Welcome! I’m Jeff & this Is Life of Y!

Jeff is standing in front of an argan tree in Morocco. There are goats on the branches as they eat the fruit

‘Being an Aruban-born child to Chinese parents and living in England, you could say that I was curious about the world of travel from a young age!’

My name is Jeff and I was born on the beautiful Caribbean island of Aruba. My parents (from Hong Kong) used to tell me this quite often as we left for the UK when I was just a year old.

After visiting family in Germany and Scotland, my family finally settled in a small town in the middle of England – and I had already ‘visited’ 3 countries before turning 2!

Like most people, I always thought that I had to go to university, get a good job and have a wife and kids by the time I was 25! Anybody reading this now would probably choke on their morning coffee (or tea, beer, vegan smoothie?)

Funnily enough, this idea of ‘happily ever after’ faded quickly as I started to travel more!

My first ever trip away, as an adult, was a cheap last-minute deal to The Dominican Republic and, despite being famous for its hotels and resorts, it really opened my eyes. I had only ever had family trips to Hong Kong and one to Aruba when I was young.

I literally knew nothing about travel so when I saw armed guards at the hotel entrances, and poor villages whilst out on day trips, I suddenly realised that I had a lot to learn about the world.

Where I’ve travelled/Lived

To date, we’ve spent months living and adventuring in various locations around the world. We typically spend at least one month in each destination. Our expertise lies within the following destinations:

📍Aruba – Eagle Beach, Palm Beach, Baby Beach, Oranjestad, San Nicolas, Natural Pool, Tres Trapi, Mangel Halto, Renaissance Island, Arikok National Park

📍Thailand – Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chian Rai, Ayutthaya, Pai, Koh Lipe, Koh Phi Phi, Krabi, Phuket, Koh Phangan, Koh Samui, Koh Tao, Koh Chang, Pattaya

📍Italy – Rome, Milan, Florence, Venice, Matera, Cinque Terre, Capri, Amalfi Coast, Sorrento, Pompei, Pisa

📍Vietnam – Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Ha Long Bay, Hoi An, Sa Pa, Hue, Nha Trang

📍Madagascar – Antananarivo, Mondorava, Avenue of the Baobabs, Tsingy National Park, Salary Bay, Andisabe – Mantadia National Park, Isalo National Park

📍SpainBarcelona, Valencia, Malaga, Seville, Granada, Ronda, Mallorca, Tenerife

📍Slovakia – Bratislava, Nitra, Banska Stiavnice, Cicmany, Banska Bystrica, Kremnica

📍Icleand – Reykjavik, Vik, Golden Circle, Thingvellir, Jokulsarlon, Dyrholaey, Fjaorargljufur

📍Norway – Oslo, Bergen, Stavanger, Troltunga, Kjeragbolton, Treikestolen

📍CroatiaDubrovnik, Split, Plitvice Lakes National Park, Hvar, Korcula

📍Hungary – Budapest

📍Montenegro – Kotor, Budva

📍Bosnia – Mostar

📍India – New Delhi, Varanasi, Agra, Pushkar, Jaipur, Udaipur, Mumbai, Goa, Kochi, Varkala

📍UK – London, Edinburgh, Snowdonia, Liverpool, Glasgow, Manchester, Isle of Skye, Isles of Scilly, Birmingham, Peak District, Lake District, Fort William, Oxford, Cambridge, Stonehenge, Belfast, York, Newcastle, Durham, Lincoln, Brighton, Bristol, Bath, Newquay, Land’s End

📍Ireland – Dublin, Killarney,

📍Laos – Luang Prabang, Vientiane, Van Vieng

📍Cambodia – Pnom Penh, Siem Reap, Koh Rong

📍Australia – Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Cairns, Perth, Broome, Darwin, Alice Springs, Uluru, Esperence, Canberra, Kalbarri, Monkey Mia, Ningaloo Reef, Whitsundays, Great Barrier Reef, Karijini, Kakadu, Cape Tribulation

📍New Zealand – Christchurch, Auckland, Wellington

📍Turkey – Istanbul, Cappadocia, Pamukkale, Ephesus, Antalya, Troy

📍China – Beijing, Shanghai, Xian, Great Wall of China, Yangshuo

📍Myanmar – Yangon, Bagan Mandalay, Inle Lake,

📍Bolivia – La Paz, Salar de Uyuni, Potosi, Sucre, Copacabana

📍Ecuador – Quito, Otavalo, Banos, Galapagos Islands, Cotopaxi, Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve

📍Portugal – Lisbon, Sintra, Obidos, Nazare, Faro, Lagos, Albufeira, Sagres

📍Albania – Tirana, Kruje, Berat, Gjirokaster, Ksamil

📍Kenya – Nairobi

📍Tanzania – Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, Arusha, Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar

📍Malawi – Lilongwe, Lake Malawi

📍Zambia – Lusaka, South Luangwa National Park, Livingstone

📍Botswana – Maun, Okavango Delta, Chobe National Park

📍Namibia – Swakopmund, Fish River Canyon, Skeleton Coast, Etosha National Park, Sossusvlei

📍South Africa – Cape Town

📍BelgiumBrussels, Bruge, Dinant.

📍Netherlands – Amsterdam

📍Czech Republic – Prague

📍Mexico – Mexico City, Puebla, Oaxaca, Palenque, Merida, Isla Holbox, Isla Mujeres, Chichen Itza, Playa del Carmen, Cancun, Tulum

📍Jordan – Amman, Jerash, Madaba, Petra, Wadi Rum, Wadi Mujib, Dead Sea

📍Peru – Lima, Cusco, Arequipa, Colca Canyon, Puno, Huacacina, Ollantaytambo

📍Greece – Athens, Santorini, Meteora, Mykonos

📍Cyprus – Paphos

📍Brazil – Rio de Janeiro, Igazu Falls, Pantanal, Bonito.

📍IndonesiaBali, Bukit Lawang, Labuan Bajo, Komodo National Park

📍Singapore – Singapore

📍Malaysia – Kuala Lumpur, Cameron Highlands, Penang, Langkawi

📍Germany – Berlin

📍Hong Kong – Hong Kong

📍France – Paris

📍Morocco – Marrakesh, Fes, Essaouira, Chefchaouen, Ait Benhaddou, Sahara Desert

📍Dominican Republic – Puerto Plata

📍USA – Miami, Orlando

📍Poland – Wroclaw

How I Started Travelling

The idea of finishing university and having to work for the next fifty-odd years was slightly depressing. So I decided to spend six months abroad instead.

Working wherever I could, and whenever (even Christmas Day) I eventually saved enough to start my once-in-a-lifetime travel adventure.

Beginning in Thailand (where else?), I spent a couple of months seeing beaches, and temples and eating amazing street food before flying on to Australia.

I worked and travelled my way around the country, (even doing the odd spot of fruit picking,) for seven months, before spending some time in New Zealand and, finally China before returning home.

So the six months abroad actually turned into a one-year trip and I returned home with a lust for travel, broke, with no job, and friends who I hadn’t spoken to in a year. Settling back in definitely took some time but I found a way – plan another adventure!

A Second Adventure

After hearing the many stories about Brazil from different travellers, I decided that I needed to see it for myself. So in June 2008, I landed in Rio de Janeiro!

I spent a few weeks on a new continent visiting impressive cascading waterfalls, snorkelling crystal clear freshwater pools, fishing for piranha and enjoying (or not) a few too many shots of cachaça!

I then visited my sixth continent – Africa! Travelling overland from Nairobi, our group passed through Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana, and Namibia and finished in South Africa.

As well as all the game drives in world-famous national parks like the Serengeti, we also visited different tribes like the Maasai and the Himba, saw spectacular natural wonders like Victoria Falls and much, much more (did I mention that I jumped out of a plane?)

I could honestly say that seeing Africa from a truck was one of the best things I ever did.

The Seven Wonders

Without even realising it at the time, I had already been to three out of the seven wonders — the Great Wall of China, Christ The Redeemer and the Colosseum.

I never even dreamed that one day I would ever see all seven wonders. I had ambitions to see Petra in Jordan and Machu Picchu in Peru and, in 2014, I saw both!

Jordan was the first Muslim country I had ever visited, and I loved every second of it! From the chaos of the capital, Amman, to the peaceful desert of Wadi Rum, and the highlight, of course, being Petra itself!

A few months later, I found myself travelling through a country where I was trekking (at altitude) the Inca Trail one day, and cruising through the Peruvian Amazon the next.

The best thing about arriving at Machu Picchu after a 4-day trek is that you appreciate it so much more, especially after seeing the other tourists coming in off the bus in their nice clothes and high heels!!

Whilst I’m a firm believer that travel is not about checking off lists, with only the Taj Mahal and Chitzen Itza of the seven wonders to see, I took it as ‘an excuse’ to explore India and Mexico. Two countries that had so much more to offer than just Goa and Cancun!

Travelling On A Budget

How could I afford to travel so much? The simple answer is, I love travelling! When I returned from my year-long trip in 2007, I felt lost. I was back at my parents’ house, in the town I grew up in, surrounded by familiar people.

Yet something was different. It was me! Since then travelling has kind of become my hobby… my priority.

My friends were already ‘going places’ in their careers, buying their dream houses and driving their dream vehicles. What was I doing? I was working all hours from one job to another (often minimum wage,) spending as little money as I could, buying only the essentials so that I could go on another travel adventure.

I learned early on that travelling can be done on a budget, paying just £5 for my first night in Thailand in a room that had a bed, shower and a toilet that was flushed with a bucket of water.

There was no air-con, tv or mini fridge – who needs all that crap when there’s a whole world to explore outside?!

I’ve picked up a lot of travel tips since then I’ve always enjoyed staying in budget accommodations, like hostels, eating delicious local food and meeting the characters on the local buses!

Travelling With Full-Time Jobs

Even though I’m not a 21-year-old backpacker anymore, I still try and travel with a budget in mind.

These days I go on adventures to dream destinations with my ‘travel partner in crime!’ We both have to endure full-time jobs so we make the most out of the annual leave available to us!

