WILD HEART FEATURE ➳ Jimmy Macpherson
Jimmy and I go way back. Maybe not in real life years but in old soul years. We first met 4ish years ago when Jimmy came to visit some of his old Hamilton Island colleagues, which happened to be 3 of my best girlfriends living in Byron Bay. Naturally, we got along like a house on fire from the get-go, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching Jimmy’s journey from afar while I’ve been traveling abroad myself.
Without further ado, I’m excited for you all to meet my wild-hearted adventure buddy, Jimmy!
Where did you grow up? How old are you? Tell us a bit about yourself…
I’m 34 & grew up one hour north of Sydney in a suburb called Kincumber. It’s a great spot because it was only a 5-10min drive to loads of different beaches, which is usually where I was if I didn’t have school.
I wasn’t allowed to play rugby league & somehow got into baseball which took me on my first overseas trip, to Japan, the day after I turned 17, to play in a touring team against local high school kids. Gotta say cheers to Mum & Dad for that one.
I couldn’t really sit still much after that.
Straight after high school, I moved to Newcastle for a few years for some new scenery. Music festivals were more of a priority than travel back then but I still managed to do a trip to the USA & a couple of surf trips to Indonesia.
Looking to mix things up again I lined up a six-month working holiday on Hamilton Island that turned into nearly six years because I decided to make hotel management a career & save for a house. It all went out the window when a girlfriend asked me to join her on a backpacking trip & I ended up spending everything I saved on travel the following few years… I don’t regret it for a second.
Even moving to Byron Bay to settle down & absolutely loving it there couldn’t keep me from doing another stint with the backpack so I’m currently on the tail end of a six-month trip.
What are 4 things you’re grateful for today?
1. My family. Best people in the world & the reason for who I am today.
2. My friends. All the biggest legends.
3. The opportunities I had growing up. A good education in a safe country, etc. Travel makes you realize just how good we’ve got it in Australia.
4. The age we’re living in. It’s not perfect but no other generation before us had the ability to travel as freely as we do & with all the tech we have to help us do it.
You’re a seasoned traveler, which countries have your curiosity taken you to so far?
I prefer developing countries for the whole out-of-your-comfort-zone, fewer conveniences type of thing. Although wifi is pretty easy to find everywhere these days. Your money also goes further so you can travel longer & I feel like I’m helping out economies that need it more.
I’ve basically been through most of Latin America & South East Asia, India & its surrounding countries, Southern & Eastern Africa, Morocco, a fair amount of Europe, & a few places in the Middle East.
AirBnB, CouchSurfing, Hotel or Hostel…what is your travel style?
Hostels for sure. I’ve done a few CouchSurfs, which were cool, but it’s hard to beat the hostel atmosphere. Domestically if I can’t stay with mates I’ll go with AirBnB but hotels are a bit anti-social; mostly good for honeymoons or family holidays.
What comes to mind when I ask for one memorable traveling event that will stay with you forever?
Hmm… Just one is tough.
I guess it was really cool that when me & two friends were walking home from seeing an illegal comedy show in Mandalay, Myanmar (Burma) we managed to score a lift on the back tray of a large truck for a few kilometres & when we got off we played with some local kids who were kicking a cane ball in the air in a big circle. This was around 1 am in a city that’s completely dead by 11 pm & even though our soccer skills were putrid these guys were really nice & it was one of those times when you feel like you made a genuine connection with people even though neither of you knows a single word in the other’s language.
One country you’ve yet to visit but have always wanted to, and why?
Scotland. I haven’t done any UK yet but my family heritage is from the Isle of Skye. I’ve actually just started planning a trip there with my sisters sometime in the next year or two. I’ve heard it’s super beautiful but the climate & cost have been keeping me away. I’m an absolute sook in cold.
I keep hearing Iran is amazing too.
Top 5 on your bucket list?
In no particular order…
Hawaii/Tahiti/Fiji for surfing
The craziest thing that’s happening to you, or you’ve witnessed on your travels?
My first day in Peru saw me get in a taxi that I quickly found out was not a taxi at all. My backpack was locked in the boot & I was sitting in the middle back seat of a sedan surrounded by fairly large local guys telling that rather USD$12 my trip from the Ecuador border to Mancora was going to cost $150. I thought that was a fair price to escape unharmed but I told them I didn’t have any cash & needed an ATM. They pulled over almost immediately but because I hadn’t seen any weapons & didn’t feel like I was in too much danger I chanced my luck & said I want them to drive me to my destination first & I’ll get the money out there. They agreed so what followed was the most awkward 45-60mins of my life – making small talk, sharing a bag of crisps & generally being quite friendly with people who were basically holding me for ransom. When we finally arrived they escorted me to an ATM & had the cheek to ask for more. It was middle of the day on the main street so with plenty of witnesses around told them to get stuffed & walked off after giving them the $150. In hindsight, I probably could’ve just paid $12 but I was safe & in the end, it’s only money.
