The Traveller Diaries: My Mate Jay.

Me and Jay and a couple of the other Burger Joint crew, in Whistler, Canada!

I met Jay, like most of my traveller friends, in Whistler Canada. We worked in the same burger joint for a while and as soon as I met her, I knew she was awesome! It’s hard not to smile when you are around Jay! She is so smily and happy and super easy to talk to; you can’t not love her! She has done so much travelling and I am insanely jealous of her trip around Central and South America! You can follow her journey on her blog.

 

Where are you currently?

In Whistler, Canada.

Where are you from?

Yorkshire, England

Where have you been?

Through Europe, North America, Mexico, Central America and South America. Too many countries to list!

Why did you start travelling?

I am not sure if there is a real reason ‘why’ I started but there were two things that formed my desire to see more of the world. When I was 17, I went on a family vacation to Banff, Canada and absolutely fell in love with the mountains, the town, the people, the snow. It was my first time in North America and I’d never seen anything like it. It didn’t compare to any of the ski trips I’d done in Europe. A year later, I set off on a group expedition to Costa Rica and Nicaragua and had my first taste of being out of the western world. I was totally transfixed by everything I was seeing, I felt like I’d been taken to another planet completely. I honestly think to appreciate and understand this world, we should immerse ourselves in as many cultures as we possibly can.

How has it changed or impacted your life?

Moving to Whistler when I was 21 totally changed my life and I don’t even want to consider what I’d be doing if I’d never got on that flight. For the first time, I was meeting people who lived to do what they love and work came secondary to the fun that they did on a daily basis. I really came to confront and reject the set timeline of school-college-university- (possibly insert a gap year)-work-work-work-retire-die that I’d just thought would be life and thought that was everyone’s life! I did the typical thing of coming for ‘maybe just the winter, might go somewhere else for summer’ mentality and I’m still here four and a half years later with my permanent residency!
My solo backpacking trip was by far the biggest education I’ve ever had. For twelve months, it was me, my backpack, and a tonne of new friends that I went on crazy adventures with. I have never been so close to indigenous cultures, the lifestyles I was amongst were so jaw-droppingly different to anything I’d seen before that I’d be writing everything down as soon as I got back to my hostel room (or tent!). It really made me think how small the western world and how we need to experience different cultures to even begin to get a world-view and understanding of this planet.

What has been the best thing about it?

The people. Talking to so many different people who have done different things is constantly inspiring and motivating. My friends in Whistler are my family, and they are as critical to my life experience as the mountains I climb and the seas I dive. And seeing people doing what they love, even if I never speak to them, really cements the sense that you can live whatever life you want.

What has been your favourite place or moment?

This is so hard to answer. I can go on about diving with sea turtles in The Galapagos, or finally getting to Machu Picchu after a five day hike, or driving through the salt flats of Bolivia on a three day roadtrip. All those moments are unforgettable and almost hard to talk about now my backpack is tucked away. I think it’s important to really love the day to day, and in Whistler that is easy. As much as all the things I just described, I’m just as happy walking out to a frozen lake under the sunshine and blue skies with my roommate and the dog. I don’t think there is a time when I go for a walk ten minutes from my front door and whoever I’m with doesn’t say, ‘We are so lucky to be here!’

How do you fund your travels?

So many people asked me this during my 12 month trip. And I told them they wouldn’t like the answer; I worked and saved up! There is no big secret. I didn’t work at all when I was travelling but the year before I got all the shifts I could, spent a whole summer working two jobs and did not have a day off in the three months leading up to me leaving for Mexico. Brutal! And totally worth it.

Will/have you stopped?

No way! I’d been back in Whistler for about two weeks when I came across some insanely cheap flights to Sydney and before I knew it, I’d booked a month in Australia. I have plans to go to Cuba near the end of this year and, a year after that, I will fill that backpack up once more and hit the road for another lengthy adventure.

Has it impacted your career?

Erm, what career? I have never been that person who grew up knowing I wanted to be X when I grew up. I remember being 23 and driving through California with my mum and, in a moment of insecurity, saying how I felt I should know what I wanted to do by now but all I knew was that I wanted to be happy. And my mum’s response? “Well there you go, you know what you want to do.” And that was probably one of the moments that changed my life and really helped me rethink that timeline I mentioned above. I’ve done lots of different jobs and they’ve all been fantastic because I’ve been with like-minded, happy, sociable people who are as far removed from the rat race as you can imagine. I can’t even think of a time when I did not enjoy work! Doing different jobs has shown me my strengths and, when I do ‘settle’, I see myself working in a guest services role. But that is sometime in the future, ask me again in a few years!

Where would you tell first time travellers to go?

I’d tell them to go somewhere they’ve always dreamed of going because making your dreams a reality is one of the biggest achievements I can imagine and suddenly so much more in life seems attainable. I had that feeling when I was cycling on The Galapagos and  I had to stop because giant tortoises were pushing themselves up the path. I thought that would only be something I’d see on TV and not with my own eyes!

What advice would you give someone thinking about it?

Just go! Just go! Just book a flight and think about the rest of it later. Ease yourself in if you really want to but just do it, and embrace all parts of it. Have you ever heard someone say, ‘I really regret that time I went travelling for a few months and had the most amazing time of my life’ ??

Fave travel app?

I’m so behind on apps it’s almost embarrassing! I don’t even own a laptop. The app I used the most when I was backpacking was Google maps because it meant I knew exactly where I was in a new town and stopped me getting hopelessly lost!

Packing tip?

Every time you buy something new like a shirt, throw an old shirt out! I think this is good even when you are not travelling, there is nothing good from being weighed down by ‘stuff’! Also, packing cubes are a life saver for organising your backpack.

Top photo tip?

Selfie stick! Seriously! How else are you going to get a photo of you and the background when no one else is around?

Any Extra comments?

Like I said above, travelling has been the biggest education I’ve ever had but its true when they say your travel highs are the highest you will ever be but your lows are the most difficult, soul-breaking lows you will not have anticipated. But each time you put yourself back together, it is with a bit more resilience, a bit more confidence and a bit more independence. I wouldn’t be the person I am without the experiences and adventures I’ve been on in the past four and a half years since I arrived in Canada and I never dreamed it would change my life so much. Deciding to come to Whistler was like unlocking a bonus level in life and I love being here every single day.

 

Check out Jay’s video from her travels too!

One Girl & A Backpack from jay evanson on Vimeo.

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