Today I am delighted to not only feature a great slow traveller but also a developer of the World Time Widget! You don’t know what that is? Well read on to find out more.
What is your name?
I’m Jenny Smith, aka The Adventure Smith
Which country do you come from/call home?
I’m from a town called Leamington Spa in the UK. The Aussies we meet usually get excited about the name because they think it’s cake-related, but sadly, no – there are no Lamingtons in Leamington.
Are you a backpacker/long term traveller/business traveller/live and work abroad?
I’m a long term slow traveller, but the term I usually use is ‘digital nomad’.
How do you fund your travel (savings/work whilst travelling/other)?
My husband Lewis and I own an app development business (he’s the programmer, I handle the marketing) so we get a steady passive income from that each month. But at the moment our main income is through Lewis’s freelance programming as I’m taking a sabbatical from paid writing to build up my blog.
What is the first trip you remember taking and how old were you?
The first trip I remember was a family holiday to Eurocamp in France. I must have been about 6 years old and I distinctly remember insisting on singing a rendition of ‘The Golden Cockerel’ hymn for the bemused lady on the welcome desk. I still do that now.
Have you been anywhere which turned out to be totally different to how you imagined? If so, how?
Mexico City is not what I was expecting at all. It’s been the subject of so many negative articles about crime and corruption that I half expected to feel unsafe and on guard all the time but, in fact, the opposite has been true – I haven’t felt unsafe once.
I’m sure there are some very sketchy areas here – as with all major cities – but so far our experience has been of plentiful parks, great street food, hipsters lounging in cafes and incredibly kind and helpful people.
Have you had any bad experiences whilst travelling?
A couple of years ago, the brakes failed on our scooter while we were travelling down a very steep mountain just outside Chiang Mai. We crashed and left a lot of skin on the road, but thankfully there were no serious injuries. We got patched up in a first aid centre and stupidly thought that a squirt of saline and some bandages would be all the medical attention we’d need, but the wounds hadn’t been cleaned thoroughly enough.
After a horribly painful and sleepless night we took ourselves off to the hospital where we had to be treated for infection as well as the original wounds.
Lesson learned: always get your injuries seen to by a proper doctor!
Do you have any funny travel stories?
Yes! The most recent one happened as we were wandering the streets of Guanajuato, Mexico with some friends. It started pouring down with rain so we ran into a nearby cantina to take shelter. The barman bustled over to wipe down a table for us and bring over some chairs, but as we sat down and ordered our beers we noticed that there was a really funky smell in there.
It soon became apparent that there was an open urinal RIGHT NEXT TO THE BAR. No screens, no separate room, just a big stinky trough. From the position of our table, my poor friend, Kelly, had a front row seat every time a guy relieved himself. We didn’t stay for a second round.
Which is the worst place you’ve been to and why?
I wouldn’t rush to go back to Siem Reap, Cambodia. The people we encountered were unfriendly, everyone seemed to want to rip us off and the overall vibe wasn’t fun.
Where is your favourite place in the world?
It’s so hard to say! I’m a home girl at heart, so my absolute favourite place on Earth would have to be my mum and dad’s house. But I have lots of worldwide favourites too. Last year it was New Zealand. That place is just wall-to-wall gorgeousness and everyone is so friendly. If we ever decide to settle in one place, I think it would be in NZ.
This year, however, I have a soft spot for a teeny tiny island called Holbox, just off the Yucatan Peninsula. There are no paved roads so everyone just bombs around in golf buggies – you can drive the length of the island in less than an hour. Best of all, there’s a beach bar shack where you can sit in a swing and watch the sun go down over a cocktail or two.
Do you have a bucket list? If so what is on it?
I have a wish list that seems to get bigger every year! To name a few, I’d love to go on safari in Africa, see the cherry blossoms in Japan and island hop around the Greek islands. But one of our major wish list items is relatively mundane: Spend 6 months living in New York or Brooklyn. We both love it over there and it would be nice to soak up the atmosphere and to pretend, for a short while, that it’s our home.
Can you imagine life without travel?
Nope. For the foreseeable future, travel IS our life. And even if we settle down somewhere we’ll still make time for travel. There’s too much of the world left to see!
If you were not travelling what would you be doing instead?
I imagine we’d be doing pretty much the same thing we were doing before we started travelling. We both had office jobs – me in PR and Lewis as a developer – and although the stability and salary that came with being an employee was nice, there’s no way I could go back to it now.
What is the name of your travel blog and the url?
It’s called The AdventureSmith and it’s at www.theadventuresmith.com
When did you begin your website?
I started it way back in 2012 and promptly neglected it for the next 18 months. Oops. But over the last year I’ve become really passionate about sharing stories again – so much so that I can’t seem to write them down quick enough.
