We've all daydreamed at some point about quitting our 9-5, hailing a taxi and bolting straight to the airport to check off those #bucketlist travel goals. Ted Willis, former videographer for She Knows and frequent explorer did just that with the research and know-how to back up his itinerary and adventure timeline.
This past December, Ted strategized how to make his 2017 intention a reality. Now, he's exploring the world with his camera in hand and partnered with us to go behind the lens. "I’m on the hunt to experience cities with the people who live there. Simultaneously I am working to create documentary videos that highlight the beautiful people who find themselves in vulnerable situations around the world" says Ted Willis. Several days a week, he'll be posting travel videos on YouTube - Yep, we found a millennial traveler who's documenting every part of his journey with advice and tips on how to expand your penny and travel like a local. If you aren't already following along on social - You know what to do...
Photography + Video by Ted Willis
Tell us a little bit about yourself, Ted!
Ted: Well, growing up in Arizona, I’m a Southwest boy threw and threw. Having so much access to nature and the outdoors instilled a desire to explore as a youth. I had a camera in my hand pretty early on as well. I started off just filming BMX videos with my friends but it soon evolved. A few years later, I found myself overseas, for the first time, in Thailand. Sure enough, I was filming my first documentary there. It seems this solidified my path towards travel, exploration, and filmmaking.
After graduating from the University of Arizona, I began working for the video department of a national on-line publication. This is where I really began to refine my craft. Before I knew it, I was the Director of Photography and had the opportunity to lead production of all of our video shoots. It seemed like each month I was shooting in a different city across the US. From celebrity hosted shows in LA to travel videos in NYC, I was all over the place. It was a cool job but I wanted to see more than just the United States. I wanted to see the world!
What prompted your trip to Europe?
Ted: I actually wasn’t planning on coming to Europe first. It is the middle of winter right now and freaking cold here! While I was planning this epic trip, my family decided to visit my youngest sister Spain. My family is so special to me and I wanted to experience Spain with my parents and two younger sisters. I switched up my itinerary so I could meet them in Spain, as my sister finished up her semester studying abroad.
Why Paris first?
Ted: In addition to exploring the cities around the world and tasting amazing food, I want to learn from people who are marginalized in some way. We have all heard about the refugee crisis facing Europe. I wanted to learn more and I actually had a couple connections to people helping refugees in Paris. Since I didn’t have a full plan, I decided to just show up and see what happened. I’ve also always wanted to visit the iconic city of love! French cuisine is suppose to be unrivaled. I wasn’t going to let a little cold stop me!
What are you goals during your travels this year?
Ted: My biggest goal for this year is to understand our world more. It is really easy for us Americans to forget about the beautiful people, places, cultures, and events happening around our planet. My goal is to not be a tourist but to genuinely make friends with people living in the places I am visiting. I want to see their city from their eyes. My other primary goal is to do what I can to give a voice to the voiceless. We live in a very divided time. As a storyteller, I hope to use my skill set to build bridges and bring people together.
Where will you be traveling?
Ted: Thats a great question!!! First, I’ll spend some time wandering around Italy. I’m a huge fan of carbs so I can’t miss the pasta capitol of the world! I am also trying to allow my trip to be guided by the stories I find. I befriended a musician giving music therapy lessons to refugees in Greece, so I am heading there next. Then I’m going to warm up in South East Asia. After that, I’m not sure where I will head. Maybe go practice Spanish in Central America?
Any advice for abroad travelers thus far?
Ted: Hang out with locals! If you want to know a culture, find the tourist attractions and walk in the opposite direction. A great site, to meet locals who speak English, is Couchsurfing.com. You don’t have to just use it to find free places to stay. I will message folks on there and just ask to grab dinner or coffee. Those connections have lead to some of the most unique experiences. I spent an entire week in Paris before I forced myself to climb the Eiffel Tower, on my last day in town. Don’t get me wrong, the Eiffel Tower is amazing and you shouldn’t miss it. Seeing it just wan’t a priority for me.
Have you researched any ways to save money or get the most for your dollar while abroad?
Ted: The biggest lie is that travel has to be pricey! The most expensive parts of travel are flights. If you are able to be flexible with your schedule, you can save a TON on airfare. A great site I use is SkyScanner.com. You can plug in a general country that you want to go to and then time period of travel. It will bring up all the best deals! Flexibility just isn’t an option for some travelers. That whole “I have a job” thing can get in the way. There are still ways to save money. You don’t have to eat out for every meal. Think of how much money you would spend if you ate at a restaurant for every meal at home! The same goes for travel. In Paris, a great meal is fresh baguette, a chunk of cheese, and a bottle of wine. You can get all of that for less than $10 and then eat in the grass under the Eiffel Tower. It would help if it wasn’t winter... You can travel here when the weather is better!
Anything in particular that you would like to cross of your bucket list during your trip?
Ted: It felt kind of silly, but I actually did write out a bucket list, before my trip. Most things were food related! I really want to eat sushi in Japan and pasta in Italy. Learning to surf is on there. Despite traveling to Paris in winter, I still packed my swim suit!
Photography + Video by Ted Willis