Cody and Nicole are back to help Hayden as he unpacks season five, discusses his favorite overarching travel themes, highlights his favorite moments of the season, and looks forward to the epic upcoming changes of season six.
In this unpacking and season five finale of the Travel Stories Podcast, Hayden is joined again by Cody and Nicole to reflect on the past season of episodes. They discuss their highlights from the past few months and what they thought of their guests and the stories they shared this season. They also share flashbacks to their favorite moments. You’ll remember this season featured Kinga Phillips, Rachel Rudwall, Amie and Matt Leichtfuss, Derek Loudermilk, Amanda Kendle, Juliana Dever, Yann Ilunga, Kristin Addie, Taylor Zajonc, Dana Newman, Eric Trules, Mark Wolters, and Rolf Potts. The gang shares their favorite episodes and moments from this season.
In between ramblings that get entirely off-track, discussions about their lives, and opinions on travel, the gang actually discuss the themes that they see cropping up in every episode of the season, and how those travel motifs make the season and the journeys richer and more flavorful. They talk about their own lives and goals, the connections Hayden made this season, how the gang makes adventures out of their everyday lives, how Cody composed his scores this season, and which animal Hayden should choose as his familiar. They also discuss how skepticism might play a hand in their understanding of travel stories, those that have inspired us this season, the power of solo travel, whether or not Christmas should be every day, and the concept of “being enough” for travel. Hayden, Cody, and Nicole tear this season apart and examine every bit they can reach while also teasing one another and joking until the main thread of conversation has been completely lost.
The team also discusses past guests and fans from previous seasons, travel opportunities for anyone and everyone, and their favorite themes from the season. Their finish of the season focuses on the upcoming season, and our biggest season-to-season changes to date. Coming up next season is a total shift, because Hayden will be traveling around mainland Europe on his motorbike, discussing his upcoming daily travel vlogs, his interviews with strangers he meets along the way, and his own explorations of themes he comes across in his travelers. Listen to the whole episode to hear Hayden explain his goals for season six.
We hope that you enjoy the break, and (even more so) that you enjoy our upcoming season six!
How do you become the traveler you know you can be? What is the first step on the road to travel? Rolf Potts has the answers to these questions in his back pocket, and he’s more than willing to share; in fact, he’s been giving people this advice for years. Rolf is also one of the reasons Hayden himself got into travel, as Rolf and his book, Vagabonding, crystallized what Hayden had been thinking about travel for his whole life until that point. It gave him the push to become the traveler he knew that he could be all along. Rolf Potts - travel writer, adventurer, teacher, vagabonder, and legend - is the one you want to be at your side when you need that push into travel. He knows that vital first step to becoming the traveler.
Rolf Potts revisits us to tell a story about the people you meet when you travel - both those you want to meet, and those you dread meeting. Rolf traveled to Namibia, which he had heard was quite isolated and severe. What was most famous was the sand dunes, of course, but Rolf was intrigued by the Skeleton Coast, also commonly referred to as the Gates of Hell or the Land God Made in Anger. The road basically disappears, so it is pretty much impossible to drive the entire way along the Skeleton Coast to the border, and, as such, Rolf didn’t expect to see many people in this place. The coast is lined with shipwrecks, each of which has its own turnout off the highway. Ruin after ruin, all the way up the coast, giving a haunted, romantic feel to those who view the rotted ships and those very human feelings. Rolf visited one of these particular ships and encountered Namibian guys who wanted to sell him souvenirs, tribesmen who sell polished rocks to tourists to make a living. He had a great conversation with a group of them that granted him an even deeper human feeling than the ships had, through the grace of human connection. He had never dreamed of this part of Namibia, this very real village life, until he turned away from the shipwreck and started talking to people.
Rolf Potts, author of Vagabonding, the book that helps you along your path, doesn’t want to tell you who to be. Like travel, he doesn’t try to change you; he just wants to help you be a more authentic you. When you’re around people, you’re not your authentic self. If you go somewhere you’ve never been before, however, without anybody you’ve ever met before, you can get out of your comfortable and protective patterns and help reveal your true self as you change over time. Breaking out of typical patterns and thinking about the important parts of who you really are are inevitable results of travel. Saying yes to things can help contribute to this, as well, but you should analyze the reasons you might say no, and use those reasons to see whether yes would be a good idea first. Hayden and Rolf discuss this in depth, as Hayden will say yes to anything while Rolf Potts is more of an introvert. Blindly saying yes to everything, Rolf believes, can be a dangerous thing, more likely to result in something more commercial, inauthentic, or risky. You ought to think your decisions through and not hold yourself back from spontaneous human interactions if you want to have them. In fact, never hold yourself back - especially not from traveling. Rolf Potts shares an anecdote about his grandfather that taught him life was never going to reward him, and so he had to create his own space for what he wanted to do, which was to travel. There is always the space to travel if you can make it.
“Vagabonding starts now,” says Rolf Potts. “It starts when you decide to do it.” Once you’ve made the decision, and it is solely your decision, you’re no longer beholden to the fear and compulsion that you have to stay in the daily grind. You can reinvent your relationship to work and make time for your interests and travels. Rolf Potts argues that freedom is tied to labor, that he feels that, once he had spent enough time working, he had earned the leisure time and monetary ability to travel. “We’re all born with winning tickets if we actualize our time well,” he tells us. When he was working, he could think ahead to the road trips and travels he was earning by doing so. He believes you can earn your journeys so long as you do not live vicariously through others, either. This is your life, and you only have one. Rolf Potts shares what he believes is the first step on the road to that life of travel. He believes people see the future as an excuse for justifying the present. You have to stop making excuses and just take his advice. There’s a world out there waiting to be traveled, if you just decide to do it.
When should one travel? When they are young, while they are unattached and have all the time in the world? When they are middle-aged, and in the thick of their “normal” lives? When they are old, and it seems that all things have passed them by? The answer, of course, is “yes.” An honest “yes” to all of the above, and Mark Wolters knows better than anybody how important it is to be honest. He believes that you should truly travel right now, because you never know what can happen later. If you get a chance, he thinks you should take it. He offers honest and genuine travel advice on his YouTube channel, Wolters World, and assists people as they begin their own travel adventures through the world. “As they say,” Mark reminds us, “you only live once.”
When Mark Wolters studied abroad in Argentina, his goal was to meet locals. Lucky for him, he did, and almost immediately, when he met two local girls who invited him to a gathering outside of town that weekend. Unfortunately for him, though, he abruptly got very sick that week; he managed to get himself under control long enough to go meet these girls for their party that Saturday, but, maybe, he should have just stayed. Having not gone to the bathroom in four days, Mark Wolters arrives at Saturday night with everything hitting him all at once, affecting him to the point of tears. He manages to get on a train (without a bathroom), reach a station (also without a bathroom), and make it into Buenos Aires (where everything is closed - ipso facto, without a bathroom). Everything is closed up except Mark that Sunday morning in Buenos Aires, so he just decides to take matters into his own hands - with a handful of wax napkins, a hole in the ground, and without any clothes. From then on, Mark Wolters made sure to memorize all the maps of a location when he travels, because (in his words): “You never know when you’re gonna have to go.”
Mark Wolters made himself into a human guidebook over the course of many years. Like so many travelers, according to Hayden, Mark began with a countercultural attitude. He grew out his long, luxurious hair as an original self-defining statement about himself, gathered a punk-rock attitude that may have contributed to his travel desires, and decided to explore the world in any way that tied into this life. The romantic nature of travel directly ties into the romanticism of rock music, he believes, which leads him to announce that the soundtrack to Mark’s travel life would prominently feature “Why Don't We Get Drunk” by Jimmy Buffett, and “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey. Mark gives travel advice by being honest, throwing in little extra tidbits, and reassuring others that anything they do will be worthwhile if they make it so. Mark Wolters even manages to give the much-experienced Hayden advice for his ride through Europe later this year, spreading bike-related advice specific to various locations throughout Europe, flavored with anecdotes and jokes from his life and from his friends. Mark Wolters does love to give genuine, honest advice.
