Today we are traveling with Jill from Adventure J
My name is Jill from Adventure J and I’m Canadian! I currently live in Ottawa, our nations capital, and grew up in a small town just outside the city. 2 years ago I decided to start my own travel blog called Adventure J. My blog is about anything travel but focuses on the outdoors, adventurous activities and wild places to explore in the world.
I decided to start this blog to document, write about and share my travel experiences as I explore this incredible planet. I see this blog as my doorway into the world of travel and a way to connect with others who share this same passion.
What type of traveler would you say are you?
I’m definitely a backpacker! While a luxurious resort does sounds amazing at times, I don’t want to experience a new country from behind the gates of a resort. I’m also usually on a budget and saving money on accommodations, transportation and food allows me to do other things instead.
This means I can travel for longer and use that extra cash for doing outdoors adventures such as zip-lining, white water rafting, snowmobiling, dog sledding, scuba diving, etc. I want to be able to experience the outdoors wherever I am so I’ll sacrifice that all-inclusive resort for chance to go ice climbing in Iceland.
I also enjoy meeting other travelers and like the vibes at hostels. I feel that backpacking allows you to immerse yourself a bit deeper into both the travel and local community.
What’s inside your backpack? What is that one thing that you ALWAYS have to carry?
In my backpack, besides clothing, is my camera gear, laptop and I usually carry Canada flag stickers and pins to give out to local kids when I travel. As for one thing I always carry with me? Wet wipes! Boring I know, but they just come in handy so often!
If I want to wash my hands before eating, after using the bathroom (especially while in the wildness or on a long train ride in India) I have something to clean up with. Having something to clean up with also helps me to stay healthy when on the road.
Adventure travel or Sightseeing? Why?
Hands down adventure travel! I don’t just want to SEE the world, I want to DO the world! I don’t want to just see a mountain, I want to climb it! I’m very athletic and love to be on the move so, any time I can immerse myself into my surroundings the better. I feel I get a deeper understanding and appreciation for a region once I’ve experienced it.
Can you tell me about your experience in Eastern Island? How was people over there?
Oh my gosh, if you ever get the chance to go to Easter Island, GO! This little island, lost out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, has so much to see and do! Geographically it’s made up of volcanic rock and so has a lot of interesting natural features such as lava tubes to explore. Culturally, this place is a gem.
First you have the giant Moai statues that can be found nowhere else on earth. Hearing about the history and legends of the people who went through so much trouble to carve them out of the side of volcanic mountains and then transport them miles and miles to the edges of the island is fascinating and mind boggling at times.
Secondly, you have the current culture that resides there. While the people of Easter Island are technically Chilean citizens, they are French Polynesian at the core. The people were wonderful and very friendly with visitors. They seem to want to show off their little island to anyone who is interested!
How is a normal day in your life when you aren’t traveling?
As I stated in my blog, I currently don’t travel full time but live and work in Ottawa. I’m a paramedic and this job actually allows me to take extended vacations and has a flexible schedule. My shifts are 12 hrs so a work day is pretty much just that.
But I do have a lot of days off where I work on my blog, go camping, snowboarding, running or anything outside depending on the season. I also spend a lot of time plotting my next adventure whether its at home or abroad.
Which adventure you liked more? How was it?
Oh this is a really tough one… I’m going to have to say it’s snowboard paragliding in western Canada! Snowboard paragliding off the top of a mountain was a huge thrill because I’m afraid of heights (but always working on it) and because it was such a unique adventure to try.
It was incredible to be soaring over a mountain valley with my snowboard strapped to my feet and just a little parachute keeping me up. It was better than sky diving because it was more relaxed and all about enjoying the view and being in the moment.
Can you recommend to me an itinerary in Canada?
Oh wow that’s a tough one. Canada is such a large country (I still have yet to see it all!), this would very much depend on how much time you have and what your interests are. Most first time visitors head to the west coast, landing in Vancouver.
This summer I visited Vancouver for the first time and what a beautiful city! Geographically and culturally this is a wonderful place to start. Situated right on the ocean, surrounded by mountains, it’s simply stunning. From there I’d say head east into the Rocky Mountains.
Jasper National Park is one of the most beautiful places to explore the mountains and Banff National Park isn’t too far away either. Montreal and Quebec City are beautiful European style cities in the east and give you a feel for the French Canadian culture.
What’s the big reason why you are traveling?
I travel to explore and because I’m curious about the world. I travel to experience and learn more about other cultures. I was born with wanderlust in the blood and I can’t explain this incredible urge that I have to get out there and experience as much of the world as possible. I travel because “Twenty years from now you’ll be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do that by the ones you did.” – Mark Twain
Can you tell us about your longest trip? How long was it and which places did you go to? Why did you do this trip?
My longest trip so far is 6 weeks spent backpacking with a friend in South America (though I did spend 1 yr living in Japan where I taught English). I’d never been to South America before and had just started exploring Central America.
