What if I told you there was a resource available that you could access virtually anywhere that offered well-researched travel advice for a young go-getter such as yourself? Let's call this resource, ummmm, a travel guide, Yes! And it's available for your listening pleasure at the simple push of the button. What if I told you that the creator of this "travel guide" also had a few tips to share that could guide you through life. *GASP* Too good to be true! If this sounds appealing to you then you're in the right place. Josh McDonald aka JustGQ aka @GQ50 on the internets, is the Creator and Co-host of The Travel (Guy)des Podcast. The Travel (Guy)des offers its listeners and subscribers the opportunity to gain an inside scoop on what to expect when visiting some of the worlds most known, and unknown travel destinations. Josh, and most of his show's guests are Millennial professionals and entrepreneurs, who have figured out the formulas for fantastic travel on a budget and have lived to tell the tale.
I had a virtual sit down with Josh to learn about his inspiration for launching The Travel (Guy)des, hear about the various ups and downs he's encountered along the way, and find out why you should never laugh at celebrity mishaps while drinking tea near a computer. If you're planning a trip, whether it be solo or with a group, you'll want to keep reading. If you're deliberating whether or not to launch an entrepreneurial venture, you might also benefit from Josh's advice. The Level Up featuring The Travel (Guy)des starts now...
The Level Up: Tell us a little bit about The Travel (Guy)des. How did you come up with it?
"To be honest, I'm a serial entrepreneur"
Just GQ: To be honest, I'm a serial entrepreneur. I was pretty heavy in the blogging game around 2010. I blogged about a little bit of everything, it was a form for my free thought. I blogged about relationships (that was the most popular) then there was sports, current events, music - just things that I liked that I thought like minded people would dig as well.
TLU: I can relate!
JGQ: Then in 2012, that was when I started Debonair and I was selling men's and women's neck wear and accessories.
TLU: Right - I think that's when you and I first met, you were the bow tie guy!
JGQ: Right. So that took me away from content for about 3 years. After that venture came to an end I wanted to get back into content. I started looking at the different mediums, and blogging was very time consuming. It worked well when I was in school but with my job - I know myself. I wouldn't have been diligent in terms of having consistent content which, you know, is key in content creation. So I looked to podcasts. I'm a huge fan of podcasts, and I started to listen to them I thought "this is kinda cool, I think we could do it, but what space isn't being satisfied?" I matched that up with how I could help people with what I was doing and that was travel. I'm a voracious traveler. I enjoy just kinda, globe trotting, and I have for the last 10 years I'd say. So yeah, The Travel (Guy)des was born. I have my cousin who's like my brother he's the same way, that's International P, my co-host. We just like highlighting my friends and people we know who are doing dope shit. So that was how it was born.
TLU: How did you get to the point where you knew you'd traveled enough or had gained enough knowledge about travel to where you could create a podcast all about travel and provide folks with really solid information?
JGQ: I traveled abroad for the first time when I was 14 to France and Spain. It was a great experience but it was horrible at the same time (laughter). Like, I went over there I got pick pocketed in the first two days, they stole all my money, I didn't have anything left.
TLU: Wait, so you didn't feel it at all when it was happening? Did they pull a "Oops I bumped into you" and then your wallet was gone?
GQ: Yeah, I was asking for it. I was trying to catch a pick pocket in the act, so I waded up a bunch of napkins in the shape of a wallet and put them in my back pocket and had my backpack on my chest where my wallet actually was. We got on the rail in Paris and when I got off, and I still had the napkins but my wallet was gone. I still to this day have absolutely no idea how they did that, but I was crushed. I had to get a calling card and I'm on the pay phone calling my parents trying to scrape dollars together because I was on a trip with a youth group. I think one of my teachers ended up having to float me.
JGQ: Yeah, so having had that experience I didn't go back abroad until I was finishing up with grad school and I moved over there for like 2 months and did the whole backpacking through Europe thing and really fell in love with traveling there. I didn't have a schedule, I woke up when I wanted. I remember one morning specifically- we were in Valencia, Spain, we'd just gotten put out of our hostel and we were sitting outside of a McDonald's siphoning wifi. My guy who I was with was like, "Let's go to Seville because my cousin lives there". So I'm like "okay cool". We jump on the train, go to Seville, hop off, and he can't get in touch with his cousin, so we look up at the monitor to see where other trains are going. He says "you want to go to Portugal?" I'm like F yeah, let's go. We jump on and go across the rest of the country, meet some Australian dudes, and strike up a conversation with them for like three hours. Then we didn't have anywhere to stay, but they have a place and we end up staying with them the whole time we're in Portugal.
