“Why should life be ordinary when it could be extraordinary? That’s what I live by. I don’t want get to 80 and not have done the things I wanted to do.” – Jade
Jade, London, 26, is content marketing editor by day and is unique in the sense that she has always worked in travel. Well from university anyway when she landed a job as a travel writer. Jade at that point, and not unlike most of us, fell in love with places she had never been – simply by reading about them. But fast-forward to today and Jade is putting her words into practice: writing about the world for work, and travelling for leisure.
I met Jade a Café del Marsh a cool bar/café close to London Waterloo station that stays open in the evenings, so you can ‘do coffee’ after work. I had been to university with Jade but for some reason we hadn’t spoken that much, but of course, we had each other on Facebook and I had noticed her love of travel and positive energy; I was drawn in. Seeing her in front of me was pretty magical – I had been in a bit of a rut with my travel plans and she joked with me that she could be my ‘travel angel’ – but there was truth to it. London can be dreary on most days but the girl was radiating. While we were talking she gave me her full attention, but at the same time her eyes seemed to be constantly dreaming and reminiscing on the beauty of what she had seen. She wore a smile the whole time, and seemed so calm – even though I later learned she had the busy life of most Londoners.
At University Jade began a job as a travel writer, writing 10 pieces a week alongside her philosophy and comparative literature degree (a combination that did not previously exist, but Jade had requested). But that rather then stress her, thinking of the 5 senses when writing about these places allowed Jade to have escapism from her degree. So of course when she finished it seemed only right to do it for real. After the catch-up we moved on to the interview questions below. I hope you find it useful, as ever.
When did you first realise that travel was going to be a big part of your life?
I always wanted to travel – mainly because I’m really interested in different cultures. It’s strange because when I started writing, I didn’t know I would get jobs in content roles for travel companies. I’ve never believed in package holidays. Some places are so close together, so why would you limit yourself on your trip? It’s not organic; and I’ve always wanted to see so much more, to explore.
So tell me about your first trip?
After uni I went to Thailand first. I was in fact saving to leave the country but my dad got ill so had to hang around and help money wise. I was originally supposed to go in November but I had some friends that were going in August so I went earlier. It was great but I noticed we had different views of what we wanted to do. After my time with them I went on to have my first solo travel experience in Bali. I spent time going around by myself, and meeting locals.
I met a local from the hotel, who gave me heads up about this cremation ceremony up North, which doesn’t happen very often. Basically over there they don’t do funerals, they do mass burials (loads of burials at the same time). So when someone dies they may not be buried straight away, rather, they wait for a significant person (like the village leader) to pass then they do the ceremony.
They make huge Paper Mache floats and put the coffins inside the floats. They give offerings and sing and the floats go through the whole town. They then burn them in forest. It’s amazing (Jade shows me the video – it is very amazing, see below).
Did you feel safe?
Yes, I could have moved there, it was so easy. It’s the people. When you feel comfortable somewhere, you feel like you’re at home. Wherever you go if you can feel like you’re at home its just an amazing feeling. Loads of people come over here and start a new life and they just do it, – it’s not rare and they do it. So why can’t we do it elsewhere?
I knew I didn’t want to come home – and that I could have continued travelling. I thought I would feel scared and nervous but I didn’t.
How often do you travel?
I’m not a ‘this year I’m going on three holidays’ person. I just think, I really want to go here and then two weeks later – I’m in Vienna. I don’t plan. If I want to go somewhere I check in with work, but in total, the whole process will take place in a four-week period.
To be honest with you I can go a few months without feeling the urge. And I don’t often have a desire to go same places more than once.
There are of course exceptions [Bali, Indonesia]. Indonesia, I fell in love. Italy I fell in love – it was one of the few places I really felt at home. Florence is my home; I just got up, walked around and met nice locals to be honest. Everyday was chill. There are not that many tourist attractions but it was easy, felt like I was living there even though I was only there a couple of days.
And how do you use your holiday allowance most effectively?
I do try to take long weekends. Depends on where I want to go and how long for. In summer I take mid week trips – flights on Monday and Wednesday are cheaper. I book it around cost. Depends on how much and where I want to go. But generally I try to go off-season. Depends on what I want to see, my travelling is very sporadic and spontaneous.
How do you financially support travelling?
I have a full time job and I have a savings account.
Of course I take out of this account and put back in but generally all my savings are for travel, not for mortgage, as I don’t want to live in this country, UK. I’m not very materialistic so it doesn’t go on clothes.
What are some of the obstacles you gave yourself in regards to travelling? And how did you overcome them?
Well I’m quite a free spirit, so I don’t really give myself any obstacles. I want to go to India and Middle East by myself and I’m still going to do it! I don’t fear travelling to new destinations; it’s just normal people living somewhere else in the world, so what is there to fear?
I want be that person to say I’ve been there and its fine to go.
Also my parents are so supportive. I’m responsible, I’m street smart, I keep in touch and I wouldn’t take stupid risks. I wouldn’t go down dark streets in the night because I’m interested or stay at a random guys house in the night that I just met. I think once you start dong it and come back safe parents ease off…
What’s your favourite type of accommodation? Give an example.
When I was in Florence, I stayed in a hostel I found on Hostelworld [My Friends Hostel]– it was the first time I shared in a big dorm room. It was a mixed sex, 6 bed and I loved it. The person who ran it was an amazing woman who treated everyone like family; she would even cook breakfast for you in the morning! It was also very small and intimate. I think it total there were 4 rooms of 6, and 2 bathrooms.
