This week we talk to Danny and Jillian, an adventure loving couple that spent 21 months traveling 50 countries across the world. Danny & Jillian’s blog takes us on a journey to explore new places and experience the world off the beaten path. The couple have been to more than 50 countries in less than 21 months, and are eager to share their experience with Simply Caribe’s readers.
Danny & Jillian, you’ve been to over 50 countries, what are your favorites?
It’s so hard to pick favorites! We loved going to places that were different than we expected or that gave us an experience that we knew couldn’t be replicated in a guidebook. For the most part we loved places were we were able to connect with locals and even live like locals – those always provided us with the best memories and our favorite experiences. Some highlights for us were Turkey, Argentina and South Africa.
Have you ever been to the Caribbean?
Yes! we’ve been to the Caribbean and we loved it, it is such a varied place. Each island has it’s own history and culture. Unfortunately much of the Caribbean has been taken over by mega cruise ship/all inclusive type tourism, making it difficult to have those authentic local experiences. Don’t get us wrong, those vacations can be great if you’re looking for a little rest and relaxation, but it can be hard to “explore” an island or experience a culture from the confines of an all-inclusive.
Any tips on how to pick accommodation when travelling?
Accommodation can be tricky. Sometimes you’re just looking to rest your head on your way to your next destination – in those cases look for something safe, clean and convenient. Other times you’re looking for a place that will add to your travel experience. These are the best types of accommodation. For us, we try to think about not only location and amenities, but the type of experience we are liable to have there. Who are the people who stay there or who run the place, what is the atmosphere, how will it enhance our travel experience? Some of the best experiences we’ve had traveling have come from meeting people at our place of lodging or from tips from a host. We try to avoid a place in a guidebook, instead we go to the neighborhoods recommended in the guidebook and check out places that aren’t listed! They often have better service and better amenities because they are trying to compete.
How would you feel travelling to a luxury property of character, like a castle in France? Or a luxury villa in the Caribbean? What do you think of the concept?
I think the key is the word character. Luxury properties are great – who doesn’t love a little pampering. But what really sets a place apart for us is the character or the atmosphere. Staying in an unusual building, location or setting is what would really make the trip special, not just the pampering. We’ve had some pretty interesting lodging during our travels- from staying in the middle of a national park in Swaziland where Jillian was chased by an ostrich, to a cave hotel in Turkey and a bush camp in Namibia where we saw elephant, rhino and jaguar at night! These places are some of the most memorable of our entire travels!
Have you even been to Europe?
Jillian lived in Italy for a semester while in university and absolutely loved it. In both France and Italy knowing the language basics makes a huge difference. We also found that in both places getting outside of the tourist track made a huge difference in the cultural experience. It’s a much more exciting and memorable experience when you are able to get past the “top 10” things to see in a place and spend an afternoon exploring a neighborhood. In Florence, Jillian spent a weekend in a village outside of the city at her host family’s villa. It was the best weekend of her entire semester in Italy for although tourists do come to the village during the day to see Florence from the hills, they disappear at night. All the townspeople were very interested in getting to know her and she spent an afternoon biking through the surrounding hills. In each village when she stopped people came out to greet her, meet her and invite her in for a drink. It was a memorable weekend!
Any other tips you’d like to share with our readers?
Don’t be afraid to try some place new. If you never push your comfort zone, you’ll never experience the world.