Alright, so this interview has been a long time coming. I’m so excited to finally introduce you to Jillian Pfund, the blogger behind Road to Here Blog
! Jillian is truly an amazing and inspiring young woman. She recently quit her job as a graphic designer to become a world traveler and hasn’t looked back since. I honestly envy her, I wish I was courageous enough to do that!
Enjoy the interview below.
You used to be a graphic designer, and then decided to trade in the office life for the life of a traveler and moved all the way to Asia. Can you tell us a little bit about the move? What are the major cultural differences you’ve noticed between Asia and America?
“I was in a bit of a rut last year. Living at home on a budget and in a low level position that didn’t feel quite meaningful, I felt stuck. Life was good, but it wasn’t stellar. Things were falling into place, but they weren’t falling into the right places for me. So, I saved up, changed things up, and made a jump across (a few) ponds.
Moving from place to place can really add up in cost, so before I left the States with my boyfriend, Eric, we budgeted hard core to save up. That meant drinking before the bar, switching to non brand names when grocery shopping, no clothes shopping, selling old clothes on Ebay, and picking up some jobs on TaskRabbit. I was also able to put my design skills to work.
The awesome thing about graphic design is that you can take it on the road and freelance. The ability to do so has been a huge boost in spurring my plans to move abroad because it allows me to be mobile and create my own hours, even if that means taking a 1am Skype meeting in Taiwan to talk to someone on their lunch break.
Asia is culturally different than the US in many ways, especially food. For one, many people rely on street vendors for food, which are set up all along the road and at night markets. Most people don’t even have stove tops in their kitchens. I have yet to see a place with an oven. Meeting friends and eating at night markets is an important social time for many people in countries like Thailand and Taiwan. We’ve spent many nights at night markets, browsing stalls, oogling at foreign foods, and just hanging out.
Fashion is also a bit more exciting in Asia. Women and men wear leopard and flora prints – and at the same time, too. I noticed a bit of punk style mixed into Taiwan’s fashion. Think platform shoes and spikes. It’s pretty cool to see a culture overall seem comfortable with wearing whatever, whenever. If you like it, rock it. I really enjoyed that part of Taiwan’s style.
With all the differences between Asian and American culture, it’s also fun to find similarities. For example, almost every other scooter in Taiwan is driven by someone wearing Uggs. I have yet to see Uggs and jean skirts, but still… Uggs! Who knew?”
What’s the story behind your traveling pals, Hati and Ernesto?
“Ever since I saw the movie Amelie, I’ve been fascinated by the idea of traveling gnomes. It’s such an adorable way to take a memorable, personal photo without having the same generic smile in every image. We didn’t have a gnome to bring with us, but we did happen to have these two little pipsqueaks.
The names Hati and Ernesto originated during our travels. Hati originated in Bali. We were staying with our first, incredible Airbnb host who taught us about Balinese culture. She explained that the word hati hati in Balinese, meant be careful or mind your own heart. Hati alone means heart. This really resonated with me, as something I’ve learned on this trip has been to be true to myself and mind my own heart. The name Hati just felt right for my little unicorn gnome.
Ernesto originated from another amazing, must see movie: The Motorcycle Diaries. We watched it when we were in our second month in the Asian tour and were feeling a bit discouraged and culture shocked. The main character, Ernesto, really inspired us, reigniting our passion for travel and reminding us why we were on this trip in the first place. Out of that, our Domo gnome got his name.
Hati and Ernesto are traveling the world with us, reminding us to not take it all so seriously. Sometimes, the planning, budgeting, organizing, and walking can make you forget that. These little guys help us along. To follow Hati and Ernesto around the world, check out their photo gallery
and follow me on Instagram
What is your most exciting/memorable memory so far from your travels?
