Unplugged Moments: Q&A with Jessica Ufuoma

This post was inspired by my friend Mary of momentsinsquares.com. Mary’s travels inspire me but even more so, her faith and her love for God. I hope you enjoy this impromptu Q&A where I answer the same exact questions Mary answered. All the credits go to her!

Someone once said “A life untraveled, is a life unlived.” Do you agree? Why do you think traveling is important? 

I can’t imagine a life untraveled and I don’t mean hopping on a plane and going somewhere. I mean a life that’s lived in one place where you’re doing the same thing over and over again and waking up and going to sleep in your comfort zone. I believe this person meant it literally, though? In this case, I’d have to disagree. As a traveler who also wants to encourage others to travel, I do not necessarily believe that travel is the only gateway to a life well lived. While I am a big advocate for travel and I think it is one way to live a full life, it certainly isn’t the only way. You may not be able to go see the Eiffel tower in person, but you can read about it or you can make Parisian friends who can tell you about it. I think it’s really about seeing things from a different perspective and this can be achieved through several different ways.

You may not be able to go see the Eiffel Tower in person, but you can read about it, or you can make Parisian friends who can tell you about it.

jessica ufuoma

But when you think about it, aren’t we all traveling though? Isn’t the whole concept of life down to a journey? We all move, don’t we? Through the ebbs and flows of life. We dream. We transport ourselves to places our feet haven’t dared to reach yet.

I think the only injustice we can do to this precious gift of life is to stop dreaming, stop moving and just staying stuck in a place – whether that be a mindset or a job that we hate or a relationship where our presence is no longer appreciated. We have to keep moving, keep evolving, keep growing.

Do you believe you were born to travel? When did the travel bug bite you?

I’ve never really thought about this question but now that I do, I can nod affirmatively. I know I was born to travel and this is mainly down to how I sort of “stumbled” into it. I cannot say that travel was ever a childhood dream of mine even though I watched my mum and dad travel the world. You will think that would have sparked something in me but it didn’t.

That’s why I consider this (my current travel lifestyle) some sort of universal interference to my life’s path. As someone who was neck deep in her comfort zone, travel was both intimidating and unappealing to me. However, a trip to Machu Picchu changed it all. Upon setting eyes on the beautiful ruins, I whispered underneath my breath, “I will travel the world” That moment remains top of mind for me and it’s safe to say I have stayed true to my words ever since.

Nothing is a coincidence. I believe that travel is connected to my life’s purpose and with every plane ticket I purchase and every uncharted territory I explore, the vision for my life becomes clearer and clearer.

What does your ideal “travel outfit” look like? 

Oh, I am such a girly girl. I love my dresses, my hats, my sandals and so on. You’d hardly see me in jeans or sneakers, not even to the airport. Is it weird that I find those very uncomfortable? One thing you’ll find in my travel wardrobe, is a lot of color. Living in Toronto Canada means I mostly have to deal with the gloomy weather and gravitating towards the blacks and the greys to keep warm, so travel is my one true outlet to bring out some color.

How do you prevent overpacking when traveling? 

I used to be a chronic overpacker because I thought I needed that extra dress, those extra shoes and twenty other items. However, I challenged myself this year to take only a carry-on luggage on all my trips. It was a real challenge at first but so far, so good. My simple rule is, “If it doesn’t fit in my carry-on, then it’s not coming with me. Period. No questions asked.” There’s been times when I had to put down an extra dress or two, or some sunglasses or an extra hat because there was no space for it but guess what? I did just fine without them. Packing cubes help as well to organize my luggage space.

What are your top 3 requirements for the perfect travel squad?

I am drawn to humility in people, especially while traveling. I don’t want to travel with anyone who thinks they are too cool to say hi to the taxi driver.

jessica ufuoma

Oh, I’m picky picky and the more I grow older, the pickier I become and my travel squad is no different. I don’t think there’s any such thing as perfect but we can get as close to it as possible. My requirements are:

People who love life. I love to travel with people who love life and are open to all the possibilities that life bring. And I don’t mean love life only in the sense of appreciating a good cocktail or staying in resorts that offer the best views. Those are great and I can attest to it. I mean those who love life wholeheartedly even when it isn’t pretty. Travel isn’t always pretty or “instagrammable”. I want to get down with people who can be stuck in an unfamiliar icky situation but still find joy there. I love people with a heart filled with gratitude just for the mere fact of living. Those are the people I like to travel with.

People who are adventurous. I love traveling with people who can inspire me out of my comfort zone and say ‘yes’ to things (within reason, of course!) I love people who I do not have to convince to try something new. I love people who will clap and cheer me on while I have a roasted rabbit leg in Thailand. I love to travel with people who want to seek the culture and history of a place without having to beg them for it.

People who are humble and down-to-earth. I am drawn to humility in people, especially while traveling. I don’t want to travel with anyone who thinks they are better than anybody else or think they are too cool to say hi to the taxi driver. I don’t want to travel with anyone who speaks to a waiter rudely just because they found strands of hair in their drink. I want to travel with people who are humble, accepting of others and have all round great energy.

How do you feel about people who consider traveling a luxury? Any secrets to securing the BEST travel deals?

In part, travel IS indeed a luxury. To be physically fit to travel, to be able to afford a trip when some others are looking for their next meal, is a luxury in a sense. However, travel is more accessible to us now than ever before. Travel used to be reserved for the rich and famous but now, anyone with a little spare cash can make travel happen, even if on a budget. If you prioritize travel, have a stable income and are able to pay your life bills, you can travel too!

The key to securing the best travel deals is really by staying open and flexible. We all like to have bucket lists of dreamy destinations but it’s also important to be open to other destinations as well. I’ve talked about this in detail previously.

Which do you prefer: hotel, Airbnb, or hostel? Why?

I love finding unique places to stay when I travel. That said, I used to be a big airbnb fan but as I have grown older, I really fancy a good hotel service. I love the convenience of being able to roll out of bed and order room service, call the reception if I have questions, have breakfast all sorted out for me, etc. I’m a hotel baby but I have to admit, there are some absolutely stunning Airbnb properties. You wouldn’t catch me in a hostel though, sorry.

Describe your fondest travel memory

The people are the ones who shine through in my travels so when I think of a fond travel memory, it is usually associated with a stranger (usually turned friend) that I met abroad. A good memory will be one from Cartagena, Colombia. I don’t remember precisely how I met John but I am so glad I did. Colombia was a solo trip and John made the trip ten times better than it probably would have been. I remember us salsa-ing our way at a popular square in Cartagena and him helping me bargain a Colombian coffee pack that I really wanted to bring home. I’d never forget the kindness he showed me and I hope he reaps the goodness he showed me, a thousand folds.

Thank you for reading this unplugged moment with me. I hope you learned something new. Please check out Mary’s page – she has some really great travel stories and ask me any questions in the comments section. Always happy to answer.

Until next time,

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