A wise quote from Marcel Proust, a french novelist, critic and essayist asserts, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
Travelling is indeed an eye opening experience; you get to discover new beliefs, new cultures, new foods and also different ethic groups.
My name is Jeff Epps. I’m a 40-year old American. I was born in San Antonio, Texas and was raised in southern Illinois in a small town called, Cambria. It has about 1,300 people in it. I grew up with a single mother in a low-income home. I lived in Miami, Florida for two and a half years where I worked several part-time jobs and attended the University of Miami to pursue my second master’s degree. I moved to China after graduation in 2012 to teach Engish and I have been there ever since.
When did you start touring the world?
China was country #3 for me because on my way to China I had a long layover in Taiwan, which was country #2. I went to the Philippines in 2013 to visit my ex-girlfriend and that was country #4. Country #5 was Indonesia in 2016. I started my travel blog shortly after that trip. Since then, I have been traveling at least once a month to different locations around the world. Next month, I will be in Latin America for the first time.
Two things inspired me to want to become a professional traveler.
I went to Jakarta, Indonesia for Christmas in 2016 to visit a friend whom I’d met online and that is when the travel bug bit me and was one reason I decided to start traveling more.
The second reason is due to another traveler named, Johnny Ward, whom I’d read an article about in 2013. I have a lot in common with him due to our similar backgrounds. He comes from a single parent, low-income home in Ireland. He grew up with his mother and sister. He tells his story about how he moved to Thailand to teach English after college, and after a brief stint in Australia working an office job. He became a millionaire while traveling the world and turning his travel blog into a business. He has since received a lot of publicity and about two years ago he completed his quest of traveling to every country in the world. There are arguably 196 countries in the world.
It was this man and my Christmas in Jakarta trip that inspired me to travel the world and create a business out of my travel blog.
I have been traveling part-time while teaching English in China. In 6 months, I will be finished with my contract and then I can travel full-time.
Hopefully, by then, my travel blog will be generating enough income in which I can sustain my current lifestyle as a traveler.
How many countries have you toured so far?
Next month I will be traveling through Latin America and my first stop will be Cancun, Mexico. That will be country #35.
What’s your target (how many countries you are planning to visit)?
All of them, but this is somewhat of a tricky question because, by the time I visit all of the current countries, there could be more or less of them than there are now. For example, you’re African and you know better than I do of Africa’s political and cultural climate. South Sudan is the newest country in the world and they gained their independence from Sudan in 2011. That was just 8 years ago. This is a big world and this kind of stuff will more than likely happen several times over by the time I reach the finish line (if I reach it). Scotland could very well become the next place to become a sovereign nation.
In which country did you have so much fun experiencing that you could revisit in future?
Honestly, my recent visit to South Africa and Cape Town are near the top of my list of potential revisits, but Indonesia and Australia are also lovely.
You were recently in Kenya, what was the best experience you had in Kenya?
Three things come to mind, the wonderful people, the exotic animals, and the great coffee. But mostly, the people. My friend, Sammy Onyango ofwww.saotravel.com
, showed me around Nairobi and we visited some of the best tourist attractions around the city. He is an excellent guide and made my first visit to Kenya (and Africa) a warm and memorable one. The absolute best experience was the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, which was established in the 70s by Daphne Sheldrick as a sanctuary for injured and orphaned elephants. It’s only open one hour a day unless you pay to adopt an elephant, but that one hour was awe-inspiring, especially with the storytelling. Me and Sammy are collaborating right now and putting together a 4-day safari excursion for later this year. He will focus more on the safari itself, while I will focus more on the marketing. Kenyan people are so friendly and very easy to have a conversation with, but that opinion is limited to just one city and one short visit. I’m looking forward to seeing Mombasa on my next visit. From what I saw of my first impression of Kenya, the country has huge potential to become a top global destination and it has the largest economy in east Africa. I believe that me and Sammy can work together and be successful at reaching more tourists, worldwide, and encouraging more people to visit this beautiful country. Hakuna Matata.
How was the new year in South Africa, did you learn some Zulu?
New Year’s Eve in Cape Town was extraordinary and exceeded my expectations. I can see now why Cape Town is a city that is raved about by so many people. It has so much to offer and there is something there for everyone. It’s very unique due to the history of the country and I believe that’s why people treasure it so much, and I feel that the natural beauty, along with the weather, is another reason that brings so many people from all over the world there.
I did not learn any Zulu, but my friend from Zimbabwe who lives and works in Cape Town tried to teach me some words in several languages.
Next time I visit Africa, I will rehearse some local words of where I visit and then maybe I can make some more friends.
What is that one thing that people don’t know about you?
If I tell you then everyone will know.
Which country are you planning to visit next?
What is Outcast Vagabond about?
Outcast Vagabond is my travel blog. The name reflects who I am. An “Outcast” is someone who is cast out of society for some reason. I’ve always kind of been a lone ranger type of person with few friends and I’ve grown to like that kind of lifestyle. The more friends a person has the more distractions they have, which can mean less productivity. A “Vagabond” is someone who is a drifter, with no home, who never spends too long in one place. Personally, I believe that life is too short to stay in one spot. I believe every blog (or business) should be a reflection of the person or people that it represents. Outcast Vagabond is an appropriate title for my travel blog (business) and it represents who I am and what I do. I have a Facebook Page, Twitter account, YouTube channel, Pinterest account, TravelMassive account, and Instagram account that are all linked to my website,www.outcastvagabond.com
, in which all feature my travels with stories, pictures, and videos.
I have a travel education link on Facebook and Twitter, “Outcast U Travel Education,” that will feature new travel education videos this year.
I’m working on monetizing my travel blog through affiliate marketing and eventually, through sponsors and brand partnerships.
This all takes a lot of work.
Worst experience you’ve ever encountered in your visits/travel?
Oh, Lord. Let me think about that. There are too many to count. The worst experience that I can think of in my two years as a traveler is my experience with the taxis, especially in Bangkok and Manila. They will hustle you blind and they’ll do it shamelessly. Once you get more experience as a traveler, you learn how to protect yourself from these kinds of scams. I recommend using Uber, Grab, Lyft, or anything other than a taxi when you travel. If you must take a taxi, I suggest you take a picture of their license plate (in front where they can see you) and ID (if they have a visible one in their car) and if they don’t speak your language then use the Google Translate app (with a SIM card from the airport) and make sure they understand that you will report them if they play games with you. I know this sounds mean and provocative, but it will protect you, even if you do ruffle their feathers a bit.
If you had one message to pass to any travel fanatics, what would it be?
You only live once and you could be dead tomorrow. Life is too short to stay in one spot and people who are constantly experiencing something new are happier, that’s a fact that has been laid down by psychologists for years. When you are constantly moving you don’t have time to worry about your problems or what happened in the past or even to be anxious about the future, because you are forced to focus on the present.
Be you, do what you do, and don’t worry about other people so much. Run your own race and follow your own dreams. It’s your life.
There’s no better life than traveling the world and getting paid for it.
This is a great big world we live in, so go check it out.
Cultural education is the best kind of education.
If you’re gonna live, LIVE!!!
Lastly, do you have a family? If yes, do you travel with them?
I am single with no kids. I have never been married. I guess I just haven’t found the right woman yet. For the most part, I’m a solo traveler.