Dr. J aka Jennifer has been in Dublin for 8 years now, with her partner Scott. She started her travel blog, Sidewalk Safari, in 2008. As we know, all work and no play can make anyone dull. They are optimizing every ounce of their time and aim to inspire others with demanding jobs to travel extensively & have a good work-life balance. So, if you think that having a full-time job and fulfilling your dreams of traveling don’t fit together, think again!

Tell us something about yourself- your passion and interests in life?

My passions and interests? Well, there's Travel of course! Traveling both near and far. Also, great food and wine. Also, I love to read, especially historical fiction.

When did you get bitten by the travel bug for the first time?

The travel bug hit relatively late for me. I took my first trip from the US to Europe when I was 25. We visited London and Paris for a week and I was hooked! We are now making up for the lost time.

Finding great coffee is one of the perks of walking in cities. This tasting tray was discovered at Pablo and Rusty in Sydney, Australia. PC- Sidewalk Safari

Have you always been traveling with Scott, your husband or do you have your share of solos too?

When Scott (@VacationCounts) and I travel on vacation, it’s always together. I often travel alone on business trips for my ‘day job’ though. I’m a part-time travel blogger after all! I’m a big advocate of making time for something fun on every business trip like squeezing in a half-day in Liechtenstein while on a biz trip to Zurich! https://www.sidewalksafari.com/2015/08/liechtenstein-daytrip-from-zurich.html

How would you say the two of you are as a travel team?

Scott and I have a great symbiotic relationship. He’s the planner, I’m the documentarian and historian. He plans our travel itineraries and I’m like: "tell me where and when to show up." I take all the pictures and write about the trips afterward.

How many countries have you ticked off and given a chance where would you want to go back to?

We’ve been to more than 60 countries. I would totally go back to Uganda. We had an amazing safari trip there to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. Seeing mountain gorillas in the wild was magical! https://www.sidewalksafari.com/2017/01/safari-tour-uganda.html

Mountain Gorilla in Uganda. PC- Sidewalk Safari

Would you say that you have a specific travel type? If yes, then what would that be?

We are definitely urban adventurers. Weekend city breaks are our favorite type of trip. We love to walk around and explore a new city. There’s always so much to discover, like on this weekend in Bordeaux that we took last Autumn. https://www.sidewalksafari.com/2019/01/3-days-in-bordeaux-in-october.html

Exploration in Bordeaux, France. PC- Sidewalk Safari

While visiting India; Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur are common destinations flocked by travelers but, what drew you to Hyderabad?

I had the opportunity to visit Hyderabad several times on business trips for my ‘day job’. Every place is worth visiting at least once and we found lots of great things to do: like shop at Shilparamam Market and dine like royalty at Falaknuma Palace. https://www.sidewalksafari.com/2018/12/what-to-do-hyderabad-india.html

What’s the story behind “Sidewalk Safari”?

I started Sidewalk Safari in 2008 when we were living in San Francisco. It started as a kind of personal diary of the beautiful and quirky things I would find all around me, as I explored the City by the Bay. Fast forward 2 years later and we moved to Dublin Ireland. From there the focus of Sidewalk Safari shifted to our life as expats and making the most of our time off from work to explore Europe and farther afield.

Can you share your most memorable sidewalk exploring experience?

Dublin, Ireland is a walkable city. We don’t have a car so love to explore on foot. I have so many great memories of Dublin. Over the past 8+ years, I’ve gathered enough awesome experiences to recommend 23 distinct one-day itineraries for exploring Dublin, especially on foot if you visit Dublin. https://www.sidewalksafari.com/2019/01/one-day-dublin-city-itineraries.html

The Palace of Fine Arts. Sidewalk Safari got its start here because there were so many fantastic things to do and see while living in the City by the Bay. PC- Sidewalk Safari

How has life been going in Ireland? As expats have you gotten associated with expat communities in Ireland?

I always wanted to do an international assignment and had the opportunity to move to Dublin for one year. I’d never set foot in Ireland before moving here but I figured, for a year “how bad can it be?”. Turns out Dublin is AMAZING and I’m still living here 8+ years later. Dublin is a city of expats. There are people here from all over Europe and the world so it’s almost like a mini-United Nations. I work with lots of expats and have gotten to know other expats through Meet-up groups like New and Not So New in Dublin https://www.meetup.com/dubliners/

Are you a big fan of walking as a means of exploring? How do you think exploring on foot is different and what is your takeaway over the years?

Walking makes it easier to stop and take pictures. It’s easier to browse the shops or check our interesting cafes. You can go wherever your fancy takes you. Walking is a great way to see a city at a slower pace. It also means you get more exercise and thus can indulge in all the great foods and drinks that the city has to offer.

Walking the High Line in New York City, an urban park in Manhattan built on an old train line. PC- Sidewalk Safari

Recommend top 5 destinations that you feel can be best discovered on foot.

