About Jess

Hello!

In this blog you’ll find real life travel, culture, and photography– the good, the bad, the frustrating, and the amazing. I’ll show you what I find fascinating, from million dollar views in countries where people struggle to ensure sufficient food availability for their families to views that actually are “million dollar views”.

I’m Jess, an American woman living near San Francisco, California, and the voice and photographer behind Longest Bus Ride.

What’s in a Name?

I chose the name Longest Bus Rides for this blog, because it incorporates everything I love about my travels. Whether on a 10-hour bus ride to Berlin or in Mongolia on a 9-hour ride or in Perú on a multi-day journey from Cusco, I meet new people (I usually get great seat mates), photograph cool things (through the window), and eat local food (at the lunch-time bus stop).

Me, in Bullet Points

  • Me: 30’s, woman.
  • Solo Travel: I travel to meet locals and learn about local life, and local people are great at helping me with this, so I’ve never truly traveled alone.
  • Trip Length: 2 to 6 weeks. I travel as frequently as possible.
  • Cameras: iPhone and SLR
  • Hotel Rooms: private, clean, and comfortable.
  • Food: I don’t like liver, coagulated blood, goat testicles or most carbonated drinks.
  • Budget: Like many middle-class travelers, I enjoy splurging on luxuries, but offset them with economical options, especially hotels.
  • Travel Luxuries: SCUBA with sharks; helicopter ride.
  • Enjoys: Getting off the beaten path for unique cultural experiences.
  • Risk & Safety: No war zones or places where women cannot safely travel solo due to culture. Luckily, this means I can travel almost anywhere.
  • Stop & Watch: With so many new smells, sounds, and visual cues each day of travel, I become  mentally exhausted. I offset this with time spent quietly observing my surroundings. On most trips I find a place to spend 5+ nights, so I really get to know the place and feel ‘at home’.
  • Learning: Every journey reminds me that the more I think I understand, the less I truly know.
  • Certifications: Paraglider pilot, SCUBA Advanced Open Water.

Why I Travel

I travel because I love the adventure of learning the intricacies of a culture and integrating into it as much as possible during a short visit. This means, I visit small towns instead of big cities and stay in the homes of local people whenever possible. Sometimes I see other tourists and spend time with them, but often I’m in a local home having fun with my Couchsurfing host.

Fortunately, since I also love photography, building relationships with local people means that my images provide a personal look into people’s lives at home and at work. I photograph normal activities that cultures all over the world have in common, such as food and kids playing.

Transportation includes traditional modes, like planes, trains, and cars. I’ve motorcycled miles down steep, rocky mountain trails; horseback ridden for days across places like the Mongolian steppe; and deep rivers in a truck. I certainly don’t hesitate taking 11+-hour bus rides, either. In fact, every trip has its own ‘longest bus ride’, giving this website its name.

This is my kind of adventure travel– where the thrill is the challenge of living the local way. For me, the joy of travel comes from learning about life, love, and food that is not written about in any book I’ve ever read. Meanwhile, at home I adventure in the more traditional sense of canyoning, caving, rock climbing, and paragliding.

My Travel History

  • My 1st time: solo trip – I was 15 years old and spent a summer in Chile as an exchange student.
  • My 2nd time: solo trip – I was 16 years old, just got my driver’s license and was relegated to bike riding in Denmark.
  • University – I conducted fieldwork research in Kenya, paid for with grant funding.
  • 1 month after university – I departed the USA for two years in Guatemala as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

I’m fluent in English, Spanish, and ‘gestures with a smile.’ Similarly to many other travelers, I find that coming home is bittersweet.

 

Where I’ve Been

I’ve been in many countries on 6 continents while studying, and throughout my professional life. Each trip changes my life one way or another. Over the years many people have told me the reasons that they cannot travel.

I know some people definitely cannot travel often, or ever, due to personal responsibilities or illness. I write travel stories for all the armchair travelers (and sometimes I’m one of them!).

For those folks who can or already do travel, but would appreciate a little assistance, I share how I travel affordablysafely, and off the beaten track.

I sincerely believe that many people benefit from adventures away from home, in real life or vicariously, through the magic of a written story, photographs, tv, or even 10-second Snapchat videos. Please drop by any time for a quick story or tip. Feel free to share your own tips and stories, and ask questions in the comments section at the bottom of any page. Travel is my favorite conversation topic!

 

Social Media on the Internet

Please subscribe to the fun monthly newsletter (sign up on any page). Or, find stories on the blog. Social media is here:

Facebook    Pinterest   Twitter   Trover

Instagram: @JessDoesFun (photography portfolio); @LongestBusRide (travel snapshots)

Snapchat: @LongestBusRide – scan the code below with your Snapchat camera, if you already have the app downloaded.

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Work With Jess

Sharing great experiences with readers who enjoy

  • Unique places with a focus on
    • Culture – food, music, history, daily life
    • Outdoor Activities – hiking, trekking, adventure, animal experiences
    • Photography – culture, wildlife
    • Off the Beaten Path – city or countryside
  • Lodging – unique, whether a family homestay, amazing treehouse, or a 5-star resort
  • Products – items that excel in their purpose for travel or photography

Please contact me at [email protected] [gmail] .com for a quick response.