Not too long ago I came across an interesting new blog on Instagram: The Yala Families.
The Yala Families is a blog that shares the biographies of travel bloggers, both established and up-and-coming, and focuses on inspiring and remarkably well-written content with a positive message—whether that’s encouraging the reader to take the plunge and go on the road, or getting up after falling and carrying on stronger than before. Though relatively new, the blog already features a colorful cast of characters, such as The Broke Backpacker and yours truly (read my feature at the end of the article).
Jordin, from Perth, Australia, is the man behind The Yala Families. A passionate traveler, Jordin just embarked on yet another long trip around South East Asia. Though we haven’t met in person yet, we are very enthusiastic about each other’s projects, and he didn’t hesitate to say yes when I asked him if he’d be interested in being featured here on Between Distances.
Alright, let’s start with a little information about yourself.
After finishing school I chose to get into the fitness industry as opposed to University. I worked in the industry for 5 and a half years before quitting the job to pursue more travel and personal ventures.
The Yala Families is a venture that combines the two: You took your passion for writing and traveling to create something that inspires and brings people together. How did you come up with the idea? And what does the name actually stand for?
Yala stands for Yang Lands. Originally the families was going to be a loyalty network for a hostel chain we were launching, however with troubles in getting the hostel off the ground Yala was receiving a great response and so I decided to hold off the hostel plans and focus purely on Yala.
Yang Lands is meant to represent a Land/World that exists purely in Yang (the white of the Yin Yang) which holds the values of positivity, light, opportunity and so on.
Yala Families as a blog is aimed at providing a personal insight into the lives of Travel bloggers to inspire others in the way of showing that full time travellers are still human and it is something that is attainable for anyone. I work hard to add elements of personal development into the content so people can take away something more than the jealousy of what someone else is doing and instead put these posts to work in helping them do the same.
The goals behind Yala that I can say at the moment (some are hush while in development) is building a following that will give me the capability to approach travel companies and programs to ask for travel opportunities to give to the Yala community to help them continue their travels. I.e animal sanctuaries providing free weekly programs, hostels providing free beds and tours, service/product providers giving away their services/products in exchange for the community to share their experience.
I’m working on an App that works as a digital wallet for backpackers but as I said before, hush hushhhh.
Those are some pretty big plans! However, it all seems to be working out just fine for you. The Yala Families became relatively established and well-known in a remarkably short period of time. It didn’t take long before you started collaborating with some of the most established names in the scene.
You feature other travelers on your blog, but what about your own travel background? Is there any particular experience that stands out in your memory from your travels?
I’ve traveled through the majority of Asia, New Zealand, Canada and Europe. I began my travels when in the fitness industry to get away from the fast pace stress that personal training provides. Although I love the diversity that Europe provides and the incredible friendliness of the Canadians, I love Asia the most due to the backpacking community, the majority live in an old school, free love, hippy mentality without judgement of precedence. The complete lack of rat-race and self comparison allows you to be your true self in comfort and create unparalleled relationships with people from around the planet.
The ultimate experience in travel that truly changed me was my first week in Cambodia, I had been caught up in a scam that left me at gun point, a couple of days after drinking heavily to get over the trauma of the robbery I was bitten by a rabid dog outside a dodgy night stop en route to Phnom Penh. After visiting a clinic that barely spoke english the next day, I was given my vaccination through injection which led to a massive overdose causing a swelling to the brain.
After getting back to hospital that night struggling to move my arms (having my phone stolen along the way haha) I lost consciousness in hospital when my temperature sky rocketed due to the brain trauma. My heart stopped for almost 12 minutes and was clinically dead before being resuscitated.
As it is hard to test if you’ve actually been infected with Rabies until it’s too late, the hospital got in contact with the bus company who told them the shop I’d been bitten at. They visited to find the suspect dog which was actually found dead from the virus. Boom.
Lying there in hospital with my family who had flown over, with no phone or distraction I really took on a new sense of humility, gratitude and love for life that has me determined to live a life of giving and travel onwards.
