This is a travel blogger interview with Jure Snoj of Call of Travel. Someone who is addicted to travel.
What is your name?
Hi, my name is Jure Snoj.
Which country do you come from/call home?
I come from Slovenia, but I guess I’ll start calling India my home soon.
Are you a backpacker/long term traveller/business traveller/live and work abroad?
Well that’s a bit complicated 🙂 Let’s say that I’m currently enjoying time off in India, both living and exploring the country.
How do you fund your travel (savings/work whilst travelling/other)?
For the last year I’ve been living and traveling off my savings, which I amassed by working in Qatar for the last 2 years. While it’s not the most exciting country, it definitely is a way to beef up your finances. Prior to that, I did what most people do – work and use my leave in order to explore the world.
What is the first trip you remember taking and how old were you?
Hmmm…. My family was pretty much the usual Slovenian family when it came to holidaying – as in we always went to the Croatian coast in the summer, year in and year out to the same place. I always yearned to go somewhere new, even as a kid and I guess that’s how my wanderlust began – by being annoyed at the repetition of our yearly family holidays :).
The first trip that I can clearly recall was a funny one – when I was probably about 5 years old, just before Slovenia declared independence from Yugoslavia, we went for a day trip to Italy. Those days Slovenians frequently travelled there and to Austria in order to do some shopping, as our socialist world had less products on offer than the capitalist “paradise” over the border.
Well, as we reached our destination in Italy my dad told my older sister and me: “OK, we’re here, come out of the car let’s go.” However I was having none of it and exclaimed: “What?! This is Italy? That’s how it looks?? I’m not going anywhere!!” I was completely devastated at how ordinary and the same as Slovenia it looked. In my 5 year old head I was building an image of a wondrous land, which would be completely different in all aspects. Unfortunately it looked pretty much the same and I did not approve at all. After a sneaky bribe of getting me a cornetto ice cream, my dad eventually got me to leave the car though :).
Have you been anywhere which turned out to be totally different to how you imagined? If so, how?
It actually happened just recently on my trip to Warsaw, Poland. I somewhat condescendingly expected the city to be a rather dull looking socialist place (a bit of an Eastern Europe stereotype I guess). However I was extremely positively surprised by finding out it’s an incredibly vibrant, dynamic city, much more reminiscent of Western Europe than anything else I imagined before traveling there.
Have you had any bad experiences whilst travelling?
I have to say nothing immensely negative happened thus far (knocks on wood). The worse that ever happened to me was forgetting my debit card in an ATM in Bangkok, cracking my head open on a Greek island of Corfu when I was completely wasted on our high school trip, temporarily losing my passport in Buenos Aires, getting food poisoning practically every time I travel to India (eight times and counting) and perhaps the only really disturbing one was suffering from a really strong panic attack at the airport in Dubai, while traveling to Norway. I’m not sure why it happened, but I had to go see a doctor and they gave me a shot to calm down. I slept in the infirmary for a few hours and then luckily got another flight for free.
Do you have any funny travel stories?
Well how much time do you have? 🙂 I recently wrote a blog post on a rather similar note – It’s the unexpected that makes travel special
To highlight one of numerous short stories:
“As I dragged myself to the hotel reception in Costa Rica to get my money and passport from the desk, the man working there got extremely upset for some reason. Once I figured out that the reason was my friend being drunk and a general pain in the ass the previous night, they kicked him out and gave him all my belongings to take as well!! Now I was there with no money, passport or any idea where my friend was.
Luckily there is food literally lying around in Costa Rica, so I spent my day on the beach eating coconuts and being p###ed off. My friend did eventually return in the evening. Great friends to have, eh?”
Which is the worst place you’ve been to and why?
From a tourist perspective it would have to be Qatar, the country where I lived until recently. It really doesn’t have much to offer – you’re basically done with the country in about 3 days. Combine that with extremely high accommodation costs and you don’t have much reason to visit at all, especially when you contrast the place to UAE or Oman, if we’re talking about the region.
Where is your favourite place in the world?
That would be Argentina! I’m first and foremost into the great outdoors. I love nature, love spending time outside and admiring vast spaces, unspoiled by the human hand. Argentina is just breathtaking – from the glaciers of Patagonia, marine life of the Atlantic coast, Alpine regions of the lake district, the magnificent Andes, arid north west to the subtropical spectacle of Iguazu Falls. And the people… some of the friendliest and warmest I’ve ever encountered.
Do you have a bucket list? If so what is on it?
I don’t and never plan to have one. Quite honestly I hate this phrase! I feel it diminishes the world into short snapshots of “must-do’s and see’s”, resulting in throngs of people visiting places just to snap a selfie there. That to me is not what traveling is about.
Can you imagine life without travel?
No, I have an addiction to it and if I don’t travel I get depressed. It’s just not an option for me.
If you were not travelling what would you be doing instead?
I do it all the time, it’s called thinking of where to go travel next, planning it and nowadays writing about it :).
What is the name of your travel blog and the url?
It’s called Call of Travel, as in calloftravel.com. The name comes from what I mentioned above – my addiction to traveling, which I name Call of Travel.
When did you begin your website Call of Travel?
In March 2016, but I put it on hold for a few months in-between then and now, as I was busy with leaving Qatar and moving to India. I’m back at it again and hopefully I persevere through this initial phase, which can get frustrating at times, as I’m putting so much of my time, energy and hopes into it and getting somewhat less than I would like in return… I’m sure each and every travel blogger could relate to these words at some point of their blogging journey:).
Why do you write (for money/connecting with people/therapeutic/fun)?
