As part of our ongoing series of interviews with travelers, we asked Roobens Fils to tell us all about himself, his travel blog, and his recent adventures. We met Roobens at TravelCon in Austin in September, and he came all the way from Paris to meet up with other travelers as well as see some of the best sites in the U.S. He has recently been a full-time traveler, but now resides in his hometown of Paris, France. That must be nice!
What led you to start traveling? What motivated you to start exploring new places?
I spent six years working in the e-commerce industry. The company I used to work for decided to lay off employees. I didn’t feel like looking for another job. Actually, I don’t want to have another 9-to-5 job, this is not for me. So, after being laid off, the company gave us a severance package, and I decided to travel the world for a year. I always loved traveling, and since I don’t have kids (yet), I thought it was the perfect timing to start exploring the world full time, by myself.
Where have you been recently?
I spent a year on the road, mostly in Europe and Asia. I’m now back home, but I’m still traveling quite often. Recently I’ve been to the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Portugal, the US (Austin, Chicago, and NYC), and Canada!
What is the most interesting place you’ve ever been?
Oh, there are several places I found quite interesting. Overall, I would say Iran was very interesting. People think it’s a dangerous country full of terrorists and uncivilized people, but it’s not the case AT ALL. People are extremely friendly and hospitable, they’re happy to see tourists coming to visit their country, and they want to make sure tourists have a good time there. They’re fully aware of the fact that they have a bad image overseas, that’s why they make a lot of effort when tourists are coming, to show them Iran is not bombs and attacks.
What is the craziest travel story you have? Has anything weird or strange or chaotic happened to you during your travels?
Nothing too crazy, but I was denied entry to the Philippines because I didn’t have an onward ticket. I asked them to give me the WiFi password of the airport, to be able to buy one but they weren’t listening anymore. They sent me back to my departure country, Brunei (two hours away by plane!). I went back there, and I had to buy a new ticket to the Philippines, and an onward ticket! When I reached the Philippines again, the customs officer didn’t even ask for my onward ticket! He just asked me how long I was planning to stay, and he stamped my passport!
What inspired you to start blogging about your travels? What is the theme or topic of your blog?
After being laid off, I started wondering what I wanted to do with my life. Doing my research on the internet, I found out about this whole “travel blogging” thing. People who were blogging about their travels, and making money with it! Actually, I saw bloggers who were living off their blogs! I was like “WOW! You can have a blog, and make money with it!?” That’s when I started thinking about it. In fact, I got obsessed with it. If it’s possible to escape the 9-to-5 traveling around the world, I wanna do it!. I started studying this whole thing, read dozens of travel blogs, and finally launched mine. I’m focusing on solo travel as a black person. I want black people to know what it’s like to travel to this city or that country. The blog is relatively new, but the feedback is good. I need to be persistent and not give up!
How do you save money before and during a trip?
Before a trip, I tend to avoid going out. No more restaurants, drinks, clothes, etc… I stop buying all the unnecessary things. During a trip, I’m not gonna lie, I’m a backpacker, or I’d rather say a traveler on a budget. I sleep in hostels (I book a bed in a dorm), I cook my own food when I can, and I tend to get around from one country to another by bus or by train (and not by plane, it’s more expensive!).
Do you have any travel tips or advice for others?
When you’re traveling, always pay attention to what you’re eating. Having travelers’ diarrhea is the worst feeling ever. (Editor’s note: we agree!) Wash your hands regularly, drink bottled water and eat well-cooked food. Try to stay active to avoid gaining weight. Also, download useful travel apps like Maps.me, XE, or Google Translate. And check your surroundings to avoid the common travel scams (such as overpriced taxis).