When your 6-month trip turns into a new career and multiple years of travel, you know you’re doing something right.
I’d like to introduce you to Jeremy Foster of travelFREAK. Jeremy ditched the cubicle life in Boston, Massachusetts as an IT guy to travel and pursue a new career. From New Zealand and Australia up to China, Jeremy dishes out stories filled with humor and insight alongside exceptional photography.
One of the things that caught my attention, is that Jeremy is working abroad a little differently than most. Although he’s taught English in China, Jeremy is a professional bartender. Pretty cool way to work your way around the world, right? But he doesn’t just party away his time. Jeremy’s done some pretty cool (and crazy) stuff as you’ll see in the interview below.
travelFREAK by the Numbers
1 Cool Career
7 Honorable Mentions
9 Rides Hitch-Hiking New Zealand
43 Meter Nude Bungee Jump
2,200+ Twitter Followers
Interview with travelFREAK
“Be an explorer and live outside your comfort zone.” – Jeremy
You take a unique approach to travel blogging. What can people expect to read about on travelFREAK?
Thanks, Tim! A lot of travel blogs end up as the mindless rantings of a drunken expat. Though I’m occasionally that very same (OK, maybe more than occasionally), my focus with travelFREAK is to provide only the highest-quality stories, photography and travel tips and lessons. I love to focus on the transformational power of travel, and the ways in which travel broadens the mind.
I’ve been traveling for three and a half years straight, having left home in the first half of 2010 with a one way ticket to the other side of the globe. Increasingly, it’s becoming important for me to let people know that leaving one’s office job to travel the world is not an impossible feat! It’s exactly what I did and, countless misadventures later, I hope to inspire other people to do the same.
Many people (myself included) use teaching as their segue into working abroad. Before teaching in China, you went with bartending…was it really all about wooing beautiful Aussies?
Before and after, actually! I’m a career cocktail bartender, making a living out of traveling the world and taking up employment in the best cocktail bars I can find. Back home, though, I worked in IT, and I craved a more social work environment. I tried to be a bartender in Boston, but couldn’t find anybody who would hire me. Instead, as I traveled, I took up jobs in backpacker bars to build my experience, and essentially worked my way up to working in 5 star hotels and world famous cocktail bars. Today, I have a strong CV and I have, indeed, wooed a couple beautiful Aussies!
Teaching English, for me, was just another thing that I wanted to try. I did it, loved it, and am so grateful to have that experience under my belt. But now I’m back behind the bar, where I belong!
Do you have a suggestion or two for someone looking to try their hand at bartending abroad?
Yes! Get yourself a job on the tourist circuit, in a venue that’s often frequented by travelers. Turnover of staff is really high, meaning bars and restaurants are always looking for new people to work. They’re going to care less about your experience and more about your personality, especially if it’s an entry level bar position at a pub, so don’t be too professional! It’s loads of fun, you usually get free food and drinks, and the pay can be really good, depending on where you are. If you’re applying for a hospitality job abroad, check out my write up on how to find a job while traveling.
Having lived in Australia, New Zealand, and China, I’m curious if you have a favorite?
Oof! Tough question, Tim. I love them all for various reasons. I’m in China right now, which is great, but definitely not my favorite. I do find myself yearning for New Zealand from time to time, though. The people, the lifestyle, the food and the adventures all culminate to make it one of my favorite places in the world. I would even venture so far to say that Wellington, NZ, is my favorite city of all.
You’ve gone bungee jumping and skywalking, have you been skydiving? If not, is that in your future?
Oh yes, that was one of the first things on my agenda when I stepped foot on Australian soil. I went skydiving on the Sunshine Coast, and jumped out of a plane from 14,000 feet. I jumped last, meaning I got to watch the first jumpers magically disappear from the ledge, right out of the tiny little airplane door. That was a surreal experience.
What’s your favorite place to hike?
Anywhere, really! I love the outdoors, and allowing myself to get away from the technology and the bustle of life that often consumes me. One of my favorite hikes, though, was Cradle Mountain, in Tasmania. The terrain varied so greatly, the views were remarkably unique, and there were plenty of side activities to keep the ADD in me at rest. I swam, explored old huts, tromped through vegetation in vast fields and climbed nearly vertical rock walls into the clouds. Truly one of the best hikes I’ve ever done.
You’ve integrated into a few different countries, what travel tips do you have for someone looking to move to, or explore, a new country?
Make sure you get your finances in order! It can be difficult keeping your money organized when you’re dealing with multiple bank accounts in different countries. I’ve likely spent more than a thousand dollars over the years in avoidable bank fees, just because I wasn’t prepared or knowledgeable enough. I’ve recently put together a few financial tips for expats moving abroad, which you can read here: Don’t Be A Stupid Expat: 7 Ways to Handle Your Money Abroad.
People always seem curious about how travelers pack. So, do you roll traditional luggage or pack light?
I actually just took my first trip in 4 years using traditional luggage. I was flown to a small city in China, near Shanghai, to bartend a weekend-long event for a major car manufacturer. I used rolling luggage, because I needed to carry all my equipment (shakers, barspoons, strainers, etc). I have to say, though it was nice not having to wear a backpack, I don’t prefer it at all. I like a nice light backpack, though mine is hardly ever light enough! I travel with an 80L (I know, it’s huge, but it’s collapsible) Gregory backpack, and it’s been my traveling companion for three and a half straight years. Most reliable thing in my life, besides my mother.
Is there anything about traveling or living abroad that you’d like to add?
Surprise yourself. Do something you normally wouldn’t. Be an explorer and live outside your comfort zone. When you’re 80 years old, it’s the adventures that you’re going to want to remember.
Great Posts by Jeremy
- Trekking Through the Mountains of Southwestern China – Get a taste of what the Tiger Leaping Gorge has in store for you. Jeremy shares photos of rugged mountains, furry goats, terraced hamlets, and views of the Gorge.
- 20 Killer Photos of Australia – Self-explanatory collection of wanderlust-inducing photos.
- The Horrors of Chinese Food (plus the Delights of Chinese Food) – Makes you wonder what stuff we eat that others might consider gross. I’ll pass on the tarantulas and starfish, thanks. But I’ll try the horse’s tail.
Have you worked in a foreign country? Are you thinking about it? Let us know in the comments.