How has solo travel changed you? What personal development skills has it taught you?
Solo travel is so good. I really think everyone should do it at least once in their life. You learn a lot about yourself; what you’re good at & things you need to improve. Your navigation skills get sharpened that’s for sure. Social skills though are probably where it’s most beneficial. You either learn to approach strangers, whether it’s on the street for directions or in your hostel, or you’ll get pretty lost & lonely.
What are some ways in which you make travel happen?
First I pick a region. Then look at the map. I figure out a rough starting point, a route, & potential end point. Usually, by the time I book my first flight, it’s all changed & expanded so from the time I’ve decided I’m going somewhere I just save as much as possible, knowing that more than likely I’ll still be dipping into my credit card before I get home. I’d rather be in a little debt than regret missing out on something.
If anyone wants to save a decent amount of cash in a short space of time while having fun in one of most beautiful parts of the world I totally recommend a stint working on Hamilton Island.
Favorite travel hack?
It used to be Blue Dollars in Argentina but they shut that down.
I guess the biggest help in all my travels has been an app called “maps.me”. You download regions or whole countries when you’ve got wifi & then it works perfectly offline. Way better than Google maps.
5 travel essentials you don’t leave home without?
1. A book
2. Ear plugs
3. A power bank
4. An adaptor/converter
5. And a passport with enough blank pages for a few extra unplanned countries that I’ll no doubt throw in along the way.
Apart from traveling, what are you passionate about?
Surfing. Yoga. Hanging out with friends & family. Finding good coffee anywhere I go. Music. Street art. I get pretty into politics too but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea so I only talk about it with people that I know are also interested in it.
I love to laugh too so I can easily get stuck binge watching YouTube clips of comedy shows, stand-up, anything funny really.
That one thing that makes you come alive?
Seeing the ocean after being inland for a while. Doesn’t matter if I’ve just done a sleepless night bus, if I can get salty for the first time in months it’ll be like I’ve just taken drugs. Haha
What’s your biggest fear?
Globally, World War 3. I’d love for it to never eventuate but I’ve got this horrible feeling it might happen in my lifetime. Fingers crossed it doesn’t.
Personally, to lose one my senses. I know it’s not the end of the world & I’d be grateful that I had it/them in the first place but to not be able to see, hear, smell or taste again would be pretty devastating. They’re what make the world so constantly interesting.
What pieces of advice would you give your 15-year-old self?
That’s a tough call because I wouldn’t change my past at all because it would invariably alter the present, & I’m happy. Plus I’m sure I got loads of advice at 15 that I didn’t listen to. Maybe a time-traveling older self would be different. Haha
I guess if I did it’d be to stop worrying about things that are out of your control. Once I learned that in my mid 20’s life got better because you don’t unnecessarily stress. If you can’t directly influence something then try to stay chilled or forget about it completely.
What is your purpose?
I don’t have any kids yet (or a girlfriend, ladies 😜 ) so this might change in a few years but I’ve found out through several tragic events that I’ve been able to cope better than others at the time. I’ve also always been older than the majority of my mates & someone who’s been hit up for advice a lot so I think my purpose is helping others.
After this trip, I plan to get involved in social programs in my spare time like volunteering for things like LifeLine & big brother/mentoring for underprivileged youth type stuff. I think people who have those skills/traits should really put them to good use because plenty of people out there need support.
What’s your best advice for aspiring travelers?
My advice is to get advice, basically.
It’s cool to just go, rogue, & see what happens but not only do people who travel love talking about it, which can be fascinating, but you usually get loads of helpful tips. Accommodation, cafes/restaurants, places you’ve never heard of that can end up being a trip highlight. Even when you’re on the move never stop asking questions & taking notes.
I’ve got two that I can’t split.
“An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” And,
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you will live forever.”
Both by Mahatma Gandhi
Any Lonely Planet or Rough Guide! Haha
Nah here’s my list:
The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle
The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
1984, George Orwell
Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela
Open, Andre Agassi
I’m currently reading This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein. It’s about climate change & I’m a pretty passionate environmentalist so when I’m done I plan to give away & ask that person to pass it on when they finish it, & so on, so the message gets around about what we need to do ensure the generations to come still have a beautiful, livable planet to explore like we do now.
Where can we follow your journey on social?
I’ve only got Facebook & Snapchat. I’m pretty tech-light. And lazy. Never done a blog & haven’t even owned a laptop or tablet in my life. Anyone at all can follow me if they like. I’ve got my photo albums split into countries & I’ve written down loads of tips that I can copy+paste to anyone who’s planning to go anywhere I’ve been.
Last, but not least, what is your definition of success?
Success is anytime you have a smile on your face. It’s definitely not about fame or fortune. It usually refers to accomplishing something you set out to do but I think just starting something is an achievement in itself, even without completion, as long as you always learn from it. Success is subjective so I don’t think people should worry too much about whether others perceive you to be successful or not.
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