Think of a moment for you that sums up why travel is important.
The moment for me was when I was in Batur, north of Bali. I went to lake Batur with the local I mentioned that took me to the mass burial. It was just him and I there. It was so tranquil, so peaceful only thing you could hear is ripples in the water. I’ve never felt more at peace, and at one with myself. I thought to myself: this is what I meant to be doing. My biggest thing from London is that I get really affected by negativity in the world, and also the sense of competition. That’s so not me and I’ve always known that.
This was simply living; there was no Wi-Fi, and you needed proper transport to get there. To be so vulnerable and so at ease at the same time was a really liberating feeling. I thought: this is this what it’s about. Being far away from everything, but being so at home in your own heart. I also know that I’m more myself when I’m closest to nature.
Who is the most interesting person you’ve met because of your travels?
Hmm I don’t know … I guess when I was north of Bali… I met Scottish and Spanish couple. They’d been travelling for a couple of years and they just really inspired me to travel – I don’t know why.
Oh and actually when I was in Penang, George town – lets say the now Shoreditch of Malaysia I was with friend we went up to the mountains to see the tea farms. And to be honest it was just a bit of shit hole when we first got there. Every hostel was infected with bedbugs, so we had to check into a 5 star hotel (which was dead cheap by the way).
We were walking one day and I was singing knocking on heavens door, then I began to notice that someone was playing it on a guitar. We came across a garage, and there were three guys playing guitar. They had a shop that turned into a studio place with a few chairs and a table. They invited us in and we ended up having a huge jamming session singing and playing guitar. It was amazing because they couldn’t really speak English but when we were singing they knew all the lyrics to all the Bob Marley songs, in a Jamaican accent. Those were one of the most interesting groups of people I’ve met.
What do you like to do when you visit a destination?
Live and understand the real life. I do like to see touristy stuff, I like museums for example but not too many. I also like anywhere with an old town because I’m interested in architecture.
Do you have a favourite place you’ve travelled?
Florence, Indonesia, and Penang George Town.
Thoughts on solo travel?
To successfully travel solo as a woman, you need to have belief in yourself, be confident and have a level of independence. It will force you to be even more independent; it will force you to make decisions by yourself, if usually your parents and friends lead your life.
You have to be comfortable being by yourself. If you’re not you’ll get home sick and want to go home after a day or two. You also have to have your wits about you. If not you can get easily be led astray, people get killed everyday. If you have a bad feeling about something don’t do it!
Favourite websites/ apps for travel?
- Cheapflights – great for flights
- Trip Advisor – for reviews on places
- Hostelworld – the app, for finding great hostels
- Airbnb – just great (finding accommodation)
Which publications do you trust for quality travel content?
- The Times Travel magazine – I loved their writing for inspiration.
- I like Travel Noire.
- I like reading peoples blogs, but there are no blogs I read religiously. I tend to just Google them through search.
Most practical travel items?
- My backpack – I think it’s an Osprey Fairpoint 40.
- Packing cubes – you get three cubes and you put all your clothing in it and it fits neatly into your backpack. Packing cubes are a godsend I swear by them; it’s how I travel so light J
- A Kindle or nexus 7 (basically a mini computer, you can store your documents on there and it does everything a kindle can) it has a great reading light function.
- Oh and portable chargers – so important!
How has travel changed you? What skills have you gained that you can apply to either your personal or professional life?
It has allowed me to be more confident in myself and in my beliefs. It gives me the sense that I don’t have to change. While I travel I can get on with anyone and am welcoming of other people’s views but it doesn’t mean that I have to change in order to do that.
London puts you in a box unintentionally. You’re either a hipster or a party animal or whatever – you can only be one or the other – it’s only when I travel that I am not challenged to remain in one box, I can just be who I am.
What advice do you have for young travellers?
Just do it!
Don’t think you need to be rich to travel.
Take a risk. You have family and friends that can help you. If things go wrong you can come home! Jump and see how far you can fly… when your wings get tired you have a safety net. Now is the moment as it is most likely the time when you have the least responsibilities.
I would also say:
You always find older people who are very nostalgic; and they things like: I wish I did this when I was younger etc, I don’t want to be a wish person…Don’t live life in fear or you’ll end up living with regret. Life is so exciting we’re so fortunate. There are people born in war torn countries without access to education, we are so privileged, we are not limited, you don’t have to be restricted you don’t have to look through systematic glasses. See the world for what it is, a lot of people don’t have the opportunities.
You need to jump. Like bungee jumping or sky diving, the scary moment is the moment before you jump!
Can you sum up your relationship with travel in one sentence/ quote?
It’s one of the things that I do that expresses who I am. Like, alongside my job I do a variety of things that fulfil this: I am a Samaritan, I also I tutor young people, and I travel.
Gosh you’re busy!
But I have time for everything (she has a smile on her face). I like to be busy; I’ve been a Samaritan for 5 years, the most rewarding thing, and as I said: another way to express my personality.
So Jade! Tell me again where next?
I’d like to check out the Christmas markets in Budapest, Prague and Vienna. From there, who knows?
We will keep an eye on Jade’s story and hopefully update with her Instagram/ blog if she gets one in the future (I’m really hoping so!) Put your thoughts for Jade below, and I will send them to her 🙂 UPDATE: Jade is currently living in Japan.