Mark Wolters is the owner, founder, and star of the YouTube channel Wolters World, telling the honest truth about places - the good, the bad, what to do, what not to do. Having began the channel in 2010 with videos to help the woman who would become his wife learn Portuguese, Mark has only evolved his content since. He decided to do something different with the YouTube channel when he got a guidebook that made a small town sound fantastic - until he got there, and everything was closed, small, and a huge letdown. Mark Wolters sat down, and he thought how horribly disappointing it would be if someone who only had so much vacation time wasted it on places they had only read good lies about. He was inspired by this to create honest travel videos - telling people the truly good and the truly, truly bad things about places he traveled to. He believes in making sure people have the best travel experience possible. To travelers, Mark Wolters is a friend who will be honest and truly help you out. It’s difficult to find truthful stuff out there, he thinks, so he goes out with an open mind and gives his completely honest opinions to others. After all, if you only include the good, you’re just making a commercial.
What is there awaiting travelers in the desert? What is there out in nature, waiting to reconnect with man? Eric Trules has discovered it, he thinks. That nothingness that means something: a nomadic way of life, a connection to nature, a cooperation with the land, a lack of civilization that means an increase in humanity. Eric Trules has been a professional in the performing, literary, and filmic arts for almost five decades. He’s worked as a dancer, in the theater, as an actor, and even as a clown. In his life outside of his work, he takes what he’s learned in his decades of performance and applies it to his thinking about travel. Trules’ show, “e-travels with e. trules,” contains musical scores, sound effects, and everything in between, and his magnificent voice telling his amazing stories. Living in Echo Park, California, and traveling all over the world, Eric has learned how to make others laugh, how to help life happen, how to parent his nephew, how to make travel his medium, how to make oneself vulnerable, and how to connect people in challenging times reconnect again. Life awaits you in the desert, if you are brave enough to seek it on your camel safari.
It’s Israel, in May of 1999, and travel is easy. As a result, Eric has the idea to go out into the Sinai Desert, the home of camels, Moses, and the Red Sea, and have the sun bake the life out of him and suck the logic out. The best of Israel comes to the Sinai Desert to escape their day-to-day lives, because the sun, the earth, and the sea will slow you down until time is lost and you have no desire to return to civilization. He went to a camp on the Red Sea and adventured for himself, feeling the desire to walk in the steps of Moses and Joshua and to sleep under an endless starry sky. First, he needed to get enough supplies and camels to make the journey he wanted to take both possible and worthwhile. He composed a team of people willing to uncivilize themselves in the desert, and together they took a camel safari. They followed the same path that the Jews followed all those years ago, witnessing the same journey they did, navigating broad spaces, narrow canyons, and the changing day as the sun shifted. Eric found an oasis here. He realized that there is nothing in the desert: no politics, no borders, no religions. There is only a nomadic, respectful, dependent way of life, which requires a cooperation with the land and which has existed for thousands of years. In the desert, modern civilization and its instant conveniences disappear. In the desert, you realize how distant we have grown from nature, and how much we have lost touch with ourselves in the process, and with the very things that make us human. You gain independence from nature in civilization, disrespecting and ignoring mother nature and ourselves in doing so, and you lose your sense of awe in the power of the natural universe. Eric experienced a rare perfect moment under the orange desert moon. He remembered there was bloodshed in this land now, and that only hatred and history causes problems like these, nothing inherent. Everyone could benefit from taking a camel safari into the desert and forgetting about civilization.
Making a fool of yourself will help others to laugh, and Eric Trules knows this to be absolutely true. After all, he took a little French in high school and purposefully butchered the language in a humorous way just to make his French audience smile. He made himself vulnerable in doing so, in making himself a person trying to communicate rather than someone who does not wish to understand. Language opens people up makes connections between different cultures and individuals. As a clown, Eric Trules formed a company of New York clowns who traveled the city, completely out of context, and disrupted reality, creating public theatrical mayhem to make the everyday experience something bigger, comical, lighthearted, and relieving. If you put yourself out there, you show people a different side of life. He does consider his full-time job being “Mr. Mom,” however, as he is a father to his Indonesian nephew from Sumatra. He wholeheartedly believes in the mantra: “Life is what happens while you’re waiting for other plans to work out.” Eric Trules once asked a woman for directions and ended up marrying her, so he understands the value of taking risks, making yourself vulnerable, and seeing what comes of it. He also sees the value of compromising different outlooks and styles in life with those around you, your partners in life. Vulnerability is key.
Eric Trules has been building his podcast since Y2K. He has a long background as a performing artist, writer, and storyteller who has been focusing more and more on travel stories for a while now. He started a travel blog back in 2000 in an internet coffee shop in Southeast Asia that went by the same name as his podcast now. He wanted to capture the flavor of where he was and what he was doing for his friends, and so one of his friends helped him create and design his blog for him. After this, he began to perform on stages, both in Los Angeles and internationally, telling his stories everywhere. Witnessing this, a student of his told him that they preferred hearing him tell stories over reading them, and suggested that he create a podcast. Since then, he has gotten students to help him with sound design, sound effects, and music composition, collaborating to convey his voice, his tone, his vibes from his travels, contributing information and music and sounds and tales that relieve people from the other horrible stories they hear in the news. Composers are able to achieve sensations and emotions of places just through music and, by listening to these stories, they’re able to compose such beautiful sounds and inspire their listeners. Eric Trules strives to inspire. In fact, his stories, he says, have two tracks: to help listeners travel vicariously through his story and the music and the feel, and, for those who have traveled a lot, to strike a memory chord for those who have been to where he’s traveled. Travel is his medium, and he wants to help everyone divided by borders, religions, politics reconnect again through their mutual humanity, by learning about other people through these travel stories. He hopes that his stories connect people in these challenging times and over challenging barriers. One of Eric’s maxims that he offers his students is that vulnerability is their greatest strength. Your wounds and your lives and your deepest stories are your treasures that you have to share with people, and the same is true of any story being told. Vulnerability puts you in place as an underdog and changes how people react to you, and helps you leave your house in the morning to take the risk on travel.
Cultural differences are impossible not to notice once you have traveled as much as Dana Newman has. Language and these differences Dana has found between Germany and America have helped her make a home out of Munich, and to find herself in her surroundings. Dana Newman is an American expatriate, originally from Florida, in the United States, now living in Munich, Germany. Her YouTube channel, Wanted Adventure, explores the cultural differences between the U.S. and Germany and talks about the expat life, moving to a new country, and all that that entails. This conversation from two self-proclaimed chatterboxes covers cultural connections, environmental differences, how Dana got to where she is, and everything in between, as Dana shares pearls of wisdom from Germany.
After graduating from college, Dana Newman, like a lot of graduates, felt rather lost. She didn’t know what she wanted to do from her life, apart from have an adventure. She felt an invisible rope pulling her towards Europe, and so she packed up two duffel bags, obtained her very first pairs of boots, and bought a one-way ticket to Prague. Once she arrived in Prague, she felt distant, out of touch, and alone - before she took a deep breath and reminded herself that this was all part of the adventure that she wanted to have. She trusted her own process, and yet was still afraid that the Prague of her imagination was too different from the Prague in reality. She had to handle unexpected rooming situations and a topsy-turvy tunnel system, but, even though she wasn’t sure where she was going, she managed to make her way into the city center. She knew something good had to exist out in her new world, and she found it - everything that she had been searching for when she came to live in Europe. She knew, deep in her core, that her adventure had brought her to exactly where she was supposed to be in the world in that moment.
What is a normal Monday for you? For Dana Newman, it changes, depending on the week. Most of her Monday is spent preparing for her Wednesday, because she dictates her own schedule. Upon moving to Germany, Dana was able to discover that autonomy, and the difference between living somewhere and traveling through that same place. It took three years for Dana to feel at home in Germany, because it took her that long to build up traditions and to know what to expect around the corner. She started to decipher the language, to adjust to the culture. She taught herself the language, which was a difficult adaptation, but conversation was a vital part of living in any new environment. When you reach that understanding, you really connect to the people and to that world. Dana may miss the sun in Florida, and the ability to understand her environment entirely, but she’s happy in Germany. She loves the architecture, the ability to walk everywhere, and the home she has made for herself in Europe.
Dana Newman, besides being an expatriate, is also a YouTube sensation. Her videos highlight the differences she finds between cultures - differences that people often wouldn’t think even existed between two countries. She is fascinated by these differences, and couldn’t stop noticing them after she moved. Her friends were interested, and fellow Americans, but she soon realized that Germans liked her videos, too. They were interested in her experiences as an American living in Germany and witnessing how she sees their country. She likes to compare different cultures and explore the two sides of the coin between America and Germany. She can see these differences in her own life, in the ways she has changed her ways of doing things as a form of adaptation from Germany to America - for example, her laundry. She’s made friends, though, in Germany. She has a home, and the feeling that comes with it. She feels at home in Germany now, and never would have made it to that point if she had too many expectations. When she doesn’t have expectations, and tries to be open to what happens, she knows she’s able to continue her adventure regardless and keeps her mind open and let herself be open to new experiences. She encourages not putting restrictions on yourself when you travel; you have to be open to anything that can happen. Traveling can let you look at your home in new ways once you’ve traveled a bit, as well. Making a home and appreciating where you’re from is a glorious side-effect of travel.
Knowing why you want to do something is half the way to achieving that something. Understanding and developing your passion is the drive a person needs to becoming who they truly want to be. Taylor Zajonc, a writer, father, maritime historian, Explorers Club member, and shipwreck explorer who has literally been to the bottom of the ocean and back again, has endless pearls of wisdom just like these. He knows that approaching your own life with an “open heart, a lack of cynicism, and as little ego as you can” will lead to amazing places. What would you be willing to suffer through for an experience? Have you discovered your life’s true passion? What would you find if you played soccer in Kenya? Taylor wants to help you find the answers.
Taylor was involved in a deep sea shipwreck company years ago and took a trip to Africa. On the way back, he and his team stopped in Kenya, residing for the duration of their stay in a small rural camp, in a village where young warriors once trained. Due to this being an authentic slice of rural village life, there was a lot of downtime for Taylor to just sit down and think about what he wanted from himself, from his life, from his own future. There was also time to play soccer with the same little boy who showed up every day at the same time with a soccer ball. This, combined with the feeling of flying down a dirt road in a Land Rover, made Taylor want to be a father, and a writer. He wanted to capture that free feeling, and to make his life all about experiences like that. He decided to try harder to write, to get published, and to be a father. He now has two books out and a fifteen-month-old son, Sammy, all of which he can trace back to that little boy he played soccer with in Kenya.
Taylor, a native of the Pacific Northwest, is a firm believer in appreciating where you grew up and where you currently are. However, this has not once stopped him from diving to the deepest depths on Earth, a fascination which began at the age of nineteen. His father aided him in boarding a Soviet-era submersible on its trip to the ocean’s floor in the Bermuda Triangle, investigating an old wooden target. This target turned out to be an unexpected historical artifact, over sixteen thousand feet deep, and so, at the age of nineteen, Taylor was able to explore the bottom of the ocean with his own eyes. He had the sudden knowledge that no other human being had experienced what he was experiencing in that moment. He had a realization that changed the trajectory of his life, because he discovered his passion, and was able to understand, develop, and focus on this. When you come back from a journey like his, your overthinking, doubts, and second thoughts no longer matters. What matters is your transformation, and your realization of what is truly important to your travels and to you. Taylor thinks that it is both important to take a moment or two to reflect on your decisions, to make sure you’re safe and getting the most you can out of life, and to let the bad wash out of your memories, leaving only the good, the funny, and the passionate. It’ll help you realize how big the world truly is.
Traveling somewhere with a goal in mind, any goal, is important - it will advance your own understanding of what is in this world, and support your passion. Having a goal means learning what you would be willing to suffer through for a travel experience. For Taylor, it’s writing. What is it for you? Taylor believes writing has to come from an experiential place, that there has to be honesty and knowledge of a subject to make a piece more real, because authenticity cannot be faked. The need to overcome our own thoughts and fears to go through a transformational experience is vital. For example, anything and everything Taylor has done in his life scared the crap out of him before he did it. What something looks like in your head versus its reality can be two completely different things, and Taylor has learned that over and over again. Themes like these are obvious in his books - The Wrecking Crew, Red Sun Rogue, and an unnamed third book that will be arriving in 2018. His novels explore the trials and tribulations of a deep sea salvage diver and his unusual ragtag team as they battle pirates, mysteries, and something larger than all of them. His newest novel visits a Georgetown history professor who gets mysteriously summoned on an expedition out of Tanzania. Taylor doesn’t want to write what’s already out there, he wants something that’s got depth, and breadth, and really reaches the reader. He knows what’s important in life, and makes his writing reflect that.
Kristin Addis trusts the world, and she trusts her truest self, the one who hides inside and waits until she is alone to reveal herself. She knows a great deal about solo female travel, having adventured around the world since 2012, and she believes wholeheartedly in talking to strangers and in taking leaps. She offers support to anyone who will listen: if you don’t feel as though you’re understood, or if you don’t know where to look, there are people all around the world who will offer you opportunities to learn who you really are. Solo travel is the purest opportunity to discover yourself.
In March 2014, Kristin Addis found herself in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China. The snow was blasting her, filling up the grounds surrounding her with white, and Kristin herself was low on money. She had to hitchhike her way eight or nine hours back to her site, and she was in a small town, so not a lot of people were presenting her with travel opportunities. Being a foreign girl in China, though, does have its advantages, and one particular group pulled over their nice car and buckled her in for a white-knuckled ride. An hour outside the city, they stopped to eat with her, which is typically a normal experience, but this was not the case on that day. Instead, she selected a large, living fish to eat, and experienced an incredibly uncommon waitress. Her dinner was ridiculous, and her leftovers were maybe even a little dangerous. In the end, she was just this random girl from California, hitchhiking in a remote part of the world, who ended up with an unexpected gift or two at the end of the day.
Kristin Addis is currently staying in Berlin before she goes to Africa, as she knew upon setting foot in Berlin that it would be the perfect environment for her new home base. She utilized a freelance visa, one of the many ways that a lot of the world is opening up when it comes to things like travel. The world, Kristin believes, is opening up travel and accessibility and opportunities to a large chunk of the world, which is better than the past circumstances. Kristin’s grandmother, like her, was a traveler, who shared her photo albums with Kristin. She was Kristin’s only traveling family member, and, in being so, she unconsciously inspired Kristin. After she passed away, Kristin and her mother found her journal and embraced her legacy, exploring the world as she saw it, and imparting their own experiences, as well. Any place exists how you experience it, how you document it, and what you get out of it. Kristin firmly embraced her travel bug, spending summers abroad, saving her money, burning her bridges and returning to Asia where she felt she belonged. She wanted to learn about different cultures in depth; she moved without support and immersed herself. She stuck it out, and was amazing by her own ability to embrace different experiences and a new way of life. It wasn’t an easy decision; she was terrified, she agonized over it, but she didn’t want to wonder anymore. She found the right community to explore her options, realized her dreams were possible, and set out to find her true self.
