We had a chance to interview James about his experience and his new app to help people save money on accommodation and ultimately explore more.
Although I have travelled to every country in the world, I feel like I am only just getting started, and want to travel so much more. For example, because I have visited a handful of places in Brazil, there is so much of the country I have yet to see.
Any scary moments or challenges you’d recommend people avoid?
It was certainly scary at times, and maybe I was a little naive as well. But I had so much energy to explore and discover the world. There are some countries that have been in a state of civil war and been dangerous for decades, so I thought if I said “I’ll wait to see how the situation develops” I may still be waiting.
I visited Syria when the country was peaceful for example, and Afghanistan when it was a warzone, both opposites to a large extent now. My timing was not great!
Afghanistan I walked into from Uzbekistan and it was a pretty hairy place to be for sure. Yemen is notoriously difficult to visit, and many of the concerns with visiting Yemen and Somalia were of personal security once there.
Common sense was obviously vital, as well as forward planning, but of course, when you ask how I managed, luck plays a massive role in dangerous zones. Of course there were culture shocks, but after my first couple of trips, I had a very open mind and I always expected the unexpected.
What are your secrets to staying safe and sane on such a long journey?
I had an open mind through my travels, and I still do when I travel. We are so similar as people in many ways that having positive thoughts means that everything becomes a learning experience, and so I tried to find similarities rather than differences between us.
What did you love most about traveling and what kept you going?
Meeting new people and the journey, often both at the same time.
I love the anticipation of traveling to a new destination and meeting people along the way that you can bounce ideas off of and explore with together.
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself before you started?
Take the plunge. I was skeptical at first, and just kind of went along with it, but it was the best thing I ever did. You educate yourself in ways you can’t imagine, and you have a newfound respect and knowledge for other people, cultures, religions and traditions. You will meet amazing people along the way, and even people that you may not get on with, but play a role in shaping who you may become.
Traveling doesn’t have to be about ‘finding yourself’, but it certainly taught me an incredible amount about myself and the world when I travelled solo. Smile and say yes as much as possible. You never know where each risk can take you.
Any tips for travelers on a budget?
Budget is actual very personal to tastes, and guidebooks will always try to ‘budget per day’, but to be honest, you know your own tastes right down to the food you order from a street stall or item off a restaurant menu. Sure you may splurge more on certain tours or a nice place to stay, but the harder you work, the more you have to travel, and budget for that. It’s more about time than budget. We can always take more time to work extra jobs to pay for our next trip, but time is the finite commodity, so budget that well. Both at home and on the road.
Planning my travels around the world meant I was always looking for the best and cheapest routes. I used Air Treks on several occasions simply for how easy it was to book and being competitive on price. There’s something so special for me about booking a flight and being at an airport. I know many people see the journey as an annoyance, but I love the feeling of being in a room waiting for a flight with people that are literally going anywhere in the world. Everyone has a different story to tell and a different place to go, and there’s something incredibly liberating and exciting about that.
Any crazy meal experiences?
Crazy meal experience was certainly eating a rat in Sudan!
Would you do it all again? Are you done traveling now?
Tell us about your new travel accommodation swapping app
So it was in 2017 that I was travelling through Transylvania, Romania where I had the thought that we all want to travel more but spend less. That’s where the idea of Holiday Swap was born.
Part social media app, part booking site, it allows users to “like” certain destinations, communicate with the people living there, and, if they so choose, swap homes with the ones they forge connections with.
With hotel and homestay prices continuing to go up, it opens up destinations to a whole new demographic of traveler. You can save on your biggest outgoing expense and have more money to spend on the things you love while traveling – and the social media side also means that you’ll have a virtual tour guide before your trip.
I’m lucky enough that through my travels I can hop on a plane and know people in my destination. I want everyone to have more of that.
Yes for $1 a night you can link up and swap with other users.
Wait, One Dollar? *Downloads App*
The sharing community is becoming much more global around the world as we all strive for more, with less. There is an optional deposit to protect against damages, but these should be covered on your home insurance. Users are not sub-letting since they’re not profiting.
Even if users don’t swap a place to stay, they can share travel tips and build up an interactive travel map, creating their global community of like-minded travelers.
Already in 50 countries, Business Insider is quoted as saying “A Tinder-style social media platform that lets travelers swap accommodation around the world.” – Business Insider
You too can download the app in the App Store and Play Store here: