This Travel Blogger & Photographer Has Spent Most Of His Adult Life Traveling & Working Abroad
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GAFFL connects solo travelers with similar itineraries to explore destinations together. Whether you are backpacking in Asia, road tripping in Australia, or exploring national parks in the US, simply type the destination you are traveling to, find travelers who are going there at the same time as you, connect with them, plan trips, meet, and travel together.

14th Jul | 8 min read

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    Dave (or more commonly known as Jones), is a full-time travel blogger and photographer! He’s originally from Orange County, California - but spent the majority of his adulthood traveling and working abroad. A couple of years ago though, Jones decided the time had come to move back stateside and has made Seattle, Washington his temporary "home-base". Be sure to visit his blog Jones Around The World and to check out Jones on Instagram @jonesaroundtheworld to follow along on all of his adventures.

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    Why I Started Traveling Long-Term

    Ever since my first trip to Europe back in 2009, I knew that traveling was going to be a big part of my life, but I didn't fully embrace the "long-term travel" lifestyle until around 2014. I fell in love with meeting new people, staying in hostels, and earning an income on the road. While I technically do have a home base now, I do plan on getting back to my nomadic roots in 2022.     

    My First Solo Experience

    Well, I would say that my first solo trip to Europe would be when I studied abroad in Rome, Italy, and it completely changed my life. It was then that I got addicted to living abroad, learning new languages, as well as helped me land my first job abroad (working as a travel guide across Europe for a small tour agency based in Florence)

    I Finished My Master’s Degree While Backpacking Around Asia

    I started my Master's Degree in the Netherlands (a country I had always wanted to live in and have many close friends), but when I found out my school has a campus in Thailand, I knew I wanted to study abroad again. Then the brilliant idea came to my mind about taking those classes online while I backpacked around Asia. Instead of being a digital nomad, I was a "digital student", and decided to complete the rest of my studies virtually while backpacking around the world. While it certainly was difficult to balance my studies + traveling, I made it work. I'd say the biggest challenge was time management as well as finding fast enough wi-fi to complete my work.

    How I Decide Where I Want To Travel Next

    For my travels in Southeast Asia, I was pretty flexible. I would just meet people and see where it would take me. I met friends at hostels, and then we'd end up traveling together for 1-2 weeks/months. If there was ever a specific festival or event, I'd typically plan around those. 

    After finishing my Master's Degree, I was running low on funds and needed to start to work so I could keep my travels going. It was common for travelers in Southeast Asia to move to Australia for the Working Holiday Visa, so I decided to give it a shot! It was definitely a huge change of pace going from a care-free backpacking budget lifestyle to working 9-5 in one of the most expensive cities in the world - but it was an absolutely life-changing experience. 

    While in Sydney, I worked for their public transportation system in the call center handling inbound customer service issues. While it wasn't the most glamorous, it was a well-paid position and allowed me to save up a ton of money. I also was working on a computer which allowed me to work on my blog at the same time.

    How I Meet Locals & Other Travelers

    During my backpacking days, it was super easy as I was staying in hostels and you can make friends in an instant. For meeting locals, it really just depends on the destination. Most of the time though I would be in Facebook groups for the destination and connect with like-minded people. And of course, one of the best ways to meet people (both travelers and locals) is going to head out to experience the nightlife. 

    One of my favorite memories is when I went to Langkawi Island, Malaysia. Some friends and I were meant to stay only a few nights and ended up staying for two weeks as we met the coolest group of people out there. Every day was spent riding motos, exploring the beaches, resort-crashing, and watching beautiful sunsets. It was such an amazing experience and actually changed my life (as I ended up living with a few of the people in Kuala Lumpur the following year).

    Countries I’ve Visited So Far

    I haven't quite counted recently, but I think it's somewhere around 61 or 62. And as of now, the top 3 destinations I haven't visited yet are Iceland, South Africa, and Antarctica. 

    My Favourite Travel Apps And Websites

    I mainly just use Google to research and will try and find fellow travel bloggers (as they are infinitely better than Tripadvisor of travel forums). While traveling, my most used apps are XE for currency conversion, Google Maps for directions (and reviews of attractions), and Trover (a fun social-media app that shows you nearby attractions with photos).

    Why I Started My Blog

    I had a music blog before I started my travel blog, so I already knew how to use WordPress. Once I decided to do my Master's Degree online, I thought it'd be a great way to keep my friends and family updated with my life, I actually never thought it would become my full-time gig. 

    My mission has always been simply to inspire people to travel the world (particularly in their 20's). It's such an amazing time for young people to see the world and can teach you so many valuable life lessons.

    How I Manage My Travel Costs

    I used to be the definition of a budget traveler, lol. I'd always book the cheapest places, and would try to eat as cheap as possible. But as I've gotten older and made a bit more money, my travel style has definitely changed. I do like to splurge every once in a while and go out to nicer restaurants and stay in decent hotels, but it also depends on where I'm headed. Some destinations are still a bit too expensive for me.

    My Most Recent Trip To French Polynesia  Was Amazing

    Well, my most recent trip to French Polynesia comes to mind, as I spent three weeks there and had the time of my life! The first week I spent sailing on a catamaran with 9 other people, and every day was spent scuba-diving, snorkeling, sailing, and partying. I had one of the most magical days ever when we had a circle raft party where all 10 of the catamarans on the trip were in a circle, and we were swimming and dancing in the middle with Bora Bora as a backdrop.

    There was a gorgeous sunset, and then the rest of the night we spent drinking Tahitian Rum while watching the Milky Way galaxy moving across Bora Bora. It was completely surreal, and I can't wait to do that again someday. 

    How I Manage To Work & Travel At The Same Time

    Fortunately, I've got a few people who are working for me now who help run things when I'm away. While I'm traveling these days, I really only try to focus on the social media aspect of the job, and then when I get back home I'll write articles, bulk edit photos, and handle all the other business stuff.

    Some Things That Prevent Me From Traveling

    Well, the obvious one is the global pandemic, lol. But the main reason that prevented me from traveling was experiencing travel burnout (happens to the best of us), as well as relationships. 

    What I Wish I had Known When I First Started My Journey

    Well, I probably wish I had learned about the business side of the travel industry long before I did. For so many years I didn't make any money on the road, and I think being able to earn a passive income whilst traveling can be so crucial for people who are interested in the long-term travel lifestyle.

    I'd say the main lessons I've learned from traveling would be money management skills, how to be a responsible traveler, and that there are good people everywhere! Travel definitely opened my eyes to so many different cultures, religions, cuisines, etc - and everywhere I go I'm always reminded that the world is filled with good-hearted people (which is a great reminder as sometimes social media can cloud that viewpoint).

    Traveling for the last decade definitely made me the man I am today, and I'm so grateful for all the people it's brought into my life, and the memories I've had. Now, with the borders opening up around the world and we can travel again safely.

    Other inspiring stories to read! 

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