Kristin Addis has been solo traveling for four-and-a-half years, but she doesn’t feel alone. She meets people locally, new friends that she makes when she immerses herself in a culture. She has been finding her real self; other people impact how you act, what you feel, but when you’re alone, nobody stops you from making decisions or having ideas. It’s freeing, incredibly powering, and a magnificent opportunity to discover your true self. You’re never alone, not really. Sometimes people approach Kristin, wanting to help her, to take care of her. She is never short of options for people to spend time with anywhere in the world. It’s easy to put up walls with people you don’t know, but making connections with those around you is easy once you let yourself understand that you are all traveling just the same. It’s pretty surprising how many opportunities can come up if you make seeking them out your priority. Kristin tends towards solo travel and a less touristy type of journey half-from necessity, and half-from distraction, as her experiences were so amazing that she felt comfort didn’t really need too large of a space in her life. Penny-pinching Kristin also learned how to trust those around her. She trusted in the pure, honest experience of trusting another person and, once she did, she let herself fully experience the world and immerse herself in the cultures surrounding her. She started Be My Travel Muse so that she could encourage other women to experience the world just as she did, so they won’t be afraid of the amazing experiences they can give themselves to learn about their real selves. The real you is waiting; will you travel to find them?
How can I connect with the world around me when I travel? How can I immerse myself in a culture? How can I share my experiences with the world? Yann Ilunga has the answer to each of these questions, and can help guide travelers to their own unique solutions. Yann Ilunga is an entrepreneur, podcaster, consultant, and all-around legendarily cool guy, in Hayden’s own words. He is the person Hayden trusts most with helping start blogs and podcasts, and he visits the Travel Stories Podcast to share his tips, to tell his stories, and to encourages an adventurous lifestyle and a community sharing experience.
Yann Ilunga has always been interested in adventure. He grew up outdoorsy, playing football (or soccer, if you’re in the States), and mimicking Indiana Jones and Jack Kerouac, his adventurous, traveling heroes. One of the most amazing things that ever happened to Yann was that he was able to live how his heroes lived when he traveled. Traveling by car along the Atlantic coast of the western part of Ireland with nothing but the ocean, but nature, around him was so powerful, not because he pictured himself as a character like the ones he wanted to become, but because these were the moments that he really felt that everything was aligned. He experienced this again traveling in California, creating an incredible experience where he could think absolutely nothing and just be. In moments like these, Yann became his passion. He encourages all travelers to reach for this feeling, to belong to that world. The next time you go on a trip, whether it’s by car, by bicycle, by foot, whatever, try to be on the lookout, because in that kind of a moment that Yann experienced, there is nothing but you, the natural elements around you, and feelings of happiness and belonging.
Yann Ilunga encourages you to be genuine and to be authentically yourself when you travel, because that is the foundation on which you can build great relationships when you travel. You can form strong, intense friendships when you travel by putting yourself out there. You have to be vulnerable, to be open, to step outside your comfort zone, in order to connect with amazing people all over the world. Yann shares stories of being in Ireland, where, for no particular reason, he changed his plans, got in a car, and went in the opposite direction from what he planned. What he saw and who he met were incredible and unexpected, because it feels amazing to do something unpredictable, and to take a chance on that experience. Yann is in Finland now, and encourages travelers to immerse themselves in a culture in order to get all the tools that you’ll need to learn everything about that place and to become a part of that culture. Six years ago, Yann camped around Europe for two months; he believes camping is a form of travel that allows you to experience a location at a deeper level. Yann invites everybody listening who has never been camping before to try camping at least once, because camping not only allows you to really be in your own element, but it also allows you to see a different side of wherever you’re camping and traveling to. Yann strongly encourages engaging in the world around you as deeply as you can manage, and maybe even a little deeper than that.
Yann Ilunga is one of the best in the biz when it comes to building travel blogs, vlogs, or anything of the sort. Starting something like that can seem daunting, but it is, in fact, manageable. This is a way to share your experiences with the world. Is there something you’re keeping to yourself that, if shared in a more public form, could be interesting, entertaining, informative, or helpful? If so, Yann encourages you to get started right away, to just get started and do it for your own sake. Publish a blog post whenever you want, record a video whenever you want, but, at some point, try to develop a plan and organize a routine. The more structure you give yourself, the more you help yourself form the bigger picture and the message you’re trying to share with the world, and it helps you overall with building your audience, with marketing, with clarifying your plan. It’s about getting it started and keeping it going. He shares a whole bunch more helpful tips, and encourages everyone to get in touch with him if they want help and, if they don’t, to just get started on their own. Yann also encourages listeners to go back and listen to Hayden’s first episode from his first season and realize that he hasn’t always been this good, and that he’s on a journey just like everyone else.
Can a person sustain their life on their passions? Can you do what you love and live off of it, too? It’s the perfect road to go down, and one that travelers often find themselves seeking. Juliana Dever has found the path. A travel blogger and an actress from the television series Castle, Juliana has thrown herself into world traveling and drawing experiences from her fears. When she’s not acting, she’s traveling, testing her limits. A self-proclaimed Russophile, Juliana Dever has had a fascination with Russia since childhood. She wants to act and travel, and has found a way to maintain this lifestyle, doing what she truly loves. Keeping that life of travel up is possible, and Juliana can prove it. “If you never meet a stranger,” Juliana says, “then that’s all they’ll ever be to you.” The world is your oyster (and to Juliana, Russia is the pearl).
The second time Juliana Dever went to Russia, it was as part of a language class. She was given the option to stay with a Russian family, which she took, it being a great opportunity and all. She had visions of laughing around a dinner table, speaking Russian; her reality, though, was a young man who spoke absolutely no English, herself, who spoke very little Russian, and nobody else. Already in a confusing situation, she was with this young man who was very much immersed in that bachelor lifestyle: keeping to himself, leaving out pasta and ketchup for dinner, which was a rocky start to Juliana’s stay. However, the chaos of the experience culminated in her getting locked in her bedroom one day with no way to contact her host. A bit of WiFi, a well-timed email to her friend Rachel, and some frantic Googling helped her survive.
Juliana Dever is a self-proclaimed Russophile, and it shows in how she talks about Russia and her time there. Juliana is lived in Russia twice, the first time being for a couple of months in the winter, training with the Moscow Art Theatre. Growing up, Juliana was incredibly and inexplicably attracted to Russia, which didn’t make a ton of sense for her as a little girl growing up in rural Missouri. She considered the idea that she might be a reincarnated member of the Romanov family; after she went to Russia, made peace with it, and released it, she felt as though she was able to move on. For Juliana, Russia was like a painting in her head before she actually went. When she got there, though, all of a sudden, it crystallized into a glowing, beautiful, mythical place that hardly seemed real to her. Russia was what dreams were made of, for her. The smells, the sights, the sounds, the tastes - all are so hard to put into words, but they make up what Juliana loves most about Russia and about travel.
Juliana Dever believes that travel is about being in the moment. There is a lot of crossover between her interests - travel and acting - and thinks that these both lend a lot of credibility to that belief. If you can completely open yourself up to experiencing a story, as well as to telling a story, then you open yourself up to travel. Stories are the way that people connect. Juliana exemplifies this by sharing a story of her dance-off with Rolf Potts a couple summers ago in Paris. Juliana loves to travel, to build these experiences, to make these connections and tell these stories. “I’m not selling anything,” says Juliana, “except for embracing the fear and getting out there and traveling.” She tells about how her natural progression from a love of travel led into her becoming a travel blogger, a process that has been about enthusiasm and fear for her. Fear is her motivating factor, because she knows that experiences are better than the fears that try to stop her. She is more interested in confronting fears than she is in conquering them. Hayden and Juliana encourage stepping out of your comfort zone and utilizing your vulnerability; this can lead to experiences that you’re proud of and incredible stories you can share.
