Thursday, 12 January 2017

Cameron Cobb of Arizona U.S.A.

43. Featured Traveller 
Cameron Cobb

Food & Travel Blogger : Administrator - Social Work : Traveller  
(Arizona, USA)
                               
Where Will I Eat Next 

Our friend Cameron has been travelling for many years and this time, we are highlighting his journey for the entire year.  Let's join him in exploring the culinary world and making friends with people he meets along the way. Whether it is street food or incredible dishes from a budget restaurant, he always find ways to make sure it is within his budget and at affordable prices. 

Travelling for one year to eat and learn the local food? How does it sounds to you?


Cam knows very well that a year of travelling needs careful planning, budgeting and managing finances to cut cost. "Budget is almost always a leading factor for travel", he says. Here are his tips on travel expenses on how he save, enjoy more and spend less.


Food: I believe street food from food trucks, street vendors and to-go windows offers an incredible value for travellers. I think it's possible to enjoy high quality food this way at a fraction of the cost of restaurants. 

I also enjoy meeting the chef and seeing my food made. Street food is one of my favourite parts of travel and I think everyone should try it, regardless of their budget.

Lodging: I like hostels because it's easy to meet people in the dorms, common spaces and the activities like pub crawls and tours. Some of the cheapest hostel dorms in Europe so far have been in the $5-$10 range (Eastern Europe) and the most expensive were around $35 (Scandinavia).

Couchsurfing is a great way to meet people and save but can be hit or miss based on your host and their schedule. You also need notice in advance which doesn't always work with me generally only planning a day or two ahead. 

I've also stayed with a number of friends, all of whom I met while travelling and invited me to stay on their couch or in a spare room. It was a kind gesture and a great way to reconnect.

Transportation: I use a combination of credit card sign up bonuses and rewards programs to cover almost all of my airfare. After six months and 12 flights, I've used about a third of my points and spent only $67 on airport fees that miles didn't cover.





Cam spend his money wisely during his exploration. This and some more of his expert advice will be shared with you in the second part of his journey. Stay tuned!

There are more that Cam has to share. Read on.....

* * * * *

Why do I travel?

Planning for this one year trip around the world was an interesting experience in itself. Three years before it started I was overwhelmed with a busy schedule. I was finishing my Master's in Social Work program and working full time. I also accumulated tremendous debt and had nearly non-existent time for a vacation. I was miserable. After doing a lot of reflecting, I knew something had to change.

A plan began to form. I would finish my Master's degree within a year, pay off all my debt during the second year and save for the trip during year three. I managed to complete each of the first two goals on time.  Saving began in year three but I started to wonder what to do with all of my 'stuff'. Much of my stuff was already sold or had been donated but it's remarkable how much we accumulate.

Not long after the dilemma of having too much stuff, my house caught on fire one day while my roommates and I were all gone.  We were all okay but the fire destroyed nearly everything we owned.  Fortunately, it was insured.  More than 18 months later, I haven't really missed any of it.  In fact, it made it a lot easier to travel. What would have been a crisis turned into a positive situation in the end. The money went into savings separate from my travel budget. 

I continued saving, put in my notice at work a month before I left. My company was even really cool and offered me a job when I decided to return. I escaped the Arizona summer and flew to Iceland, never looking back.

Favourite Destinations

Iceland was one of the most beautiful places I've ever been. 

It has recently started to show up on the travel radar, and for good reason. From the moment you leave the airport, you're surrounded by black volcanic rock as far as you can see. It really feels like you're on another planet. 

Experience wild horses roaming the island, beautiful waterfalls, glacial lagoons and some of the most incredible hiking and ice climbing you can find anywhere in the world.  The midnight sun didn't set the entire 10 days I was there. It's no reason the locals believe in fairies and elves, Iceland is like living in a fantasy world.

 Skogafoss in Iceland

Svartifoss in Iceland
Scotland provided even more opportunities to connect with nature. 

My friend took me hill climbing a few times during my time there. Though it was challenging, each climb was well worth it as we looked out over the beautiful countryside. Most people think of Edinburgh when Scotland comes to mind for travel, but I would strongly encourage them to spend some time climbing the country's many hills and walking along the trails.


Hill Climbing in Scotland
Estonia was where I had one of my most unique travel experiences. 

I was invited to stay with a friend and her family in the countryside. When I arrived, they said, "We don't have much but what we do have is yours. You are our guest." I was blown away. They also explained how their house had a shower. This was a big deal because many of their neighbours still bathed in bowls and would sauna together as a family once a week. Talk about a culture shock. 

They had acres of farmland we would walk through and my host would frequently pull small berries or herbs from the ground, have me taste them and explain what they were. 

