse place for a first impression. I have nothing against tourist hotspots, but Kuta Beach was completely stripped of local culture, and the street vendors were seriously aggressive and scary. Plus, it was our last stop after 10 months in SE Asia, and we didn’t realize it until we got to Indonesia, but we were really just SE Asia-‘d out. I’d like to go back someday (although definitely not to Kuta Beach!) because I think under different circumstances we could really love Indonesia.
4. Have you ever had high hopes for a destination, tour, etc., only to be disappointed in the end? Or any travel mishaps?
Well, our most recent trip to the Philippines definitely didn’t work out as planned! We ended up getting stranded during Typhoon Haiyan, so instead of cliff diving and island hopping, we spent most of the trip holed up in a hostel waiting for the storm to pass. If anything, though, the experience makes me want to go back to the Philippines. I was completely amazed by the resilience and kindness of the locals.
5. What’s the funniest, weirdest cultural norm/tradition you’ve either witnessed or experienced?
The holiday celebrations in Japan have been really entertaining me lately. It reminds me of Christmas at home, but everything has an endearingly strange Japanese twist. For example, it’s popular for Japanese people to eat Kentucky Fried Chicken on Christmas. KFC franchises are constantly lined up around Christmas, and even take orders in advance.
6. What souvenir do you have to buy at all your destinations?
I started out collecting key chains because I thought that when I eventually had a real home again, it would be cool to hook my house key on to a chain along with all the places I’d visited. Lately, though, I just take an obscene amount of photos instead.
7. How about the one thing you cannot travel without?
My camera – for taking obscene amounts of photos.
8. Why did you begin blogging? And how did you come up with your blog name?
I’ve always journaled on-and-off, but I wanted to do it more consistently while we were traveling because I knew I’d really want to remember our experiences. I decided to throw all those random thoughts online because
As for the title, I think of Brent and I as wanderers, and then the “ways” part is 2-fold: It represents the ways, as in the paths, roads and directions we take when we’re traveling; it also the describes the ways, as in the methods, that we use to find the money, time, and inspiration to travel. So the title is about the places I go, as well as how I get to them.
9. Do you have favorite travel blogs that you read regularly?
Twenty-Something Travel was one of the first travel blogs I discovered when I first started blogging. I read other blogs sporadically, but I find that this particular one always draws me back.
10. What have you found to be the most difficult aspect of couple’s travel?
Finding time to be romantic is challenging. When we lived in Toronto, we had different jobs and different social circles, so getting together for a date always felt special. But now that we’re literally together all the time, I find it’s easy to take each other for granted. We have to actively make time to appreciate each other.
11. Do you have any advice for those looking to teach English abroad?
Be picky. Overall, I think teaching English is a fantastic way to work and travel. There are some awesome teaching jobs out there, as well as some not so awesome ones. You don’t have to take the first job you’re offered. I think it’s worth waiting for the right one.
12. What’s next? Any big trips planned or that you’re hoping to plan?
Our teaching contract in Japan is finishing next March, and then we’re going to try out life as full-time digital nomads. We’ll probably spend some time catching up with friends and family in Canada, and maybe even travel around the country a bit – exploring other countries has made us want to see more of our own. After that, who knows? South America is definitely high on the list.
Backpack or suitcase? Backpack. I’ve yet to find a suitcase that’s as durable and easy to transport.
Window or aisle? Aisle. I drink a lot of water on flights, and sitting in the window seat means having to wake up the two people next to me whenever I need to pee.
Solo or group? A little of both. I get lonely after too much solo travel, but frustrated if I never have anytime alone.
Beach or mountains? Beach. There’s something about being by the ocean that always puts everything in perspective for me.
Want to learn more about Erin and her world wanderings?