Travel changes a person. Adapting to an entirely new culture and people not only alters the traveler while they live in that culture, but also changes them irrevocably when they return home. Getting used to the world around you is an important travel step, and one Amanda Kendle is intimately familiar with. Amanda lived in three foreign countries during her twenties, and is the master of slow travel. During her lifetime, she’s developed a travel mentality that can be summed up in one word: “thoughtful.” She fosters the more cerebral aspect of travel, using her thoughts to rationalize and relate to her experience. Host of The Thoughtful Travel Podcast, Amanda shares her thoughts on reverse culture shock, cultural adaptation, and returning home.
Amanda once lived in the Kansai region of Japan, and, one day, was given an opportunity to visit this old home again. The only downside, though, was that she was sent with a guide who was to accompany her all week, and she was not the kind of person who liked to travel with others, preferring to do her own thing. As it turned out, her guide was a 68-year-old woman named Mariko who had spent thirty-odd years guiding foreigners around Japan. As such, she had amazing stories to tell, and words of wisdom for everyone. When Mariko and Amanda experienced an earthquake together, and visited the earthquake memorial in Kobe, Amanda learned that Mariko was a survivor. She remembers well what she learned from Mariko and her Rincon vegetables that day: “You have to look through to the future, because that’s the only way to get through life.”
There is no one utopia in this world; there are good things and bad things about every place you can travel to. Hayden and Amanda talk about the pockets of the world they enjoy traveling to, and how they prefer to look for the reality of a place, beyond the plastic. Hayden enjoys going over to “the other side” for a day. Amanda discusses adapting your travel style to your life, and Hayden shares a well-executed metaphor comparing travel to experiencing a play on stage with the actors. The two of them explore the main differences between passing through somewhere, and living in the place. Amanda discusses the reactions of people around her. The longer she lives in a place, the better she understands it, and she believes that spending a longer time in one space lets you better understand the nuances and quirks of a culture. Truly, travel wouldn’t be the same without the trial and error of learning new cultural experiences - learning what’s rude, what’s not, what’s the correct way to act. Getting over those cultural speed bumps is the best way to adapt to the realities of different places, and immerse yourself in a new culture.
Adapting to and overcoming reverse culture shock is a major part of experiencing slow travel. Returning to somewhere that you’ve lived before and adapting to the culture again after you’ve been traveling to other places is exceedingly difficult. Travel brings growth; it opens your mind, changes you into a new and different person, with different thoughts flourishing. After all that happens, it’s hard to interact with people who are expecting the old you to come back unchanged from traveling, and to slot right back into your old life again. Missing out on years of shared culture and adapting to your new and changed relationships with one another is a long and bumpy road. However, regaining that feeling of belonging that might be missing when you return from travel is possible. Amanda talks about topics like reverse culture shock on her podcast, The Thoughtful Travel Podcast, where she has several guests per episode talking about one specific travel-related topic. They discuss all kinds of things we learn from travel, and reasons that we should travel. She thoughtfully reminds everyone that, much like she once told her grandmother, that she is not a ballerina, and she shares this pearl of wisdom: “Whatever excuses you are making, get over the excuses, and get out there. Go traveling. Life’s too short not to. The more people travel, the more we can deal with cultural differences. If we all travel, we can all save the world.”
Can a traveler have a home base? What does stability mean to an adventurer? Is the push-pull siren call of the two different traveling worlds surmountable? Derek Loudermilk, host of The Art of Adventure, answers all of these questions and more, unprompted and in depth. Derek is a father, a digital nomad, and a traveler who believes in the power of dichotomy and travels with his infant son, Axel. An adventurer and a businessman, Derek seeks to help others who have the elusive dream of becoming location-independent. Between the jungles of Bali, his wife’s nesting abilities, and his location independence set of skills, Derek is never far from home.
Derek Loudermilk’s story takes place in the jungles of central Bali, in one of his favorite regions - in the central highlands, in a place called Bedugul. This space is very primal for him, and he loves to spend time up there to connect with nature, which he believes can make a person more creative, confident, and self-aware. During one afternoon walk in the jungles, Derek experienced a surprising connection with nature: upon entering a clearing with an ancient, massive tree, and placing his hands on the tree, he got an electro-emotional shock. He says the tree was trying to tell him something. When he put his hands on the tree again, it happened a second time, with Derek experiencing a flood of emotions, sweating, and crying. What happened when he was given time alone with the tree would change Derek’s life from thereon out, as well as his work and his further wellbeing.
Hayden met Derek Loudermilk when they both guested on The Budget-Minded Traveler, and Hayden realized how interesting, curious, and unique he was. Derek has lived on four continents, and he values traveling slowly and getting to know the culture. Derek is a wholehearted believer in the power of music. He and Hayden share their stories on the topic, with Derek giving a bit of insight into his father and different ways to make music on the go. In regards to his father and the rest of his family, Derek remembers the time he spent camping and traveling as a child. His family wanted to travel somewhere new every year when he was young, which led to his love of exploration, which he now wishes to pass onto his infant son, Axel, whom he travels with now. Axel is a zen child who likes to travel, which leads Hayden and Derek to explore the effects of traveling from infancy on a person. Derek believes in showing Axel the best of both worlds. People’s lives can change in a single moment and take them on a new track in life, a new direction, and traveling can help people discover their own self-identity. Saying yes to opportunities can open doors to potential paths, but saying no can create a permanence that allows you stability; this dichotomy, Derek says, is an interesting push-pull that can be necessary to create the life you want to live and to get stuff done. Going on your own hero’s journey and experiencing and learning and growing is a path only you can take for yourself; nobody else can take it for you.
Derek is the host of The Art of Adventure, being an adventurer himself. Hayden believes adventurers are the types of travelers with the best stories. Derek remembers a bit of advice he once received: “You’re an adventurer, just do it.” Opening yourself up to new opportunities and thinking outside of the mundane can create an adventurer out of you in seconds. Looking at options outside of the box, taking these ideas and making it so, will give you journeys you never could have anticipated. Nothing is impossible; everything that exists has come from someone just giving some odd idea a try. For example, location independence, which Derek lives, is its own unique idea and path in life. It grants him location freedom, letting him work from wherever he wants, and so travel wherever he wants. If you want this, too, you can make location independence your business. To learn more about anything, you just need to find someone who is in the place you want to be in and ask them for guidance. In regards to location independence, Derek offers free thirty-minute strategy sessions. If you send him an email (his address is listed below, in Links and References), you can schedule a time to jump on a call with him. Location independence and a new path in life is just a phone call away.
Letting the path ahead of you lead the way is a degree of control that some people struggle to let go of. Amie and Matt Leichtfuss encourage this degree of trial-and-error, though. On any adventure, letting the details reveal themselves as your journey unfolds can bring the most authentic experiences a traveler can experience. In telling their story, Michoacán: Don't Go There (You'll Die), they prove just how valuable that can be. Traveling with their dog, six surfboards, and a travel vlog, Amie and Matt let trial-and-error dictate their path, the details revealing themselves each step of the way.
In their story, Michoacán: Don't Go There (You'll Die), Amie and Matt tell of a time when they were traveling over a long bridge when they first saw the sign: Bienvenidos a Michoacán. Michoacán is a Mexican area known for its heavy drug activity; because of this, it is often avoided by travelers. Amie and Matt, however, wanted to experience the area for themselves, as they are not ones to let anyone stop them from doing anything. Inspired by In Search of Captain Zero, they were looking for some good waves. They started to run out of fuel, though, which wracked their nerves; they hadn’t found a station to stop at, so they pushed on through the jungle. They saw something on the road ahead that completely threw them for a loop and began to terrify them, but what would actually happen was something they could never have anticipated.
