Interview with Jordan Beck Wagner
At the age of only 25 Jordan has already visited 35 countries so far. After studying abroad, Jordan realised she just loves traveling and it’s been her passion ever since. In 2013 Jordan started her blog where you can follow her on her journeys.
Q: So, Jordan. Where are you now, at home (Germany) or abroad?
A: I am actually in Edinburgh, Scotland! I have been living here since September 2015 and will be here until September 2016. I am currently at the University of Edinburgh Business School studying for my MSc in International Business and Emerging Markets. I lived in Heidelberg, Germany from September 2013 – March 2015 while studying for my M.A. in Political Science
Q: How long have you been traveling and how did you start?
A: I took my first international trip (besides Canada) at 16 years old to Germany although my parents always took me and my six siblings on trips throughout the USA every summer. I have seen 48 out of 50 states. Ever since I moved to Europe in September 2013, I have used every spare moment to travel.
Q: Did someone have an influence on your decision to change your life and start traveling?
A: I definitely think the trips I took with my parents as a little kid sparked my love of traveling. My parents were big proponents of reading and the books I read sparked my fascination of new countries and places. I have an insane curiosity for new places, cultures, and experiences. Once you get the travel bug, it kind of becomes addictive!
Q: Did you travel a lot when you were just a child?
A: As I mentioned above, I traveled a lot as a child within the USA but did not start traveling internationally, besides trips to Canada, until I was 16 years old.
Q: Do you always travel alone?
A: I used to travel mostly alone and maybe meet up with friends along the way depending on my route and where they were living. I really like traveling alone because of the flexibility. However, I am now living in Scotland with my younger sister so we mostly travel together.
Q: What do you prefer; hotels, hostels or private accommodation and why?
A: I like a mixture of hostels and private accommodations. When traveling alone, it makes so much more sense to stay in a hostel for financial reasons and social reasons. I am able to meet new people and have that human interaction. When traveling with other people, I prefer to rent an Airbnb because it actually tends to be the cheapest option (especially in large cities like London and Paris where hostels are still pretty expensive!). Plus, Airbnb gives a bit of privacy that hostels cannot provide.
Q: How do you fund your trips?
A: It is a combination of sources. First off, I am a very frugal traveler and absolutely love finding the best deals. While my parents help for some of my trips, I spent a lot of time in university saving up money. While in Germany, I worked odd jobs babysitting, nannying, and teaching English.
Q: Where are you going next and what will your activities be there?
A: I actually just got back from Malta which is an absolutely amazing island. My boyfriend lives in Hamburg, Germany so I spend at least one or two weekends a month flying there. My next big trip will be through the Baltic countries. My sister and I plan on going on this trip in either April or May. We want to fly into Helsinki, Finland and then head down to Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Depending on time, budget, and visa issues, we might also visit Russia and Poland.
Q: If you can choose one country and one city (doesn’t have to be in the same country) which you would recommend visiting and why?
A: My number one country would 100% be Germany. There is so much to do and see there! I cannot get over all the history, culture, food options, etc. I feel like I still have so much more to do in Germany!
In terms of a city, I’m not sure if I have just one city that I absolutely love. However, I do have a favorite region. I would tell everyone to visit Normandy, France at least once in their life. I studied politics and absolutely love history. Normandy is such an amazing region of politics, history (especially WWII history), and quaint villages. My parents were engaged in the town of Honfleur so the region holds a special meaning to me. I could definitely see myself buying a small cottage there to live in during the summer months.
Q: Are there any places you don’t want to visit and why?
A: Currently, I do not have any places I would never visit. While I have stuck to Europe for now, I’m looking at going to Southeast Asia and South America in the next few years. Honestly, the biggest factor for me when choosing locations is safety, especially as a young woman.
Q: What’s your favourite gadget you take with you on your every journey?
