Josh Dunlop is a self-taught professional photographer, a global explorer, and the epitome of the 21st-century homeless vagabond. He’s equally likely to be found on a cruise halfway between Africa and South America as he is cycling through the mountains of southern Asia. Just about the only place you won’t find him is where he grew up, the south of England.
Josh shares his love for photography through his instructional website, Expert Photography. When he’s not taking photos or flying somewhere new, Josh is connecting with new friends, enjoying amazing food, and pushing his boundaries however he can.
I’m Josh Dunlop, and this is How I Travel.
What do you love most about traveling?
For me, I love meeting people. It has the biggest impact on my life, because it helps me to grow my network of friends and have fun around the world:
When I went to Chiang Mai in January, I met some people who invited me to go to Tokyo with them, which I did. A few months later, three of them were in Berlin, where I happened to be staying for a month. I went to Barcelona a couple of months later, and the guy I lived with there met an illustrator I had hired at a co-working space in Morocco. When I was in Prague I met some girls that invited me to join them on holiday in Italy. I had the most amazing time.
The best part? These spontaneous interactions never end.
I’m in Buenos Aires now for an event, and I met a load of people from my mastermind network who invited me to join them for 5 nights on the beach in Uruguay. We went horseback riding on a private estate, did some wine tasting, and had a lot of barbecues.
The point I’m trying to make is this: it’s a small world with tons of opportunity to run into cool people along the way, which leads to some of the most fun you’ll ever have. And knowing lots of people is cool, because you never know how you might be able to help each other in the future. I met Jordan (the founder of How I Travel’s parent company, Yore Oyster) in Chiang Mai, and just this week he helped me save $1300 on a business class flight to LA.
How has travel changed you as a person?
This probably isn’t going to be the most popular answer, but I’ve become a lot more selective about who I spend my time with, and that’s a very good thing.
I recently had dinner with some digital nomads I didn’t know, and one of the guys there was complaining about how he’s lost his only client, and his only bank card, and was staying in a hostel, selling his GoPro just to have some cash, and the whole time I’m thinking, “I’ve heard enough”. I made an excuse early on and left. For me, listening to someone like that is not the lifestyle I want, nor is he the type of person I want to spend my time with. I want to surround myself with people who are vastly more successful than I am, since they’ll raise me up to a higher level.
When I spend time with people who are on a similar or higher level than me (in life and business), I find that my worldview changes, my way of thinking is altered, and it makes me a better person.
Choose your tribe.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned through all your travels?
For me, it’s the power of making decisions. When I was living in the UK, I spent 5 days a week in my bedroom, working by myself. I didn’t have many decisions to make, and life was pretty dull.
Now, as I travel, I make dozens of decisions every week: Where do I want to go next, what meetup shall I go to, who shall I date, do I want to go on this trip or adventure… the list goes on. I’ve found that the more I’ve traveled, and the more decisions I’ve made, the more fun I’ve had. All of the adventures I’ve gone on have been a result of saying yes to something.
So my advice would be to say Yes more, to make a decision to do something – anything – and it will lead you to some pretty cool places.
Oh, and I’ve learned to love good food too! Here’s a meal I ate with friends I met on a cruise from Europe to Brazil. These are people I met by saying yes when there were some pretty good reasons not to. This meal cost me £7.50.
What’s the one travel experience/story that has had the biggest impact on you?
This is such a stupid answer.
As you’ve probably realized by now, I like meeting people, going on adventures, and saying yes to opportunities.
And as good as that is, it can often leave you in some unwanted situations with people you’re not so keen on. This happened at the beginning of last year. I met a guy in Bangkok, and he invited me to a small town in northern Thailand called Pai with him and some friends. About two nights before the trip, he and his friend both hooked up with the girls who were going on the trip with us, leaving me in the rather awkward position of being the 5th wheel on a couples’ weekend, following around people who (except for my friend) I really didn’t like.
The thing is though, I knew what the situation was before I left for Pai, but I still went. Sure, I left after one night, but it was a not a great situation.
Flash forward to July, when I meet a girl who invites me to her birthday party the following week. Now this is a different situation, because I’m enjoying myself, but I knew that I didn’t want to go out to the club after the party. So for about 30 minutes, in the back of my mind, I’m thinking about what excuse I should say. I end up going up to the birthday girl to say good-bye and her response was simple: ‘Bye Josh, thanks for coming’.
It was then that it dawned on me – and this is the stupid part – that I’m an adult, and I’m free to make my own decisions. Obviously we all know this, but social norms often dictate different behaviour from us. With my friends in England, you ain’t leaving the party without a good excuse, haha.
[bctt tweet=”‘Engaging with people on a higher level than me makes me better. Choose your tribe.’ @PhotoJosh”]
Josh’s 7 Favorite Travel Items
The most important thing I travel with is my camera, my Canon EOS 5D Mark III. Although it’s large, it’s a real workhorse and is capable of taking some really great images, like the one above. Here I am using it on an actual horse in Uruguay last month.
Of course, when you’re a professional photographer and you’re traveling with a camera, you ought to have a tripod. I have a really strong tripod in England, but strong means heavy, which is no good when you’re traveling. So I opted for this Manfrotto Travel Tripod instead, as it fits nicely into my suitcase.
An important item every photographer must carry is external hard drive, but not just any old hard drives: these are Western Digital My Passport Pros, and I carry two of them. Inside are two 2TB hard drives, for a total of 4TB, or 2TB if you use a RAID 1 configuration like I do, which just means the content is duplicated from one drive to the other in case of a drive failure. [Editor’s Note: Pete also swears by his Western Digital hard drive]
In a previous life I worked in live audio so good headphones are must, but they have to be compact, which is why I use these AKGs. They fold up nicely into my bag when they’re not being used.
Photography is an expensive habit, so of course I don’t just travel with one camera and lens – I have two cameras and a total of four lenses. The other camera I have is an Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II, and it’s a superb mirrorless camera that I got basically tax-free in Kuala Lumpur (my favourite thing about that city, other than banana leaf rice). It shoots great stabilized video, too.
Part of the reason I carry this camera is because I don’t always want to stand out so much like I do with my Canon 5D, and this can tuck into a small pouch and go relatively unnoticed. This was big for me when I wandered to some rather dodgy areas in Brazil, like in the second shot above.
My final, and perhaps my favourite electronic, has to be my Kindle. It’s a must for every traveler. If you’re still carrying books, you’re doing it wrong. Here I am using it on the nomad cruise from the Canary Islands to Brazil.
Finally, something everyone should have is a cracking set of shoes. These are from Geox, and I swear by that brand. When I first left on my travels, I wore a pair of their boots cycling through the mountains of China. They’re waterproof-guaranteed, great quality, and supremely comfortable. I love Geox.
Josh in 60 Seconds
- Fav Place to TravelBudapest
Fun city, lots of cool people, cheap, bath houses, cool bars…
- Fav On-the-Go ReadDynamite Circle
- Fav Travel AppAirbnbNothing else comes close. I live out of those apartments.
- Ideal Trip CompanionKarl Pilkington
- Next Travel PurchaseMerino wool t-shirts
- Next DestinationLA, San Diego, Vegas, Austin, Miami, Medellin, Cartagena, Lisbon… all booked
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