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You're more than welcome to hang out here, but we've got all kinds of bonus content and extra stuff for you on the member page for this interview. Click here and hop over to the member portal for a whole lot more from Jacqueline and me, including a weird 15-minute digression about psychedelics, my tragic realization that Jacqueline is a cat person, and one mystery bonus question. Not a member? Click here to become one! You literally get to decide how much it costs. No seriously. You choose your price, so it's kind of silly to NOT be a member. Again, that link's here.

If you're not into that but you did dig the podcast, text POD to (332) 877-9540 or click here to get updates on upcoming interviews and definitely get a call from host Will Conway.

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About Jacqueline Trumbull and what we cover

Years before she starred on ABC's The Bachelor and years more before pursuing her PhD in Clinical Psychology at Duke, Jacqueline Trumbull landed in Slovakia as a sheltered eighteen-year-old high school graduate.

"I wanted to be interesting," she says in hindsight.

But she could have found "interesting" in France or Italy. Instead, she found a creepy janitor, a supportive host family who changed her life, and a certain maturity that's hard to quantify. Will and Jacqueline discuss loneliness, self-examination, the core purpose of travel, authentic experiences and connecting with expats, jacking off dogs and Kentucky Fried Chicken.



Weird trivia and stuff Will wants to say

  • This thing happens when I edit an interview. In the process of streamlining the conversation and cutting out the "ums" and "likes" and lipsmacks, I tend to more deeply understand what my guest was communicating. On that note, I think I talked past a really important point Jacqueline was making. I want to take a minute to address that here:
    • Jacqueline clearly began the interview with this perception that I use travel to, in her words, "find myself." She's not entirely off-base - she correctly assessed my attitude before my trip to South America (at the 8:15 mark). She then goes on to make an outstandingly eloquent point about the "questing" mentality, embodied through her fictional character, Casper.
      • "Casper is always chasing this feeling. Around the next bend - that next adventure - that's where I'm going to find myself. And when I find myself, I'm going to be that guy wearing loafers and writing poetry in a cafe with a glass of wine, and I'm going to love that guy. And everyone else is going to love that guy! But [in Slovakia] I wasn't writing any damn poetry! Where am I, you know? Which corner am I around?"
    • She then, throughout the interview, kept coming back to this refrain: "What is the lesson of travel?"
    • In all of the above, I came to believe that Jacqueline is under the impression she's missing something. That there's this big, profound realization that comes along and whacks folks in the head. But it never whacked her, and she's not sure what she's missing. She thinks that I'm one of the people who got whacked by it. Or, at the very least, she believes that I believe this, and she's too skeptical or cynical to think it's real. I'm not sure which (though I'm pretty sure it's option #2). Either way, I've got to dispel some of that. So yeah, here it goes:
      • I didn't "find myself" in some sort of sustainable, tangible sense. No one does. Life doesn't have light switches, after all. It has dimmers. I didn't stumble into a big, revealing, life-affirming, humanity-identifying Big Answer To A Big Question and then all my shit was solved. What happened to me is that I spent a minute at the mountaintop - I learned what could be of my mental state with sustained, consistent effort. I learned what a healthy mind feels like. I saw firsthand what the version of me that drops the ego, moves his body and spends his days solving micro-problems and loving people looks like. And I really fucking liked that guy. But the reason that Jacqueline's Casper character never "gets there" - the reason he never actually sits in a cafe with a glass of Chianti and a notepad - is because he never walks in the front door. That's it. There's no big answer. If you want to be something, you just have to be it. If you want to write poetry in cafes, you have to walk into cafes and write poetry. That "version" of Casper isn't lurking around a corner. He isn't sneaking around just out of sight. No, the tragedy is that he's chasing his own damn ghost. He's busy being the wrong version of Casper because he thinks the right version is somewhere else. If Casper wants to write poetry, he should write it. It's not on the mythical future Casper to figure out. It's on now Casper to do.
      • So, okay, that's what travel taught me. Of course, everything I just wrote is obvious. But there are moments when you just feel it, you know? It's like you earn a Ph.D. in common sense. But everything in life is fleeting. You can be catapulted to the top of a mountaintop and know the answers, but then you have to execute, day-to-day. It's like your mind spends an afternoon in the body of Usain Bolt and then at the end, you get shipped back into your crummy pudgy body. Want to feel like Usain Bolt again? Go run. And then run the day after that. And then the next day, too. Problem solved.
  • This whole thing is really messy, right? Jacqueline's pondering "what's the lesson of travel?" Is there one? I mean, is there one? I spent all day thinking about travel - writing, talking, facilitating community. I have no idea. I think we want to synthesize. We're inclined to create thesis and punchlines and stuff. I know I'm inclined to do all that, anyway. But I think the actual answer is that the whole thing is messy, and there can be room for all sorts of answers.
  • Jacqueline Trumbull is quite the unique Bachelor contestant, huh? She's a fascinating character and I really enjoyed our conversation. But I'll say this right up front: I think the second half of this conversation is really much more powerful than the first. We get pretty deep and intense there, and it's the kind of magic that can really happen when both people show up willing to explore their own thoughts honestly and earnestly.
  • The blog - and my writing muscle - is about to get way more active. I'm moving away from seeing Baggage Claim purely as an art project. This is moving into a full-clip mission-driven operation. The interview component is a big step in that direction. Authentic Travelers is, too. But really, it's about ideas. I'll see you over there soon.
  • I'll say a whole bunch of stuff in this section so this is a good place to spend time. That said, make sure you subscribe on your favorite platform so you remember to come back. Especially subscribe on YouTube, for two reasons:
    1. I can do fun things with interviews on YouTube that I can't do on the normal podcast feed. The obvious one is that I can include video, but I can also chop up the show into fun bite-sized bits. I can pull interesting 1- or 5- or 10- or 30- minute segments and share them. I can do all of this without making the podcast RSS feed look like I vomited meatball pizza (real thing that happened to me - they rolled down the hallway). So anyway YouTube's gonna be helpful.
    2. If you're here, you're probably either new to Baggage Claim or you already listen/subscribed on some streaming platform or another. I know this because I have thousands of subscribers and listeners in those places. Want to know how many YouTube subscribers I have? At the time of this writing, 22. That's because I haven't used the YouTube page, so that's my fault. But that's changing now. So yeah. Go subscribe please.
  • I've had this awkward thing happen quite a bit recently. I run in a few circles of travel influencer types. Sorta hard not to. Clubhouse is one of the main places, as is Instagram. Everyone wants to be a guest. I've said no to about three dozen people so far. I'm specifically looking for people for whom travel is a learning curve. People monetizing travel generally aren't the right types of folks. I'm looking for people who are badasses in other walks of life and have some interesting part of their life tied up in the learning curve above. When I do talk to travelers (Jon Krakauer is my dream guest, so if you know him...), the conversation will focus on the human element - people they met or ways their mindset changed.

Keep up with Will and the podcast

Jacqueline Bachelor in her natural habitat

Will Conway

About

Former political software guy. Now a traveler and adventurer, which isn't a job, and host of the @heybaggageclaim podcast, which really isn't either. Travel stories no one tells.