This week’s Wanderer of the Week is someone near and dear to my heart: Jade Francis. If you followed my recent trip to Europe, especially on Snapchat (you can follow me at wanderingerin, if you don’t already), you’ll know that after four years apart, Jade and I were able to reunite, not just once but twice. Jade and I met almost four summers ago, after we had both booked a three week overland trip from Zimbabwe to South Africa. Since the two of us were on our own, we wound up sharing a tent for the trip and it bonded us together rather quickly. If it wasn’t for travel, Jade and I would have never have met, as she’s from Australia and I’m from the United States, but I can’t imagine my life without her in it.
Jade is a lawyer with a passion for travel, something her father instilled in her at a young age, and what she considers the best gift he’s ever given her. She loves experiencing a new culture, new people, food and language, and she believes that, “there is nothing more special then going somewhere and experiencing something that you’ve never experienced before and it takes your breath away. Whether its seeing the sunset like you have never seen before, a breathtaking view from a mountain, tasting something beautiful for the very first time, or hearing music you’ve never heard before that makes you smile. Those moments are what life is all about.” I’m sure you can already see why Jade and I get along so well, and I’m so excited for you all to get to know her.
I know it’s hard to narrow down, but what are your three favorite places in the world?
Cambodia, Botswana, Budapest
Who is your favorite person to travel with? Why?
I don’t have just one and all are my favourite for different reasons. Firstly, my friend Sofia who I love to travel with because we travel the same way! She’s easy-going, happy to just to go with the flow, is amazing at planning and always finds the most incredible accommodation and most importantly makes me laugh the entire way. I’ve shared some of my craziest travel moments with Sofia. Then my best friend Anna, though we haven’t had the opportunity to travel a lot, the times we have, have always been great! And we have many funny stories of us travelling together when we were teenagers. My roomie Erin, aka the World Wanderer, I was lucky enough to experience the best trip of my life with her. Her spirit and joy is infectious and there are always so many laughs along the way. Last but definitely not least, my sister Ashleigh, even though the way we travel is completely different, no matter where I am, when I am with her, it always feels like home.
If you could only explore one continent for the rest of your life, which one would you pick and why?
South America. Because I haven’t been there yet but I know I would love it. It’s such a vibrant and lively place and there is so much to see and do.
Are you a light packer or a heavy packer?
A medium packer. I wish I was light packer but, no matter how much I try, I always tend to pack a little too much for the trip. But I have definitely gone from being a heavy packer to a lighter packer throughout the years.
Do you overplan before you arrive, just show up at a destination, or have a mixture of both?
I definitely do not over plan. I will usually have my accommodation booked and that’s about it. I leave the rest up to chance.
Tell us about your most memorable trip.
Africa. I travelled on my own to South Africa and then joined a Gecko tour that went through Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa. It was the best times of my life. I was lucky enough to have an amazing crew on my tour, great guides and a couple of oddballs just for a bit of entertainment. Aside from that, Africa is an amazing and beautiful place. The people are beautiful, the landscape and wildlife are breathtaking, and the culture is so rich and vibrant. Take me back!
Why do you travel?
I travel because it opens up your mind. Being able to see and experience different countries, people and cultures, creates special memories and ultimately gives you a better understanding of the world. For me, there is also an element of escape. You’re able to travel to a new place and leave behind the worries of real life back home.
What advice would you give to people who want to travel solo but are too afraid?
Just do it! Don’t let fear govern your choices, and what’s the worst that can happen, you hate it and go home. But you’ll get so much from doing it on your own, you’ll gain confidence, independence, you’ll have amazing experiences and its guaranteed you’ll meet great and interesting people along the way.
Share your best travel romance story.
His name was Renato. I was in Mykonos and we first saw each other in whilst we were eating at a restaurant. The whole time we couldn’t take our eyes off each other. He had the most amazing green eyes. Then I saw him in a club and he came straight over to me and we were with each other the entire night! We spent more days together and had so much fun but both of us were leaving. We made plans for me to come and meet him in Italy, but unfortunately they never worked out. But I still will never forget those amazing green eyes.
What’s your favorite travel quote? Why?
“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” – Anonymous
Based on Jade’s answers, I’m sure you can see why we travel so well together. I’m so grateful travel has brought the two of us together in Southern Africa, Amsterdam, and Paris, and I’m looking forward to seeing where our future adventures take us.