I’ll be frank with you, I’m aiming high – I want to one day live off my travel blog. There I’ve said it, it’s not easy to outright admit it. Much easier to say oh I’m just playing around a bit, doing it for fun, see what happens. Of course first thing’s first – I love writing and love traveling, so I’m trying to see if I can turn this into an income at some point. I’m realistic, I know it ain’t gonna happen for quite some time, but still that’s what I’m aiming for in some non-set future.
What makes your site so unique and why should people read it?
I could give you a great sales pitch and PR the s#%t out of it, but I’m not going to. The site is in its initial stages, it doesn’t have a niche yet and I’m not sure it ever will become that. I’m currently writing about what I want to write about and hope people find it inspiring or practical, depending on the blog post.
If I were to highlight its strengths I would say it’s practical, well written, has very good imagery, diverse, witty, offers not only your everyday travel articles, but also posts depicting various socio-economic issues of places I’ve visited.
Do you have any products or services to offer?
Not yet as the site is too young for that at this stage, however I do have some in mind, which I might launch later on when it matures a bit.
What has been your most successful blog post to date and what was it about?
Let’s see… The Incredibly Dirty India. As the title suggest the blog post is talking about a darker side of traveling to India. I’m usually not one to mince words and for me traveling is not only seeing famous sights and focusing on how wonderful a place is. Not that I go around searching for negatives, but if something is screaming at my face, I’m not gonna pretend it’s not there. India unfortunately is in a midst of an environmental disaster and the article focuses on just how obvious that is when you travel there.
I happen to think that traveling is also about educating yourself, so most of the time my travels are accompanied by me reading extensively about various aspects of the country I’m visiting. I feel the combination of reading up on the place and personal observation makes up for the richest experience and understanding.
What has been your favourite article to write either for your blog or another publication?
Without a doubt The Population of Qatar – by Nationality. I spent last 2 years working for a business magazine in Qatar to put it into perspective. One of the most interesting facts about that country is that the nationals only represent 10% of the population, with the remaining 90% being foreigners. This is a somewhat sensitive topic there and media is anything but free in Qatar. Statistics office doesn’t publish such data and I decided to research this on my own. I basically called up all the foreign embassies in the country and inquired about the number of their nationals residing in Qatar – in the end we published data on 80 different nationalities and found out the locals only make up for 10% of the population. The story was massively viral on social media as it’s something everybody there is interested in. We got a few phone calls and visits from the authorities after that, conducting an investigation into how we acquired this data. Let’s just say the whole team was rather tense, especially me since I was heading the project :).
From my personal Call of Travel blog, my favorites were The Incredibly Dirty India, India explained in 20 maps, The Bolivian Altiplano is like another planet and It’s the unexpected that makes travel special.
What is your favourite mode of transport? (plane/train/boat/car)
Definitely boat, I just love the feeling of freedom, adventure and the yearning for the unexpected that I associate with sea travel.
Do you have any advice or tips for aspiring travellers?
It doesn’t matter how much money you have, you can always travel. If you truly love it, you”ll sleep outside somewhere under a tree when you’re broke and in a 5-star hotel when and if you get financially better of. Don’t wait for some day in the future when you think OK now I have the means to do it. No, just go do it. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
What has travel taught you?
How to make a steamed fish in banana leaf… How little one part of the world knows about the other part… Just how many good people are out there that make your life worth living… How the West is the odd one out, not the other way around… How beautiful my own country of Slovenia is… Just how much inequality there is… We can go on and on here 🙂 Basically, if there is one thing that will broaden your horizons, it’s travel.
Which country had the friendliest people?
While a lot of places have really nice and friendly people, for me personally it was Jordan. I was simply blown away by how nice, welcoming, friendly and helpful the locals were. I only spent a good week there, but there were numerous occasions when people went out of their way to help us. Be it by us getting lost driving, asking somebody for directions and the guy jumping in his car without a second thought to drive in front of us for at least ten minutes to show us the proper way to take. Or me buying a sim card in a store, not knowing how to activate the data plan and the owner trying to help me, not knowing how himself, taking me out to the street, finding his friend, who also had problems, then them continuing on to another set of people and soon there was at least 5 of them doing their up-most to get it sorted for me. It’s not a big deal, but it shows just how humane Jordanians are. I simply love them and during my years in Qatar they just reinforced my views on them.
What was the cheapest travel you’ve ever done?
One of the most budget ones I’ve done thus far was a two week road trip with my cousin to the island of Corsica in France. I spend about 200 Euros in total, which is absolutely nothing for such a high end destination. We slept out in the open the entire time (we are talking pre-couchsurfing days here) which made up for some funny wake up calls like a pit-bull barking in my face, somebody stealing my only pair of shoes one night, waking up to a screaming man running my way and the like. Although I don’t travel extreme low budget anymore, I often miss those times as I still feel most interesting things happen to you when you’re traveling practically broke, as you need to be inventive all the time.
What are some of the most interesting people you’ve met on your travels?
That would have to be a Spanish mountaineer, who together with his brother set out to climb all the 8000m mountains in the world in one single year. They failed naturally, since the current record holder took 7 years to accomplish that feat. While climbing Annapurna, they even survived an avalanche and sold their footage to National Geographic. I think what I really learned from this person is that anything can be done, if you truly want it.
Quick fire questions:-
Favourite airline? – Turkish Airlines
Favourite country? – Argentina
Favourite city? – Amsterdam
Favourite beach? – Don’t have one
Favourite food? – Too many to choose from
Favourite language? – Slovenian
Please provide the following:-
Website url? – http://calloftravel.com/
Facebook page? – https://www.facebook.com/CallofTravel/
Pinterest? – https://www.pinterest.com/calloftravel/