He says "you want to go to Portugal?" I'm like F yeah, let's go"
That experience as a whole helped me get over not trusting people when I'm traveling. So collecting those experiences, and also me being a fiscally responsible, borderline cheap individual - marrying those two things put me in a position where I could alleviate two of the main barriers to travel which are fear and money, with time being the third. Being able to provide the lay of the land for a discount, or how you can finesse your trip a little but was where I thought I could add value.
- After a 5 minute side track on the friendliness of Australians, we continue...
TLU: So when you guys decided to hop on the train randomly and go to Portugal, how long of a train ride was that?
JGQ: It felt like forever, I want to say it was like 9 or 10 hours. Valencia is all the way on eastern coast, Seville is in the middle, and then Portugal is on the west coast, so we went clear across the country of Spain.
TLU: Was that one of the things that you really loved about the travel experience? Not being obligated to be in a certain place at a certain time?
JGQ: Yeah I typically just enjoy options and being able to do what I want when I want.
TLU: So what's it like to turn your passion into a Podcast? Are you glad that you did it?
JGQ: I'm definitely glad that I did it. It feels natural and I'm not one to fight against what feels natural or just do something to do it. I need to feel passionate about what I do and it needs to serve a purpose and I think The Travel (Guy)des fulfills both of those things. I'm passionate about travel, broadening horizons, and expanding experiences. Also just highlighting people who are doing cool things. A lot of people think that they can't do something until they see somebody who they regard as similar to them doing just what they thought they couldn't do.
TLU: What are some of your goals for The Travel (Guy)des personally?
JGQ: I don't know what the long term goal of The Travel (Guy)des is, I'm just excited that people are rocking with it. We've been able to garner an audience and a following and drive consistent content. There are some 196 countries in the world give or take, I'd like to cover all of those and the 50 states and really give a step by step guide on how to globe trot and explore the world. I want The Travel (Guy)des to be the go-to resource when anyone is looking to travel anywhere. They'll know that we have an episode on it where they can learn how to explore the city, state, or country, but also how to do it from a cost conscious standpoint and on every level in a way that's feasible for them to do.
TLU: So what else should we know about Josh aka JustGQ aka GQ50 aka Mr. Debonair?
JGQ: Oh well, I'm actually in the process of writing my first book.
TLU: Oooooh, fancy!
JGQ: It focuses on navigating the awkward period after graduation. So turning pro in everything other than sports. Basically I'm leveraging my experience and my learnings as well as deep research of people in professional and corporate America to identify the pitfalls of gaining employment after graduation. I used to teach the content when I was matriculating through grad school and it kinda follows the same path of The Travel (Guy)des in using my experience to help others.
TLU: That's dope. You're walking in your calling.
JGQ: True story- I had about 40 pages of content for the book, and you remember how Mariah Carey had that atrocious NYE situation? I wake up on New Years Day I'm writing and feeling super "resolutionist" and I'm getting it in. I had a tentative March/ April release date. Long story short - I'm watching her first "OMG" moment and then she messes up the second time and I collapsed and fell to the ground laughing. But on my way down I spilled tea onto the keyboard of my laptop and it ruined my mother board. Everything was deleted. So now I've got like 10 pages. It will probably be a fall release.
TLU: Damn Mariah. I guess it wouldn't be life it everything went smoothly. Well, one last question! What is one philosophy about life that will help our readers Level Up?
JGQ: I'm glad you asked me this question because there's a common colloquialism that I employ. Embrace the ambiguity of life. Often times we're put in situations where you get a yes or no option. I think wisdom comes from saying "yes" and understanding what can come from that.
"Embrace the Ambiguity of Life"
Don't think you have to place yourself in a precarious situation where your morals are compromised because you can always say "no" once you're in it. But understanding the possibilities that are there for you and allowing yourself to be open to embracing those possibilities is key as you move forward in this life. Don't close yourself off to the possibilities, whether it's travel or whether it's life or whatever. I read this meme earlier today that said (and I'm paraphrasing) "If you don't ask the questions the answer will always be no, if you don't move forward you'll always be in the same place ,and if you don't try you'll always fail". For the Portugal story, I would have never gotten there if I hadn't have been like yeah let's do it. Was there some danger? Yes. Was I out of my comfort zone? Yeah. But I ended up having a great experience there. Even with taking jobs, that's uncertain as well, but going out on a limb and following a passion, while it may not pan out immediately, you can still learn from it and you can leverage those learnings elsewhere. With achieving success, you look at successful people- they are able to create a snowball effect from their failures that catapults them into their next success. Leverage those learnings and embrace the ambiguity that life or the Lord, however you feel spiritually, throws at you.
Many thanks to Josh for chatting with me. Check out The Travel (Guy)des now on Soundcloud and iTunes, and don't forget to subscribe.