Teaching Traveling: Today we have a travel blog celebrity, Nomadic Samuel! Samuel, tell us a bit about your background.
Samuel: My name is Samuel Jeffery and I’ve been living abroad in some capacity or another for six consecutive years.
During my last two years of University I started tutoring English to foreign students on campus. The majority of my students were from South Korea and I quickly forged some great lifelong friendships. It was at this time that I started to seriously consider teaching overseas.
Upon completing my junior year of college, I spent the entire summer traveling around Japan and Korea. I met people from all over the world backpacking, teaching and exploring uncharted territory. It was at this time that I became totally engrossed with the possibilities of a nomadic life and I haven’t looked back ever since.
The six years that I’ve spent abroad have been a mix of teaching English in South Korea and backpacking around Asia & South America. I’m currently back in South Korea teaching with the government EPIK program (English Program in Korea) at an Elementary school with aspirations to monetize my Nomadic Samuel blog and save up for a true around the world trip that will take me to places and regions I’ve yet to conquer.
TT: Wow! Tell us more about some of your travels.
S: My most recent backpacking journey was nearly a two year expedition split between South America and Asia. It’s hard for me to narrow down the most vivid memories or experiences that I accumulated along the way. Having been blessed with the opportunity to visit Machu Picchu, Angkor Wat, and the Taj Mahal, I certainly saw some impressive sites and ruins; however, if I was forced to pick one particular country that left an undeniable impression, I would have to say India was by far the most fascinating country I’ve ever visited.
I’ve said this before (and have heard others mention it as well) that there is more going on India than possibly the rest of the world combined. It’s a total assault on the senses in every way imaginable and unimaginable. I found taking the trains in India was an all-time highlight and cemented my belief that overland travel is my favourite way to get around. I documented my train journey with a high speed camera that can be viewed on this youtube video.
TT: Awesome. How do you find your teaching and travel opportunities?
S: I actually found out about backpacking, as a lifestyle, during my first trip to Korea and Japan back in 2004. I met a few travellers approaching their 30′s who had travelled all over the world. I was so fascinated by their lifestyle and experiences that I started watching travel videos, reading guidebooks and researching travel related websites online. I quickly came to the conclusion that if I was diligent about saving money from work that I would someday be able to have a backpacking journey of my own.
TT: Love it! How did you find the money to fund this travel?
S: I have funded all of my travels with the teaching salary that I’ve earned in South Korea. The perks of teaching in Korea include return airfare, a generous salary, free apartment and low taxes. What’s left from your salary after taxes, utilities and other subscriptions and bills is quite a decent chunk of disposable income to play around with.
I’ve found it particularly easy to save for backpacking by adopting a mentality that when I working I’m saving for my next backpacking journey. When I’m tempted to go out for an expensive meal, buy some clothes or go out drinking I try to remind myself that I’m about to prevent myself from experiencing a couple of relaxing nights in Laos. It’s not that I become a totally anti-social reclusive hermit when I’m working, but I certainly am selective in terms of what I spend my money on. I’ve also gone out of my way to pick-up overtime and gave up some vacation time to do extra-pay camps. My most recently journey lasting 19 months was entirely funded by 14 months of teaching English in Daejeon, South Korea.
TT: WOW! Good to know! Now, tell us one moment from your travels that was particularly funny.
S: I like to take photos and I often try to capture photos from distinct vantage points. Once, when I was exploring around the outskirts of Bangkok, I was crouching down to take a photo of cute dog running nearby when I suddenly noticed something wasn’t right with my shorts. A quick examination of my backside revealed that I had split them apart in the worst possible way!
Being in a remote part of town, I wasn’t able to find a store selling any kind of pants or shorts, as an emergency replacement. Instead, I had to journey back to my guesthouse walking, taking a bus and on the subway. When I was brave enough to look I noticed locals laughing at the foolish looking farang over-exposing himself.
TT: Ha! How have your travels impacted you as a teacher and in your current career?
S: My travel experiences have made me a more confident teacher in the classroom. I find that alternating between teaching and backpacking provides me two separate spheres in my life, almost a bit like Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
When I’m teaching, I’m in serious savings mode and I also have the responsibilities of being a role model in the classroom for my students; however, when I’m backpacking I’m the care free adventurous sort who has virtually no expected or defined social expectations. I can split my pants open (as mentioned above) and laugh it off a few hours later.
TT: Nice. How have your travels impacted you as a person?
S: Travel has had an enormous impact on my as an individual.
I’ve become a far more confident, outgoing and passionate about what I’m doing with my life. Aside from intrinsic shifts, I’ve also become a lot less materialistic. I consider myself a minimalist now and I find possessions that I’m not using as unnecessary clutter. Having the time of your life with nothing more than a large backpack, passport and ATM card has taught me that time is the most valuable resource in my life. When I’m on the road I feel like I’m living my life to its fullest potential.
TT: What advice do you have for other educators who are dreaming of travel?
S: I honestly don’t think any one particular link, website or organization is as important as deciding that you want to travel. Making a firm decision and getting passionate about it is half the battle. I would suggest setting a goal or deadline to put your plans into action. Obviously doing research and saving for a trip of a lifetime is quite necessary, but I find this comes naturally after making the decision to travel with a passion that leads you on a path of discovery towards your glorious journey.
TT: Wonderful advice and stories, Samuel. Thanks so much! Readers, feel free to leave questions and comments for Nomadic Samuel, and to check out his popular travel website!