Today it is my pleasure to introduce to you the 2 people behind the Latitude 34 Travel Blog. Please meet Jeff and Marina.
What are your names?
We are Jeff Johns and Marina Dominguez, a young, energetic travel journalist couple from California, who now call Phuket, Thailand our home.
Are you a backpacker/long term traveller/business traveller/live and work abroad?
We struggled to find the American Dream in the States and gave it all up for the chance at a life abroad. We packed all of our bags, sold all of our stuff and jumped on the plane to Thailand, where Marina had never even been before!
How do you fund your travel (savings/work whilst travelling/other)?
Marina and I both graduated with degrees in Visual Journalism, thus allowing us to work as freelance video editors, photographers and documentary filmmakers anywhere in the world. We didn’t save much before our departure and placed trust that the world would catch us, so far so good!
Have you been anywhere which turned out to be totally different to how you imagined? If so, how?
Marina and I have both spent time in Vietnam and were both very surprised how modern, advanced and overall thriving the country is. HCMC is an absolutely booming wonderful city with high rise apartments, luxury malls as well as the authentic Vietnamese lifestyle you would imagine. I think we were both very surprised in what we found, and loved every minute of our time there.
Have you had any bad experiences whilst travelling?
I think that traveling around the world is the most raw and honest way to experience the world around us. That being said, if you put yourself out there, you are bound to have some unique and life changing experiences. It is amazing how much faith you find yourself putting into total strangers while on the road. We have been lucky to always be safe while traveling and aside from a couple uncomfortable situations we have had overwhelmingly positive experiences traveling together and alone.
Do you have any funny travel stories?
Marina and I first lived abroad together while working on a documentary in Santiago, Chile while getting our visual journalism degrees. We found ourselves deep down in the south of the country, in a small town called Puerto Montt. We had been told there was a man named Alfredo, who lived at the base of a snow covered volcano. We started driving our small rental car up a pitch black bumpy dirt road. We soon realized we were completely lost, no longer sure if we were even on a road or just driving through a try river bed. After some laughs and confusion we saw a dim light in the forest and Alfredo, a man we would become best friends with, coming to our rescue, having never even met us before. We stayed with Alfredo and his family for almost a week while drinking Chilean wine, fresh bread and cheese and enjoying the laid back Chilean lifestyle with new friends.
Which is the worst place you’ve been to and why?
Easy, 405 freeway in Los Angeles between the I-10 and the 101 freeways. It’s pure hell.
Collectively you’ve been to over 60 countries around the world, where are your favourite places in the world?
Well, being that we looked at the whole world and chose Thailand, it’s safe to say we love living here. I think we would both agree that we love SE Asia in general, but have a lot more of the world to explore and are excited to find that new favorite place.
Do you have a bucket list? If so what is on it?
For Marina, it’s visiting Egypt, which we hope to do soon. As for myself, I’ve just got to ride the transiberian railway!
Can you imagine life without travel?
Sometimes I think my life would be a whole lot easier if I wasn’t given a taste of travel at such a young age. It has defined my life, our lives and shaped the future for both of us. I can imagine what life would be like but sure don’t like what it would be like. Some people enjoy staying in one place their whole lives, but I just can’t manage to stay in a place longer than a couple years without moving on!
If you were not travelling what would you be doing instead?
We would definitely be taking pictures and telling stories, no matter where we found ourselves. There are stories that need to be told and pictures to be shared from every place on Earth.
What is the name of your travel blog and the url?
We run Latitude 34 Travel Blog (www.latitudethirtyfour.com) which is an outlet full of helpful advice, reviews, tips and tricks for those who love to travel or simply dream of it.
Why did you choose that name for your blog?
Los Angeles, CA where we met, is on latitude 34 and Santiago, Chile, where we first lived abroad together during school is located on -34 latitude, so the name was a perfect match once we figured it out.
When did you begin your website?
We started Latitude in later 2012 and have been excited at the popularity and interaction we have enjoyed in the past year. We love connecting with fellow travelers and sharing the knowledge we have gained over the years.
When did you fall in love with Phuket and why?
I first came to Phuket in 2005 as a volunteer after the Tsunami had destroyed so much of the area. I intended to only stay for two weeks and ended up living in Phuket for months. The experiences I had and the people I met during my time in Phuket shaped a lot of my future, lead me to obtain my visual journalism degree and so when we looked around the world for places to move, it didn’t take much to choose Phuket. And credit to Marina for allowing me to whisk her away to a country she had never even be too before!
