Group Travel Chat: Jeremy Foster of TravelFREAK

Jeremy Foster, better known as travelFREAK, has spent the last three years traveling the world. Originally from the USA, he’s lived in New Zealand, Australia and China, where he currently teaches English. While Jeremy set off on his world adventure solo, he’s traveled with groups here and there on his journey.

In an interview, he talks about a group travel memory from when he was 16 years old in which he went with his adopted sister to meet her birth mother in another country, a more recent group travel achievement in China and one tip he has for traveling with other people.

Tell us about one experience when you went on a holiday with friends, workmates or family?

I vividly remember my time in the Dominican Republic, when I traveled with my adopted sister to meet her birth family. I was about 16 years old and had never done any major travel to such a drastically different destination.

At that time in my life, I was too young to grasp the entire scope of cultural difference, and it was, at times, very difficult for me to understand and approach.

But it was an incredibly cathartic experience for my sister to see her birth mother again, after 30 years apart.

That is what stands out in my mind…well, that, and the merengue music, the salsa dancing, the opulent beaches littered with straw huts selling fresh fish, the exotic women, fried plantains, smooth, dark skin, wide smiles and the intoxicating level of joy.

But what I’m really trying to say is that travel is important to family, and every person should take the time to go somewhere with someone they love. You create a bond and can ultimately share some very special times together.

Where do you think would be the ideal destination for groups to travel to and why?

Anywhere! I found myself hiking through the mountains of southwest China a couple months ago, intending to spend two days trekking the deepest gorge in the world entirely on my own. Instead, I joined a group of five and we conquered it together, creating a far richer experience for all of us.

There are things to be learned from people everywhere you go, so anywhere you end up is an ideal place to be with a group, learning about the idiosyncrasies of life and the world. Travel is about discovery and creation, and group travel can meliorate that experience for everyone.

What is one tip you have to traveling with other people?

Be flexible. You can’t travel with a group of people and expect to do everything your way. Undoubtedly you’ll have to make some sacrifices, but it pays to look at those forfeitures as small, awkward brush-strokes in a march larger and more beautiful painting. You’ll see that, in the end, it will be worth it.

Who is a random person you’d like to go on a trip with? Why him or her, where would you go and what would you do? Famous, real, dead or alive, it can be absolutely anyone.

I’d love to go on safari in Africa with my very own mother. We both have such a thirst for adventure and the unseen, and I know we would make fantastic travel companions.

Sure, she gets on my nerves, as moms do (fact), but a trip like that has the potential to be the most meaningful experience we’ve ever had together. That, and the simple fact that she’s my mom. Love her to death.

What is one annoyance you have with traveling with other people?

I do value my independence. As someone who’s been traveling almost entirely solo for three years straight, I’ve grown very accustomed to doing what I want, when I want, and how I want. It’s brilliant. It’s easy. It’s selfish and it’s fantastic.

I’ve seen groups of people split because of finances, clashing personalities, misplaced expectations, and any other scenario you could imagine. In traveling on my own, I get to do ME. And I love it.

There is something to be said for having a companion by your side when the going gets rough or even when you’re just bored out of your mind on that 27 hour train ride.

Thanks for speaking with us Jeremy!