Many people today go on a RTW adventure after school or college. Not many drop their job and life at home when they are half way through life. Well Jonathan Look of LifePart2 did and this is his amazing story.
What is your name?
Jonathan Look, Jr.
Which country do you come from/call home?
I am an American currently living in Thailand.
Are you a backpacker/long term traveler/business traveler/live and work abroad?
Yes, all of that. In 2011 I sold everything and took early retirement to explore the world. Before then vacation was limited to just a few weeks here and there and I wanted more freedom and flexibility. Sometimes I put on a backpack and sleep in guesthouses, sometimes I sleep in 5 star hotels. Usually I travel just for pleasure but I do take the occasional photography or writing assignment. More than anything else I like variety.
What is your travel style?
I like to base in different places for roughly a year at a time and explore the region from there. I started in Mexico, spent nine months in Cambodia and now I have been in Thailand for about a year. I don’t feel like I am ready to leave Asia yet so I am considering moving to Laos fairly soon. After that I am looking strongly at South America (probably Columbia or Ecuador) and Eastern Europe (Croatia or Montenegro).
Do you think travel can make you happy?
Absolutely not. Happiness is an internal thing that only you can give to yourself. Travel can broaden your mind; raise your adrenaline level and give and education unlike any other; but no — happiness is a decision you have to make for yourself.
What is the first trip you remember taking and how old were you?
I remember flying, unaccompanied, from Houston to New Orleans to visit family friends when I was about four years old. I can still feel the sense of pride I had as an “independent traveler” when I was escorted up the stairway to the plane with my new little rod and reel fishing pole. I vaguely remember the trip — fishing on Lake Pontchartrain, “family meals” — but it is the transportation that sticks out most in my mind.
Have you been anywhere which turned out to be totally different to how you imagined? If so, how?
Actually everyplace I have been turns out to be different than I expected. I used to consume guide books and articles about places before I visited and generally found I never really got what was, for me, an accurate sense of place. Some places would be so built up in my mind that they couldn’t help but be a little bit of a letdown. Others that I didn’t have very high expectations for turned out to be great! Now I try to balance a little bit of research, mostly to get ideas for where to go, with lots of room for flexibility and serendipity.
Where have you been lately?
In the last year I have been to Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, The United States, Canada, China and Indonesia. Just over three months into this year and I have spent a month in Burma (Myanmar), two weeks in Bhutan and leave in a few days for Bali. It looks like 2014 is shaping up to be the years of the “B”s.
Why is seeing and experiencing the world important to you?
I think that in order to be good citizens of the world we need to know our neighbors. I think Mark Twain said it best, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
Have you had any bad experiences whilst travelling?
Not really anything that anyone else wouldn’t/couldn’t experience at home. Sure, I have been hot and miserable. Cold and miserable. Cramped, crowded and p##@ed off, but it is all part of the experience right? Anytime something goes wrong I always keep in mind that at a minimum it will make a great story. As they say, “The only difference between an ordeal and an adventure is attitude”.
Do you have any funny travel stories?
Yes several. Like the time I was in Mexico seeking out rat soup. Or when I was riding on a four wheeler on the beach with a scientist from the Mexican government, in a lightning storm, looking for sea turtle nests. I have several others that I plan to write about soon.
Which is the worst place you’ve been to and why?
Monaco. It is an outrageous, self-important, insignificant little principality where people stand around doing nothing but trying to impress each other with their style, possessions, wealth and importance. It relies on France for its defense. It has to import water, electricity and labor because of how little it takes on itself. It is obscenely opulent and sleazy at the same time. Just talking about it makes me want to take a shower. It has a pretty harbor though.
Where is your favourite place in the world?
I can’t say I have just one. I can find good things about everywhere I visit. I loved visiting Bhutan; the land of “Gross National Happiness”. Burma had a lot to offer; surprisingly the food was amazing. I could go on but I won’t. Can’t name just one.
Do you have a bucket list? If so what is on it?
I have in mind hundreds, if not thousands, of new things that I want to try and the more I travel the more things I think of. I think of a “Bucket List” as a list of things that you check off as you do them and potentially you could have everything checked. For me that just won’t work. In my mind right now, I want to climb Mount Batur volcano in Bali (which I will be doing next week), bungee jump the Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge near Queenstown, New Zealand and run a marathon on every continent.
Can you imagine life without travel?
No. Never. I can see eventually one day having a place I call “home” again, but I am not the permanent “nester” type.
If you were not travelling what would you be doing instead?
Writing, making photographs, spending time with friends, watching sunsets, cooking, drinking wine, running, reading. I don’t spend a lot of time being bored.
What is the name of your travel blog and the url?
When did you begin your website?
In 2011, just before I retired and started traveling.
Why do you write (for money/connecting with people/therapeutic/fun)?
I can’t help but write. I find it fun, fascinating and frustrating all at the same time. I guess you could call that therapy. I do like making connections with people and hearing their stories. If a large publishing house wanted to offer me an advance and a HUGE signing bonus I might consider.
What makes your site so unique and why should people read it?
My site is kind of a hybrid travel, lifestyle and early retirement blog. I try to show people what is possible when they get out of the hamster wheel and start living life as an adventure. I don’t offer many tips, lists or advice but I do try to inspire people to wake up to some alternatives to an ordinary life.
Do you have any products or services to offer?
I will occasionally “pen” an article or make photographs for publication, but that is definitely not my focus.
What has been your most successful blog post to date and what was it about?
It is a short piece called “Eight Things I Ask Myself Before I Buy More Stuff”. It is pretty much what it says, a list of questions that I ask myself before I buy new possessions. Kind of my way of making sure I don’t slip back into being too much of a materialist.
What has been your favourite article to write either for your blog or another publication?
My favorite is an article I wrote for The Dallas Morning News called, “The Stuff of Life” – Why I sold all my belongings to travel the world. It tells my story of selling everything and going from living the life of a fairly typical American suburbanite, consumer to living the life of a traveler.
What is your favourite mode of transport? (plane/train/boat/car)
I like all of them. Typically I prefer the one that is most scenic and gives an opportunity to meet people but I do mix it up a lot. Anything from trekking to jet airplanes.
Do you have any advice or tips for aspiring travellers?
Quit wasting your time accumulating possessions and start accumulating memories and adventures. Who cares who has the most stuff? Time is your most precious asset. Don’t waste it. Get out there.
What has travel taught you?
That people are basically the same everywhere. Everyone has hopes dreams and aspirations. Everyone has their own beliefs and prejudices. That all human life is precious, everyone has a story to tell and everyone has something to teach.
Quick fire questions:-
Favourite airline? Haven’t found one yet.
Favourite country? Wherever I am or the next one.
Favourite city? Aix en Provence, France, I guess… San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico… Portland, Oregon… I don’t know. These questions are hard…
Favourite beach? Ko Rong Saloem, Cambodia
Favourite food? TexMex
Favourite language? French
Please provide the following:-
Website url? http://lifepart2.com
Twitter handle? @LifePartII
Facebook page? https://www.facebook.com/LifePartII
Google+ profile/page? +JonathanLook