There have been more exciting memories (good and bad) in the past 5 months, than I’ve had in the past few years combined. Honestly, it’s hard to pick just one. There was the time I saw my first ever cockroach and the time after that when one landed on my leg, as well as the time we found a spider the size of my hand outside our door – all in Bali. There was the crazy time we learned to ride a scooter with no guidance on a busy road – also in Bali. There was the time we went to a cat village in Taiwan – yes, a village entirely dedicated to cats. There was also the time we went to our first cat cafe in Bangkok. (There have been many cats on this trip…) There was the time we took a cultural cooking class from an authentic Balinese chef. There was the time we took a $2 glass bottom gondola ride up a mountainside in Taipei. There have been several very memorable times where we’ve had wonderful conversations with hosts and new friends made on the road in Bali, Thailand, and Taiwan. And then there was the time we thought we were going to teach English in Taiwan and, instead, ended up moving to Belgium.
What have you learned from your journey so far?
“Along with all these exciting, memorable experiences, has been a vast amount of growth. I’ve discovered things about myself that I didn’t know before – or at least wasn’t able to admit to myself until I was forced to on this trip. For one, I’ve learned to roll with the punches. You can’t plan everything and I’ve learned that, in the end, you really don’t want to. Some of the best moments are the unplanned, spontaneous ones. Your present can change in any instant and all you can do is make the best of where you are now with the information you have at hand.
Being present is another key lesson I’ve learned this year. It’s rarely easy, but it’s crazy important in keeping my sanity in the long run. When we found ourselves moving around a lot, before setting down in Taiwan for a couple months, we were constantly planning our next move. Some days we didn’t even know where we would spend the next night. Being on a budget means researching as much as possible to save the most and that takes time. This lead to anxiety and epic stomach aches, ultimately driving us both a little nuts. I learned to take my mind and remind myself that I’m living right now, not six months from now or even tomorrow. Planning is often times a good thing. Stressing over it gets you nothing.”
Aside from designing, blogging and traveling you also have your very own eco-friendly apparel shop. What is the inspiration behind your designs?
“The inspiration for my Remedy
came from the passion of wanting to help others and lift them up through positive messages. Growing up in a generation that uses sarcasm to make small talk, I don’t think we encourage each other enough. And I don’t think the fashion world or media encourages us enough either. With my Remedy, I was able to take my three passions of styling, designing, and helping, and combine them into one space; a space where the only size that matters is the size of your heart.”
Do you have any fun projects currently in the works?
“Moving abroad has been hugely inspiring for a whirlwind of project ideas that we’re currently working on! For one, we’re working on relaunching the Road to Here Blog
and creating a space that not only follows our travels, but inspires our readers and provides them with the best resources to follow their hearts to wherever that may be. We also just made the move to Europe for a few months so we’re excited to share all about that, too. If you want ot be a part of it all, subscribe to the blog here
and follow along on Facebook
, and Instagram
How would you describe your personal style?
“My personal style is a mix of boyish and feminine. I like to call it boyish chic. An example would be wearing a tshirt with jeans, suspenders, a leather jacket, and platform heels, or a floral Betsey Johnson dress with converses. I’m my most confident self when I can mix tom-boy elements with effeminate ones.”
Who are your style icons?
“My main style icons are Olivia Wilde and Alexa Chung. Both of them have effortless, boyish chic style. There are a ton of amazing bloggers out there that I check daily – I could go on and on. Basically, if you can rock a (vegan) leather jacket, I’ll probably dig your style. I pin my favorite style looks here
What are your plans for the future?
“Our plans for the future are… open ended. We have a summer in Europe and then, we’ll see what’s next. All we know so far is that we’ll need to save up some more money again, but beyond that – we’re open for whatever the world grants us. It may sound kind of hippy-ish, but if the past few unexpected months have taught me anything, it’s that there’s really only so much you can plan.”
More about Jillian
Jillian Pfund is a graphic designer and travel/style blogger. She recently quit her job to explore the world and is currently finding inspiration in Belgium with her partner in crime, Eric, and their two traveling pipsqueaks, Hati + Ernesto. To read more about their adventures off the deep end, check out the Road to Here Blog
, Facebook, Twitter