Amie and Matt Leichtfuss are from The Traveling Together Journal, a travel vlog which some of you may have seen on YouTube. The two of them are travel bloggers, travel vloggers, surfers, and amateur engineers. They are presently in Central America, because they saved up to do a big road trip together with their dog. They started in Maui, then to California for a full-size pickup to drive all the way to Panama - along with their six surfboards, their masseuse table, their spearguns, and a collection of other odd objects. They travel with Jaeger, their mixed lab dog, who has been an interesting addition and brought them to a strange little Mexican town when he needed a veterinarian. Powering them on their voyage is solar power, which provides them with the power to keep their refrigerator running, to run a fan at night, and to run LED lights. Their idea of trial-and-error, which helped them hotwire their solar power, sustains them throughout their trip.
Deciding on a trip is not an easy task. It was overwhelming for Amie and Matt to think of everything they would want to do and everywhere they would want to go before they left, so, instead, they decided to play it day-by-day. While they’re maybe a couple of spots ahead, they’re always winging it. Amie recommends that, if you’re thinking of planning any big, long-term travel, don’t overplan; just give yourself the basics, because the details come as you go. She and Matt give a few helpful tips on what to do along your trip to take care of business. They do trial-and-error in this regard, as well, as they take their time making it to Panama. Their travel vlog, too, deals with trial-and-error, this visual record of their travel memories. They started it because, if nothing else, it would give them watchable home videos, and possibly a way to generate income to allow them to follow their dreams and continue traveling - and maybe share some trash with the world as they went. The decisions found themselves along the journey.
Are you enough? The answer, no matter how you feel in any particular moment, is always a resounding “yes.” Rachel Rudwall believes that every person is “enough” to start an adventure, that stories are born from the unexpected, and that childlike wonder has a place in the life of a traveler. Her optimistic outlook on life and her love of worldwide connections are a breath of fresh air in the travel world. With a travel story from Cuba and a bright personality, Rachel gives us a story and an interview to jumpstart our own travels.
Rachel brings a travel story all the way from Havana, from the moment she realized that the whole world would open up to her the moment she recognized that other people existed. She was walking down the street in Cuba when she was struck by the impulse to tell a woman she liked her hat. After acting on this impulse, their conversation soon evolved into this stranger taking them to see some sweet street art. On the way, they encounter a festival, amazing music, a celebration of a symbol of the revolution. This leads into a store, then to a ramshackle Havana building to buy a special item from a strange apartment. Their host told them all about her life, and helped them to explore the deepest parts of her world. Rachel’s experience never would have happened if she hadn’t commented on a stranger’s hat. Rachel believes you will never truly know someone or have a genuine experience unless you truly get to know the people.
Every experience is either a good experience, or a good story later on. Rachel and Hayden discuss not being able to predict what any journey will bring you, and Rachel adds on how she likes to be surprised, moved, taught, and connected to others in her travels. They talk about the different archetypes of travelers, and how confidence and vulnerability, working in tandem, can bring about the greatest experiences of all. Rachel’s spirit for adventure began and was fostered in the midwestern United States, where mountains and oceans only existed on television and children like her found pleasure in the little journeys she took. She thinks it’s important to bring that childlike wonder and curiosity into your everyday adult life, rather than over-thinking and limiting yourself from exploring unplanned, pure experiences. She tells Hayden that stories are born from bad or unexpected things happening to you as a traveler; stories, she says, give us everything that might be a building blood for our lives. Storytelling enables us to see where we exist in our own lives, and in the universe. When you explore what is natural and real and inherent to life, you choose to leave behind what is familiar and instead have to listen to what your body tells you, because that animal instinct is all the familiarity you have left. The risk, however, is worth it; after all, what’s the worst that could happen?
Rachel Rudwall is an advocate of the concept of being “enough.” Many people believe that they are not good enough, not prepared enough, not ‘enough’ enough. Rachel thinks, though, that people are always prepared. You may not be in a place where you’re perfectly prepared, perfectly good, perfectly anything - but you are always enough. You are enough to start your journey. You are enough to put yourself out there. You are, Rachel says, capable; you will learn. You can do this. You are enough. Every person has an innate potential. Rachel is all about people and planet. Anything you can do to share experiences and love, Rachel believes, is what you should be doing. The world is scary and divided right now, but it doesn’t need to be in every realm. You can adjust your own sphere and make the world a little closer and brighter if you are willing to connect. You are enough to bridge that gap.
Kinga loves sharks, so she went to Isla Mujeres, where whale sharks gather periodically in an afuera. She sailed the rough seas to the afuera, where she encountered one of the greatest scenes of her life. She could see the whale sharks’ dorsal fins, the manta rays swimming with them, and so she jumped into the water with her GoPro. The manta rays spun around her; the whale sharks swam around; she felt as though she was swimming in shark soup. Just then, the GoPro died, and Kinga had to be innovative on fixing her problem in order to document the experience. Between her GoPro, her phone, and her own two eyes, Kinga had to find a way to keep her memory for the rest of her life. What she discovered, though, was how to be properly present in her moment as it happened, leading to her best-ever travel experience - all while she was swimming in shark soup.
What does it mean to explore your senses? What does a sense do for a person when they travel? Can you bottle your experiences and bring them home with you? Kinga Philipps, an adventurer currently living in Malibu with a passion for all things aquatic, discusses these points and more with Hayden. The host of The Wild Side with Kinga Philipps on the Travel Channel, Kinga talks mystery, senses, history, and sharks, the last of which she touches on with love and anger.
Kinga believes that people love mystery, and that they are fascinated by what they cannot explain. Humans, she says, pursue what they cannot fully understand. Things that have terrified people over the ages have also intrigued and fascinated them, luring them in and making them try things they never would otherwise. This drive to go into the unknown is what pushes Kinga to challenge herself and to trigger personal growth through herself through travel. Her parents ingrained in her a spirit of adventure and of seeking something new, which became her driving force in adulthood. Through changing up her routines, following her own compass, and living by a Jack London credo, Kinga brings new experiences to herself every day, which are the greatest moments of her life.
Exploring your senses when you travel grounds you in the moment. It gives you a solid experience as a traveler, because your senses make something inherently magical go off inside of you. Hayden and Kinga search for a name for the feeling of being in a strange place, coming into your five senses, and realizing how present you are. Kinga offers tips to trigger your own memories, like bringing a scent along with you from home so that you can train yourself to attach memories to scents. Senses were designed to keep humans alive, but they can also bring you back to your greatest moments when you experience them again in the future. Places have an energy that fills you when you’re there; you can jump into other lives, have new experiences, build your memories, and bring them back later, when it’s all said and done. Unique senses can bring memories crashing back.
Kinga is a member of and advocate for Shark Allies, an organization designed to protect our oceans and the sharks that live in them. Shark Allies founder and Kinga’s mentor, Stefanie Brendl, is a shark expert that Kinga met by bidding on her on eBay and taking her to lunch, which evolved into creating “action buttons” on shark conservation. Kinga discusses how shark fins are used unnecessarily as a status symbol, how brutally the fins are taken, and how she and Shark Allies fight to stop this from happening. In a fit of anger, she and Hayden want people to do their research and be aware; Kinga believes that people, at their core, are good, and want to do good. Kinga tells the audience that the experience of going out, stepping out of routine, and having magical moments is vital to travel. She also leaves the call to go out and educate yourself on the welfare of the world’s wildlife, and how their choices affect animals.
