From Sunny SoCal to Global Adventures: This Is How Janelle Is Making Every Trip Matter
Meet Janelle, the globetrotter who runs the "Make the Trip Matter" travel blog.
20th Jun | 8 min read

Table of Contents

    Meet Janelle, the globetrotter who runs the "Make the Trip Matter" travel blog. She's explored more than 25 countries in 4 continents and even lived in Ireland for a while. Currently, Janelle resides in sunny Southern California with her boyfriend. They love riding the waves while surfing, going on exciting hikes, and catching up with friends. But, guess what? They're getting ready for an epic adventure.

    Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

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    From Road Trips to International Trips: My Journey into Wanderlust

    When I was a kid, my parents took my sister and me on many road trips around the U.S. and even a few international trips as we got older. They met in a travel program called Up With People and instilled in us a love for exploring the world and experiencing new cultures.

    When I was in college, I studied abroad in Dublin, and that really solidified my love of traveling for longer periods of time and immersing myself in different ways of living. I have a bit of an insatiable need to explore the world, see new things, meet new people, and experience all kinds of new adventures!

    Banos, Ecuador

    How I Travel

    The length of my trips has varied anywhere from just a weekend or one or two weeks up to 4 months at a time. I currently live full-time in California with plans to do more long-term traveling (no end date in mind type trips) in the near future, but at the moment I try to incorporate short trips as often as I can as there is plenty to see in my own backyard!

    Giants Causeway, N Ireland

    The Art of Trip Planning: Short vs. Long Trips 

    At the moment, where I travel tends to be based on budget and where I can find deals on flights—the Skyscanner “everywhere” search feature is my lifesaver right now! 

    Once I decide on a location, if I’m going for a month or less, I tend to plan out most of the details of the trip, from accommodation to tours, sights to see, etc.

    If the trip is going to be longer, I tend to only plan a rough outline for the first one to three weeks and make travel plans as I go. 

    When I go on shorter trips, I want to make sure I utilize my time well and pack in as many sights and activities as I can. On a longer trip, I prefer to leave the majority of the trip open for inspiration from people I meet along the way about unique or more hidden activities.

    Rainbow Mountain, Peru

    28 Countries and Counting: My Globetrotting Adventures

    I have traveled to 28 countries so far, with some of my favorite adventures including white water rafting in Arequipa, Peru, snorkeling at remote islands in Thailand, and getting a private tour of the Colosseum in Rome. 

    Pretty much everywhere in the world is on my bucket list! Within the last year, I’ve been very into surfing, so a lot of the next places on my adventure list include traveling to new surf spots such as Costa Rica, Bali, or Morocco.

    Barcelona, Spain

    Unexpected Meetings And Hilarious Proposals

    One of my craziest encounters was running into a friend I had met while living in Ireland (who is from the Netherlands) in a bar in Vietnam - it’s crazy how small the world can be! I have definitely had plenty of incredible experiences meeting people at hostels who have become friends and joined parts of our travels as well as locals who were extremely welcoming and friendly. 

    Another of my favorite stories is that an Irish farmer proposed to me in Galway! He tried to explain how much “road frontage” and sheep he had to offer me, and was very confused as to why my boyfriend in America was holding me back from accepting his on-the-spot proposal!

    Flagstaff, AZ

    My Motivation Behind Starting My Blog

    My blog first began out of a passion for wanting people to understand that there is so much more to traveling than just staying at a resort or visiting popular tourist sites. I want people to feel inspired to live abroad or spend extended periods of time in one place to really immerse themselves in the culture, traditions, and day-to-day nuances of a city or country. 

    I try to dive into more off-the-beaten-path experiences and unique adventures. I also provide resources for my readers to take their jobs on the road and begin to prioritize travel in their everyday lives.

    Angkor Wat, Cambodia

    How I Manage My Work & Travel

    When I’m on the road, I try to work at least 3-5 days out of the week. I prefer working in co-working spaces, coffee shops, or libraries (a great way to take a peak into the community and learn about local events) and tend to work for a few hours in the morning and spend the afternoon and evening exploring or relaxing. 

    I’m very flexible with my work, so if there’s a day that is best for a certain activity, I’ll take that day off and work the next. I find that setting very specific monthly, weekly, and daily goals helps me stay on track and prioritize the most important tasks.

    Safety Precautions I Take For My Trips

    Before I go on a trip, I always make sure to prepare for a couple of things. I check the U.S. Embassy’s page for any travel restrictions, warnings, and what (if any) vaccinations I might need to get.

    Always do a quick search for common scams to be aware of in the cities you are visiting, every country, unfortunately, has some.

    Lately, I travel with an Apple air tag attached to my valuables (such as my computer bag), and a sound alarm keychain in case of emergency, and I always bring a slim money pouch with me to hide under my clothing to keep my money and cellphone hidden.

    Arequipa, Peru

    Travel Apps & Websites I Use While Traveling

    For me, half the fun of traveling is meeting new people and learning about new cultures and other ways of life. While I have done short solo trips and appreciate the freedom it brings, I truly believe your core memories are strengthened by sharing your experience with others. I have made some of my closest friends while traveling and getting to know other like-minded people from around the world. So to have a platform such as GAFFL that helps you find a travel partner - that experience is invaluable! 

    A couple of my other favorite apps/websites I use while traveling include Xe (for currency exchange rates), Rome to Rio (for route planning), and Skyscanner (to find flight deals). 

    One Of My Most Exciting Travel Experiences

    I’ve seen many incredible sites across the world and am fortunate to have had plenty of unique opportunities. However, I think one of my most personally exciting travel experiences was getting the chance to dance Irish with Trinity College Dublin’s dance team in Ireland. 

    I grew up Irish dancing but never quite made it far enough in my competitions to get all the way over to Ireland. While I was studying abroad, I had the chance to join the Irish Dance team, and we learned a dance and performed together toward the end of my trip. It was an incredibly moving experience for me to be on a stage in Ireland, Irish dancing. It was a total dream bucket list country for me because of my sport growing up, and to be able to participate in such a special cultural experience was beyond words! 

    If you have the chance during your trip to join something cultural like a feast, drum circle, dance, or art performance, take the opportunity, and don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone! Sharing a cultural experience with locals is one of the most special parts of traveling the world.

    Cabo, Mexico 

    Advice That I Can Share 

    Make a plan and execute it!

    So many times people want to start a nomadic lifestyle, but they get bogged down in logistics and fear of making such a big lifestyle change. Begin by creating a list of everything you need to do, from how you will approach your company about working from the road to what you will do with your house and the more minute details such as creating a virtual mailbox and updating vaccinations.

    If you have to schedule meetings or work in real-time with your company or clients, make sure you’re factoring in time zones. It’s all great to think you can travel the world full-time until you’re taking meetings at 3 a.m. and sleeping throughout the day when you should be out exploring. 

    Palos Verdes, CA

    Things I Wish I Would Have Known When I First Started

    I wish I had known to not plan so many of my longer international trips in advance. I can definitely be a bit of a Type-A, must always have a plan type of person, and I know for many people this is strange advice! But there have been many times on my trips where a fellow traveler tells us about a unique, tiny city they found that sounds incredible. Or a local we meet shares their favorite things to do that we just don’t have time for in our itinerary because we didn’t leave any room for spontaneity. I’ve found the best parts of my trip have happened when I take a chance and do something that’s outside of the “plan”.

    Teotihuacan Pyramids, Mexico

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