This week we would like to introduce Jen of The Trusted Traveller. Jen has been travelling most of her life, but it wasn’t until 2009 that the travel bug really started to bite. Images and stories from the adventures of family and friends around the world inspired her to sell her house in Sydney, put her belongs in storage and take off to Europe. This eventually led to a few years living and working in London, exploring Europe as much as she could. Since then she and her husband have visited over 20 countries on four continents with many more trips planned for the future.
1. What inspires you to travel, and how would you define the word ‘traveler’?
My biggest inspiration is reading and hearing about other people’s amazing journeys. I love reading other travel blogs and getting together with friends and family after their trips to hear all about them and see their photos. As for the word traveler, for me it means someone who travels for more than just to tick something off their must do list. As a traveler it’s about the experience itself, the people I meet and the amazing things I discover along the way.
2. For those who don’t yet know you, can you explain your travel style?
Up until 18 months ago I was on the road more than I was off. While I loved every minute of it, my husband and I decided it was time to settle down back home in Sydney. So now I class myself as a part-time traveler. I have a full time job and 20 days paid annual leave each year which I take full advantage of as well as taking off locally on long weekends throughout the year.
3. How do you afford your travels?
As I mentioned above, I have a full time job working in administration. While I don’t love it, it does give me the money I need to travel, and it is only 9-5 with no pressure or overtime required giving me plenty of time to focus on my website and future travel plans.
4. Where was your first international trip and how old were you?
My very first international trip was two weeks in Anaheim California visiting Disneyland and LA with my parents and sister when I was 16. It be honest, at the time I was being a typical teenager and totally didn’t want to be there. Looking back now I really wish I had appreciated it and my parent’s generosity more. Secretly I did have a great time and plan to take my husband there in the next few years.
5. Where has been your favorite destination? Where has been your least favorite?
My favourite city is without a doubt New York but as a whole Japan wowed me like no other place I have been. For me Japan, it’s all about the people, their unique way of life and hard-working attitude, the diverse scenery and the delicious (occasionally odd) food. I felt happy, safe and welcomed in Japan more so than any other place I have visited. It is such an interesting country that I could spend years exploring and never get bored.
As for my least favourite, I’d say that goes to Bangkok. To be fair I didn’t give it much time and I didn’t do a lot of research before I got there. While I loved the Grand Palace and temples the rest of the city was just too crazy for me. I really do want to give it another shot one day especially now that I am better educated on the city.
6. If you had to settle down in one location forever, where would you choose and why?
I’m already there, Sydney. I couldn’t imagine living the rest of my life anywhere else. It’s my home, where I grew up and it’s where my family and oldest friends live. Plus it’s a beautiful place, has great beaches and the area which I live in is close to the beach and far enough away from the city centre to be peaceful yet close enough to the action and entertainment.
7. Have you ever had high hopes for a destination, tour, etc., only to be disappointed in the end? Or any travel mishaps?
I was a bit disappointed by Amsterdam. So many people had told me how great it was and while I did find parts of it to be really pretty and felt moved by my visit to Anne Frank House, it just didn’t grab my attention. I had a few experiences while there like arriving at the hostel at night to find half a dozen people passed out in the doorstep, the reception filled with marijuana smoke (not that I’m against it, it’s just not for me), my room infested with mice and the staff told me to deal with it and apart from one sunny morning, it poured with rain for three days. Under different circumstances I’m sure I would have felt differently.
8. What’s the funniest or weirdest cultural idiosyncrasy you’ve either witnessed or experienced?
My funniest cultural experience was in Lucerne, Switzerland. I decided to have lunch at Restaurant Stadtkeller who put on a Swiss folklore show twice a day complete with yodeling, dancing and cow bell ringing. While these types of experiences are known to be touristy and tacky, I still love them. This one, however, was somewhat hilarious. I’m not sure whether they mean for it to be funny or not but when a guy dressed in a cow suit comes running up to your table and tries to get you up to dance in the middle of the show, you can’t help but laugh. The whole restaurant was filled with adults but I couldn’t help thinking that maybe the show was more suited to school groups.
9. What keepsake do you have to get at all your destinations?
For every place we stay at least one night I get a postcard to pin on my map wall at home and my husband gets a shot glass. We have close to 100 shot glasses now in all different shapes and sizes and try to find the most unique one everywhere we go.
10. How about the one thing you cannot travel without?
My camera. I love taking photos and looking back over them years later, remembering all the good times I have had and seeing all of the amazing things I have seen. I can remember feeling so upset when I arrived at Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany and discovering my camera wasn’t working. I have no photos of that day and now travel with two cameras everywhere I go, my fancy camera and a cheap point and shoot.
11. Why did you begin blogging? And how did you come up with your blog name?
When I came back from living in London in 2012 my goal was to work in the travel industry. After a year of knock-backs and only finding opportunities in sales (not my thing), I decided I needed to find another outlet for my passion and knowledge. I had been reading travel blogs for a few years and while I have no writing experience, I thought I would give it a go. Four months later I love every minute of it and feel like I have finally found my outlet.
The blogs name just came to me one day. I was brainstorming ideas of what I wanted it to be all about and what my niche would be. Since I’m an incredibly organized person and enjoy the planning side of travel almost as much as the travel itself, I wanted to focus on providing trusted, reliable info and inspire others to get out there and see the world. Hence, The Trusted Traveller. Plus, I think it has a catchy ring to it.
12. What’s next for 2014?
I have just booked flights to New Zealand’s south island for October. I will be visiting friends in Christchurch for a few days and then spending the next two weeks road tripping north to the Marlborough region and then south along the west coast visiting Franz Joseph, Wanaka and Milford Sound before finishing in Queenstown. I can’t wait!
Solo or group? Couple with my husband most of the time but with a group tour every now and again.
Tapas or sushi? Sushi
Beach or mountains? Beach