Today I’m introducing the Drift Away With … series. Interviews of every day (but nonetheless amazing) travelers sharing their budget travel strategies, destinations, advice and stories. The purpose of these interviews is to show that cost effective travel is possible, even for non-wealthy, non-travel experts. I want to inspire you to see the world on your own terms in an affordable and meaningful way, and the best form of inspiration is demonstration. Without further ado, I present to you, Travis.
I’m Travis, 25, from Montreal, Canada. I am Chief Consultant and Founder of Wealthy Bros; a one-stop destination for you to stay current with emerging trends in fashion, lifestyle, design, culture and even some travel guides to the world’s leading resorts and business cities. I am also the Sales Brand Manager for Atelier New Regime; top emerging clothing label hailing from Montreal, Canada.
And ultimately, I love food.
What inspires your love of travel?
For me, travel is a great way to step out of your comfort zone and force you to adapt to new cultures. It’s also good for people looking to expand their network with people around the world. To top it off, I get to try amazing food while at it.
Do you travel often?
Not as much as I want to. I need more stamps in my passport in 2016.
You were on the road recently, where did you go?
I went to Southeast Asia: Malaysia, Langkawi Islands, Thailand and Japan.
Did you find it hard to prepare for the trip? If so, how?
Not really, it was pretty easy to prepare for the trip. With the help of useful resources like Airbnb.com, Drift Away Travel Blog and a couple of other travel sites, I was able to find the right information needed to plan my trip. Also, Instagram is a great tool that goes unnoticed! IG helped a lot to reach locals in each country in different industries. It really goes down in the DM [laughs].
You were traveling with a buddy of yours, would you ever travel alone? Why or why not?
Although I was traveling with my photographer friend Michael, I did do some solo travel during this time. If you are looking for time alone, personal growth or even just to find inner peace then I’d suggest you travel alone. For some, this is a great way to enjoy “me time”. I spent most of my time in Japan alone and it was fantastic. It makes planning your trip easier and you decide what your daily itinerary will be. Also, if you’re a social butterfly, it’s an easy way to meet new people and make new friends. Language barriers could make it difficult but there are tons of apps for that.
On the downside, I did have times where I wish I was traveling with some close friends and loved ones. There are certain experiences that happen during your travels that you’d want to share with them and adds an emotional value to the trip. No matter how many years down the line you can always look back with that person like “remember that time in … when we …?” The moments live longer when you travel with someone in my opinion.
How long did you stay in each country or city?
About a week in each city. Looking back now, it really wasn’t enough. I am happy that I was able to see all these cities in such a short span, however it takes away from the cultural experience by being in and out so quickly. Lesson learned for future travels.
Did you do anything out of the ordinary to save up for this trip? If so, what did you do?
Absolutely! I kept my *ss at home every weekend and cut back on useless spending. I also started a travel jar, and was contributing a fixed amount every paycheck for almost 4 months. This helped out a lot!
Did you have a budget for your trip? If so, did you stick to it and did you find it difficult?
I did have a budget however once I arrived in Malaysia, it went right out the window. In countries like Malaysia and in Thailand, my Canadian dollar was at a high value. So my spending was a lot lower than what I had expected. For approx. 20$CAD in the heart of Bangkok, I was able to eat 3-5 times per day, have transportation, buy alcohol, etc. It was even cheaper when we were in Langkawi Islands, Malaysia cause the entire island is DUTY FREE! 🙂 Also, for a guy my size, there is not much retail shopping to do so I saved even more money in that area of my budget. I literally spent all my cash flow on food and life changing snacks. You haven’t lived till you try Kaya Puff pastries and freshly baked Butterscotch bread in Malaysia.
What were the best and worst parts of your trip?
Best: Food. Food. Food. Sight seeing. Culture shocks in every city and more food.
Worst: Our flight accommodations. I flew 16hrs with Air Canada, which seemed a lot easier on paper than in reality. Also, we went the budget route by flying with Air Asia (budget airlines). This turned out to be a really bad flying experience, multiple delays, very uncomfortable seats, etc. I’m going to save up more to enjoy a better flying experience with a different airline or even first class next time.
No one said the journey was going to be fun, but once we arrived at each destination, it was definitely worth it.
Did you encounter any racism during your travels?
There are tons of black people in Malaysia and in Thailand, so I blended in very well. There was an area in Bangkok called Pratunam, this place reminded me of the Saint-Michel/Parc X area of Montreal. It was like a little Nigeria with tons of Africans. In Japan, I saw maybe one or two black people per day but never any stares or racism from the locals or authorities. The people we’re very pleasant in Japan. Looking back now, Tokyo made me feel like Montreal was a third world city.
Any advice for other travelers (black or other) that want to travel?
Google search “things to do before travelling to xx!” You’ll find gems in these search results.
Do not over plan! Let the vibes take you on a cultural stroll in whatever country you decide to visit.
Pack very light, especially when heading to tropical climate countries.
Get a camera, a good one! Or travel with a photographer like I did [laughs].
Try to learn at least the basics of the spoken language in the country you visit. You’ll be treated a lot differently and have less chances of being ripped off.
Always keep your passport on you; some countries like Japan waive taxes if you present it when purchasing goods.
Connect with some locals before reaching your destination. This was a huge game changer for us anywhere we went.
What was the biggest takeaway of your recent trip or your travels in general?
Not bringing enough snacks back from Tokyo.
Not enough time!
Where to next?
Quite a few places on the list for 2016, but you guys will just have to wait and see. But if my plans fall through, there’s always my mom’s kitchen.
Learning about the experiences of other travelers is one of the best parts about being a part of the travel community. Another person’s story can be a great source of knowledge or inspiration to you; they certainly are to me. Most importantly, it shows the versatility of travelers and the methods they use to pursue their dreams as world explorers.
Will you be the next globetrotter we Drift Away With? Did you enjoy learning about Travis and his travels? Leave an intelligent comment below. We would love to hear from you!
Until next time,