Vagabonding Case Study: Jack Cooke

imageJack Cooke

Age: 27

Hometown: Bristol, UK

Favourite Quote: “Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.” (Bit Cliche but it resonates with me)

How did you find out about Vagabonding, and how did you find it useful before and during the trip?
Vagabonding I knew as a term more than the website until I spoke to Jennifer Miller. I am currently listening to the audiobook.

How long were you on the road?
I’m on the road as you read this and will be until the day I have to stop, if I pursue the path I desire and can sustain the funds I need to keep me moving then who says I will ever stop.

Where did you go?
Several years prior to my great Australian travels I spent a few months travelling Europe. I did this alone because of my need to move out of the bubble that my life was enclosed in. I felt the world was too small to not be explored. Now several years later and I am on the road across Australia. I began by road tripping the lower East Coast from Sydney to Adalaide and on to what I describe as “postcard” Australia to the middle of the red desert, Uluru (Ayres Rock), the beautiful destination at the heart of the Outback. Today as I write this I am touring Sydney to Cairns.

What was your job or source of travel funding for this journey?
Did you work or volunteer on the road?
Me and my travelling partner, best friend and fiancee Kate fell in love with Uluru and took up a couple of kitchen and food and beverage roles at the Ayres Rock Resort. This has to be the best place I have had the opportunity of working at.

Of all the places you visited, which was your favourite?
Uluru (Ayres Rock) will always be close to my heart, the friends we made and  the time well spent have been some of the best months of my life. However, besides waking up each morning and seeing the maginficent rock, it was the chance to explore and learn the Aboriginal and Indigenous culture. We learn very little in the UK about what I deem a very relevent piece of our own history. I took every chance I could to engage, learn and ask about the culture and what it means to the local Anangu people and other native Australians. I feel I could read every book on offer but nothing could give  me the amazing knowledge I learnt whilst living amongst these great people.

Was there a place that was your least favorite, or most disappointing, or most challenging?
My least favourite place to visit was Melbourne, if I’m honest. I want to give it another chance as many travellers and natives have argued in its favour. Im not a fan of big cities to begin with. I felt it was over sold to me before hand. We gave the place a chance and spent 3 days there. It rained for almost two and a half of those 3 days. It was busy and I felt it showed no real Australian culture, it felt like London or Paris or any other big city. I wanted to find places that have their own identity, I felt I needed a purpose to be in a place rather than feel like I could be in any other major city in the world.

Which travel gear proved most useful? Least useful?
Useful travel gear? I could easily say a phrase book, travel guide, tablet etc.  If I’m honest a small bag will always be your friend if you can put a phone, passports and money in it you’ll never be stranded, that’s how I see it. What else would you need? You can put a bottle of water in it and go for a walk, put your sandwiches in it and stroll around town, carry a good book and find a spot to read. As for least useful? This was our solar shower that we were quite proud of when we purchased it back in the UK. Australia is so travel friendly many rest stops or public areas will have showers. Not to say a solar shower wouldn’t be useful only we had no need for it.

What are the rewards of the vagabonding lifestyle?
Vagabonding is living at its best, you live a simple life whilst living to a full and experienced lifestyle. You have no ties to anything, no 9-5 life. If you want to go somewhere, do something, its only you who can say no. You also learn to adapt if you need something be it money, food, travel etc you will always find a way; something the modern and western world have lost as a survival instinct. As soon as I began my travels the stresses of my previous life lifted and the burdens I had at home were left far behind.

What are the challenges and sacrifices of the vagabonding lifestyle?
The challenges of vagabonding will always be the funds. The capability to  pay for each step of your journey. If you’re lucky and have won the lottery before you set off on your journey then you’re probably not going to be able to go forever without having to reimburse your funds. This however is part of the fun. The couple of jobs I have taken on since beginning this have been fun, new and great experiences. I have had to learn something new, something out of my comfort zone in order to make some money. The sacrifices you make are the time spent away from family. This has to be for me the hardest part, but the internet and use of mobile technology has made the world smaller in terms of communication.

What lessons did you learn on the road?
The best lesson I learnt was the value of money. When you’re on holiday you can spend what you like – if you run out you’ll still be on that plane going home and have money in your bank next payday. However with travelling you have what money you have and until you pick up work you need to understand where your money needs to be spent. This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it, it’s more about spending it wisely. It helps you to realise what simple pleasures are and how to enjoy certain luxuries as treats rather than taking them for granted. The greatest thing you could do is earn as you go and find a way you can make money with what you have. This is where I really could have done with guitar lessons many years ago!

How did your personal definition of “vagabonding” develop over the course of the trip?
My personal definition of vagabonding is this – it’s the life of a nomad wrapped up in wonderful experience after wonderful experience. It’s not a hard life to lead once it begins and is enriching and fulfilling for mind, body and soul.

If there was not thing you could tell yourself before your trip, what would it be?
The one thing I would tell myself now,  just as I would say to any would be travellers is just relax, don’t worry. Dive in and get lost in the experience. Learn everything you can along the way, and if any problems arise you will always find a way to solve them.

Any advice or tips for someone hoping to embark on a similar adventure?’
First would be to book the Flights/Coach/Train for 6 months, 1 year or however long you need from now. I found I would talk about it and procrastinate, find an excuse not to go and put the whole journey off. By booking my flights I had made the biggest step happen – I gave myself a deadline. I would say this to any would be travellers – book your travel,  giving yourself enough time to raise funds, plan and tie up your loose ends. Only then would your ideas come into fruition and you will be counting down the days to a new life.

Second tip is don’t rely on the unreliable. Great plans often get made around a pub table. I found I had been let down several times by friends who would promise to talk seriously about plans to travel. These plans were often left at the bottom of a beer glass and your dream gets left by the wayside. Find someone with your passion who will commit, if not be prepared to go it alone. There will be like minded people out there, just don’t let anyone else ruin your ambitions.

When and where do you think you’ll take your next long-term journey?
My next travels, I expect, will be Asia. We are both qualified in TEFL and would like to learn and explore Asia as a continent. Moving on from here to South America. For me this is partly due my interest in Che Guvera the Argentinian revolutionist, and the great read Motorcycle Diaries. How and when this will happen is yet to be seen but why do I need rush?!

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Posted by | Comments Off on Vagabonding Case Study: Jack Cooke  | March 14, 2014
Category: Vagabonding Case Studies

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