The World Nomads Podcast: Ecuador

The Galapagos Islands plastic ban, waterfalls, whales, stunning hikes, going commando and traveling light.


Photo © Getty Images/David Aguilar Photography

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The World Nomads Podcast: Ecuador

In this episode of The World Nomads Podcast, we discover the strict rules for visiting the Galapagos Islands, hear about the volcanoes that rival Mt Fuji, and how to get your adrenaline rush on.

What's in the Episode

00:11 The national park that is like a fairy tale come to life.

01:20 Quiz Question01:25 Nicole from Colourful Ecuador

03:32 Dividing the country into four regions

04:37 Rules of the Galapagos

09:59 What is Colourful Ecuador Travels

11:25 Hiking Ecuador with Cam

17:35 Attacked by a rapid dog

19:25 Traveling lightly

20:49 Unforgettable Ecuador

24:16 Working on an organic farm

30:20 Stepping into North Korea

36:08 Unexpected Stories

37:37 How Jubel works

42:42 Win a mystery trip

43:24 Quiz Question answer

44:00 Next episode

Who is in the Episode.

Katie and Ben, otherwise known as Two Wandering Soles, seek adrenaline rushes, good food, authentic experiences and adventures off the typical tourist path. Follow along for responsible & adventurous travel tips, and inspiration that'll get you packing.

Cam Honan loves to hike. In this episode, he reveals a couple of his favorite places for hiking in Ecuador, Cajas National Park and the Volcan Cotopaxi. Cam has also written a couple of books The Hidden Tracks published by Gestalten.

The Hidden Tracks

As well as its predecessor, Wanderlust: Hiking on Legendary Trails. You can find Cam on Instagram and Facebook.

Volcan Cotopaxi: Photo Credit: Cam Honan

Nico Bergengruen is from Jubel, one of our partners for the World Nomads Unexpected Stories campaign. People are asked to read one story from each of our five Stories categories and then vote on their favorite to win a mystery trip for two to a surprise destination and Jubel is providing the trip. More details available under Resources and Links below.

Nicole Roodenburg is from Colourful Ecuador Travels. They organize everything around Ecuador and the Galapagos and really believe in what the country has to offer.

Resources & Links

Scholarships Newsletter: Sign up for scholarships news and see what opportunities are live here.

Embrace the unexpected and win a surprise trip for you and a friend. Enter here.

What do passengers steal from planes? Anything that isn’t bolted down. Among the items snatched from commercial flights: coffee mugs, cutlery, blankets and life jackets. Read more here.

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Explore your boundaries and discover your next adventure with The World Nomads Podcast. Hosted by Podcast Producer Kim Napier and World Nomads Phil Sylvester, each episode will take you around the world with insights into destinations from travelers and experts. They’ll share the latest in travel news, answer your travel questions and fill you in on what World Nomads is up to, including the latest scholarships and guides. The World Nomads Podcast is not your usual travel Podcast. It’s everything for the adventurous, independent traveler. Don’t miss out. Subscribe today.

Next Episode: Clive Neeson. 

About World Nomads & the Podcast

Explore your boundaries and discover your next adventure with The World Nomads Podcast. Hosted by Podcast Producer Kim Napier and World Nomads Phil Sylvester, each episode will take you around the world with insights into destinations from travelers and experts. They’ll share the latest in travel news, answer your travel questions and fill you in on what World Nomads is up to, including the latest scholarships and guides.

World Nomads is a fast-growing online travel company that provides inspiration, advice, safety tips and specialized travel insurance for independent, volunteer and student travelers traveling and studying most anywhere in the world. Our online global travel insurance covers travelers from more than 135 countries and allows you to buy and claim online, 24/7, even while already traveling.

The World Nomads Podcast is not your usual travel Podcast. It’s everything for the adventurous, independent traveler. Don’t miss out. Subscribe today.

Speaker 1: Welcome to the World Nomad's podcast, delivered by world nomads, the travel lifestyle and insurance brand. It's not your usual travel podcast, it's everything for the adventurous independent traveler.

Nicole: [inaudible 00:00:12] if you drive from [inaudible 00:00:13] to [inaudible 00:00:14] you have Cajas, it's a national park and it's actually one big lake and there's moss on top of it. You can walk on it

Phil: What?

Nicole: And you walk through this forest and it's like a whole fairy tale that came to life. It will make beautiful hiking.

Kim: That's Nicole from colorful Ecuador travels which obviously Phil gives away in destination for this episode. It is Ecuador.

Phil: In Northwestern South America, bordered by Columbia on the North, Peru in the East and South, and the Pacific Ocean to the West. And, of course, it also includes the fabulous Galapagos Islands.

Kim: Well in this episode we will discover as Nicole suggested there, it's a sensational destination for hiking and we'll speak to Cam, the author of the Hidden Tracks About Hiking there and other places around the world. And speaking of the Galapagos, Nicole gives us a behind the scenes insight into the Islands beyond turtles and I found that fascinating. You grabbed this interview when you were over seas

Phil: Yeah Brilliant

Kim: Yeah, it was really behind the scenes stuff. A couple shared their time in Ecuador which included a week in the mountains and time on an organic farm plus heaps more in this episode. But your quiz question to get us underway.