Why do you write (for money/connecting with people/therapeutic/fun)?
If I’m honest, I write primarily to entertain myself, and also to connect with people who are interested in finding out what it’s like to experience life in different countries.
What makes your site so unique and why should people read it?
I provide little narrative snapshots of what it’s like to travel slowly and live in different countries for months at a time. In short, there are fewer ‘Five top tips for x country’ posts – there are plenty of blogs that have that nailed down already – and more day-to-day insights into the quirks, food and way of life in the countries we visit.
Do you have any products or services to offer?
Indeed we do! iPhone users who travel a lot might like to check out our app World Time Widget. It was featured by Apple don’t you know…
The app allows you to add all your important time zones to the Notification Center so once the widget is activated, all you need to do to see your clocks is to swipe down from the top of the screen, even if your phone is locked. I know I’m biased, but it’s been an absolute lifesaver for keeping in touch with friends, family and clients on our travels.
What has been your most successful blog post to date and what was it about?
My most successful post is still the three week Myanmar itinerary I wrote a couple of years ago. Myanmar is such an opaque country for independent travellers that there’s a lot of demand for insight into the practicalities of travelling, what you can fit into to your timeframe and how much it all costs – particularly as you have to take your entire budget in cash with you as cash machines are practically non-existent.
What has been your favourite article to write either for your blog or another publication?
My current favourite is the one I wrote about Chichen Itza because the history is just so bizarre and unbelievable – there’s something very compelling about human sacrifices, fatal ball games and LSD enemas.
What is your favourite mode of transport? (plane/train/boat/car)
On the whole I’d say trains because there’s something so romantic about that mode of travel. But boats come a close second. Fun fact: If we’re travelling by a relatively fast-moving boat, me and Lewis try to sit up top and listen to the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack as we’re cutting through the waves with the wind in our hair. You should try it! It’s surprisingly fun.
Do you have any advice or tips for aspiring travellers?
When it comes to planning, my advice would be to plan down to the last detail and then throw all those plans away and just go with the flow. In other words, be prepared and know your options, even down to the food places you want to try and the accommodation you want to stay in, but don’t book anything too far in advance – it only limits your options to act on recommendations, take up an unexpected opportunity, or simply change your mind.
What has travel taught you?
Travel has taught me that although the details might be different, the basic foundations of life are pretty much the same everywhere you go. Parents drop their kids off at school, people have to work, family time is important and traditions are held sacred. And food, drink and sport are the great uniters.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve experienced on your travels?
Not long after we arrived in Mexico we took part in an Ayahuasca ceremony. It involves drinking hallucinogenic tea and getting very high for several hours in an attempt to gain spiritual enlightenment, clarity or direction. It’s not something to be taken lightly though – there’s a lot of preparation required and it’s quite an ordeal to go through, not to mention the fact that it’s highly likely you’ll throw up.
It was definitely one of the most intense experiences we’ve had since we’ve started travelling! And although I saw a lot of pretty colours, I didn’t quite get the revelations I was hoping for.
Are there any benefits to travelling slowly?
I think so, yes. I enjoyed my time backpacking and it was a wonderful way to see the world, but it wasn’t sustainable for me. Now that we travel much more slowly we get a better understanding of the places we visit, as well as having the time to settle in to local rhythms and make more connections.
Renting for months at a time helps me to feel grounded, but I still get all the adventure of having an instant holiday every time I step outside my front door. And from a practical point of view, we save money by renting for longer and cutting down on travel expenses.
How do you stay fit and healthy on the road?
We don’t always manage the healthy part, usually because of some virus making its rounds or because we’re not used to the food in wherever we’ve just landed, but we do our best to stick to our health routines to try and even things out.
Here in Mexico, we try to pick up freshly squeezed juices from street vendors whenever we can to supplement the almost non-existent level of veggies in Mexican street food! We also make time to workout every day – Lewis goes for a run to explore the neighbourhood and I either do a workout video on YouTube (our neighbours must love me!) or I go to Zumba or a yoga class if there’s one nearby.
We also use one of our other apps, Progress, to keep track of our waistlines – it’s not always easy to find somewhere to weigh ourselves when we’re travelling, so we just carry a tape measure with us and monitor a few key points of measurement with the app.
Quick fire questions:-
Favourite airline? Emirates
Favourite country? New Zealand
Favourite city? New York
Favourite beach? Holbox Island
Favourite food? Home-cooked roast dinner with Yorkshire pudding
Favourite language? Spanish
Please provide the following:-
Website url? www.theadventuresmith.com
Twitter handle? @AdventureSmiz
Facebook page? facebook.com/theadventuresmithblog