Janaline Smalman of Janaline’s World Journey is a South-African girl who is addicted to seeing the world. She’s been traveling and working her way around the globe for more than a decade and has had amazing experiences along the way. Sprangled was fortunate enough to catch up with Smalman on how she lives the adventurous experiences that make up her everyday life.
Where did you grow up and where was the first place you traveled to?
I grew up in a small place in the heart of Kwazulu Natal, South-Africa, surrounded by sugar cane farms and forests. I spent my days swimming, painting, reading, and dreaming of exploring the world. As long as I can remember, my dream has always been to travel and see everything. I was born with the travel bug. You could say it’s a curse, because the adventure of travel is all I ever think about. I’m having lots of fun sharing my travel adventures and pictures, so you can see why I love it so much. I have been traveling and working my way around the world for more than a decade and have had some amazing experiences along the way. You can read all about my adventures here: http://janalinesworldjourney.com
My first job abroad was in the Bahamas and Caribbean on a cruise ship. I worked as a waitress but got to see and experience everything the islands had to offer. I swam with stingrays at Sting-ray City and drove down the Mexican coast of Cozumel on a moped. Loved New York and Charleston and would go back any time. After this adventure I just haven’t stopped traveling.
How long have you been traveling for, and how has it shaped your life?
I’ve been traveling solo for over a decade now and it has changed me in so many ways. As soon as you leave your comfort zone and step out to see the world, you meet new people, get acquainted with different cultures, taste new cuisines, and simply breathe in the unfamiliar surroundings.
While traveling is a big adventure, it can also be frustrating and challenging at times. I learned countless lessons by going through adventures and misadventures, tears and laughter while exploring the world. I know I still have so much to discover and so many things to learn.
But so far traveling has definitely enriched my life and taught me so much, not only about the world around me but also about myself.
You can read about all the ways traveling has changed me here: http://janalinesworldjourney.com/2014/07/27/10-things-that-traveling-has-taught-me/
What was your life like before you caught the travel bug?
I have never not dreamed about traveling. I think I was born with the travel bug! As soon as I finished studying I started traveling and have just never stopped.
You’ve been all over the place. How many countries have you visited? What’s your favorite destination?
I have traveled to about 26 countries so far and believe me, there are still so many on my wish list. Here is a taster of my travels up until now as I still need to type up and blog about a lot of these adventures:
My first job abroad was in the Bahamas and Caribbean on a cruise ship. I swam with stingrays at Sting-ray City and drove down the Mexican coast of Cozumel on a moped. Loved New York and Charleston — would go back any time. Moved to England for a while where I stayed all over the place. Bath was the best place to live but I ended up in Cambridge.
I backpacked through Spain and Portugal, even made a pit stop on the island of Majorca. Fell in love with Barcelona, the art, people, and definitely the seafood paella. Grenada took my breath away, and had too much port in Porto.
I had a snowball fight next to the Eiffel tower in Paris and stuffed myself with chocolate crepes. I had a break in Egypt where I saw the sun come up over the Valley of Kings and Queens in a hot air balloon. I ducked and dived the traffic with my bright yellow Honda cup motorbike and enjoyed the sunshine in Vietnam for a while. I got lost while exploring Angor Wat in Cambodia while drinking cafe sau da.
On my way to Japan I made a pit stop in South Korea to taste kim chi. I stalked the geisha in Kyoto, Japan before heading to Hiroshima for a sad memorial service. I lived in the desert of the UAE for a while, even rode on a camel! I had my fill of baklava in Turkey and walked along the Via Dalarosa in Jerusalem during Christmas.
I lived in Russia for two years and learned to appreciate good Russian vodka. I walked the streets of St Petersburg during “White Nights” and mastered walking on snow and ice during the cold winter. I walked along the Great Wall of China after cruising down the Yangtze River during my China Odyssey. My next adventure took me to South America. I lived and worked in the street art filled Santiago, Chile for a couple of weeks where I got to stand knee deep in snow on the Andes Mountains.
I have just made the big move back to South Africa and am now working at Pentravel, a Leisure travel company in Cape Town as a travel agent. I have decided to settle down here for a while and I’m busy buying myself a little place at the moment.
Tell me a bit about your most memorable adventure!
My most memorable trip would be my adventure to Israel. I spent two weeks exploring Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Nazareth over the Christmas period and even took a road trip through the North of Israel with two other travelers I met at the hostel. I fell in love with the country, the food, the people, and the beauty of the old towns and cities of the country. You can read all about my Israel adventures here: http://janalinesworldjourney.com/category/israel/
Why did you decide to write about your experiences?
I love exploring and traveling around the world and a couple of years ago I decided to start sharing my travel stories and pictures so that other people could see why I love it so much. Hopefully some of these stories will inspire others to start traveling and to experience all the wonders the world has to offer.
It seems you explore the world alone often — what’s that like?
Traveling alone can be very daunting for most people and I do agree that it is not the easiest thing to do. I have been traveling solo most of the time and have learned a couple of things through my travels. You always end up meeting lots of people while traveling alone, and I have often enjoyed a big collection of fun temporary friends throughout my trips. Traveling solo has its pros and cons — and for me, the pros far outweigh the cons. I have a blog post where you can read about all these pros and cons I have experienced: http://janalinesworldjourney.com/2014/09/30/pros-and-cons-of-travelling-solo/
Do you have any advice to adventurers looking to make experiencing the world a reality?
One of the biggest misconceptions about travel is that you have to have a stash of cash to be able to take big trips. It’s simply not true. You don’t have to be wealthy, or even make an above average salary. You just have to choose travel over “stuff.”
My challenge to you: Choose one place that you want to go, and pick a date in the next nine months to go there. Buy your plane tickets immediately. Once you do that, you are committed! Get excited and make a promise to yourself to do this every year.