Phil: Ecuador. What is special about the name of the country?

Kim: Find out at the end of the episode

Phil: Nicole was recently at the WYSTC Conference in Edinburgh where I caught up with our first guest Nicole and I asked her what is it that she loves most about Ecuador.

Nicole: It's the people. The people are really- they're very genuine but also like the how the culture is built. It's very much based on sharing- having time for persons- if someone has one dollar they will buy a beer and they will share it together. It's not about a very selfish culture, it's just about life and like for me that is what makes me happy in life. Of being able to have the time to share of but not being busy now with what I'm actually going to be doing tomorrow, in a couple of hours. Also, to have this thing that you can basically do what you want to do at that moment. So for example, when we have a busy day in the office and we're just like, "Let's just go out the whole office for karaoke." Everybody can. Even if we say it's at 2 o'clock in the afternoon like a few phone calls are made to parents and grandparents and boyfriends and girlfriends and husbands and wives and at 5 o'clock we are all singing karaoke. That's a bit of how the spirit is. It's basically of living there and it's not the most efficient culture in the world and we might- like if we were working in Europe we would do with a lot fewer people but we have fun. There's a genuine happy vibe always, everywhere.

Phil: And so, how is it one of those countries where the majority of the people live in the capital or is it spread out or...

Nicole: It's quite spread out. The capital is Quitoso that has about 2 million people. Guayaquil's the biggest city in Ecuador, it's one of the most productive city. It's based on the coastal area so there it has about 2 and a half million people. So there's like the two main areas where people live, in total, we have 30 million people all living within Ecuador. A lot of more of Ecuadorians living outside of Ecuador. After Quito and Guayaquil, like the big city's Cuenca that's about 500,000 so it goes down.

Phil: I heard you speaking here at WYSTC. I've heard you speaking the other day about there are four or five regions of the country. Just take us through that

Nicole: Yeah, so we would divide the country within 4 regions. We have the sierra, we call it, it's the Indian region so it's everything to do with the mountains. We have a whole Indian spine going through the whole of Ecuador, basically from the boarder of Columbia to the boarder of Peru. We call it the Andes, it's the beautiful snow-capped volcano, villages, there are all the indigenous people living there as there. You've got colorful markets but also the capitals and the colonial centers. We have the Amazon, so it's the jungle area. It's the whole Amazon basin. We don't actually touch the Amazon, it's one of our biggest frustrations. They say that the Peruvians took it away, so that's a bit of neighbor ressentiment in that part. The Amazonian basin so that's everything that we call the jungle area. We have the coastal plains, that's the part mostly going up the coast, the whole Pacific coast, and then the Galapagos is a whole separate region for us as well. So that's the 4 ones, the Amazon...

Phil: Let's start with the big one, the Galapagos. Now is it heavily protected?

Nicole: It's heavily protected in a way that's it's not easy to move there. It's a part of Ecuador but it's considered complete- we have a special regiment that goes there. So there are special laws for the part of the Galapagos, there are special labor laws as well, in how much you pay people. For example, salaries in the Galapagos are 75% higher than the main land, that's by law. So the minimum wage in Ecuador at the moment is 385 and in Galapagos, it's 575 so that's already a difference. You have to Galapagano to be able to live there. Becoming Galapagano can be born there or marry in. So that's the only way basically that you can get it and then as an Ecuadorian or as a foreigner that has a valid working visa, you're able to go and work there if you are allowed to by the government. So that means that basically as a Galapagos company, you can apply for it, you can say, "okay I've looked between all the Galapagonos that live there and there's none that fit my description I need- for example, a marine biologist with so many years of experience in researching turtles. I have this person." And then they tell you how much time they are authorized to do it. It's normally, maximum a year and you can extend it up until 5 times. So that's like the maximum. So that's one of the ways that trying to protect it because in the past, especially with the tourism industry growing a little bit there are people moving there and starting to work, especially as waiters and receptionists because also the guiding part is heavily protected. You can only become a Galapagos National Park guide if you are a Galapagano so that takes the level of the guide sometimes down quite a bit. So a lot, for example, the companies that want to have like a really good nature experience they send both a biologist and a Galapagos National Park guide to deal with the park regulations.

Phil: And what about just as a visitor though? If you...

Nicole: As a visitor, you are allowed to come for 60 days a year. That's the maximum you can stay there. So there, they put in some new laws that were put into place in May and they're actually going to be effective in November. So that changes the whole rules on plastic. There are no plastic straws allowed, there's no plastic, if you want, no plastic containers. So if you're going on a boat excursion you will get all- just normal plates and everything. There's nothing that can be thrown away and no plastic bags so you're not even allowed to bring your shoes in a plastic bag, nothing that is plastic that can only be used once. That's the biggest change and the law is going to be effective on the first of November and one of the other things that you can not go with out an itinerary. So you already have to have a plan that you're staying in the legally approved hotels because of- other forms of accommodations also took a flight of people staying like in people's houses and that is not the idea. Like the idea is that the national park regulates all the hotels that are approved to be in the Galapagos National Park in the residential areas basically because only 3% of the Galapagos National Park is actually allowed to be lived at which are the four towns that we actually have and a couple of the highland parts where there's some farming allowed. That is controlled how to do their waste management, how to do their water management. Also, to keep everything of low control, they have now installed that you can not travel there and just see what kind of hotel that you're going to book when you're arriving.

Phil: What's your favorite part outside of the Galapagos?

Nicole: Actually, for me, there are places above the Galapagos within Ecuador. There are parts called, there are parts we call the paramo, which is above the three and half thousand meters. They have the most amazing landscapes. So if you drive, for example, from Quito to Tena, Tena is one of the easy, accessible jungles towns. You go from two thousand eight hundred meters up to four and half thousand more or less by the roads and that just gives you amazing landscapes with, we call it pahas, so it's like grass with lakes everywhere and then you go all the way down to the jungles. So like the nice thing around Ecuador just sits on a public bus or go and drive with someone in a car and just look out the window because it changes every 5 minutes you have a different view. So like the paramo would be one of it. You have near Cuenca, if you drive from Cuenca to Guayaquil you have El Cajas, it's a national park and it's actually one big lake and there's moss on top of it. You can walk on it...

Phil: What?

Nicole: It's there's meters wide moss so you walk on top of it and you walk through this forest and it's like a whole fairy tale that came to life. It will make beautiful lakes and little trees and you can see well the rabbits, the foxes, different things around it and you make beautiful hiking there.

Phil: Wow

Nicole: So that it is really, really great. There are some areas where you have just a waterfall after waterfall. There's also there are parts where you very turning, winding roads so every time you look like there's another turn in the road you see another five waterfalls coming down. So those are beautiful and of course the whales like every summer I do try to go because it's just one of those things that you're- I was there a couple of weeks ago and just from the beach you can see the whales jump. So they are so big. It's always an amazing thing, it doesn't matter how many times you've seen them, it's just this whole bus size animal coming out of the ocean. Yeah, it's wonderful.

Phil: Tell us what it is you do. What your company does there and how people can get in contact with you.

Nicole: Okay, well I work for Colorful Ecuador Travels. We're a company that's inbound tourism so we try- we organize everything around Ecuador and the Galapagos if you want to go anywhere else we'll refer you to other people because we really love what we do. So as a company we really believe in what the country has to offer so we organize the trips. We put together and connect both providers with the clients in general and we've started also operating different parts of hotels. So we have Casa Aliso, it's a small boutique hotel in Quito. We work together with Indicica, it's an educational hotel or it's an educational center actually and the hotel supports the whole part of the center in Guamota which is about four hours from Quito. We have Musa Galapagos, so we do Galapagos Island hopping in a different way. Also, connecting the local providers so that there are people like the real situations that their people living on the Galapagos Islands. So it's also nice to support the local businesses which is the way that we do with a part of the island hopping and we also volunteer work and have a Spanish school in Quito.

Phil: So anything Ecuador, get on to it. So thanks so much for touring with [crosstalk 00:11:00]

Nicole: You're very welcome.

Kim: Yeah, Link's in China. So Nicole painted a beautiful picture of Ecuador so let's start to pick it apart. We'll kick it off with Cam. He's written a couple of books including, "The Hidden Tracks" and as of 2018, he's hiked more than sixty thousand miles or ninety-six thousand, five hundred and sixty-one Ks in some 56 countries in 6 continents. Cam. How ya going?

Phil: Are your feet sore?

Cam: I think I'm a bit weary just hearing that actually.

Kim: Well yeah, you've tired me out. That's a hell of a lot of trekking. So can you expand on hiking in Ecuador?

Cam: Well it's been about- I spent about 5 or 6 weeks in Ecuador back in 2004 so it's been awhile but the two things that really stand out for me in regards to Ecuador are the volcanos and the national park by El Cajas. That's spelled C-A-J-A-S. and in regards to the volcanos, Ecuador it's a pretty small country, I think it's a little bit bigger than Victoria in area wise...

Phil: I've got to say though mate, most of our audience in America so I'll check it out but it's got to be about the size of Rhode Island hasn't?

Cam: A little bit bigger than Rhode Island. But I think there's about [inaudible 00:12:23] volcanos and a bunch of them are active and probably the most- well definitely the most famous one and maybe the most beautiful is one called Cotopaxi. It's about, seeing most of your audience is in the States, almost 20,000 feet high, 5,800 meters give or take. It's got that beautiful symmetrical shape and there's a hike you can do around the base of it, you can circumnavigate the volcano. It's about 80KM long takes anywhere from 4 to 6 days and it's just an absolutely gorgeous hike and the whole you just get this series of views of the volcano and I think it's also one of the most active volcanos in the world. It's erupted more than 50 times over the last few centuries but maybe not in the last 100 years so it may be due.

Kim: Cam, it would be a very quick 5 to 6 days then if you're trekking the base of an active volcano

Cam: Yeah, you definitely have your skates on for a lot of it. I mean, if you see all these puffs come out you probably go a little bit quicker. So it's- well if you go through all these dense forests and high grass lands and broad valleys and go over these lava flows and yeah it's just gorgeous volcano pretty much like Mt. Fuji in Japan or Mt. Taranaki in New Zealand. It's a stunning hike. And the other place I think about when I think about Ecuador when it comes to hiking is the national park I referenced before called Cajas which is just actually just up the road from this beautiful old colonial town by the name of Cuenca and Cuenca is the Panama hat capital of the world. It's a really lovely little town and Cajas is this national park maybe 10, 15, 20 minutes drive from there. It's got over a couple hundred different lakes and glacial valleys and rocky peaks and cloud forests and really it's off the radar. Not a lot of people go hiking there and it's really wet there, think Scotland but without the pomps and the bopies.

Phil: Ah

Cam: Yeah, it's just an incredible country. It packs in a lot of stuff in a relatively small amount of space.

Kim: So the book, "The Hidden Tracks," which I'm guessing is your latest book. It's great, which sounds so patronizing to say it's great by the way.

Phil: It's got the Kim seal of approval.

Cam: Yeah, you don't want to realize that it's crappy when you have me on for a podcast.

Kim: No I enjoyed it because it's super inspirational and there's a lot of other things about the layout of the book that I really like too. But it kicks off with this concept of a stranger to guest to family. What do you mean by that?

Cam: It's something I came up with probably about- I'm showing my age a bit here but probably about 25 years ago on a trip to the South Isle of New Zealand. It's basically what I call a natural progression which is something which is I guess it's a transformation that can take place when people spend a lot of time out in nature. A lot of folks first head out to the woods particularly if they haven't grown up in the country, they might feel a little bit like a fish out of water, stranger in a strange land, the odd sounds at night they're not really used to or too hot or too cold or too muddy or too wet. Sometimes, for some people, the first time might prove to be the last but I think for those that preserve, and this is the key, in so doing really learn to accept Mother Nature on its own terms, a transformation this natural progression can take place and slowly but surely you become accustomed to those sort of conditions that have become the catalyst of those worries and fears. And as those experiences accumulate, worries begin to fade and instead of a stranger, you start to feel like a guest. A guest when you're out in the wilderness, a welcomed guest and then in the third stage, the guest to family.

Kim: I like it. Phil, you love that kind of stuff, don't you?

Phil: Yeah, I love that stuff

Kim: So what was your motivation then for getting off the beaten track and obviously, at 60,000 miles you're a pretty keen hiker.

Cam: Yeah you could say that. Well, I think all the biggies like freedom and the challenge of it, the connection with nature but I think a lot of it for me is always come down to just simplicity. I think I realized that at a fairly young age that I was at my happiest when my life was at it's most simple and I was at most miserable when everything was complicated. I think spending time out in the woods when you got everything you need in the world on your back, it really hits home that you don't need a lot of stuff to be happy. I think that's always been a huge motivation for me for heading out into the wilderness

Kim: So what have been some challenges then that- you've painted a pretty romantic picture. This concept of stranger to guest to family. As we know, with families it can often be a rocky road.

Cam: Alright, I'll give you the flip side. I'll give you the flip side. Back in the mid-90s, there was one time I was a attacked by a rabid dog when I was hiking in the southeast Oasis in Egypt. Like actually, staying just outside of this oasis by the name of Siwa. There have been other times- there's this region in the north of Mexico called the Copper Canyon area. This incredible region, it's like four times bigger than the Grand Canyon. I've done about 5 trips there over the last 2 decades. But the very first trip up to it was the first bus ride I ever took when I came to Mexico, I was robbed by these masked bandits at like 2 or 3 am in the morning I had a gun held to my head.

Kim: Phil loves these kinds of stories. This is great. What do you get to do then? In terms of tricks

Phil: Yeah what have you- what do you want to do?

Cam: There's still a few places out there that- I've never been to Kurdistan. I've always fancied going to Kurdistan. Actually, the Kimberlys in Australia, it's a part of- I've been to Western Australia but I've never been up to the Kimberlys so I'd like to spend a bit of time up there. There's parts of Ethiopia, the rift valley area in Africa that I'd love to get to. I think it's one of those things where, irrespective of how much hiking you've done, how many places you've been, there's always something else to do and there's always other places to explore. It's been something that I've done pretty much my whole life and something that I plan to continue to do or I hope I can continue to do for the next 60 years or so.

Kim: Well, listen, it's been fabulous talking to you and I guess it would be great to finish on a single piece of advice for anyone that's thinking about doing a long haul trek.

Cam: The big thing is preparation. Just do as much research as you can and getting fit as possible. And also, I think traveling lightly, traveling as lightly as you possibly can because it's tough to enjoy a long hike when you're carrying the kitchen sink on you back. That's a huge thing when I do talks and comps I'm often going on about traveling as lightly as possible and emphasizing necessity rather than surplus luxuries. 'Cause it all adds up and a lot if it gets back to the whole idea of simplicity, just not needing as much stuff.

Kim: I think they're actually bamboo underpants you can buy where you don't have to take them off for a week.