What for you are the pros and cons of living abroad?
Living abroad allows us to wake up each and every morning knowing that we are living the life we always dreamed of, which is a wonderful feeling. We get to take pictures, explore new cultures and see the world together, which is all we could ask for.
As for the cons, there are few but sometimes challenging. Beyond the language barrier, culture shock and visa annoyances, the thing we miss the most are our group of friends. No matter where you are in the world, having a great group of friends is the most important thing to us. While we have had a harder time than we thought making a large group of friends in Phuket, it is only one part of the expat experience.
What do you miss most about home?
Target, a good club sandwich and dark beer. I think we can both agree on this.
You have an exciting trip planned from January 2014, please tell us about it?
We have absolutely loved our time in Thailand and the lifestyle we are able to leave while living here. Who knows how long this will last and while it is, we are excited to live as many places as we can and experience every part of the world. In January, we are going to travel from London to Phuket all across Europe to Dubai, India and back to Thailand in search of a new city we just have to live in. We are very excited about the journey, have been saving up for the last year for it, and hope to be settled in a new city by the summer of 2014.
Why do you write (for money/connecting with people/therapeutic/fun)?
We write and we take photographs to tell stories which are our true passion. We are so excited to find stories of amazing people doing amazing things all over the world and think it is one of the most amazing parts of traveling. We started off as photo journalists but have really enjoyed getting more and more into travel writing as a great way to further share our experiences with the world.
What makes your site so unique and why should people read it?
We have been lucky enough to visit some pretty wild places and do some pretty unique things along the way. We always try to push the envelope, take the road less traveled, try everything once and share it all with our readers. We love providing off the beaten path advice and reviews of activities and places you won’t find at your local tourism office.
Do you have any products or services to offer?
We are available for hire to review hotels, resorts, trips, products and anything else travel related. We shoot and edit micro documentaries and especially love working with NGO’s and humanitarian organizations around the world to spread their message.
What has been your most successful blog post to date and what was it about?
Right now, a lot of our “From the Road…” stories are very popular. People really love reading first person narratives about some of our more unique or downright insane travel experiences. A complete written and video review we did of Tiger Kingdom here in Phuket is constantly being shared by many people interested in learning more and playing with tigers while in Thailand.
What has been your favourite article to write either for your blog or another publication?
Just yesterday I wrote an article about Thai Beers, and the day before that wrote one about 10 Passport Stamps to Brag About. I love writing posts that share relevant, helpful and complete information for travelers looking for the best, honest info about where they are traveling next. Being able to share our knowledge with other travelers has been a wonderful feeling, especially because we have done so many things the wrong way and hope others don’t have to!
What is your favourite mode of transport? (plane/train/boat/car)
While I love flying, Marina is not the biggest fan. We recently took an overnight train from Bangkok to Chiangmai, Thailand and absolutely loved it. The train allows you to slow down, relax, meet some great people and see the country you are traveling through in a new light. If you ever have the time or chance to take the train, it’s well worth it!
Do you have any advice or tips for aspiring travellers?
I heard a quote today that sums this up perfectly. “There are seven days in a week, and someday isn’t one of them.” No idea who said it, but we couldn’t say it any better. Get off your butt and see the world!
What has travel taught you?
That we are all the same in the end. Everyone wants to be happy, healthy and loved. It is amazing being able for us to discover this on a daily basis while traveling together.
Quick fire questions:-
Favourite airline? Virgin America
Favourite country? Thailand
Favourite city? Portland
Favourite beach? Long Beach, Phi Phi Don, Thailand
Favourite food? Kabobs on the streets of SE Asia
Favourite language? The next one we attempt to learn!
Please provide the following:-
Website url? www.latitudethirtyfour.com
Twitter handle? @lat34travel
Facebook page? www.facebook.com/latitude34travelblog
Jeff Johns is the co-founder and editor of Latitude 34 Travel Blog. Through 65 countries on 6 continents he has accumulated a seemingly endless stream of odd information, interesting stories and helpful tips and tricks to better travel. Jeff’s goal is to visit all 204 countries on Earth before he is too senile to forget them all.
A graduate of the Visual Journalism program at the Brooks Institute, his true passions lay in honest visual storytelling, documentary filmmaking, Thai food and a good laugh.
Together with his girlfriend Marina, they run Latitude 34 Travel Blog as a source of helpful information for those who love to travel or those who simply dream of it. If you have a comment or suggestion, send them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and they’ll respond super-fast!