The next WSGT Influencer is Jose Harvey of My Normal Gay Life, which hopes to demonstrate LGBT people are no different than heterosexual people while encouraging fellow adventurers to get out there and explore this great, big, wonderful world regardless of sexual orientation.
1.)Where was the first place that you traveled that made you think WOW—travel is amazing (think history book come to life or …..)
The first placed I traveled that made me say “Wow” was to through Great Smoky Mountains in Western North Carolina in the United States. I was about 8 or 9 years old when my parents decided we would visit my grandfather in Missouri. We were pretty poor so we didn’t take trips very often. I remember, as we traveled through the Great Smoky Mountains, thinking I was on top of the world. It seemed like something out of a storybook. At one stop, it was really cool outside and the fog was rolling in over the mountains. We were standing at the edge of an overlook and there were cows below. It’s those moments of travel that I’ve grown to love and live for…and it’s that moment I realized traveling is amazing!
2.) If you had unlimited resources, where would you go and what would you do?
If I had unlimited resources, I would never stop traveling, haha! I’d be able to travel more with my husband. But if you are looking for more of a specific plan of action, then I’d most likely take the time to plan a trip out visiting some of the more dangerous, less popular destinations of the world. For instance, I have a deep desire to visit Sudan, Libya, Eritrea. I would take the resources and explore the entire continent of Africa…every country that I can actually visit. I’d want to explore local cultures, see historic ruins, experience agrarian and nomadic lifestyles, and understand the root of conflict, social unrest, food, and health issues on the continent. In essence, it’s my dream, through experiential learning, to gain a deep understanding of the continent of Africa. This might sound a bit crazy but I have a graduate background in policy analysis and sustainable development from American University. Ultimately, for me, travel is all about gaining a deeper understanding of the world we live and humanity.
I assume this is in reference to traveling (in general). One of the things I was afraid of was traveling on my own. Really though…it was traveling without my husband. For the last 7 or so years, I have traveled with him almost exclusively. We go really well together and when we travel, we look out for one another. Even when you meet up with people you know, you are ultimately responsible for yourself and when you’re used to having your husband or partner there for you to fall on, this can seem a bit daunting…even overwhelming. Recently, on my trip to Ecuador, my husband Alfred joined for the Galapagos portion of the trip and then he returned home. I stayed behind to travel for another 3 weeks which was crazy to me. The first day was pretty hard and I really wanted to go home. But I have a can-do attitude when it comes to most things and didn’t want to disappoint myself. So I sucked it up and after a day or two was doing just fine. I’m glad I didn’t return home so quickly because the adventure was amazing. It helped to have consistent contact with my husband as I traveled around.
4.) What apps do you use regularly that make your life easier?
Social media apps like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram keep me connected to the rest of the world, my friends, and my family. Whatsapp is obviously fantastic for staying in touch with my loved ones too. Google maps is indispensable…it’s pretty much the most comprehensible map service ever. It totally helps to keep me from getting lost. I also use DropBox so I can have access to important documents and such from anywhere in the world. Skyscanner app is definitely my go to for searching through airline tickets. When I need to be up at a specific time, I use the Alarmy app because it forces me to get out of bed (the alarm will only go off when you take a photo or solve a math problem). My Priority Pass app gets me into pretty much any airline lounge…Trip Adviser helps me find the best anything. As a gay traveler apps like Mister10 help me get a feel for what’s available for the gay community and Grindr actually really helps me talk to gay locals as soon as I arrive to find out what’s going on. Lastly, there is an app called Speak and Translate. It’s incredibly good at translating things and will speak for you if you find it difficult to pronounce. It’s pretty much the best translation app out there. There are so many apps I use but those are a few.
5.)What place do you wish more people have seen?
Well, the Galapagos Islands come to mind. They are incredible though cost prohibitive. I’d also love it if people explored the smaller towns of any country. The big cities offer a lot but the smaller towns give you a better understanding of the region. Lastly, I think more people should explore the US. It’s incredibly large and diverse. We have just about every ecosystem in the world…in one country. It’s so rich in culture and history…just definitely worth exploring more. Road tripping can be amazing here.
6.)Best advice you have been given and by whom?
As a cross-country and track runner in high school and later in college, my coach Joe Loiaonce asked me if I was pleased with my accomplishments. Side note: I was a really great runner. I told him I was very pleased and he told me that it’s ok to feel good about our accomplishments but to never become to comfortable. Always strive for more. This advice has driven me my whole life since. Other piece of advice: “Be a Winner.” It sounds silly and was often said in a silly context but I think this is a really good piece of advice. If you want to succeed then you have to have a winning mentality. It’s that simple. Thanks Stefan from the Nomadic Boys.
7.)When were you surprised by the kindness of strangers on a trip?
In Ireland, I found the people to be very kind. Sometimes people would go above and beyond to make sure we were ok. I stopped into a church at one point in Cork, Ireland and toured it. Then I asked the gentleman attendant how to get to Shandon Tower (Church of St. Anne) and I expected him to just give me some directions. Instead, he walked outside with me, pointed the direction, and then actually walked with me there because it was raining and he had an umbrella. In Dublin, our Airbnb host threw a dinner party for us. I feel like the Irish people are some of the kindest out there!
8.)What inspired you to travel for extended periods of time or live in a new country?
Well, I love the lifestyle of a traveler. I love waking up in a new place every few days…exploring places I’ve never been and meeting new and fascinating people. Traveling for extended periods of time gives me the opportunity to learn more about myself as well. I think that I am a wandering sole (though I love being home as well)…and I have to answer the call to travel in order to feel that happiness!
9.) I travel because….
I travel because I love to learn. Ultimately travel is all about learning about cultures, geography, nature, history, food, the world…and about oneself. I am in a fortunate position to be able to do this on the regular. So, I also travel so that those who cannot may explore the world and go on adventures with me via social media and the blog. Travel offers up these epiphany moments. They don’t happen every day or even every trip but when they do happen, they feel my heart and mind. It’s an incredible moment. I’d describe it as moments of singular truth. I can’t that while sitting at home or working a 9-5.
Lastly, can you please recommend a resource for up-and-coming travel writers; this could be a course you know, a book, conference etc.
Read lots of blogs. Your fellow travel bloggers are a wealth of knowledge. You should connect with them and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Make sure to think about finances and taxes. There is a book on Amazon called Your Blogging Business (Tax Talk and Tips from Bookkeeper Turned Blogger). Also, attend conferences. This is something I am just starting to do but I think it’ll be beneficial. I’m heading to the TBEX Conference in March taking place in Israel. They have 2-3 a year in various locations. It’s all about networking and learning!
My name is Jose Harvey but I go by J Harvey on the blog. I’m 29 years old, married and live in Raleigh, NC as a base. My Normal Gay Life was started about 1.5 years ago so it’s fairly young. I’ve spent most my adult life getting loads of education which I am not exactly using at the moment- BA Cultural Studios, MA Nonprofit Agricultural Development, MA International Relations: Policy Analysis and International Sustainable Development. I’ve visited few countries so far compared to everyone else you might interview. My list includes: Mexico, Canada, the US, Italy, Vatican City, Switzerland, France, Ireland, Ecuador, and Spain. On March 15, 2016, I am taking off on the My Normal Gay Life European Tour with a pit stop for TBEX in Jerusalem. I’ll travel through Europe for three months.
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