Phil: Bamboo fiber, I hope and not just strapped from pieces of bamboo. I let my fingers do the walking while we're having a chat there, Ecuador is only very slightly smaller than Colorado.

Kim: Beautiful. We've got you the U.S. reference in there. Cam, thanks so much. We all have links to not only your books but also your Instagram and a couple of other things in our show notes.

Phil: Yeah, great talking to you Cam.

Cam: Just one last thing in regards to the undies. Look, I know the bamboo probably sounds nice but really you've got to go commando.

Kim: That's even better. Yes.

Phil: Fair enough.

Kim: That's even better. Links to where you can pick up "The Hidden Tracks" and more on Cam in show notes.

Now, Katie and Ben are other wise known as two wondering souls and they have been to a number of destinations including Ecuador which they say was unforgettable. We've got the guys on Skype now. Hey, Katie, Ben, two wondering souls.

Katie: Hi

Ben: Hey

Kim: So what was so unforgettable about Ecuador?

Katie: I think there are many things that we could say that were unforgettable but the things that kind of stick out about our trip to Ecuador were being about to experience and explore the nature and wildlife and do a lot of adventure activities. So that's what kind of sticks out. We also just had an amazing experience meeting other travelers and having a few local connections as well.

Phil: Like what? What were some of the adventure activities that you got- that you got yourselves into?

Ben: We did quite a bit. Like we went canyoneering, we went mountain biking, we went puenting which is like a swing jump.

Katie: Kind of like bungee jumping without the bounce back

Phil: Kim is looking very perplexed. Puenting, from a bridge.

Kim: Yeah.

Phil: So you jump off that and so you end up sort of swinging underneath the bridge, like a pendulum.

Kim: Right. Yup, so you're off to the adrenaline rush there guys.

Katie: Yeah, we got quite a few adrenaline rushes in Ecuador. We also went snorkeling in the Galapagos, where we saw sharks and penguins and sea turtles.

Ben: Manta Rays

Katie: Manta Rays, yeah. So we had quite the adventurous experience in Ecuador.

Kim: Phil, I'm going to stop here and ask you.

Phil: Yes.

Kim: With these chats that we've done about Ecuador, is this the kind of country you thought it was?

Phil: No. Not at all. No. I mean, I was amazed to find out about the waterfalls and the beautiful forest and what have you. And now we're finding out about the adrenaline activities as well. For a relatively small place, it packs a punch, doesn't it?

Kim: It does. Ben, what did you think when you got there? Was it above your expectations?

Ben: It really was. I mean, I didn't really have any expectations coming in but just after finding out everything that you can do within the whole country, it's so small but it has so many things to do that it just- it's really fun.

Kim: Phil, you found out it was the size of what?

Phil: It's the size of Colorado.

Kim: There you go.

Phil: There you go.

Kim: It puts it into context for you. Now, Katie, you also, both of you spent time working on an organic farm. So you go from this adrenaline rush to this kind of peaceful, village life almost.

Katie: Yeah, we- so we ended up signing up for this volunteer program through Work Away and the directions on the website were very, very simple. They were, take this local bus and have them drop you off on the side of the road where basically you're in the middle of nowhere and then the instructions say and hike up a hill for an hour and a half. We have our big backpacks and we're hiking, literally in mud that is up to our knees. So we have our boots on and we're hiking and we look at each other, the sun's going now and we're like, "Are we actually going to make it to this farm? This so called farm that we don't even know exists?"

Sure enough, we made it. Thank goodness. Because we were literally in the middle of nowhere, but we spent a week on this farm doing kind of all sorts of different chores around the homestead and it was a really, really incredible experience.

Phil: What were they growing? What was the produce?

Ben: They have a whole bunch of different vegetables and fruits that they were growing like corn, tomatoes, peanuts, just a whole variety of different things. They had different projects on the farm as well, like I installed a solar shower to help out other volunteers.

Kim: I like the way you travel. I'm a massive adrenaline junkie. I like being in the water and snorkeling and that sort of thing but-

Phil: But anything higher than a table [crosstalk 00:24:59]

Kim: Yeah no, can't do it. But you're into the food, you're into the authentic experiences and adventures that are off the typical tourist path. But you're also young and you talk about partying on the beach in Ecuador. How do they party in Ecuador?

Katie: Yeah well, this was the second country we visited after quitting our jobs and so we were kind of ready to let loose and Ben. Ben is a former engineer and he was very excited to have some freedom and we had heard all these stories about this beachside town of Mantaita and to be honest it's mostly travelers there that are partying. We decided to spend a few days there and to be quite honest, it was not a cultural experience at all. It's not the most beautiful beach at all but what this town promise is an epic nightlife...

Ben: Yeah, it was a pretty fun nightlife. We stayed at this hostel and got to know a lot of other travelers there. Played some drinking games of course, and we walked to the beach. It's the kind of place where you can just get a drink at a street stall and roam through the streets or roam to the beach and it was a fun night.

Kim: So what made you quit your jobs? Obviously, we know why you quit your jobs and we speak to so many people that do it for a sense of adventure and just to really experience life. What were you doing Katie and Ben you were an engineer, so what you give it all up?

