Travel Bliss Interview Series: The Hangry Backpacker.
In continuation with my Interview Series, wherein each month I feature two interviews with people from around the world – who may be a home-maker, a traveler, a blogger, or a biker or a painter or a potter or an entrepreneur or a writer or just about anyone who have chosen to follow their bliss against all odds, this time my very special interview is with the very versatile John Paul. John is a travel blogger at the website: Hangry Backpacker with a focus on eating good, local food as a solo traveler and also provides some general travel information and travel stories in an honest, unfiltered way.
His interview is sure to inspire us and motivate us to continue to strive and explore and try out new things or just excel in whatever we put our minds to do.
1. Tell us about yourself.
I’m originally from Louisiana, and my passion for travel goes back to when I was a kid. I’ve always been fascinated with foreign places. Being from Louisiana, I am spoiled with great food all around me, and I thoroughly enjoy trying new food everywhere I go.
After graduating from Louisiana State University, I went on a solo backpacking trip through Europe. Although I had traveled a fair amount before, this trip really changed things for me. Everything I have done since then has been done with the ultimate goal of further travel in mind.
2. I absolutely love your website: Hangry Backpacker. How did you come up with this name and play of words? It’s ingenious! I also absolutely love your motto: Go Alone. Get Lost. Eat. Please elaborate.
I’m a strong proponent of backpacking as an immersive way to travel, and I love how it enables me to travel cheaper and explore destinations freely and independently. My love of food and never-ending quest to eat new foods fits perfectly. I speak honestly and try not to sugarcoat what I write – and I may be a little cranky in my search for great food – so Hangry is fitting.
My motto goes back to my belief that the best way to truly learn about a travel destination is by traveling solo, wandering without plans and eating local foods.
3. Awesome! What are you absolutely passionate about? And what drives you to achieving it?
Food and drink. I often say that I see food and drink as an open window into another culture. It’s the best way to explore. And I love the feeling of exploring.
I enjoy finding places that feel different, then wandering until I find something I’ve never seen. I’m rarely satisfied when it comes to food and drink, and I truly enjoy the search.
4. Tell us about your decision to put a traditional career on hold to follow your dream of making a living as a travel writer and (soon-to-be) tour leader. What was your earlier “traditional career”? Any regrets?
After college, I worked in the restaurant business for a few years. I did everything from flip burgers to management. However, I was very unhappy in this life and felt I was simply going through the motions. Rarely did a day go by that I didn’t dream of wandering around the world, living out of a backpack and meeting new people.
One day, I finally realized that, rather than continue waiting for something to happen, I needed to chase my dreams. A few days later, I bought a one-way ticket to Vietnam. I decided to chase a dream and the Hangry Backpacker was born.
Building a profitable website requires determination and time. The money doesn’t roll in instantly, but I love sharing travel stories and tips, encouraging people to leave their comfort zones and making a living doing this is my dream. I work on the Hangry Backpacker for 8-10 hours a day, seven days a week. And it never feels like work.
5. I know exactly what you mean 🙂 How did you come about with the idea of organizing Tours? Please tell us more about the kinds of Tours that you organize. I am sure there would be many readers out there, who would be interested to go for your tours.
I’ve had hundreds of people ask me about traveling. Whether that’s about the where, the how or the food, people never stop inquiring. Many of the same people express a desire to see the places I’ve seen. I always tell them they can, but most are still hesitant.
I thought, “If people are not willing to travel out of their comfort zones by themselves, maybe I can take them?”
I’ve found that so many travel tours are outrageously expensive and adhere to rigid schedules. There’s hardly time to stop for a pint! The result is a tour that barely scratches the surface of a destination. I want to change that.
Hangry Backpacker Tours is in the early development phase, and I hope to begin leading tours next year. We’ll focus on small tours that combine food and drink with history, sports, or festivals/events.
6. Please tell us about your journey so far. Did you face any challenges / difficulties during the course of your journey?
The kind of travel I love is not always comfortable and certainly tests my patience. I’ve spent more than 24 hours on a tiny bus. I’ve been scammed. I’ve been sick. But I’ve also seen the Pope and the Dalai Lama, met a Hall of Fame baseball player and eaten some incredible food. There are challenges, but that’s what I love.
From a business standpoint, running a travel website requires far more time and energy than I imagined. I face technical challenges constantly, but I have learned and persevered each time.
7. Any one lesson learnt or travel moment you will not forget?
Time management is important. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing. If you’re trying to reach a goal or see your dreams come to life, it takes focus. I’ve learned how important it is to prioritize my work, maintain focus and never quit.
8. Any words of wisdom / advice to all the people out there? There are so many of us who have certain dreams or passions that we want to pursue, but are struggling within ourselves, are not sure or are second guessing and having doubts about it.
Time is the one thing we can’t create. If you’re passionate about something – if it brings you happiness – go for it. Don’t let life, distractions and “maybe later” get in the way of happiness.
9. Well said! What is your idea of Bliss? Are you following your Bliss?
My idea of bliss is always moving forward. I want to get lost, explore and learn as much as I can about the world. And I want to eat the best food. I want to share that information and those experiences with people so they may be encouraged to do the same.
I am following my bliss. It’s an endless journey, but I’m always hangry for more!
10. Ha!Ha! What’s next for you John?
I’m currently in the US, living in Portland, Oregon, preparing for the next big trip. I’m studying some languages and plan to put that to use for Hangry Backpacker Tours. The next destinations I’m most looking forward to are: Central Asia and Eastern Europe.
Superb! Thank you John for doing this interview with me! Your journey so far and all that you are doing is truly an inspiration for me and all those reading this blog.
I wish you all the very best in everything that you do and sincerely hope that Hangry Backpacker Tours grows in leaps and bounds and that you keep traveling, keep exploring, keep getting lost and find new and different food and drink and keep sharing your knowledge and passion with everyone.
Stay tuned for this space, as I come out with another smashing interview very soon.
Till then, keep traveling and keep sharing your stories of inspiration here.