Writer and creator of the Living the Dream travel blog Jeremy Jones has an extensive amount of travel knowledge which he has collected through his travels over the years. He has been extremely fortunate to be able to, in a sense, see the globe and experience new cultures, try new foods and have some truly extreme adventures. We were able to chat with Jeremy and get some insight from him about travel and he addressed some common concerns that come with leaving behind the ordinary to experience the extraordinary. You can learn more from Jeremy when he releases his upcoming book The Long-Term Traveler's Guide this February. His new book will be the ultimate guide for those looking to head off on their own travel adventure and will be available in print or digital copy.
Tours4Fun: Living the Dream is just four years old, what gave you that push to go ahead and fulfill your travel desires?
Jeremy: My love of travel keeps compounding every time I get out to see the world. I started with a short list of places to see (Western Europe, Egypt, East Asia) and every time I go somewhere and talk to other travelers I find three new destinations I have to visit for every one I check off. As you can imagine, my list is so large now that I have no choice but to take the leap and do it all.
Tours4Fun: What have you found has been the most challenging/difficult part about constantly traveling?
Jeremy: Getting over preconceived notions of my must-see list has been incredibly difficult from time to time. There have been several cities I visited where I went because it was a popular stop that I did not enjoy very much (Hong Kong comes to mind). A few days of not wanting to explore and being in a rut is an incredibly difficult thing to deal with. When you get to this spot you have to decide whether or not you are wanting to move to a new city/region altogether or stick it out and continue exploring. I continued exploring Asia, but luckily hit Vietnam which was different enough to refresh my trip and make it exciting again!
Tours4Fun: What do you look forward to most when visiting a new destination?
Jeremy: As much as I like culture and the sights, give me a new cuisine and I'll fall in love with a destination immediately. Especially when traveling slow and in the same region for several months, hitting a new country with a different cuisine is an absolute blessing.
Tours4Fun: No matter how much you travel everyone has a home, what tips do you have for those who get home sick?
Jeremy: Technology is a great tool to help combat homesickness. Taking a day off to call home and talk to friends and family on Skype can make it seem like you are almost there. I always try to Skype home every week or two just to keep in touch. The continual interaction with my family made it that much harder to get home sick. But when I did, I made a quick break to McDonalds and a movie theater and was good to go after a day or two of doing nothing.
Tours4Fun: You have a section in your blog dedicated soley to budgeting; there you talk about creating a budget, spending and even provide a sample spreadsheet, what do you think is the most difficult thing about budgeting, how do you avoid running out of money when you're traveling?
Jeremy: This is the biggest concern of all long-term travelers. My mindset of making a budget is not trying to see as much as possible as cheap as possible, but rather appropriately saving for what I will likely spend when on the road. It is much easier to plan a little bit more and save a few months longer to do what I want to do than to have to make a last minute change because I don't have enough money. This requires going in to a fair bit of detail to understand what transportation, hotel, food, and sight seeing costs may be as a strict "I will spend $75/day" budget just isn't good enough. You don't have to plan every detail of your trip out in advance, but knowing what rough costs are for your dream destinations and saving for it will minimize overspending and running out of money on the road. Going away for 4 months and doing what you dream of doing is much better than being away for 6 and skimping the whole time.
Tours4Fun: You've been fortunate enough to visit 34 countries and territories, which was your favorite, where would you just love to be this very moment?
Jeremy: My favorite spots so far have been Thailand, Switzerland, and Jordan by far. They each had different aspects that I loved to range from the beaches and price (Thailand), the mountains (Switzerland), and the culture/ruins/desert (Jordan). Since it is cold here at home right now, I would jump on a flight to Koh Lipe, Thailand in a heart beat.
Tours4Fun: When traveling alone, what do you find are the best ways to meet people? Hostel outings, group tours etc?
Jeremy: I stay in dorms a lot as my way to meet people. Between sharing a room with 1-20 other people and the common area, it is pretty easy to meet friends, find out about awesome destinations, and get other travel advice. I've been known to book group tours on occasion when the destination is further out of the city than I could afford traveling solo. Every time I have made friends with everyone in the group and had a great time that lasted well after the tour was over.
Tours4Fun: Unfortunately, not everyone can travel for months at a time, how do you think you can get the most out of a weeks vacation?
Jeremy: Don't cram it all in. If you try and force a two week itinerary in one week, you'll be so busy that you won't have time to relax and have fun. Pick the destination you want to go to that is appropriate to the amount of time you have, even if that means cutting a few stops out along the way. As the trip time gets shorter, be aware of airfare as it can be an expensive and time consuming part of your short vacation. Even so, if you have more time to go away it is entirely possible to spend two weeks in a more distant but cheaper locale with an expensive plane flight than it is for some one week itineraries at home, and is something to keep in mind.
Tours4Fun: Many people are intimidated to travel to places where they don't know the language, any recommendation on how they can overcome that?
Jeremy: When I first started traveling, I was intimidated by the language barrier too and only came to find out it is not an issue in most places you will go. I spent several months learning French in high school and never used it in Paris because everyone spoke English to me. After that I spent several months learning Arabic on my own and only used numbers while bartering because everyone spoke English to me. Every time I spoke the local language the response was almost always returned to me in English. I'm learning Spanish now for my upcoming honeymoon, and I expect I will only use a little bit while there. The only place I've had a major issue with language so far is China, where virtually no one spoke English to me and I knew a grand total of 2 words (hello and thank you).
Jeremy: My best advice would be that if you get caught in a place where you do not speak the language, carry a piece of paper with your destination name or whatever it is you need to purchase on paper to hand to a person. It saved my life several times when buying a train ticket in China, and I will never forget it. Otherwise, knowing basic greetings, directions, and numbers is all you need in most cases!
Tours4Fun: You've gone paragliding in Austria and scuba diving in Florida, out of all the crazy things that you've done, which by far has been your favorite if you can even choose a favorite, otherwise, your top 3.
Jeremy: I live for the adventure activities, so I love them all! Scuba diving in Ko Tao, Thailand has been one of my favorites because it is so incredibly cheap. Over the course of a week I did 8 dives for roughly $250 which is almost unheard of anywhere else in the world. My routine was get up in the morning, walk the beach, go diving, come back and eat a large bowl of curry, then watch the amazing sunsets on the beach almost every single day. How can you top that?
Tours4Fun: In 2010 you completed your Master of Science in Chemical Engineering, that's a huge accomplishment, congratulations! For others like you who have spent a good chunk of their lives in school and want to travel like you have, what's your best piece of advice?
Jeremy: Thanks! This is definitely one of the major barriers that we all have when giving it all up to travel. I think everyone has the fear of not getting a job after they return from traveling, but I think the fear is overblown. Travel itself is a learning experience and everyone I have met who has gone off to see the world for a long period of time, either during their career or after finishing a degree, have all acquired the same desirable skills that employers want. You gain confidence from doing it all on your own, an open-minded personality to new things, and an ability to handle finances which are good to have regardless of your field. If you look for a position with an international company or one that requires a lot of travel, you are also a much stronger candidate if you have no fear of traveling anywhere they want to send you. Others have used these skills to go off and acquire jobs abroad in their field or in the travel industry using skills taught in their field as a solid backbone. You never stop learning, even when traveling.
Tours4Fun: Lastly, where's you next big adventure going to take place?
Jeremy: We're planning our honeymoon for this year, which will hopefully be for Spain but we are waiting for our airfare to come down in price. Our next big adventure is still a secret, but all I can say is that 2013 will be a good year :)
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