Katie: So I was working in graphic design and advertising. And we both actually really liked our jobs and we had a comfortable life and we had a great apartment, great family and friends but we just kind of realized that we could see ourselves in that same spot in 40, 50 years and we decided that we wanted just a little bit of a chance to experience something different. Honestly, what was meant to be 3 months in South America ended up kind of snowballing and turning into something that has continued for the past 5 years. It was kind of an accidental quitting our jobs and staying that way but yeah.

Phil: It seems to me that Americans have not really done that in the past. They've all been very career oriented and I just get the feeling that more and more Americans are deciding to chuck it in for a while and go traveling.

Ben: Yeah it's tough when you're working at a company and you only have two weeks vacation for the whole entire year and that's kind of what we saw and we wanted to have a little bit more time to travel and so. I guess a lot of Americans want to have more freedom and kind of get out of that type of...

Katie: The everyday routine but I think just the ability now to work online and be able to make money remotely it will make it so much easier for people to pick up and quit their jobs and travel if that's what they want.

Ben: Or create a new job online.

Phil: Yeah, well a graphic designer Katie, that's easy for you to do remotely but it's probably not that easy to build roads or something Ben.

Kim: I don't think he wants to.

Phil: No

Ben: Yeah it's been a little bit of a learning curve for me just to pick up more website development and design. Katie has taught me a lot too. I'm making it work, it's pretty good.

Phil: We've been talking that lifestyle up but what's the worse thing about it? I mean, do you get homesick.

Kim: Good question

Phil: Yeah

Katie: There's a lot of worse things actually. Yes, we do get homesick. We have missed out on a lot of events back home, a lot of weddings or births or just everyday kind of things that we feel like we're missing out on. But at the end of the day, it's- there's nothing that can really replace the freedom that we've been able to create.

Kim: Well the world is a big backyard. Your blog we'll share in show notes with some great stories particularly or not particularly about Ecuador 'cause all the stories are great...

Phil: All the stories are great.

Kim: But there are things there about getting down and dirty on the farm. Also, boarder crossings from Ecuador to Peru which Katie's not a big fan of, Katie?

Katie: Yes, we had a not so fun boarder experience and to be honest I think land crossings, like when you're crossing through a bus is never really a fun experience.

Ben: Especially when it's in the middle of the night

Katie: Yes and especially when the bus is not the most comfortable. But it's all a part of the journey.

Kim: Yeah well you're on a great one. You're in Bali at the moment. We'll let you go and what are you going to do? Hit the beach? Hit the waves?

Katie: Yeah, you know, we might go for a surf today it's a beautiful day out today and yeah I suppose to go out there and enjoy the sunshine.

Kim: Well we'll keep working and make sure we get this podcast out for you to listen to.

Phil: Great talking to you guys.

Katie: Yeah, thank you

Ben: Thanks guys

Kim: So Phil, what's travel news?

Phil: Kim, remember when we covered South Korea a few episodes back. One of our first ones actually. We talked to Tim and Sarah on their 20-month honeymoon

Kim: Yes I follow them on Facebook.

Phil: Fantastic. Well, they- remember they shared those amazing photos of their visit to the demilitarized zone.

Kim: Yup

Phil: You know, peering across the boarder into North Korea and being joint security area, that hut that straddles the boarder. Well, we might soon be able to step across that border. South Korea is negotiating with North Korea and the United Nations and what have it so they can relax the rules there so that visitors, including South Koreans, can take a few steps into North Korea. That's something they haven't been able to do since 1953.

Kim: And you're talking literally, a few steps.

Phil: A few steps. There's that line in the room there that you're not allowed to cross and you've got the very stern North Korean soldier on the other side. They're actually doing in because recently the presidents of the 2 Koreas, the South Korean president stepped across that line and embraced.

Kim: This was all due to the games, the winter games, wasn't it?

Phil: Correct. Yeah, so you can go recreate that, not with the president of North Korea of course but...

Kim: No

Phil: Kim's a bit busy

Kim: Yup, he is

Phil: Look U.S. journalist, Christopher Elliot, hope you're listening to Chris, has written a piece of what people steal from airplanes. Top 3, pillows and blankets, and even the life jackets.

Kim: Oh no. I do blankets

Phil: Okay, of course, these things are not included in the price of the ticket. Which Chris says raises the question, as to why people do it and he blames the pay extra for everything culture of airlines these days and he says people are feeling like they've been ripped off and that they're angry and that they're owed something so they take stuff that they're not supposed to take off the airline.

Kim: Good blanket, might take that home. That's kind of what goes through my head.

Phil: Knicked anything else?

Kim: No, no, not from- just that.

Phil: There's a...

Kim: Oh yeah.

Phil: What?

Kim: Goody bags, the ones in business class.

Phil: Oh when they leave them on the seat? [crosstalk 00:32:31]

Kim: Yeah

Phil: Fair enough. In Chris Elliot's article, he says there is a man that he spoke to who collects airline sickness bags as a kind of a hobby.

Kim: Not ones that are filled.

