The latest in my ongoing series of World Travellers is Jacob From On The Way Around, a blog about his diverse lifestyle around the world, with a focus on Central Asia…
Who are you?
I’m Jacob, a 21-year old Canadian dude. I currently study Software Engineering back home in Canada and run my travel blog on the side.
I absolutely love visiting off-the-beaten-path destinations such as Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and Central Asia. I tend to be somewhat outdoor-focused with my travels – I always try to go to places that are known for their epic mountains and hiking. Road trips are another thing I like, and so far I’ve done both the Karakoram Highway and the Pamir Highway. Basically, if a country has beautiful scenery, it’s on my list.
Photography is another passion of mine, and my travel blog is an outlet I use to share my favourite travel photos. I’m always working to improve the photos I take and love trying to find alternative angels of places that are often photographed.
Where are you from?
I’m from Ottawa, Canada – one of the coldest capital cities in the world!
Where have you been?
So far I’ve been to 21 countries, with most of them being in Asia. I’ve been to every ‘stan except for Turkmenistan, have road-tripped across Saudi Arabia, and ridden the Trans-Mongolian railway from Beijing to Moscow.
I tend to focus on off-the-beaten-path destinations and love visiting countries that have hiking opportunities.
Where are you now?
Currently, I’m under lockdown in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan!
What are the top 3 places you’ve visited?
It’s hard to choose! I absolutely love China, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
What is the best travel experience you’ve had?
My favourite experience so far has to be trekking in Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor. I spent over a week hiking to visit the Kyrgyz people who live on the Little Pamir plateau, and it really was a mind-opening experience. I got to stay with a semi-nomadic Kyrgyz family and experience their way of life.
My visit to Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor was challenging – but I learnt a lot from it. Carrying my heavy backpack for days on end was all worth it when I finally got to witness the traditional lifestyle of the nomadic Kyrgyz people.
I really hope that one day, Afghanistan is a more accessible country and that more people are able to experience its beauty.
What is the worst travel experience you’ve had?
I’d say my worst travel experience was when I got my phone and wallet stolen in Mexico City. It really sucks to get your belongings taken from you, and it wasn’t easy to cancel my credit cards without a phone. I ended up having to buy a cheap replacement phone in order to get anything done.
If you’re planning on visiting Mexico City, be sure to watch your pockets on the metro! I let my guard down for just a few seconds, but it was enough for the pickpockets to get me.
What is the funniest travel experience you’ve had?
When I was in Kazakhstan, I spent a night camping at the beautiful Charyn Canyon. When I was walking back to the main road to hitchhike back to the city, I met a Kazakh dude and had a brief conversation with him before continuing on.
A few months later, I was in Hong Kong at a Couchsurfing meet up with my friend Eddie. He mentioned that he had invited a Kazakh friend of his who he’d met a couple of years back in Astana (who was also in Hong Kong at the time).
Halfway through the Couchsurfing meetup, Eddie’s Kazakh friend showed up – and it was the same guy I’d met at Charyn Canyon a few months back! It’s crazy how small the world is sometimes.
What is the scariest travel experience you’ve had?
I accidentally overstayed my Afghan tourist visa once and almost got stuck in Afghanistan, so that’s probably the most scared I’ve been! Luckily I was able to sort it out fairly easily – would’ve really sucked if I had gotten stuck.
What is the most random job you have had on your travels?
I haven’t taken any jobs while travelling, yet!
How do you fund your travels?
I’m a student back home, so during my semesters, I work as a teaching assistant. I’ve also done a couple of internships as a software engineer to help save up some cash.
Luckily, I tend to travel to pretty cheap places so I don’t actually need to save that much cash!
I’m also really into churning credit cards, so I’m often able to fly in business class for less than $100!
What 3 tips would you give a new traveller before they set off on their adventure?
Firstly, plan a bit, but not too much. Almost all of my best travel experiences have happened as a result of being flexible with my plans. If you don’t plan a super strict itinerary, you’ll have more flexibility to say yes when others invite you on adventures!
Second, sort out any visas that you need far in advance (or at least have a plan on how you’re going to get them). I’ve met quite a few travellers in Central Asia who had to skip on certain countries because they didn’t research the best way to get their visas.
Third, don’t feel bad about taking rest days. If you’re going to be travelling for a month or more, you’ll almost definitely have days where you don’t feel like doing anything – this is completely normal. When I travel for long periods, I often pick a city to base myself in for a couple of weeks halfway through the trip. Having a real base allows me to recharge and reflect on everything I’ve seen.
What are your future travel plans?
I’d like to do some more travelling in Central Asia, especially in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan. The Caucasus (Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia) are also super high on my list.
I’ve also been reading more and more about Africa. Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan look really interesting, and I’d love to visit them sometime soon.
Find Jacob online:
Travel blog: https://onthewayaround.com/
Thanks to Jacob for being the latest in my series of World Travellers! If you travel the world and run a travel blog or are a travel writer, please get in touch, you can be featured, either e-mail jonny (at) dontstopliving (dot) net or head to my contacts page and get connected! You can also subscribe to Don’t Stop Living by filling in the form below! Safe travels!