I love the Spanish culture and there are so many incredible places to visit in SA, so I figured it was time to go! We flew into Santiago Chile and then out of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Basically we had 6 weeks to get from one place to the other. Starting in Santiago, we flew to Easter Island for a week. After that we visited Valparaiso (Chile) then headed north to San Pedro de Atacama.
We spent 2 weeks exploring the incredible outdoors here while also doing the 4 day Salt Flats tour in southern Bolivia. I have to say that this region is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited and I would go back there in a heartbeat.
From there we traveled into Argentina, visiting Salta, Cafayate, Puerto Iguazu (and the amazing Iguazu Falls), and finally down to Buenos Aries. We had some extra time once we arrived in BA so we hoped on a ferry to a cute little town of Colonia, Uruguay for a few days.
To save for this trip I was able to pick up some extra shifts at work and made sure I didn’t over spend at home.
In all the trips you’ve done, what has been your favorite so far? and why?
As much as I loved northern Chile, Iceland has easily been my favorite trip so far. There’s just something about that country that’s so mystical and magical. My boyfriend and I spent a mere 12 days there but we saw and did something new every single day.
I fell head over heels in love with Iceland and could gush about it for hours! Iceland is one of the most beautiful countries in the world and is simply heaven for outdoor lovers. Every single day we spent there, whether we were driving ring road or venturing inside a volcano (yes you can do that in Iceland!), was the best day we had. You can’t say that about many trips or places!
What’s your favorite gastronomy/food cuisine that you had in your travels?
I’m not a big foodie, but I LOVE trying the local cuisine. Something that I crave whenever I think about South America are the Empanadas. My friend and I survived on them during our 6 weeks of backpacking. Empanadas are basically stuffed pastries that are either fried or baked.
There are so many different stuffing’s that can go in them so you always have lots of choice to try different flavors. And the best part was, every new place we went seemed to have their own signature fillings to try!
Has there been any challenging and bad moments? Can you tell us about the experience?
Oh yes I’ve had my fair share of those. In fact I wrote a whole blog article about how things went wrong on one of my trips to Nicaragua! From being taken to the wrong city by our private transfer, to a hostel completely messing up our reservation (we almost had to sleep on the beach that night – no tent!).
As for a bad moment, I feel lucky to say I’ve had one bad incident. While returning to our hostel in the evening of our first night in Valparaiso, Chile, my friend was mugged on the doorsteps of our hostel. This guy came up behind my friend as I was unlocking the door and ripped her purse right off her and ran away.
My friend lost her iPhone, credit card, debit card but most importantly, her passport. We had to go back to Santiago to visit the Canadian Embassy but were able to her a new, temporary passport issued in just one day.
What has been you favorite destination on all the trips you’ve done? Please tell us why.
I could go on and on here about Iceland but I’ve already done that! I’ll pick somewhere different for this question. When I traveled around Nicaragua, Leon was my favorite stops. It’s such a vibrant and beautiful city. There are so many beautiful old churches to explore, the buildings are so colorful and I just love the night life.
Leon is a university city so there are a lot of young people around. I spent a night out at a salsa club and this was probably the best night of the entire trip! It was incredible to watch everyone dancing to salsa music all night and give it a try myself. I also loved Leon for its close and easy access to the outdoors. I hiked a volcano just outside Leon and went sand boarding down the infamous Cerro Negro.
What’s the worst place that you have stayed in for sleeping? What’s the best?
Worst place I’ve ever stayed was a beach hostel on Little Corn Island, Nicaragua. The cabins on the beach sounded romantic but they were just garbage. They were basically shacks on the beach and the bathrooms were disgusting. I would have preferred camping on the beach!
One of the best places I’ve ever stayed was Hotel Chilies in West End, Roatan, Honduras. I had a beautiful little cabin in the jungle all to myself, and spent hours hanging out in my hammock on the front porch. The beach was literally right across the road and guests of Chilies got a discount at the adjoining dive shop (Native Sons).
The cabin was basic but clean, had its own bathroom and I loved listening to sounds of the geckos as I fell asleep at night.
Are you planning for a new trip or do you already have a new trip in mind?
I’m always planning a new trip! I’ll be heading to the Rocky mountains in Western Canada again this winter on a snowboard trip and in the spring I’m planning a trip to Indonesia for a month. I have a friend who currently lives in Jakarta that I want to visit and I’m long overdue for a trip to SE Asia.
Do you have any recommendations which blogger/traveler should I interview next?
I’d like to suggest Erin from The World Wanderer . She’s recently made the commitment to full-time travel and just spent 7 weeks in India. I really enjoy reading her blog posts!
Great interview, thanks for your time Jill!
Jill has great adventures from her trips. Great adventure in Nicaragua hiking the Volcano and went sand boarding down Cerro Negro. It’s great to read about Easter Island, not many people have been visiting there. And great itinerary recommendation if you are traveling to Canada.
If you want to read more adventure interviews that we published so far, check Tomislav Perko, hitchhiking 6 years around the world. Patrick Martin who’s been cycling 130+ countries around the world. Melissa who’s traveling around the world and now she is working in a farm in Australia before starting to travel again.