Phil: No, no, no, no. Empty ones because they are usually branded so he collects those.

Kim: Okay. Have you knicked anything?

Phil: Probably

Kim: Have you sky highed it, mile highed it?

Phil: No

Kim: I sorta have.

Phil: On your own doesn't count

Kim: Moving on. Great article Christopher, great article.

Phil: Woman was removed from a U.S. domestic flight last week after boarding with her emotional support animal. A squirrel.

Kim: Oh you've told us about these before. People making...

Phil: [crosstalk 00:33:16] peacock, pigs defecating, all that sort of stuff. Yeah. Well, the airline informed this woman that rodents are not allowed but she refused to give it up. She squirreled it away. Sorry

Kim: Bad joke

Phil: And she also refused to get off. So they had to kick other passengers off the plane to make room while security came on and they managed to remove her from the airplane. But what emotional support do you get from a squirrel?

Kim: I'm not sure we should be laughing, I'm not sure.

Phil: I don't know

Kim: I'd like to play devil's advocate but yeah you're right.

Phil: Alright, finally, Kim have a listen to this

Speaker 8: [inaudible 00:33:49]

Phil: Did you get any of that?

Kim: Not one thing, not one thing. Who captured that?

Phil: The indecipherable boarding announcement, alright, it's quintessentially airport, right? You know you're at an airport. I like those, I have no idea what they're saying but they make me feel like I want to travel somewhere

Kim: Yeah

Phil: You know you're in an airport when you hear that. Well, there's this global sort of trend at airports for them to go silent. They don't make those announcements anymore. Sydney's just joined it, Dubai, Singapore, there's a bunch of other airports.

Kim: So what they don't say, "Flight VA whatever is leaving now from gate 5?"

Phil: That's right, you rely on you going up and looking at the departure board and making sure you see the little boarding light now flashing.

Kim: Phil Sylvester, Kim Napier, your plane is now boarding. None of that?

Phil: Because there weren't any announcements to tell you to stop drinking in the lounge and go get on your plane. So you have to keep an eye on it yourself.

Kim: Hey, thanks for that.

Phil: That's alright. That's my travel news

Kim: Jubel is one of our partners for our unexpected stories campaign. Now separate to that, do you want to just tease us about this couple that you found that we're going to chat to in a future episode.

Phil: Oh there's another partner as well from Practical Wanderlust and Leah Garcia called us and she has- had this litany of horrors happen to them while they were on their honeymoon. They did a year long honeymoon, they ended up making two insurance claims with us but they've crashed a car into a French castle, had to be rescued from a waterfall, it's like the worst honeymoon ever.

Kim: Well, that's coming up in a future episode. But we are talking about our unexpected stories campaign which is happening now. Now people are asked to read one story from each of our five story categories and vote on their favorite one to win a mystery trip for to a surprise destination. We'll give you the details a bit later on. Jubel is providing the trip and Nico is with us to tell us about the company and why it's such a good fit for this unexpected stories campaign.

Phil: Hello Nico

Nico: Hey guys. How's it going? Happy to be here.

Kim: Tell us about Jubel, why is it a good fit for this campaign, unexpected stories.

Nico: Well, naturally with the title of the campaign and giving the fact that we're giving people the unexpected and really a story to walk away from, this is really- we've been building a company for the last two years is a company that executes on the idea of a lot of people know more or less how much they want to spend and want but not exactly where to go. So we've started curating trips around the world that give people an idea of beforehand of the kind of place- the kind of things to expect but not exactly where they are going to do it and that's kind of the thrilling aspect of our trip is that you're getting something that's personalized to your preferences and your style but you're going to go ahead and not know where you're going beforehand and I think Jubel is great for that reason, for this campaign we're very excited for it.

Phil: Wow that's a great idea. I know- you know the old mystery flights, you can buy a ticket on a local airline in Australia for a while that was just a mystery flight, it would take you to- you wouldn't know where you're going...

Kim: What was the mystery, Phil?

Phil: Mostly you went to Adelaide though so.

Kim: But you Nico, you tour all around the world, don't you?

Nico: Yeah that's right. So we do multi-destination, all over the world. We send people to all major continents and we really have no geographical boundaries to where people can go.

Phil: Alright so what sort of- so give us a scenario, somebody says- well what sort of things do they say when they want to say book me a trip?

Nico: I'll give you- I'll give you a breakdown. You start off with a travel survey, so essentially the survey is a chance for you to tell us more about yourself and what it is you want to do on a trip and that includes the simple things like departure airport, how much more or less you're looking to spend, some dates that can be flexible but then you get into the fun stuff which is your travel style. So we've kind of narrowed it down to five travel styles that people tend to divvy up their priorities to which is active nature, so activities that are in nature that are more adventurous. Then there's chill nature, which is more being surrounded by beautiful nature or just relaxing but not necessarily having to get active or emersed in it. Then there's culture, oceanist, and nightlife which is also called party purist and once you make these selections we have a better idea of what- how you want to prioritize your time. There's also a level of infrastructure that you're comfortable with, the kind of accommodations you want to stay in, and pretty much you go and select what kind of person you are in terms of how you like to travel, fast paced, slow paced, balanced, and arriving all the way to the end where we say tell us if there's a specific destination you want to go to and any places to avoid. Maybe you've already been there or you just don't want to go there for whatever reason and then, of course, we have the level of surprise you want to experience. You can decide to know everything, you know all the destinations or you can say I only want to know which country I'm going to but not which destinations within or you can leave everything blank and then you're really in for the full mystery vacation.

Phil: That's my- I'm picking that one

Kim: Isn't that great. I have a fantasy, not a- I'll rephrase that. My husband and I have these great desires to turn up at the airport just with a backpack and spin like the alphabet...

Phil: Yeah, I know where- yeah

Kim: And for example, if V came up let's pick a place starting with V and let's go and buy a ticket and fly there.

Phil: Can I advise against going to Venezuela though?

Kim: Yeah, okay, thanks for that.

Phil: Well there is lies the problem Nico, you know, do ever have anyone that who's gone for the full surprise and they've gotten there, no don't like it?

Nico: Naturally, that's everyone's concern right? And this is kind of the crazy part and this is why we're still- why Jubel is still something that we're growing and very excited about and getting more and more travelers for is that we haven't had any bad experiences. There's only been one that was a learning experience that this person asked for a multi destination trip and she gave us a budget that was- it was only enough for one country and we ended up sending her to multi destination trip within Iceland but she was expecting to another country as well and you know that was kind of a miscommunication. We realized there we could maybe make it a bit more clear on the survey what it is to expect and of course her extremely low so we thought it was pretty obvious that she wasn't going to go to Portugal, that she wasn't going to go all around Western Europe for example. So up until now, it's really been people that sign up for it know what they're getting into and we make it pretty clear on the website. We really do, we have blog posts on who surprise travel is good for, why it's good for you in general, why it's healthy to not be Googling away your experience before going on it and potentially ruining it and leaving some element of surprise there.

So yeah, luckily we haven't had any nightmares scenario with someone who was like "Yeah this is definitely not what I wanted" and that's kind of why we're very meticulous about our survey and our customer experience being so well.

Kim: Look, it's just an exciting concept for a business, I love it. I'm actually interested in how did you come up with it? Were you all just sitting around the dinner table saying, "hey, I've got an idea!"

Nico: So it's funny, this is actually- 3 years ago, my co founder and I we were talking about how there's so many cool GoPro and drone videos that were kind of becoming more and more mainstream, right? You have all this amazing footage of people going on amazing trips and you have this little tiny camera like a GoPro where you can get this amazing footage and you have all these amazing influencers who are going on these trips and sharing it and this rise of YouTube and Instagram and you're sitting in the office and you're saying, "This looks like so much fun. How can I just go on one of these trips?"

You want to have it easier- more seamless solution to getting there than just say, "okay wait, so let me make- let me start a what do to, let me ask my friends what do you want to do or your significant other." For example, if you want to go skiing, do you want to go to the juggle, do we want to go into the desert somewhere, what kind of adventure do we want, what kind of activities do we want to do and it's really hard because you're like this all sounds great. If only there were a company that could facilitate helping you decide what you want to do based on your budget and maximizing for your budget without having to pay like the high price tags that a luxury travel agent offers or conversely on the other side of the spectrum is without having to do all the research that is required with doing it yourself.

Kim: Phil just leaves it up to his wife.

Phil: Yeah but it's the same effect, it's always a surprise to me.

Kim: His whole life is a surprise. Well, do love, as we said, our unexpected travel stories or even encounters with wild animals like Cam earlier with the rabid dog. So if you have one email The comp, by the way, is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada with the exception of Puerto Rico and Quebec and it will close around November 15.

Phil: Yeah maybe a bit later after that then...

Kim: Yeah maybe a little bit later. So to enter go landing page to read the stories and vote. You can get it through at links and the World Nomad site forward slash campaigns. Thank you so much, Nico.

Nico: Thank you, guys. Excited to see how this campaign goes and check Jubel guys.

Kim: Sure will Nico, sounds like heaps of fun. Links in show notes. Alright, it's time to wrap up with your quiz questions or the answer to it at least.

Phil: Alright, what's special about the name of country Ecuador? It's the only country in the world named after a geographical thing. The equator. It's Spanish, when they first landed there they called it El Ecuador, the equator, and because it straddles the equator

Kim: Okay so it's the only country...

Phil: The only country that's named after a geographical feature

Kim: Well I don't care how it was named. After this podcast, it is on my list.

Phil: Add it to the list.

Kim: Add it to the list. You can subscribe to the World Nomads podcast via iTunes or download the Google podcast app. Catch us in the air on Virgin International in-flight entertainment, that's domestic as well, and Richard Branson if you're listening we'd love to chat with you.

Phil: Please

Kim: Next week Phil, what do we got?

Phil: We've got an amazing Nomad next week, Clive Neilson. He's one of the pioneers of adventure travel. Amazing life

Kim: See you then, bye

Phil: Bye

Speaker 1: The World Nomads podcast. Explore your boundaries.


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