For most of us, travelling the world is something we only dream about. For Siya Zarrabi, half of the adventurous couple behind the popular travel blog Hopscotch the Globe, it's a reality.
I caught up with Siya at Buffer Festival, an annual showcase of Youtube video premieres where he was a featured creator. Between discussing the cutest animals in the world with Nadine Sykora and hamming it up for Snapchat, Siya and I sat down to talk about what inspires him to travel and how exploring the world can become a reality for others.
Spoon: When did travelling come to you as something you really wanted to do?SZ: We're travellers at heart, me and Kristen [his wife and the other half of HTG]. I was always interested in the world, even as a child. I would look at books of different places or animals around the world and it would get me excited.
We really saw travel as something that we wanted in our life permanently in high school, when we both did a four-month exchange to Paraguay. Half of grade eleven we spent in Paraguay. We lived with a family there; we taught in schools. It was culture shock galore, and it was the first time I felt like, "I need to do this as much as possible."
We'd work to save money and then leave again, then come back and work again to leave for a little bit. Slowly, we started building Hopscotch. We started writing on the blog [and] taking pictures. We went to college for film and visual effects and started implementing that into travel. Before Youtube and the blog, we thought maybe we'd work on TV shows or do something else, not incorporate that into travel. Now it's become a full-time job.
Spoon: That's awesome! With all of the travelling, do you find that food helps you understand a new place?
SZ: Food is huge. I would say there's a few main categories that drive people to travel: history, landscapes, culture and food. Why do people want to go to Italy? Not to just look at a fountain. People want to go to a place to eat the food. You want to go to France and drink their wine. You want to go to Thailand and try their fruits.
Food is a huge part of what everyone does, every day. We all have to do it and we want to do it well. I think travelling is an incredible way to explore the world, and with food, you can almost travel at home. That's what we want to teach people to do. You can travel in your own kitchen just by cooking different meals, trying different spices, and kind of feel what they feel when they eat their foods.
Spoon: If you could eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, each in a different country, which ones would you choose?
SZ: I really like Persian-style breakfast. It's simple and delicious. All of their ingredients are really fresh, and they use a really thin bread to dip in feta cheese and walnuts. They put cilantro or parsley with nice honey tea, and it's salty and sweet and nutty and a delicious breakfast.
Lunch, I would love a smoked meat sandwich from France or Montréal—somewhere that makes really awesome smoked meat. Dinner, I would probably have Thai food. Rice with massaman curry and potatoes and chicken—I love Thai food.
Spoon: A lot of students feel like they don't have the funds or time to travel. Do you have any tips for people who would like to travel but feel like they can't?
SZ: You can stay at home and feel like you're travelling. You can explore the world through different ingredients and food. Getting as close to the source as possible is best. If I'm in Canada, chances are if I want to get a Thai fruit, it isn't going to be fresh. Costa Rica is maybe a four-hour flight. I can probably get fresher fruits from Costa Rica, so maybe I should explore that world. You can definitely explore through foods and travel that way.
Spoon: You also mentioned how you'd come home and work just to travel again, so that's an option too.
SZ: Yeah, absolutely! Travel doesn't have to be a ten-thousand-dollar trip around the world staying in fancy places. Kristen and I saved for a year and we each saved ten thousand dollars. We travelled for nine months and we didn't even spend all of that. I think I was spending about a thousand dollars a month, and that's very achievable. That includes flights and accommodations and taking classes and courses around the world.
I think that anyone can travel if you make it a priority. People say, "Oh, I can't travel," but then you see them go and buy a twenty-thousand-dollar car. You bought that car, and now you're going to have to pay for gas and repairs and oil changes, whereas you could've taken that money and travelled the world and had this experience. I feel like a lot of holdbacks from travelling are really just excuses. They're making up reasons why it's not going to work. If you really want travel to be a part of your lifestyle, you'll make it happen.
Thank you so much to Siya for taking the time to chat with us!Check out Hopscotch the Globe for more awesome travel tips and make sure to keep up with Siya's adventures on Youtube, Instagram and Twitter.