07 Dec 2014 Meet a Traveler Monday – Interview with Wes from JonnyVagabond.com
Meet Wes from Johnny Vagabond
The who are you ?’s
1. Who are you and where do you hail from?
My name is Wes Nations (and yes, I am fully aware that this is an ironic last name for what I do now) and I grew up in a small town in Southern Texas. There were 7,000 residents when I was a kid and now they’re up to 8,000 — this place is on fire. I’ve spent 10 years in the San Francisco Bay Area but to me Austin, TX is home. Or as close to one as I have these days.
2. What are the pros/cons of solo travel?
I travel solo and have since the beginning. I like the freedom to change plans on a whim and I find that the travel experience is drastically different as a solo traveler than if I’m traveling with someone else. A couple traveling together kind of create their own micro-universe and the crazy stuff (which I crave) just doesn’t seem to happen.
3. What job did you kick to the curb in order to travel?
There really is such a thing as a silver lining. I’d wanted to do this for ten years but had kind of given in — it seemed too expensive, too daunting. I had a job I loved, was making good money and had a lot of opportunity to move up in the company. I also learned a lot about marketing, which has proven invaluable.
When the economy started to tank, the owners panicked and sold out to a competitor and it soon became evident that the new bosses were not people I wanted to work for. That was the push that helped me make the jump. I saved for a year, sold everything I didn’t need and bought a one-way ticket to Bangkok.
4. Explain your website name, where did it come from/how did you come up with it?
It’s from an old song by a Patsy Cline-esque singer named Bonnie Guitar, recorded in the 50’s. In the song, she pines for her lover who wanders the world and only occasionally roams back into her life. It’s completely over-the-top melodrama but the name stuck with me. Also, my Dad wanted to name me Johnny and my mother refused — it still irks her in a way that I’ve picked up the name anyway.
The Fun ?’s
1. What’s the most under-estimated country & why?
Laos. Lovely people, very inexpensive, great place to ride a scooter (very polite drivers unlike Vietnam) and just drop-dead gorgeous. It’s changing fast, so get there soon. Food is good too. Luang Prabang is the big tourist draw but it’s a bit of a tourist trap now. Hit the smaller towns. I had a bungalow overlooking a river for $4 a night.
2. What’s your biggest travel mishap?
Getting caught up in a poker scam because I wanted the story. I was arrogant and thought I could walk away at any moment. I quickly learned that they were far sharper than I. I barely got out of it intact.
3. What luxuries did you forgoe in order to save for your travels?
The basics — eat out less, fewer fancy beers and nights out. Sitting on a porch with friends while swapping brews and tall tales beats the hell out of a bar and costs less than half the price.
4. What country has the best $1usd menu? What can one expect to get for $1usd?
Thailand. Go to Chiang Mai and check out the street food — amazing meals for $1 or less. Duck and rice, pork and rice, 3 spring rolls, grilled pork, amazing soups and more, all for $1. Fresh fruit smoothies for 60 cents. Just incredible. Grilled chicken on a stick for 30 cents. Sit-down meals at Thai places go for $1.25. I can’t wait to go back. Second choice: Vietnam — amazing Pho and other soups for next to nothing.
Quick and Dirty ?’s
1. Favorite beach
I’m not really a beach guy but I had a nice time at Long Beach on Koh Chang, Thailand.
2. #1 must have travel items
Bandanas — bring two or three. Useful in a thousand ways. (floppy hat and a knife/Leatherman are handy too)
3. Zip-off pants or no zip-off pants
They never really did it for me. They’re always made out of some ‘hi-tech’ material that magically ‘wicks sweat away’ and makes it look like you’ve pee’d yourself. Give me cotton any day.
4. Favorite beer
Small Batch 427 Double IPA from Breckenridge, Colorado
5. Favorite ice-cream flavor
6. How many stamps in your passport?
It’s buried in my luggage at this point but with border/visa runs and such, I’d guess 50. I had to add pages to the original a year ago.