In this season four finale of the Travel Stories Podcast, Hayden is joined by Nicole (his writer) and Cody (his composer) to look back over the season, share outtakes, and talk about the upcoming fifth season. They weave through every episode and discuss what they thought about the guests and the stories, bringing in recaps and flashbacks to the highlights of each episode. You’ll remember this season featured Tom Butler, Sarah Miduski, Tania Aebi, Nate Buchanan, Britany Felix, Frank Salas, Leon Logothetis, Ladan Jiracek, Justin Walter, Cody Crabb, and Mike Corey. The gang shares their favorite episodes and moments from this season.
In their rambling discussions, the gang talks about the same themes that they see cropping up in every episodes, and the vein they see running through all the themes and episodes this season. They talk about what traveling means to them, then start devolving into a conversation about expectations versus reality, making experiences positive or negative, and how this plays into travel. They discuss traveling with children and travel aesthetics. The gang has fun together, bantering and joking around, as well as dragging each other and wholeheartedly (and savagely) mocking one another.
The team also discusses the unreality of thinking they have actual listeners and actual fans. In their conversation, they revisit past guests and fans, like Billy from last season and what he’s been up to. Hayden brings some outtakes to share, as well - such as one where Hayden and Nicole roast Cody when his connection dropped during an episode. Their big finish features discussing what’s coming up in season five.
Coming up next season we have a name change: we are becoming Backpack Digital. Our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram handles, as well as our website name, are all changing to backpackdigital to reflect this. We’re also expanding to include more than just podcasts. We have more inspiring travel-related content coming your way, so stay tuned! The podcast itself is changing, as well: the intro is changing, we’re getting new artwork, and the format is going to be split up. We’ll break up the interview and the story into two separate episodes for easy listening. We’re also releasing a book during season five: Nicole’s novel Venus, a novel about two young women who go on an adventure, searching for an escape and for a way to discover who they are as people. Along the way, they figure out who they are, they fall in love, and they learn that the journey is sometimes better than the destination.
If you stay tuned all the way until the end of the episode, you can find some bonus outtakes of Hayden being a mushmouth. We look forward to bringing you forward to season five come late March. Have a good break!
Once upon a time, a wise old Jedi claimed that “fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, and hate leads to suffering.” He stopped after suffering, though, so we have to wonder: what does suffering lead to? Is there a chance that suffering can lead to new possibilities? From suffering, there are opportunities for growth, for change, and for evolution. Suffering can be the catalyst for so many qualities necessary in a travel, and, sometimes, all that you need to do to obtain those qualities is to “rough it” when traveling. Tom Butler makes his triumphant return to discuss the benefits of “roughing it,” as well as his time in China.
Tom returns to Hayden to talk about his life since he last visited in season three, as well as how he has begun to settle down with his family, which includes his three-year-old daughter and will soon include another child, coming this summer. He talks about how the logistics of traveling have had to shift since he has started adding children to his family, since the travel bug has not been dissuaded regardless of how many kids he has. Tom also discusses how to manage your budget and finances when you travel.
The highlight of Tom’s episode is in his story, based in China and given the alluring title of: “On the Right Track.” He talks about his journey with his family from Shiyan to Beijing, how they decided to stop over in Pingyao, but also decided to take the most overpacked train directly following Chinese New Year. What followed was a lesson in not overbooking trains, and in trusting those around you when something goes wrong.
Tom also discusses with Hayden cultural divides, differences from location to location, and how even the slightest deviation from your usual routine can count as a travel experience. They also continue their thread of how “toughing it” can make an experience that much more powerful and interesting to go through and learn from, as well as how to follow your own flexibility when scheduling and spending on a trip. When it comes right down to it, though, you will never know if you don’t give it a shot; “do or do not - there is no try.”
Knowing that you’re able to travel - able to afford it, able to hop on a plane and end up halfway across the world only hours later - can grant you a kind of appreciation you never realized before. Living in a place where travel is possible, where going on unprecedented journeys is possible, where listening to travel story podcasts is possible, is the ideal travel situation. How can you live a life of possibility, and how can you utilize the life of possibility that you have been given? Sarah Miduski of Obligatory Traveler joins Hayden to talk about life, health, and the pursuit of graciousness in travel.
Sarah is a self-proclaimed “fangirl” of the show as well as a blogger, writer, and storyteller at Obligatory Traveler. She has three chronic illnesses, a rare heart condition, and an unwavering sense of adventure and wanderlust. She joins Hayden to talk about breaking into writing, branding herself, and how she handles her chronic health issues in regards to her travel desires. She reconciles her “medical mess,” as she calls it, with her adventures.
Hayden discusses with Sarah the importance of hindsight and looking back on your travels once you have experience to look back with. Sarah also talks about her list of where she wants to go and what she wants to do, which she has on her website. She talks about her epiphany surrounding her own mortality in her youth, and talks about how her realization of her mortality led her to her life of travel.
Sarah shares her story, a Panama-based tale that she has ambiguously titled ‘Unexpected Wildlife.’ She spins a yarn about the time she was desperately searching for a sloth on her trip, but instead encountered an entirely different kind of fauna in the forest. She tried to escape unscathed, but, unfortunately, she saw way more than she ever intended to see that day. Luckily, she did live through the encounter, and took from it an important lesson: always expect the unexpected.
In the modern traveler’s life, it is expected that they live a life that they ought to be grateful for. Travelers can tap into the idea of gratitude to access a deeper level to their journey, as well as utilizing this gratitude in their traveling. Hayden and Sarah discuss the theory of the “space between,” meaning the space between stimulus and response, with positives and negatives, as well as control when traveling. Travelers have an obligation to themselves to express gratitude for their situations, and to access their gratitude for their adventures.
Solitude, uncertainty, and unpredictable storms (both physical and metaphorical) are circumstances that every single human being experiences during their lifetime. When you have only yourself and a steadfast belief in luck to rely on, it can be difficult to throw yourself into a situation. If you keep moving forward, though, even the impossible can become possible - and this is especially true when you decide to trust in others and let them help you along your path. Tania Aebi is a living example of the truth behind this.
In the late 1980s, starting at age eighteen, Tania Aebi successfully completed a solo circumnavigation of the entire world, making her the first American woman and the youngest person at the time to sail all the way around the world. She wrote the book Maiden Voyage about her experiences, and visits the Travel Stories Podcast to share her stories. She and Hayden discuss her life-changing journey, the methods to her madness, and the importance of her father’s influence in her life.
In between tales about Tania’s world-traveling cats and their wives, Tania also tells Hayden about the role that preparation needs to take in getting ready to travel. They discuss luck, too, and how you can never know what will happen to you until you take the first step and give something a try. She discusses her “day by day,” “mile by mile” approach to travel, getting from one location to the next. She also talks about her roots and the home she has made in Vermont.
Tania also shares her own travel story, of which she had many to choose from, expertly called “The Fisherman.” She discusses how she had been struggling as she came into port at Sri Lanka, but that the bad luck turned when a fishing boat with two guys approached her. Wary, as this could go one of two ways, Tania accepted the help, and trusted in human nature and in these two individuals to help her. Years later, she received something she had never anticipated as a result of that meeting. She now recalls these encounters as how strong human connections can be, and how important it is to trust in one another.
Traveling around the world is a massive undertaking. However, with a few cats, a couple fishermen in loincloths, a belief in human connections, and faith in luck, Tania Aebi was able to pull off exactly that.
Learning how to trust is something only you can teach yourself how to do. It can be one of the most important things that you will encounter during travel, but encounter it you must. Who do you trust in this world, though? Can you trust someone you’ve only known for a matter of seconds? How can you trust that you’re going to make the right decision? Hayden introduces Nate Buchanan of Kara and Nate to help him answer these questions and more.
