Joshua Bulpin is a passionate adventurer, writer, and student of different cultures. He is always planning and experiencing his own adventures and loves to be involved in aiding and supporting the adventures of others.
WTBz: What is the focus / goal of your website?
Joshua: Having given up the London city life a year ago I’m now spending a summer with my girlfriend living on a houseboat on the canals of Amsterdam. My two blogs have different focuses: joshuatrailscanallife aims to impart some advice to travelers and new residents of Amsterdam. But it’s also a platform for articles about travel issues in general, such as the importance of human interaction and the influence of social media.
My travel blog is simply that; it’s a place where I chronologically store my journeys, which enables me to use it as a reference point for writing focused articles in the future.
WTBz: What was your first experience with traveling? Was this when you’d say you ‘Became a Traveler’? Or did you really discover your passion for travel later on?
Joshua: I’ve been on holidays since I was a baby, but I think the travel bug really bit when I was around 15. My Mum bought a knackered old Toyota Highace Camper Van and we packed it up and drove around Europe for a few weeks: me, my brother and my Mum. Since then I have loved “journeys” and the people you encounter whilst on them. Up until I was 21, I made numerous small trips and then, just after getting my first graduate position, I climbed Kilimanjaro for charity. Three months later my life was packed in a rucksack and I was on a plane.
Can you explain your passion for travel? What do you love about it? What do you get from it?
I think that any kind of travel is an adventure and I love that this word encapsulates so many different things. Adventure is about taking it all in, meeting new people, seeing new things, challenging yourself, eating new food, being independent, opening your eyes, ears and taste buds and most of all, doing something out of your ordinary. Whether solo or with someone else travel is about a collection of moments that add up to tell a story. Being exposed to human existence in different situations and sharing life with people for short periods of time – it’s pretty special.
What’s your travel style? Party? Culture? Volunteering? Connecting with the locals? A little bit of everything? What’s the balance?
I’m not a huge fan of “pop volunteering” because the guilt culture which surrounds 1-2 week western volunteer projects to “help” less fortunate people I believe do more harm than good. I think long term sustainable projects are worthwhile and through meeting people, gain an insight into local, social, and cultural issues and phenomena of the time. I’m not a “backpacker party animal”, but if invited to a local festival such as Tihar in Nepal where a cultural festival is taking place, I’m in!
Do you prefer to travel alone or with a friend, group of friends, partner? How does your travel style affect what you get out of your journey?
I just love to travel in general. If I’m completing a challenge then I often find it’s good to travel with someone else so you can encourage each other. But the freedom and vulnerability that comes from solo traveling is really special; it positively encourages you to step outside your bubble and get into social situations. With that said, I love traveling as part of a small group for short periods of time. It lightens the load of always doing everything yourself and enables shared experience.
If you could travel with any 3 people (real, fictional, alive, or dead) who would they be and where would you go?
Sir Peter Blake (ocean yacht racer and environmentalist), my 95 yr old grandmother Edna, and my missus Michelle. My grandmother is from a generation of poor working class who never even imagined traveling; her life was about putting bread on the table. She is as bright and inquisitive as a 16 year old girl and I would love to see her engage with wise old women in different cultures around the world; the stories they could share about the rugged simplicity of life would be priceless. My girlfriend is the best travel partner in the world as she is open and approachable, opening many doors! Sir Peter Blake is a personal hero and I’d love to hear his perspective on the places we visited. I would be happy to travel anywhere with these three people, but would love to tackle West Africa and it’s diversity with them.
Many people who don’t travel always think they can’t afford it. What do you have to say to that?
Travel doesn’t have to be for long periods of time; it’s a philosophy more than anything. If you usually have a three week holiday staying in one place, change it up. Check out a few destinations you fancy, book the cheapest ticket possible, have a rough idea of what you want to see, and put your best foot forwards. Travel is about moving from place to place, or staying put in a new place if you like it that much. It’s about experience and exploring a culture rather than having a holiday to sleep and re-charge.
If you weren’t a traveler, how would your life be different? i.e. What would you be doing if you weren’t always on the road? (Or, what are you doing now that you aren’t on the go?)
When I’m not traveling I do a few things: pitching adventure ideas, planning new adventure, trying to get writing published, teaching EFL, and doing odds and bobs to keep busy and pay the bills!
What was the most grueling adventure? (i.e. epic hike with low supplies, long train ride in India with no toilets, etc.)
My most grueling experience was, as is often the case, accidental. My brother, his girlfriend, and I flippantly hiked into Tayrona National Park in Colombia fully loaded with 20 kilo packs each. We got lost over two days, finally finding salvation in the form of a family living in a former hippy hangout in the jungle – we were finished! You can read the story here.
What’s your best travel tip?
Smile – always.
One of my favorite parts of travel is connecting with the people I meet along the way, both locals and other travelers. Can you tell us about one of your most cherished travel connections?
Whilst camping around the island of Crete a few years ago, my girlfriend and I decided to treat ourselves to a night out of the tent in a family taverna and we could not have hoped for a better result. Driving up toward the lake we noticed a sign pointing toward a taverna hidden slightly away from the lake up the hill. Arriving up the bumpy, single track road we were greeted by a stunning white washed taverna built into the hillside with a panoramic view over the whole bay below to the sea 5-6 miles away. The gates were closed. The owner Nikos appeared from a doorway, dinner dripped down his jumper. He informed us they were closed until 2nd May and it was 30th April. Seeing my girlfriend’s beautiful smile he changed his mind and said we could stay, and we would be the only guests. He showed us to a beautifully simple room with a panoramic view over the hill and sea below. As he did so he informed us that the next day was a special celebration in Crete and a “few” family members would be arriving for an all day barbecue and party. He then told us he would be honored if we would come along and we were more than a little excited to say the least.
The next day no fewer than fifty family members from all over the world (New York, Melbourne, London, Athens, and Crete, of course) descended onto Nikos’ amazing terrace bearing tray after tray of meat and Greek Salad and for 12 hours we were treated as family. We ate charred meat, drank their own homebrewed wine, and danced all day stopping frequently to hear family reminiscences of growing up on the mountainside, the effects of the war, and what it means to be ‘Cretan’. It was a truly wonderful experience. We left early the next day so as to leave with a perfect memory.
What advice would you give to first time travelers?
Take a sense of humor, don’t take a money belt, and jump right in and enjoy!
What advice would you give to struggling travel writers / photographers?
As one myself this is easy: keep going. Keep writing and practicing your structure and keep sending it off. Start small, e-zines and travel websites, and just keep going. There are loads of us doing it, so just keep going.