Jeff and Zuzana share a kiss on a boulder that wedged between two rocks known as Kjeragbolten in Norway

Twenty-odd days of annual leave might not seem like a lot (that’s because it isn’t) but, with careful planning, we still managed to satisfy our thirst for travel, just!

In the last few years, we’ve had long weekends in Edinburgh (twice,) Barcelona, Paris, Budapest, Cinque Terra, Brussels, Matera, Berlin, Amalfi Coast and Dublin, as well as longer trips to Norway, Andalusia, Croatia, Slovakia, Iceland and Madagascar.

Since we live in the UK, we’ve also started to explore as much of Britain as we can including historic cities, wild isles and spectacular coastlines right in our backyard.

Even with our full-time jobs at home, we didn’t need to ‘leave it all behind’ or ‘give it all up’ to travel. Not yet anyway!

Jeff is picking up Zuzana with a great view of the sea and the Seven Sisters white cliffs behind them

Travelling Southeast Asia

In 2019 we decided to travel long-term starting in Southeast Asia. It was an area I’d always wanted to revisit after spending time in Thailand. It was Zuzi’s first time travelling long term so it was a very exciting time for the both of us.

Cover photo for Thailand Island Hopping - Jeff and Zuzi sit on a swing bench over looking the sea in Thailand.
couple taking a selfie in a hot air balloon in Myanmar
Jeff and Zuzi are in a swimming pool overlooking the city of Kuala Lumpur. Cover image for The Best Things To Do In Kuala Lumpur
Christmas Day With Komodo Dragons feature image. Jeff and Zuzi stand behind two Komodo dragons on Komodo Island

After landing in Singapore, we spent several months exploring the beaches and temples in Thailand, eating the delicious cuisine in Vietnam and orangutan spotting in Sumatra.

Some of our personal highlights include hot air ballooning in Bagan, Myanmar, walking with Komodo Dragons in Flores, Indonesia, wandering the tombs of Angkor Wat in Cambodia and spending a crazy New Year’s Eve in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia!

We Were Featured On The News!

As we made our way through Southeast Asia in early 2020, it was clear to us that there may be some issues just around the corner! I don’t want to mention the C word but it was a blessing and a curse at the same time!

We weren’t fully aware of the impact it could have on travel as we didn’t have local SIMs and kept ourselves off social media. Locals and tour guides told us everything was going to be ok so we carried on travelling.

There was a sudden decline in tourists which made our travel experience quite eerie but unique at the same time. In many places, we were either the only tourists or one of a handful.

But then, in April of that year, our flights were cancelled and we were stranded in a village in Sumatra, Indonesia for 4 months!

It ended up being an incredible experience and some of the media caught wind of the story. Take a look at what they wrote about us in the Daily Mail, the Sun, the Mirror, LADbible, Blesk (Czech site) and Novy Cas (Slovak site).

There were also articles written about us in Brazil, France, Indonesia and a few local papers.

For a better, more accurate, account of what happened, you can check out my write-up of our time in Sumatra here.

Travel Blogging

Why did I start Life of Y? If you didn’t already know, I have a passion for travel! I want to share this passion with you guys. When I started travelling I was a complete amateur.

Earning my travel badges ‘on the go’ was fun and scary at the same time. Now I can tell you all about my experiences, good and bad.

More importantly, I want to express my opinions as honestly and openly as I can. After all, travelling isn’t always beer in the sun and yoga on the beach.

Travel can and will cost money, as with most things in life. I can’t tell you to spend your hard-earned money on travel instead of buying your dream car, but if you’re reading this then you’re probably thinking of it already!

I didn’t win the lottery when I started travelling, I just wanted to do it. If someone like me can travel to so many amazing places then surely you can too?! I hope this blog can inspire you and turn your travel dreams into travel plans!

Why Do I Blog?

👉 To show you the most amazing places around the world and how to visit or experience those places.

👉 Write articles about my/our experiences and pass on as much advice and travel tips to you guys so you can be inspired to travel to the same places.

👉 To show you that you don’t have to quit your job to experience the travel/backpacker lifestyle on your vacation/holiday.

👉 Lastly, I will only recommend the best activities, tours and accommodations with all budgets in mind.

Follow My Journey On Social Media

For those of you who still have Instagram and Facebook, I try to post regularly on my social accounts. I find that these are often one of the best platforms to showcase the beauty of the countries I visit.

I will always post the best pictures from our travels and I don’t use any super filter or Photoshop in any fake clouds or birds – I don’t have time for that!

Be sure to check out my story highlights too. I usually create stories from my most recent travels and I try to give some useful info and tips with a touch of British humour!

Check my Instagram page or follow me on Facebook.

Travel Inspiration

Not sure where to start? Not travelling in the next few months or even years? Feeling uninspired? Take a read of some of these articles for a bit of a travel boost.

My Travel Bucket List
The Best Travel Movies To Satisfy Your Wanderlust
27 Must-Read Books That Will Inspire You To Travel
23 Productive Things To Do At Home When You’re Not Travelling

Travel Resources

After years of travelling, you would think that I’d learned a thing or two. And you’re absolutely right! I’ve put together a list of travel resources available that I believe are the best around.

The Best Travel Resources For Your Next Adventure