Jackson Groves is the man behind one of the most refreshing and creative travel blogs on the Internet. The Journey Era blog, in combination with the Australian’s social media channels, inspires travellers to take raw unguided adventures all over the world in destinations such as Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand.
This awesome journey started three years ago when Jackson was finishing off his journalism degree in Oahu, Hawaii. Like many restless students who yearn to travel, he found himself disenfranchised with the monotony of traditional education. But there was a silver lining – Jackson took a class in web design and began to build a blog on the side.
I was a huge rookie with a camera and didn’t know a thing about how to make a blog or why anyone would possibly want to read mine. For three months, I spent every moment designing the blog while simultaneously building up my social media channels and learning as much as I could about blogging.
In its first month, the Journey Era blog had attracted some 12,000 views from 20 published articles. With encouraging early numbers, it was time to go all in on the dream of becoming a digital nomad. Jackson eventually graduated with his degree and set off to explore the world. First stop: Bali, Indonesia!
Hustling as a Digital Nomad in Southeast Asia
His plan was to adventure some days and work on the blog during others. A simple plan that proved to be harder than it sounds when you factor in an incredibly tight budget. After two months of blogging, Jackson caught a lucky break when he and a few other seasoned bloggers were invited to tour Indonesia with the official Indonesian Tourism Board.
I was paid $1,000 USD and couldn’t believe someone was paying me to have the adventure of a lifetime and share my stories and photos with the rest of the world through my social media channels. This trip introduced me to many seasoned bloggers and creators who taught me a lot and pointed me in the right direction.
Next port of call was Thailand. At this stage, Jackson’s relationship with his girlfriend ended and he was thrusted into a life of solo travel blogging. The blog was now four months old and was receiving roughly 20,000 views per month. Things were on the up. However, the blog still hadn’t earned a cent yet.
The Aussie adventurer, who prides himself to this day on never spending more than $12 a night on accommodation, set a goal of earning $800 USD per month to fund his travels. He knew he could live off that easily in most Asian countries and to his credit he achieved that goal through various content creation gigs, which included shooting photos for bracelet companies at $8 a pop!
Jackson continued on the popular tourist path in Southeast Asia to the Philippines, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia and Vietnam. As the year came to an end he was no longer a beginner in the blogosphere and planned to tackle India, Sri Lanka and Nepal in the new year.
The Journey Era Comes to Fruition
After one year of being on the road, the Journey Era blog had gained 100,000 readers per month. Jackson described his life in this period as a “sensory overload in the best possible way”. He trekked Everest Base Camp and survived the sweltering heats of the Indian summer in Varanasi. Every day there were new sights to see and cultures to experience.
The Everest Base Camp Trek was a pretty unreal experience for me as I was battling food poisoning, altitude sickness and several obstacles to finally make it to base camp for sunrise. It was an unreal moment and I learned a lot about my own drive and perseverance.
Opportunities started to flood in for the 27-year-old as the mantra ‘build it and they will come’ started to pay off. He began to monetise and earn income from the blog, went on a one-week trip with Royal Caribbean in a paid campaign and received daily e-mails and messages from people on Instagram thanking him for inspiring them to chase their dreams or travel to new destinations.
By the end of 2017, Jackson was in a position to teach others what he had learned by running a workshop. The idea was to help aspiring creators reach their goal of becoming a digital nomad by the end of 2018. He picked seven driven, adventurous and committed people to explore the Nusa Islands in Indonesia – adventuring by day and running workshops by night.
The Journey Era adventures continued in 2018 with trips to Kauai for a month and then working on a campaign for the Tourism Board of Queensland on the Great Barrier Reef. To this day, Jackson continues to hustle incredibly hard and pour his heart and soul into this project. Ultimately, though, his core passion is for the adventure itself.
There is no feeling like reaching a summit you have never heard of or a waterfall you never knew existed and being completely blown away by it for the first time. Often the journey there is difficult, you get lost many times and it may seem as though you won’t reach your destination at some points. The adventure is the destination. A tour or destination that you know about and you know will be good and you are guided there is less of a climax when you reach the final destination.
Jackson Groves’ Newest Initiative: The Adventure Bag Movement
The Adventure Bag concept couldn’t be simpler. One Adventure = One Bag of Trash. After seeing the rubbish pile up in some of the world’s most beautiful national parks and hiking trails, the Aussie traveller and now environmental activist decided it was time to act.
I am trying to change people’s attitudes and mind-set and the Adventure Bag Movement is a vessel through which we can engage those who might not have had an interest in the topic of environment until they become involved with the adventure bag on social media.
No matter where Jackson was exploring, from developed countries like his homeland in Australia to countries in Central America, one thing was a constant: the amount of trash on the trails. On a recent trip to Panama, he decided that he needed to lift his game.
After a week of exploring trails in Santa Fe, Panama by myself I had a lot of time to think. I was thinking about my character and what I stood for. I decided that I needed to lift my game. I wasn’t littering or using excessive plastic but I wasn’t helping the problem. I wasn’t being productive in saving our environment. I was inspired by many different people around me and decided that from that day onwards I would collect an Adventure Bag on every hike or adventure I went on.
Jackson will be the first to admit that collecting a bag of trash is not a new idea. But having a committed group of followers inspired to play their part just might be. Over 80,000 people tune in to the Adventure Bag channel to get inspired about living in a cleaner, greener world.
People from all walks of life, and from every country under the sun, have responded with overwhelming positivity to Jackson’s message. Now, when these adventurers go to the beach or hike a new summit they too collect a bag of trash along the way. Their photos are then re-posted on the Adventure Bag page where the likes and comments start to mount up.
It’s no wonder that Jackson’s message has been received with so much enthusiasm. There is a global understanding now that tourism is stuck in a catch-22. Travel has never been more popular and certain countries have never experienced such growth in their tourism sectors. Yet, the problems of pollution and overtourism continue to rear their heads.
However, for Jackson, this is not a time for negative thinking: “There is never time to be pessimistic. You just do your best and try and lead an example for others.” It’s this type of mind-set that has inspired travellers around the world to take his lead. It also goes to show you that one person can make a difference in the world.
In 2019 Jackson continues to grow his Journey Era blog and push the Adventure Bag Movement to new heights. He will also be running Project Lombok in April – an adventure travel photography trip raising funds to rebuild an earthquake devastated school in Lombok, Indonesia. Learn more about Jackson’s incredible journey in the links below: