Hey there! My name is Joel. I’m an Englishman, a lover of exploring, travelling, hiking, trying new things, meeting new people, digging into foreign cultures, understanding how things work, learning about history, eating all the foods, and penguins.
My biggest dream in life is to travel into space and look down on the Earth from the emptiness of space, watching the world spin and realising how small we all are.
Before I get there, however, I want to travel and learn more about life here on this planet. The places, the people and their culture, wonderful foods, and the journeys we make in life.
I’ve been fortunate enough in life to be able to travel to more than 35 countries and have lived in 6 of those (so far). I’ve built up a collection of experiences, stories, jokes, mistakes, memories, scars, friends, and more along the way.
I want to share some of all of this mixed blessing of a life with you, to offer some of my insights on travelling and exploring the world.
Thank you for joining me here. I hope you find my pages interesting, useful, and at least a little bit entertaining.
About Joel’s Travel Tips
Joel’s Travel Tips is a travel blog, a diary of discovery, and a place to share and learn with the world.
This blog is here to share with you the incredible places, foods, sights, experiences, and cultures that the world has to offer.
It is my goal to educate, entertain, and encourage you to get out there and enjoy more of this great place we call Earth.
I want to share all I know about my home for the past 5 years, South Korea, as well as other places that I’ve wandered through, lived in, or have an obsessive love of.
I really hope that these pages will inspire you to follow your dreams and create brave goals in life.
And if you want to know more about Korea, then join the Korea Travel Advice group on Facebook – you can meet loads of other awesome travellers, expats, locals, and generally incredible people.
My Journey To Joel’s Travel Tips
My first big adventure started when I was only 16 years old when I spent 3 incredible weeks in the Swiss Alps with friends.
We hiked snowy peaks, soared down them on parachutes, braved icy waters in rafts, and spent our nights camping under the twinkling stars.
It was a truly unforgettable experience and started me on my road to adventure and discovery. It also ignited my love for mountains and hiking.
I can’t get over their majestic beauty and I’m determined to hike as many as I can around the world.
World Backpacking Adventures
A couple of years after my travels in Switzerland, and with no idea of what I really wanted to do in life, I took a gap year between college and university.
This gave me time to save up and begin a journey which so far hasn’t really had an end – travelling around the world.
Venturing off to Thailand, my first taste of non-European life was a big culture shock, a great, big scary one.
I loved exploring the cities (Bangkok was very different back in 2001), relaxing on beaches, seeing the sights, and all the normal stuff that backpackers do at that age.
Over 6 months I visited Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Australia, Fiji, and the USA.
I’m not sure which country it happened in, but along the way I became infected with an incurable disease – the travel bug!
Off To Australia
I tried the best I could to keep the travel bug at bay with lots of holidays around Europe, but after 7 or 8 years studying at university and working an office job, I felt an irresistible urge to jump on a plane and get back into the world.
I sold my house, quit my job, packed my bags, and headed off to Australia to spend a year living in superb Sydney.
I arrived without much of a plan. I stayed in a hostel for a few weeks whilst looking for a job and place to live. It was scary, but also exciting at the same time.
I realised a lot about myself then. If you take a chance, you can make it. If I hadn’t taken that first risk, I wouldn’t be where I am now.
If you’re in doubt about something that seems scary and risky, all I can say is to be brave, give it a go, and don’t regret what happens in the end.
Jetting To Japan
Sadly, my time in Australia could only ever last a year as I was on a working holiday visa. I moved back to the UK for a few years, living in the ‘European City of Culture’ that is Glasgow, Scotland. It was a blast, but still that travel bug was nibbling away at me…
So, after 3 years in Scotland, I decided to plan another great escape and an even more radical change in my life.
Inspired by stories I’d heard of someone already in Japan, and being a massive otaku for half my life, I went through the arduous process of applying to teach in Japan through the JET Programme.
After a wild time in Tokyo for the orientation, I remember arriving in my countryside apartment, alone for the night with no connection to the outside world and not being able to speak Japanese.
This was crazy! Why was I here? I spent that night alone, crying to myself.
After that, however, I changed. I grew. I had no choice but to. And what followed were 3 years packed with so many memories I could spend months talking about them and fill dozens of photo albums.
Hot In Hong Kong
After leaving Japan I headed to Bangkok for a month (love that city), before heading off to my new home in Hong Kong.
I’ll be honest here, I didn’t enjoy my time in Hong Kong that much. I had long commutes, life was expensive, the city was too busy for me, and I’m not a big fan of hot and humid weather. I know some people love this kind of life, but I realised it’s not for me.
Travel bloggers always want to report on the good sides of places, to try to tell you how amazing somewhere is, but I honestly couldn’t recommend living in Hong Kong. Sorry, that’s just my opinion.
That being said, I did do a lot of fun things, learnt a lot about HK culture, history, and tradition. As a keen hiker, I loved to visit the many awesome hiking areas, such as the Dragon’s Back and Lion Rock trails.
I’d definitely recommend Hong Kong as a place to visit. It’s got a unique history, some great sights, and lots of great food to try out.
EPIK Times In Korea
Time to uproot myself, pack my life into a few suitcases, and learn how to live in a new country once again. This time it was Korea, a country I’d visited and really enjoyed whilst living in Japan.
I applied, and was accepted, for the EPIK Programme to teach English to Korean students. Something I’ve been doing for the last 5 years whilst building a life for myself in Korea.
I was lucky with my placement. I’d asked for a large city (but not too big) with good transport links and ended up being placed in Daejeon – a great city for living but not as crowded and busy as Hong Kong was.
From my home here in Daejeon, I’ve been lucky enough to be able to travel extensively across Korea, as well as to many other places in Asia. Life has been good and I’ve been able to learn a lot about Korea, Asia, life, the world, and myself.
Himalayan Dreams Can Come True
Inspired by one of my travel icons – Michael Palin – I wanted to be on the roof of the world, looking down from on high, walking between clouds and alone with my thoughts. I wanted to travel to the Himalayas.
In December 2015, after booking tickets and planning everything only 6 weeks before, I got on a plane for Nepal and went out to realise that dream.
It was all I hoped it would be and a lot more. I spent Christmas Day over 4,000 metres up a mountain in a stone hut eating a yak cheese pizza and wearing many layers of clothing, preparing to reach the Annapurna Base Camp on Boxing Day.
I’ll try to write more about this experience, and its impact on me, in the future. All I can say now is that you should follow your dreams. Stop putting them off.
Joel’s Travel Tips And Beyond
It’s mid 2020 and here I am writing this.
I’m so happy to be able to create this blog and share it with you. I’ve learnt a lot about this world, but really I only know a very, very small amount of what there is to know about things.
Still, I hope that my insights and experiences can help or inspire others. So far I’ve been creating guides for Korea, but I have much bigger plans beyond that.
Where am I going? Well, I had a load of plans, but it looks like corona upset them all. Still, they haven’t stopped, just been delayed a bit!
Korea will probably remain my home in the long term, but next year and the year after will be ones of great journeys and stories to be told.
Where and when next….who knows?!
I hope you’ll keep checking in on the way.