Today, we’re here with Nate of Nate Meets World. He does a TON of hiking all over the world and has done some amazing ones in the past year. I’m excited to have Nate here, so I’ll let him hop in here!
And I’d love to hear about your time in Russia for the World Cup a couple months ago -- that must have been pretty incredible.
Nate: The World Cup was one of my bucket list things… and it was pretty incredible. [I’m] a big soccer fan and a big Arsenal fan, so it was something I just really wanted to do and check it off the bucket list. My plan was to go into Georgia anyway and do some hiking, so it just worked out really well. And Russia was really hospitable, I got a lot of interesting stories.
You’ve done some steady travel to Central America, Ireland, Mexico and some other wonderful destinations. And you mentioned to me you’re taking a little break to save up some money. What are your future plans and what are you hoping to accomplish with Nate Meets World?
Nate: It was kind of inevitable that I would take a break from travel at some point, just because you do get travel burnout. And when you’re going for pretty much 18 months straight…I figured I would have to take a break somewhere…so I decided to go down to Mexico.
In my future plans, I would like to have a hiking podcast. I would also like to start organizing hiking tours in Mexico and Central America as I have traveled there pretty extensively and done quite a bit of hiking there. I’d like to do tours and take people back to my favorite places and try to help out the locals and do as much business with them as I can.
So, let’s talk travel conferences. We are fresh off of coming back from TravelCon where we listened to people who are carving out this new arena in the travel industry, whether they’re travel writing, selling their travel photography, travel blogging and vlogging, and have found success. And I know you have attended a couple of travel conferences as well which I was interested in going to. What is your experience at the other big travel conferences like TBEX? And what is your primary goal when attending these? Networking? Speakers?
Nate: Networking and speakers is obviously pretty important, because you want to go there to learn…and of course, it’s always great to meet new friends…and that’s probably one of the reasons that I’ll keep coming back. And maybe in a few years, I’ll be a speaker! Obviously there’s a long way to go towards that. But, it’s definitely a great way to learn and you meet so many like-minded people, and I think that’s the greatest thing, too. You feel like you’re a part of a community and it’s different than talking about it with friends and family; you’re talking to people who understand you more…and are maybe more supportive when you say you’re moving to Mexico for awhile!
I know some people are total planners if they are traveling for a couple months at a time, and others just check out flight prices as they go and then decide where to next. Do you have a specific itinerary when you travel for a few months at a time, or do you just hopping around at your whim?
Nate: It depends on the situation, because I know for some like, like travel conferences…or the World Cup, I would have to be somewhere on a certain date. I guess the most important thing is to look out for sales and keep an eye out on the budget airlines for when they’re having sales as that leads to a bit more spontaneity. When I was in the Czech Republic, I was kinda debating whether I should go to the Balkans….but I didn’t know how much time I would have. I ended up finding these cheap flights to Italy…so I decided to go to Italy for a few weeks!
I like hiking, I don’t love it. I’ll go for a hike, but mostly because it means I can go to places which can only be seen by walking my ass way out somewhere. But I do love having that unique experience in a place which hiking provides, that not every single tourist has done. What do you recommend for people who are beginners, but want to do some exploring and hiking?
Nate: My recommendation would be to find local groups and start there. There are a lot of great groups online, whether it’s on Facebook or Meetup.com where you can find other people and groups of people who are going on hikes. And it’s a great way to dip your feet in, and get comfortable just being out in nature…and to meet other like-minded people in your area.
I used to read different hiking forums [online] and I would see stories of people who were going through a rough time; maybe they just lost their best friend or they went through…a divorce. And then they decided to start going outside on their own more, and hiking a little bit more, and it was kind of their therapy...it was a way for them to relax, enjoy life, and enjoying nature.
I noticed you’ve spent the last few months making travel videos along your hikes, and I think these are always a great way to give a taste of what a place is like when they are done well. And I think you do a good job with these. Tell me about the hiking videos you’re making and why you’ve made this effort (I know it’s a pain to edit videos!) and what your goal with these are?
Nate: I know some people prefer to read blogs, and some people prefer to watch videos — so I like to give them a taste of both. Going to journalism school and being familiar with the basics of [video editing] definitely helped a little bit. Between when I started and now, I’ve learned a lot and I’ve talked to different YouTubers and how they structure their videos. I think it’s a good way to give people a taste, and the main goal of my blog [and travel videos] is to be informative, so when people visit, it’s kind of a one stop shop.
Just from following along on your social medias, you seem to stay primarily in hostels or some sort of local accommodation. We, of course, like to do pretty much the same. Do you feel like this gives you a sense of engagement with the culture and people whose country you’re in, or is it mainly for budget reason?
Nate: For the most part, yes, it is for budget reasons. But at the same time, in most cases, you are supporting the local community. And in some cases there are lodges or huts out in the middle of nowhere, in really small towns that are there to support the hikers and that’s one of the great parts of hiking.
It’s also a great way to meet like-minded people and interesting people you can swap stories about to day [of hiking].
You recently spent a couple weeks in the country of Georgia and you’re photos from there are insane! I have been wanting to some more research about Georgia and have a hard time finding people to talk to that have been there! So, tell me all about it! The hikes, the food, the people...and what you would recommend?!
Nate: It’s a really beautiful country and as a hiker, it’s a great base, and there are a multitude of options. There’s lots of different day hikes…overnight hikes…you can go to the beach…or you can relax by the lake for the weekend.
What I did notice…in Georgia…is that you see people from all over the world, but especially those Eastern European countries like the Czech Republic, and Russia, and I didn’t see as many Western Europeans or Americans or Canadians as you would in The Dolomites in Italy. And that’s one of the things that makes it a little bit of a hidden gem, I guess But, people are starting to notice it a little bit more, and it does feel a little more authentic.
The hospitable people really helped. Sometimes I would just be walking along the side of the road to the next trailhead and people would stop and ask if I needed a ride. I just felt really welcomed by the people there and met so many friendly people of all ages.
I can imagine my mother and family freaking out if I told them I was going to Georgia, simply because of it’s approximation to the Middle East AND because you don’t hear much about it, so it has that “unknown” factor to people. Not that that is a deterrent for me, but I think there so many misconceptions about any country that is basically not in Europe, and especially if it’s close to the Middle East. I know how hard/impossible it is to try to talk someone into visiting a place they have a certain image or idea about. What are your thoughts on this and do you try to encourage people to explore this part of the world?
Nate: I think on of the main things when you travel, no matter where you travel — whether it’s El Salvador, or Ireland — as long as you have common sense you’re going to stay out of trouble pretty much everywhere you go. I was in El Salvador early the years for a couple of weeks and I didn’t have any issues whatsoever…no people trying to scam me. Of course you see stuff in the paper of bad things happening…but in most cases they are happening in areas that no tourist is ever going to be.
I’ve been traveling for a year and a half and the worst thing that ever happened to me was I was bit by a dog in Mexico City!
Do you have one holy grail hike that you HAVE to do, but haven’t yet?
Nate: It would be nice to do Nepal, it would be nice to do the Annapurna Circuit Trail or Everest Base Camp Trek at some point. That would be at the top of my list…and then of course, I’d like to go to Patagonia as well.
I love hearing other people’s travel stories. Whether it’s a time where everything was going horribly wrong, or a time when a stranger showed you kindness, a favorite meal somewhere! Anything, really!
Nate: My first 12 hours in Russia, I had just arrived…and I was waiting for my car down to Moscow. My battery was running low and it was a few more hours until my ride was going to come…so I go into the National Library of Russia in St. Petersburg. I go to the entrance with my backpack and all my gear…I don’t think they really understand what I was doing there, but all I needed was a place to sit and plug in so they pointed me towards a room around the side.
So, I go in there and I didn’t see any plugs, and I found a staircase that was open, so I went up the stairs and found a place in the library and started plugging in my stuff. About 30 minutes after I sat down, this alarm started going off in the entire library…
Listen to the episode above for the rest of Nate’s travel story in Russia!
Thanks so much for coming on today, it’s always wonderful talking to people who explore the world in a different way than most people do, and differently than we do, also!
Let people know where they can find you online, Nate!
Nate: You can find me anywhere online at Nate Meets World. I’m probably to most active on Instagram, but you can check out my YouTube channel and my blog at NateMeetsWorld.com.
And we’re doing something new on our IG. If you have specific travel questions, like: what to pack for Ireland, and which trail you should do to Machu Picchu! We answer all these for you on our IG every Wednesday. So I get on there Wednesday morning and ask for all your questions, and then I go through and answer ALL of them Wednesday night.