The family insisted I take their car one day to drive my host and I (she didn't yet have a driver's license) to nearby waterfalls and coast. Again, I was overwhelmed by their hospitality. One night, we walked through her family's wheat fields, led by her collie, as a lightning storm rolled in. We picked wild flowers and watched the fields blow around in the wind. It was one of the most memorable days of my trip.

Walking through the Countryside of Estonia
Turkey was another powerful travel experience. 

Istanbul offers an overwhelming number of restaurants and sites to see. Later, I took a hot air balloon ride in the centre of Turkey as the sun rose over Cappadocia. Nearly 100 balloons were up that day. As the sun peaked over the horizon we could see the beautiful canyon and rock formations beneath us. It was breathtaking.

Hot Air Balloon Ride at Sunrise in Cappadocia
Ukraine was another pleasant surprise. 

Though many people in the US and Western Europe are afraid to travel here because of the conflict in the southeast with Russia, most of the rest of Ukraine is very safe. I stayed in Kiev for nearly three weeks and got to know several of the locals. Each wanted to share their stories and love of their homeland with me. There was a strong sense of community and national pride I'll always remember.

Monastery of the Caves in Kiev
Berlin has, and probably always will be, one of my favourite places in the world. 

The raw, unpolished look of the city streets, interesting people, incredible food and hidden nightlife are second to none. Though Berlin is becoming a popular travel destination, it doesn't seem to be losing any of its character. I also had the pleasure of meeting back up with a friend from Germany here who showed me some of her favourite spots. I got to see many local spots and loved it.


Curry 36's Famous Street Food in Berlin
Street Food & Why I Love It

I truly enjoy watching food being made. Learning about the ingredients, cooking techniques and combinations of flavour is one of my favourite things. I also try to replicate this knowledge when I cook, another personal passion. Street food is also appealing to me because I enjoy talking to the people who prepare food and why they do what they do.

I think street food chefs also have a big incentive to make their food great. The person who orders a meal is most likely standing right in front of them when they take their first bite. Every chef with pride for what they do wants to see that person delight is eating that final product. That smile from a customer just makes all the hard work of preparing a dish worth it.

Before I choose where to order street food, I'll see where the lines are long and where it looks like locals are ordering. I'll also look at the food that's being served. If possible, I'll say hello or wave and a lot of times the good food trucks are used to being busy and are friendly. If it's during a slow time without a long line, I'll talk to the chef about their food to see what they say and recommend.

These methods all factor in to where I'll eat and most of the time they help me find a great meal. I think street food is underappreciated and provides great or even incredible food at a great value. I see my writing as a way to recommend good places to get street food but I also see it as a way to educate people on how great street food can be as a growing culinary movement.

New Cultures

I have several years in the field of social work and enjoyed learning about culture in Master's program. I enjoy educating myself about people and their stories. 

In my travels, so far I've particularly enjoyed learning about Danish concept of hygge, which is loosely translated to 'cozy' in English but misses one critical element I've written about. 

While in Ukraine I can't even count how many strangers came up to me, introduced themselves and bought me a drink. Everyone seemed to want to make sure I was having a good time and tell me all about their country. 

Currently in Israel, the perspectives of each religious group about the current conflicts helps to explain why this region and this land is such a complicated issue.

My Future

It's been hard not seeing friends and family at times but we stay in touch by email and Skype. They continue to be supportive and it helps me continue moving forward each day. I've also made a number of new friends and met up with some of them in multiple countries to continue travelling together.

Overall, the positive experiences of travel have far outweighed any of the challenges. I feel so fortunate to have these opportunities and I've met so many incredible people. I wouldn't trade this for anything.

After my time in Israel and Jordan, I will head to Southeast Asia. 

I'll continue writing about my travels, street food and culture.


Surf & Turf street food burger in Copenhagen
I don't know what the future will bring but this is the first time in my life where the goal is not to have one. I continue to learn more about myself, other people and this wonderful world of ours. I think anyone can do what I'm doing, it just takes some work and some planning.

Please feel free to reach out if I can assist with anything food or travel-related! I'd love to hear from you!


From the desk of: 
Freddie Miranda
A blogger and a Canada-based freelance writer. He shares the value of his travel experiences and discoveries with his friends and fellow travellers. Share your passion, join and visit him. Send a message @ fromatravellersdesk(at)gmail.(dot)com.

Watch for these blogs! 
They all have been travelling for many years and I can guarantee that all of them have travel tips that all of us can learn and benefit from.  I have to thank all other fellow travellers who have responded to my invite.  I will definitely publish your stories as soon as I have completed the details.

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Are you a traveller who would like to share your travel story with our blog and our readers?  Then, I'd love to hear from you! 
Please email me at fromatravellersdesk@gmail.com