Hello everyone! Welcome to Travelers.Connect on The Rissa Rissa Blog where we will be featuring fellow travelers from across the world and from different walks of life. I have created this segment to inspire those who wish to travel, want to make traveling a career, or for those who are seasoned travelers and want to gain more insight on what other travelers are doing.
Welcome to our very first interview of 2019 friends and family! It's been a couple of months since our last interview, but, that is because I put a lot of thought into who I bring onto Travelers.Connect. It is important for me to have guests such as Jimmy and our past guests who have authentic stories and who share our passion and curiosity for experiencing the world by embracing its culture, its people, and the moment.
I must say, this interview is very important to me because Jimmy was the one who showed me around Italy not only for the first time but on my first solo trip ever! As most of you know, this was a big deal for me and Jimmy helped me feel comfortable during my trip and really opened my eyes to life, my love for Italy, and what I would be missing out on if I didn't overcome the fear of traveling alone. Seriously though, a big shout out to Contiki Tours for having awesome people like Jimmy.
Without further ado, I would like to introduce you to my friend Jimmy Comamala!
Sahara Desert, Morocco
Hello Jimmy, and thank you for joining us at Travelers.Connect! Please tell us about yourself.
Hey there, thanks for taking the time to get to know me. My name is Jaime, but everyone calls me Jimmy. And what can I say about me? I am just as lost as everyone else but am always looking for a map! I have done so many things in my life but they all lead me to traveling and music, which are the things I invest my time on. I was born and raised in Madrid, Spain but I feel like I have lost my nationality after all these years of nonstop traveling. I speak Spanish and have a Spanish personality but I definitely feel very disconnected from Spain.
I love that travel and music are important to you. I think most would agree that both are good for the soul. When did travel come into play in your life? Was it something you did growing up or something you did as an adult?
My parents were both a pilot and air hostess so I grew up watching my parents go and I ended up dreaming about the exotic places they might be going to. I always expected a present when they returned like my friends bragged about in school when their parents came back from a cool trip. However, their parents did that twice a year and mine did twice a week! My dad didn’t want me to travel. For him, studies were more important than anything. So except for two trips to the Dominican Republic and Brazil, I had to wait until I was a teenager to start traveling with them. This gave me an invaluable perspective of life which has only grown from there.
Castilla-La Mancha, Spain
Oh wow, that is awesome! Would you say your background and travel experiences influence you on how you approach the people and the world? If so, how?
Of course! My trips with my parents made me appreciate how lucky we are to live where we live. I always say it, I am extremely lucky for three very basic things that people take for granted: 1) I am a male 2) I am white 3) I come from a developed western country. Everything that comes after that makes you even luckier. From my background and the chances I’ve had in life, I have developed a very humble approach to life. It wasn’t until I was 18 that I started traveling by myself and hitchhiking. That completely turned my world upside down. When people help you when you are in need is when you become more aware of how amazing people are, and what we see on TV is not the norm at all.
I agree. Kind gestures and help from people make a huge imprint on your heart. Aside from traveling making an impact on your personal life, it also plays a huge rule in your professional life. Can you tell you us more about that?
Well, I have been really lucky that I am very carefree. I sometimes think I have no survival instinct. I have done a lot of things that people would say are very crazy and that lead me to a big accident where I spent a year lying in a bed, then in a wheelchair, and then in a super long painful rehab. Never trust a quad bike!! Anyway... I survived, and that only made me stronger because I knew I have had that accident because I was LIVING. After that, I decided I needed a job related to traveling and that’s what I (literally) googled, “adventure tours”, and one of the best results was Contiki. I applied, I got the job, I trained very hard, and I became a trip manager. It is the most fun job you can ever imagine! For so many years this has been my life, and for four years, I didn’t spend more than a week anywhere in the world. Isn’t it amazing!? A nomad life filling your soul with new memories everyday, doing the things you love the most and connecting with the most amazing people. After a year in Australia, I decided it was time to go back home and continue doing tours. This time with older people, to try something different, and I couldn’t be more satisfied with myself, my alternative lifestyle and my choices!
On the job during a Contiki Tour
That is truly awesome and inspiring, Jimmy. You took the thing that you are most passionate about and made it into something that you can do for a living! So what's the secret? How can someone who craves adventure and who wants to travel for a living make that happen?
It’s as easy as standing up, going to your room, packing your things, and leaving. I literally did that. I went to the nearest gas station, put my thumb up, and 23 days later, having only spend 20 euro, I was watching the midnight sun in my tent and my sleeping bag. Traveling is possible. It is not an excuse to say you don’t have money because if you really want to travel, you can, you don’t need money. But obviously people need commodities and that’s when the equation doesn’t work. But from my life experience, nothing has brought me more comfort than being hosted by people all over the world, feeding me, and giving me a beautiful everlasting memory. I have traveled more than 80 countries, I have hitchhiked 4 continents, I have done the most incredible things and have met the most incredible people, and none of that involved money in any way.. it’s incredible.
We can only imagine! I feel like social media makes it seem so easy to "quit your job and pursue your dreams". However, along with the beautiful moments of traveling for a living, what are some of the behind the scenes obstacles you face? What hard truths should people know if they want to pursue this lifestyle?