  1. Dublin, Ireland: the city is super-compact and ideal for walking. Plus, you can’t walk far without chancing upon an interesting pub full of great craic (Irish expression for a fun time). https://www.sidewalksafari.com/2019/01/one-day-dublin-city-itineraries.html
  2. Zurich, Switzerland is full of nature. Walk along the Zurich See and breath in some of the freshest air on the planet. https://www.sidewalksafari.com/2018/12/things-to-do-Zurich-winter.html
  3. New York City: Check out the High Line Park which is built on an abandoned railroad track to get above the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. https://www.sidewalksafari.com/2016/08/high-line-coffee-nyc.html
  4. Tokyo, Japan: a city of neighborhoods, each with its own character. Take the train between the neighborhoods but walk around once you’re there. https://www.sidewalksafari.com/2015/01/toyko-in-10-neighborhoods.html
  5. Sydney, Australia: I love walking around and ducking into interesting (and awesome) coffee shops and exploring funky street markets. https://www.sidewalksafari.com/2019/04/best-coffee-in-sydney-australia.html
  6. (Bonus!) Rio de Janeiro in Brazil is fantastic. Follow the mosaic patterned sidewalks along the beach. Stop for a drink and some local music. https://www.sidewalksafari.com/2018/05/awesome-activities-in-rio-de-janeiro-brazil.html

Any favorite off-beat destinations in Ireland and America that most may be unaware of?

Sligo is one of the best and most underrated destinations in Ireland. The food is amazing and the people are just so genuinely happy to see you. Compared to other places in Ireland, Sligo is not yet overrun by tourists. https://www.sidewalksafari.com/2016/10/sligo-food-trail.html I love Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh has a reputation for being part of the ‘Rust Belt’ in the U.S. but the city has changed for the better and is now loaded with great food, craft beer, and fun things to do.

Benbulbin is one of the gorgeous landscapes in County Sligo, Ireland. PC- Sidewalk Safari

Do both of you have full-time jobs? How do you guys manage to travel so vigorously?

Scott is a software developer and blogger working on projects that advocate for and encourage Americans to take more time off from work; to use the limited vacation time they get. https://www.vacationcounts.com/. I’m a project manager so efficiency & time management are strengths. I love the ‘Getting Things Done’ system for managing life. I also think it’s good that we have complementary skills. Scott plans the trips and I delegate to him while he leaves the photos/writing to me.

I’m a big advocate of making time for something fun on every business trip.

Is pursuing Ph.D. in any manner, in sync with your passion for travel & exploration?

My Ph.D. is in organometallic/polymer chem. I think the main connection with travel is that it taught me how to write (eg, my thesis) and how to stick to it and persevere even when it’s hard. This is why I’ve been consistently writing Sidewalk Safari for a decade.

What would you say to people who want to travel but are worried about safety issues?

Do your research. We wouldn’t feel safe traveling to a war zone or where there is unrest. Many people fear places like cities because they worry about theft/violent crime. But don’t let fear rule. Use common sense, be aware of surroundings, don’t go out alone at night, but never let fear stop you.

What is your most memorable ‘out of my comfort zone’ experience?

I don’t like boats due to fear of rough waters and people getting sick. The thought just freaks me out. Thus, even getting on a boat for a short distance is a big deal. But when the promise of adventure was too great, I faced my fear. I was invited on a sailing trip in the Whitsundays on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. A once-in-a-lifetime chance to see an amazing natural wonder of the world helped me overcome my fear. https://www.sidewalksafari.com/2016/02/sailing-the-whitsundays-australia.html

Left: Sailing Trip on Great Barrier Reef in Australia; Right: Sculpture Park in Southeast Finland. PC- Sidewalk Safari

Funniest or most embarrassing travel moment?

I remember walking into a shop in Venice, Italy. Shopkeeper: {something in Italian} Me: “Non parlo inglese” Shopkeeper (in English): “You don’t speak English, what language do you speak?” Me: {facepalm}

What are the major aspects of traveling that you are most drawn to?

I love the variety. I love great local food (for example, as we found in Japan) https://www.sidewalksafari.com/2015/02/20-japanese-food-experiences.html. I also love quirky, unusual experiences. Check out this awesome but slightly weird sculpture park that we chanced upon in southeast Finland! https://www.sidewalksafari.com/2017/12/finland-roadside-attraction-parikkala-sculpture-park.html.

What practical advice would you give to achieve a better work-life balance and eventually, travel more?

Set boundaries. Be aware of how hard you work and make sure it’s worth it. If you have to work a weekend for a project or business travel, negotiate for time off in lieu. Recognize time as a valuable and limited resource. Also, look for roles that include travel.

Jennifer Traveler

Dr. J aka Jennifer has been in Dublin for 8 years now, with her partner Scott. She started her trave...

Ria Author

Ria is one of our heads in the Content Strategizing Team. She comes from a management background but...

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