Nate Buchanan is famously from the travel vlog Kara and Nate, being one half of the titular pair - the other half being his wife, Kara. The two of them are looking to travel to 100 countries by 2019. In addition to this, Nate is also an expert in travel hacking. In this episode, Hayden and Nate discuss to plan or not to plan, as well as the importance of being a bucket list maker. They also talk about how Nate became a travel vlogger, and how important accountability and documentation are to his lifestyle and to travel.
Nate’s story is based in the Philippines, and which he has titled, spectacularly and simply titled: ‘The Cave.’ In it, he features the island of Siargao, the concept of motorbikes, an adventure under the sea, and, of course, the titular cave itself. Adventure is lurking around every corner; as Nate proves, you just have to be willing to trust yourself, those around you, and the adventure itself in order to access the deepest reaches of it. Much like Nate and Kara accessed the deepest reaches of the cave.
Hayden, of course, takes advantage of the motorbike portion of the story to weave a tale or two of his own, from his journeys on motorbikes to his adventures in Saigon. Hayden brings up trust in travel, too, and how to know you can trust your own decisions, which Nate relates to his own gut feelings. Nate also shares some travel hacks, as well as what travel hacking is and how even the simplest and least informed of travelers can travel hack.
Trusting in yourself and others is a leap, not a baby step. It takes time to reach the point of being able to trust yourself to trust others and to trust your own gut. A long road though it may be, Kara, Nate, and Hayden are all living proof that it is a doable and, when achieved, worthwhile task. Trust in them. Trust in yourself. Trust in travel.
Learning how to live a life that is exclusively yours versus the life that you believe you are supposed to live is an essential part of your growth, not just as a traveler, but as a person. Britany Felix has taken a long road to living her life as she wants to, but she has made it all the way to being the person and traveler she wants to be. Her message is to live unconventionally.
Britany joins Hayden from Colorado, at the base of the Rocky Mountains. She talks about compromising on settling down when you travel with others, how to have adventures without traveling very far, and how to live your life the way you want to. Hayden brings up how he creates a checklist in order to decide what he will and will not do. Britany also shares the story of her own life, and how she did research on the life she wanted to live and how she grew to achieve her dreams.
Britany also brings her travel story, the aptly-named “Parisian Roller Coaster of Emotion,” in which she weaves the tale of her first trip out of her home country, to France. While she and her new husband were there, they immediately encountered several unfortunate incidents, then a few positive experiences, in a true roller coaster of highs and lows, ups and downs, a tumultuous ride through their Parisian vacation. Britany used the experience to teach herself how to use the negative emotions that come with such unfortunate events like these ones.
Becoming the person you want to be is a long road, but, if you do not take the first step on the path, you can never reach your destination. Britany is living proof that, with the right research and journey, you can be the traveler - and the person - that you want to be. All you have to do is live a little unconventionally.
In this episode, Hayden and Britany Felix discuss:
Living on the road is the dream, the goal for many, but not for all. Everybody on the planet Earth is wired differently, and those varied wirings apply to every area of life, including travel. Figuring out how to live on the road, though, is a huge step on the way to learning how you, personally, are wired, regardless of your circumstances. Frank Salas, who prefers the title of The Talented Mr. Salas, joins Hayden to discuss the paths available to becoming an entrepreneur and a nomad like he is.
Frank Salas is a serial entrepreneur and a digital nomad, who came from humble beginnings to become the Talented Mr. Salas that he is today. He joins Hayden to talk about how he first started on his path, as well as offering a peek into how he lives day-to-day now that he has reached this point. He also shares how he accomplished what he has achieved, and how commitment and discovery were enormous parts of his evolution. Frank also explores how to make your budget and funding work for your travel adventures.
Frank also comes to share his story, a tale with the appealing title of: “The Cancun Kidnapping Scare.” Frank recounts, in humorous, frightening, and vivid detail, the taxi ride he was taking in Cancun that seemed to go down a terrifying path. Once his driver started saying ominous statements into a walkie talkie, Frank started to panic, forming an escape plan, struggling to find an out. After a miraculous escape, a falling out, a call to his mother, and an incident of stalking, Frank eventually learned a lesson about Cancun.
Starting yourself on the road to travel and adventure is one of the most difficult tasks a person can undertake. That level of commitment is not something taken lightly. Luckily, folks like Frank Salas, who have true “rags to riches” stories and the strength to back up their stories, are here to help those who want to travel find their way onto the right path. Living on the road is not easy to start doing, but, if you are wired for a nomadic life, it is the next best step.
Allowing yourself to be vulnerable in any situation is not easy, but, in order to make complete connections with others, it can be very necessary. Granting yourself the freedom to be vulnerable gives you a freedom when traveling that is totally unparalleled. Hayden invites Leon Logothetis, an adventurer, motivational speaker, philanthropist, host of the television series Amazing Adventures of a Nobody, and author of The Kindness Diaries, to discuss vulnerability and kindness when traveling.
Leon’s twin passions are kindness and helping people nurture their inner rebel. He and Hayden discuss that inner rebel and how it can be coaxed out into the open, as well as what drives Leon to be kind and what motivates him to be empathetic to others. Leon also talks about how he puts himself out there when he travels, and how vital that vulnerability is.
Leon also shares his travel story, titled in an excessively British way as: “The Ham Sandwich.” It is accurate in its grimness, as it ominously leads into Leon’s bad omens in Panama and experiences traveling to Ecuador. Besides a rough-and-tumble encounter with the locals, Leon also has a dangerous experience on board a boat that was entirely unexpected, and possibly feature a ham sandwich as an unlikely catalyst.
Though making yourself vulnerable is an exceedingly difficult task, it is vital to completing your travel experience. Without that openness and willingness to connect with others, you cannot totally engage with your environments as you travel. Allowing yourself that vulnerability makes both you and your adventures well-rounded.
It's been quite a year for us at Travel Stories Podcast and this rather small episode is merely a thank you to all of our listeners, and the wishing of a happy holiday season, wherever you may be.
Let us know what you're doing for Christmas and watch a little bit of each of ours on Facebook at: Travel Stories Podcast
Culture is one of the first things you might notice while you travel. While culture shock is a sizable and impactful thing, experiencing other cultures is vital to travel and vital to humanity as a whole. Learning about culture while traveling can help you learn about those that you share the world with, as well as learning more about yourself.
Ladan Jiracek visits this week from his own podcast, the Travel Wisdom podcast. He has been to over ninety countries and loves to think about how travel can be a chance to learn. He and Hayden discuss how to learn from travel and how to find purpose and meaning from your adventures while traveling. They also have an in-depth talk about how important it can be to learn a language while traveling. Ladan also mentions that relationship cultures are among the most drastic differences he has found internationally. The two of them agree that exploring cultures outside of one’s own society is vital.
Ladan also shares what he believes has been holding people back from traveling, while Hayden brings up the topic of podcasts and their impact on the travel world. They talk about one-upping, travel as a learning experience, the impact of certain countries, and their thoughts on marriage and children. Ladan discusses his time in Georgia, as well.
“Cheating Death and Hitchhiking Africa,” Ladan’s tale of how difficult it can be to get from point A to point B, is full of conflict and twists. One summer, Ladan and his friends decided to hitchhike across Africa, and one thing after another started to go wrong while they were crossing the desert on a twelve-hour road trip into Somalia. Without water and with far too much sand, Ladan remembers vividly how journeying to Somalia was wrought with strife and amusing troubles.
Culture is the most vital part of national identity. It is the root of language, of tradition, and of daily life in communities all around the world. Getting to know the cultures around you, and the cultures around the world, can drastically affect not only you as a traveler, but you as a person, as well.