JESSICA || 56 COUNTRIES
Meet JESSICA: blogger | photographer | nomad. She has lived, worked and studied on four continents – North America (Detroit and New York City, USA), Asia (Kusatsu, Japan), Europe (London, England and Rome, Italy), Africa (Dassa-Zoume, Benin) – earned a graduate degree from the London School of Economics, and visited over 50 countries and six continents. Her site Catch Me If You Can chronicles her travels, the people she meets along the way, and features many of the poignant images she has captured, with hopes of encouraging readers to get out and see life through a different cultural lens. Learn more about Jessica below:
Places you’ve visited: I have been to 56 countries and lived in five of these as of 30 September 2015; this number changes often. 🙂 I have traveled to six continents so far! According to my “been app” I have seen 22% of the world even though sometimes it feels like I haven’t been anywhere. To break down the numbers by continent, I’ve been to 20 countries in Europe, 13 countries in North America, nine countries in Asia, eight countries in Africa, four countries in South America and two countries in Oceania.
Last Trip: My last trip was a three week tour of Southeast Asia. I visited Thailand (Chiang Mai, Phuket, Phi Phi Islands and Bangkok), Laos (Luang Prabang), Cambodia (Siem Reap), and Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City). I loved EVERY moment of it. It was part solo travel, part hanging with a Thai friend in Chiang Mai and part hanging with some homies from LA in Phuket and Phi Phi Islands.
Favorite place(s): This question is always the most difficult to answer!!! I always ask people to give me a few qualifiers, but I will offer up a few responses. The best beach I’ve been to is a beach on Roatan, which is a small island off the coast of Honduras. The water was crystal clear and three shades of blue, the sand was white and fine, and the beach faced a chain of lush green mountains. I spent a year in Japan and it is still one of my favorite countries, there is something truly magical about that place. Rio, enough said! I could go on, but I will stop there. It really hard to offer up my favorites because I love many places for many reasons.
How often & with whom do you travel? The last few years I have been traveling fairly often as I have taken different stints of time away from work to just travel. Over the last three years I have been averaging about 50 flights a year. Since 2007 I have truly dedicated my life to traveling and seeing as much of the world as possible. I plan to see at least 100 countries by the time I am 40. I travel often with my traveling friends. There is a core crew that is always down for travel. I also do solo travel from time to time. Beyond that, I went to grad school in London and have friends scattered across the globe so I often find myself boarding planes alone and seeing friendly faces at the airports on the other end.
How do you decide where to travel next? My next travel destination is usually dictated by three factors: where my friends live, flight deals and places I want to visit. Visiting friends around the world has its perks since it means that I will have somewhere to stay. A conversation with a friend that I haven’t spoken to in a while sometimes ends with, “hey, I should visit!” I recently became hip to travel deals. 🙂 Having lived outside of the US for so long we did not often have crazy travel deals, but now some of my travel is dictated by deals. I, like thousands of others, snagged the Christmas gift from Etihad Airways and found myself in Abu Dhabi and Dubai in May. The United Arab Emirates was a country that I had no real interest in visiting, but when the flight is $218 you just go. My recent trip to Asia was dictated by a cheap flight that I found. I recently made a bucket list and put it on my website, but i must say, most of my travel is not controlled by this list.
The best thing about traveling is being able to truly see how other people live in different parts of the world. It broadens your understanding of life and humanity.
Travel tips for others interested in budget world travel? A great way to travel on a budget is to let your destinations be guided by flight deals, stay in hostels (there are very clean nice hostels out there), couch surfing or Air BNB, and eating at local restaurants rather than fancy restaurants when traveling.