A: It is a tie between my iPhone 6 and my Sony A-6000 camera. So much information is stored on my phone! Between all my apps, travel information, and my passport (always take a picture of your passport and email it to yourself!), the iPhone really does everything for me. I am also in love with my camera, the Sony A-6000. It is a mirror-less camera so it is super small and lightweight yet fits perfect in my purse. This camera takes the most fabulous photos.
Q: What is your favourite travel app for your smartphone or tablet?
A: This is a hard one, I have a few favorites. I’m constantly on the app “Momondo” looking up cheap flights! I probably visit it at least once or twice a week just browsing places I could go. I also love the “Google Translate” app and use it when I am in a country and do not know the language. The app “Converter+” is especially useful for Americans because we do not use Celsius, kilograms, meters, etc. so I am constantly converting measurements. In terms of my photography, I love the “VSCO” app for editing photos and then put those edited photos on “Instagram.”
Q: What camera and lens you use?
A: As stated above, I use a Sony A-6000, which is a mirror-less camera. I wanted to buy a DSLR but a mirror-less camera made more sense in terms of all my travels. It is really lightweight and fits into my zippered purse, which is a huge plus. I just use the lens kit that came with the camera although I am looking at buying a wide angle lens.
Q: What did you learn on your travels, and how has traveling changed you?
A: What haven’t I learned on my travels?! I learned to never judge a book (or in this case, a country!) by its cover. Some of my most favorite places are those that most people deem “ugly” or “backwards.” I love going to the unexpected and unusual places in Europe. Traveling has just fueled my curiosity even more. I want to see as much of the world as possible and experience as much as possible!
A few questions about your visit to Croatia
Q: What attracted you to visit Croatia?
A: I actually interned in Croatia but was initially attracted to the country because my mom’s great-grandparents came over to the United States from Croatia. I have always wanted to see where my ancestors lived.
Q: What places did you visit?
Q: Any favourite moments?
A: I absolutely fell in love with Hvar. Is it not the most perfect island?! I went the beginning of May so it was super warm but without the tourists. Simply magical.
Q: Would you like to come back, and if so what would you like to see and do?
A: I would love to come back to Croatia and hope to visit again in 2016. I really want to explore more of Istria as well as the islands of Croatia.
Q: Any funny/interesting stories from your Croatia visit?
A: I found third cousins in Krašić, Croatia! My mom gave me all the paperwork from her great-grandparents and I spent one weekend hunting down family still in Croatia. Luckily, I had a Croatian friend who came with me and could translate everything (my Croatian is very basic!). We went to the town of Krašić and sat in the local bar asking locals if they knew my mom’s family’s last name (Puzek). One guy ended up knowing some people with that last name and took me to them. We ended up figuring out we were third cousins! My mom’s great-grandfather had two brothers – one brother traveled with him to the United States and one brother stayed behind. These cousins are from the brother that stayed behind. I actually tried to get Croatian citizenship but am one generation too late. My mom could get citizenship though.
Q: Did anything bad happened to you while you were here?
A: Nothing bad happened at all. On the contrary, everyone was so extremely friendly and helpful!
Q: Is there anything you did not like in Croatia?
A: Obviously it is frustrating not being able to speak the language but by the end of my stay there (10 weeks), I definitely knew basic words and phrases.
Q: What do you think about Croatian people?
A: Absolutely amazing! They always went out of their way to help me and explain information to me.
Q: And what about the sea and the beach? Would you recommend it?
A: As I have stated above, I loved loved loved Hvar! The sea and beaches of Croatia are absolutely amazing and a must-do when visiting!
Q: How was the food?
A: I loved all the meat and truffles! Unfortunately, I am allergic to shellfish so I tend to steer clear of seafood in general. However, everyone I have talked to absolutely loves the seafood in Croatia.
Q: Do you have any tips for travelers thinking of visiting Croatia?
A: Plan more time than you think!!! You can’t visit all of Croatia without spending several weeks there. If you are going to visit, I would suggest either doing northern Croatia (Istria) or southern Croatia (Split and Dubrovnik). It makes it a bit more manageable.