So you actually came back from the dead! That’s pretty fucking Metal, man!
There are many striking features of your blog that I feel sets it apart from others—particularly the writing. What do you think makes The Yala Families stand out? And speaking of that, what do you think of the current status of travel blogging? I myself have a love-hate relationship with it, and follow but a small number of blogs. What about yourself?
Yala Families runs on the values of family and equality as opposed to focusing on a single person. One huge thing that turns me off the majority of travel blogs is that they are commonly an excuse for people to selfie their way through their narcissistic personal agendas that I feel goes against travel and the way it should unite people, many of them run with the forefront of “permanent travel” and “digital nomadery” as a means to convince others to do the same by purchasing their personal and affiliated products/courses. Bit of a rant, but true.
Essentially Yala is about you as opposed to being about me, it cares for you and strives on the achievements you make personally as opposed to my own.
Travel blogging is at an interesting point, the rise of Social Media now gives anyone the permission to be a blogger of any kind and in turn has thousands of blogs popping up every minute 24/7 365. I’m not a huge fan of how brands and companies are taking this influx as an opportunity to get many of them to blindly push overpriced products for commission, however, business is business I guess.
In regards to the bloggers I follow, is pretty much the bloggers and travelers in which I feature, I get to speak to them personally and regard them as friends in which I enjoy watching succeed in their lives. It’s humbling and incredibly motivating.
That’s the spawn of social media and mass tourism. Judging by the lack of content of sooooo many blogs out there, it seems as though most travel bloggers were just vacation package tourists (and/or marketing experts with some serious SEO knowledge) writing with the sole goal of “monetizing” their sites.
With that in mind, how do you choose whom to feature on your blog?
It is currently around a 50/50 seek and receive situation at the moment in which I sometimes find people myself and the rest of the time go through the requests for features.
In the long run I choose people to write about who have values similar to my own and The Yang, positive, giving, intelligent and wholesome personalities are the travelers in which I work to promote. It is the community in which I want to create to eventually create a family that helps each other in our mutual goal of traveling long term without having to sell yourself out as an affiliate pusher.
That sounds awesome. It’s all about supporting each other.
Now, to wrap it up, what are your upcoming plans?
I’m about to fly over to Indonesia for a month before spending 6 months in thailand then india and beyond. I’m dedicating my time to continue enjoying travel while I’m young as well as continuing to build Yala and its related projects.
I’m still working with friends in setting up a new hostel however my priority for the moment is to enjoy life.
Best of luck to you man, and thanks a lot for your time.
There you have it. First time I feature another blogger other than myself on this space. Show Jordin and The Yala Families some love by following them on Facebook and Instagram. Share your thoughts or questions in the comments below. And don’t forget to follow me on Facebook and Instagram to to help me grow.
Cheers and greetings from Berlin, Seb
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Life is like a book; Those who do not travel, tend to only read one page. US born, Mexican raised and German educated Seb @betweendistances takes this saying to heart, using his time to read as much as he can, both literally and figuratively. With a Masters degree in History, Seb is passionate about exploring parts of the planet he’s learned so much about. In particular, Eastern Europe. His in-depth knowledge paired with his incredible ability to fluently converse in English, Spanish, German, Russian and Portuguese enables Seb to travel on a whole new level. Like wearing a magic pair of glasses, he looks at cities with different eyes; his knowledge for its history paired with his ability to freely speak with locals in their native language has him breaking so many barriers that holds the average traveller back from truly experiencing a new place. What we can all learn from Seb is that we have the ability to delve deeper in the moment by learning what the moment is about. No longer would you walk the streets somewhat oblivious to its significance. As you enjoy a beer at the local pub, you’re able to listen in on the native beer banter, soaking up the micro-cultures of your environment. Whether it’s The Lonely Planet, Wikitravel or in-depth research, you should treat knowledge as a key to unlocking the true experience of travel. In the next journey you take, take time like @betweendistances to discover its history and in turn, make the present all the more rewarding.