We are now up to the 7th interview in my Inspirational Travel Interview series and this time it’s with Jon Parker from Whaddup JP. Jon is mad about Motorsport, in particular Formula 1, watching many of the spectacular races around the world. He’s also passionate about travel and sharing videos from his adventures around the world.
Why don’t you start by introducing yourself and your blog?
I’m JP, a 24 year old English guy mad about travel and motorsport. My blog – http://whaddupjp.com – is a chronicling of these two passions in story and video form, as well as my constant juggling of careers and dreams.
I guess I first got the travel bug when I spent two summers at camp in America, where I met my girlfriend and we road tripped the West Coast together. After that she came to live with me in Edinburgh, Scotland, before we moved to London when I got a job at the 2012 Olympics.
When that finished we packed up and went on a gap year around Australasia and South East Asia. We travelled Australia’s East Coast before spontaneously deciding to pick oranges for three months in the 45 degree South Australian heat.
Then, after four and a half months in Melbourne (taking in a trip to the Australian Grand Prix!), we then travelled across New Zealand, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam before a trip to Singapore (for the Grand Prix, of course!)
These days we’re back in chilly Scotland living in Glasgow, I’m working at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and we’re saving for our next adventures! This year we plan to road trip Scotland, hit up America again and check out Greece.
I love more than anything to write and make videos about my trips, and hopefully inspire others to take similar trips!
Of all the countries you been to so far which has been your favourite and which did you dislike?
This is such a tough question. To visit for a few week’s holiday and exploring, you can’t beat New Zealand. For the thrill-seeker, it’s perhaps the adventure capital of the world.
For the landscape lover, I’ve never seen a country so diverse in its natural majesty – from the mighty Southern Alps to the geysers of Rotorua, there is something to take your breath away around every corner. And if you’re a Lord of the Rings fan, well let’s just say you won’t be disappointed!
To spend an extended period of time in, I think it’s hard to beat Australia. I loved living in Melbourne and the Aussies really know how to live. Melbourne’s coffee culture, pubs and constant world class events scene make it a worthy winner of the most liveable city on the planet.
However, unless you are earning a decent wage, it’s difficult to save money living out there thanks to the strong Aussie dollar and high quality of life.
As for where I disliked, I can’t pinpoint one country in particular. However, Phuket’s Patong Beach in Thailand sticks out like a sore thumb when compared to the rest of South East Asia. It also sticks out as a warning to what the rest of the region could become: an over-commercialised, spoilt tourist trap that lacks all of the exotic wonder of similar spots in the area.
Some people complain about Krabi for similar reasons, but Krabi is still beautiful, not too developed and holds a dramatic and irresistable charm; I pray it does not fall the way of Phuket.
What was it like working on the 2012 London Olympics, what was your role?
My role at London 2012 was in logistics: I was responsible for moving in all the furniture required for the colossal media centre on the Olympic Park and scheduling and receiving hundreds of truck deliveries a day.
It was frantic and chaotic but it taught me a lot about working well under pressure and has set me up with a career I can potentially travel with.
It also provided me with memories to last a lifetime – from the joy of witnessing the opening ceremony with the performers and athletes themselves, to seeing athletics in the stadium and standing with the cheerleaders at the basketball, to the drama of saving Gary Lineker as he was about to be run over by a forklift!
Of all the Grand Prix’s you’ve been to which track is your favourite? Also who’s your pick for next season, do you think Vettel will win it again?
Ooh, great question. I love Albert Park in Melbourne for its wonderful setting and the manner in which the event is staged. It’s so easy and efficient and you can get to the track in ten minutes from the city centre by tram.
In terms of transpoort arrangements, it’s the antithesis of Silverstone. I love Singapore for similar reasons: it’s as if the city was made to host a Grand Prix. The setting is far more impressive in real life than on television and it feels like a city from the future.
But the best setting for a Grand Prix will always be Monte Carlo. The glitz, the glamour, the historic harbour setting and the evocative and iconic corners from St Devote to Casino Square to Loews’ to Tabac to Rascasse… Nothing can beat the Monaco Grand Prix.
As for the 2014 season, only a fool would write off Vettel and Red Bull this early on, given how far ahead of the pack they have been with their development rate the past two seasons.
But they have had a myriad of issues during testing and I see Mercedes as the favourites, with Ferrari and McLaren stepping up whilst Lotus slip back as financial issues and the loss of senior personnel catch up with them. I’ll go out on a limb and pick Lewis Hamilton to be champion.
With your involvement with both the London Olympics and the Commonwealth games what are your opinions on the Sochi Winter Olympics?
It’s going to be interesting, isn’t it? As I write this we are just a few hours from the opening ceremony and all the talk in the media is of security, politics and sub-standard hotels. I suspect all of that will be largely forgotten over the coming couple of weeks, unless of course there is a major security breach or similar operational disaster.
This isn’t the first Games to spark controversy and it won’t be the last. Whatever the rights and wrongs are of the high-up political decisions being made, I know several people working on the ground over there and I guarantee the operations team are working as hard as they possibly can to deliver a fantastic Games.
Let’s hope they pull it off smoothly and memorably – they deserve it after all these years of dedication and planning.
What would you say to someone contemplating the idea of long term travel?
I’m going to try to answer this in a way that sounds different to the advice all other travel bloggers give, but I suspect I’ll fail. Many people convince themselves that short term excuses for not seeing the world are actually immovable long-term obstacles that would cause them to regret going.
In fact, I’m yet to meet anyone who regretted getting out of their comfort zone, experiencing new places, people and cultures and embracing the personal development that comes with doing that.
Scared of losing your footing on the career ladder by taking a break? So was I, and when I crashed out of my comfort zone into a menial world of picking oranges and pouring pints, struggling to break even, I questioned myself very seriously. But in the end, I learnt more about myself than ever before, made plans and developed far better people skills.
By picking apart my confidence to begin with, I was able to rebuild my attitude and goals the way I wanted and nail a far better job on my return to the UK. The ability to converse with people from all over the world about their home, having visited it myself, is an invaluable tool to have when it comes to building relationships in work and in life.
Scared of visiting somewhere you’ve heard is unsafe? Well you’re right to be cautious, but let’s put aside prejudices and apply critical thinking. If you’re sensible and do your homework, there’s nothing to be fear. Besides, there are bad parts of any country or city.
Where I lived in Hackney for London 2012 was home to riots just 12 months earlier. Did it put me off? No – the only way to truly know what a place is like is to discover it yourself. You have far less to lose than you think; no regrets.
A big thank you to Jon for taking part in this interview. If you would like to know more about Jon, his love of F1 and his travels check out his blog Whaddup JP. He can also find him on Twitter, Facebook and Youtube.