Well it depends on how much you push the boundaries. I am a bit reckless but that's because I see traveling like a challenge, to see how far I can go without using money, depending on people’s love and good vibes. Some people want to go to a paradise island and sit on the beach and drink cocktails, others want to do the typical touristy stuff, others want a 5 star hotel, and I like the dirt, losing 1-2kg per day, sleeping on the floor, hitchhiking the most uncomfortable vehicles for 40hrs nonstop or running away cause I am being chased by orangutans in the jungle (true story!).
If you think about the behind the scenes, there’s a lot of sacrifice. For example, being alert 24/7 (especially when you are in very dangerous countries like central america), lack of sleep, infections, and, in my case, especially when I am working, not traveling for leisure, the loneliness. That’s the worst part, no doubt, not having someone “as crazy as you” to do it with you.
Now, it is as easy as ever to travel. Flights are cheap, there’s youth hostels everywhere, and everything is connected. I have been in the most remote places on the planet, and people had TV’s and phones. If what scares you is feeling like an alien, that has changed. You find Europeans almost everywhere you go... now it’s the best time to travel!
You were chased by orangutans?! I need to inquire more about this after the interview, haha! What are your thoughts on someone getting out of their comfort zone when traveling? I brought this topic up to our former guest Ana and I also wanted to get your insight as well for I find this to be very important when traveling. What do you think? Do you have an example of when you had to get out of your comfort zone?
Well, since I started traveling exclusively, I gave away my comfort zone to the world. I traded that for incredible adventures, amazing human connections and unforgettable sights. Only thinking about the places I’ve been and the things I’ve done gives me the goosebumps. My memories are my most precious treasure. So for me, I don’t remember what it is to have a comfort zone. I have always felt very trapped inside of it so I am not the best example. People feel safe in it, I felt lost, trapped, and useless.
Ugh, I hope in time I too can overcome comfort but that is a real struggle for me at the moment. Let's hear about your trips! Where was the most recent place you visited and what was it like?
Since I moved back from Australia, I have been expanding my working areas and working almost non stop. I did a hitchhiking and camping trip to the Dolomites, and it was one of the most surreal landscapes I’ve seen in my entire life. Those mountains, peaks, hikes, via ferratas and cute tiny mountain towns is definitely in the top 5 best places I’ve ever been. Everyone talks about Switzerland and Austria but they all forget the absolute gem, that is the Dolomites in Northern Italy. If you haven’t heard of it, Google it! I camped in the wild in the most ridiculous places, shared my food with animals, got picked up by the nicest Italian people and absorbed every single molecule of oxygen from that pristine clear air.
On tour, I have been doing Italy, France, Spain, Morocco and Portugal. Morocco is like stepping back in time and I got to do things I never thought I would do. Such a different contrast from the Dolomites, from super green to super dry and arid, but both with a unique personality.
Oh my gosh, I have been wanting to see the Dolomites!! These pictures are absolutely breathtaking! Is there a place that you would like to re-visit? If so, why?
As you can tell, I feel in complete connection with myself when I am in the mountains. Over the years I have been focusing more on mountains, snow, cold places, hiking, skiing and climbing. It keeps calling me so I keep coming. I have been to Norway three times but I would love a fourth. Also, Iceland is on top of the list. I got to hitchhike and camp for two weeks in Iceland a couple years ago, eating canned food and sleeping in a crashed plane, in a bulldozer, in front of a glacier, in front of a waterfall....it is something i’ll never forget and I can’t wait to be back. Also the Dolomites! That place stole my heart!
I bet they did! What are some traveling tips you live by?
Try to see where your limit is, then “step down”. Maybe it’s a bit hardcore to travel without money. Ok, bring some money and put it at the bottom of your backpack, next to your phone (off). Then rely on human connection. Also, be alert. Be nice, be respectful, but with your senses on full mode. Be street smart, know your surroundings, and make friends. They can save you if you ever need it. And best of all, DON’T MAKE PLANS! Booking hostels/hotels forces you to be on a specific spot at a specific time and there’s nothing worse than that. You are limiting yourself to what might happen and the best things that have happened to me all happened in the most unexpected way.
Solid advice! So what's next Jimmy? Where are you headed off to in the new year?!
I am actually going on tour tonight! Going on a 13 day Christmas tour with 20 Indians around Spain and Portugal. It will be fun! But It’s another downside of having this life which is spending Christmas away from your family but I'm used to it. I had to for the past 5 years!
And after this, I am back to Australia for a wedding and I’ll finally be doing some hitchhiking and camping in New Zealand’s South Island. I can’t wait! More nature, landscapes, animals and lakes. Oh to be free like this!
Sixaola Bridge. Separates Costa Rica and Panama.
Live it up Jimmy! Enjoy your upcoming adventures for us! As tradition on Travelers.Connect, I like to conclude our interviews with words of inspiration from our guests. I feel like we all need words of wisdom to carry us on the tough days so that we don't lose focus on our visions. Is there any advice you would like to share from your personal journey or any advice that you took from someone that has made an impact on you?
Mine is always, “If you find something fearful, do it with fear”. I don’t know if that makes sense. I just translated it from Spanish hehe. I have started trips thinking... man what am I doing? am I going to die here? And then I set foot out there, got picked up by someone, and that’s it, a new amazing story has begun...
It makes total sense and is very valuable and crucial advise when traveling! Jimmy, thank you again so much for joining us on Travelers.Connect. I believe our readers will take a lot from your story and apply it to their 2019 travels and life. It has been such a pleasure having you on here.
Family and friends, if you should have any questions for Jimmy, please send me a direct message on my Instagram account, cafecito_y_cultura. Until next time!