Jo Castro answers my questions on why we travel

Even the casual reader of Not A Ballerina will be fully aware that I think travel is a fantastically amazing thing to do and that every single person who has the opportunity should grab it and see the world. But instead of just hearing that over and over from me, I decided to ask a few other travelling friends and bloggers about their experiences of travel and what it’s changed about their lives.

The lovely Jo Castro / images from Dave and Jo Castro

And the first person to answer some of my questions about why people should travel is the delightful Jo Castro from Zigazag. I first met Jo online – if I remember correctly she approached me (perhaps by email?) with the idea of catching up as she was also a travel blogger and didn’t live all that far from me (a couple of hours’ drive – which in Western Australia is just round the corner!). Jo has an amazing list of different countries she’s lived in with her geologist husband and I thought she would definitely have some good ideas about some of the many benefits of travel. And she does. Read on!

Jo, how has your travel experience changed your personality?

Travel has made me more accepting of the things I can’t change.

Delayed flights, unexpected living situations in developing countries, not having hot water, learning to live with electricity blackouts, all of these things and more have calmed me so that I am not as dependent on “How things should be” anymore, but rather just accepting “How I find things” and then getting on with them.

Travel has changed my personality to see challenges as opportunities, not as problems.

I’ve lived in 11 different countries with my geologist husband, and our two children have grown up on four different continents. Many of the places we lived did not always offer acceptable schooling (or available schooling) and I had to home school in Hong Kong, for instance, due to a lack of school places, which was a very defining experience and definitely changed my personality for the better. It made me realize that with some thought, planning and determination I could overcome what I thought was an insurmountable obstacle (I had no training) and I ended up having a small playschool for 7 children in an apartment the size of a postage stamp on the 22nd floor of a high rise block of flats. I loved it – my children had an immediate circle of friends, I earnt some pin money and I spent lots of time with my own kids.

What has travelling done to change the direction your life has taken?

Oh gosh! When I was 17 and living in Devon, England, very content with my horsey life and the English countryside, I said to my mother: “I’m never going to go on a plane or a boat to anywhere else in the world.” By the time I was 18 I was on the ferry to Belgium with a backpack and acoustic guitar strung around my shoulders bound for Amsterdam where I would take up a position as a groom for a show jumping family. This didn’t last very long, but the travel bug had by then bitten hard and deep and I’ve never really looked back. I met my husband in Bangkok when we were both backpacking through Asia and ended up in South Africa with him, then we bought a farm situated near a gold mine in Namibia and lived in a caravan in the highlands of Lesotho where he used to do his geologizing by pony due to the inaccessibility of the area. So for weeks at a time we would traverse the countryside astride sure footed Basotho ponies and camp in remote villages where Westerners rarely ventured – often children would run screaming from me and my blond hair.

I didn’t expect my life to become peripatetic, but it has, and most likely always will be – I am very far removed from the home spun, stay at home Devon girl I once was.

What do you think is the most important reason that people should travel?

I think travel gives you the most incredible sense of self, and confidence, along with an ability to get on with everyone. It teaches you that although everyone is different, they all have similar hopes, dreams and needs and when you speak to someone who may be a bit “off” with you (whether from the same or a different culture) you can be forgiving because you understand that they too have their own problems, although you may never know what they’re going through behind the scenes. Travel gives you the freedom to fend for yourself, and the knowledge that you can survive without too much money. It teaches you that material goods are not the be all and end all to living a good life. It teaches you acceptance, and brings you into contact with people beyond the circle of people you might normally choose as friends, which fosters tolerance and respect of different cultures. Yes, it teaches you humility too.

On the hedonistic side, people should travel because it’s FUN. New places, new food to try, new people to meet! It’s freedom on steroids and you never know what each new day will bring!

About Jo: Johanna Castro is a freelance writer, workshop facilitator and blogger.  Her Travel & Lifestyle blog “ZigaZag” is about Western Australia and encourages people to “Live for the Moment, Love Adventure and Do Something Awesome.” Her new blog “Lifestyle Fifty” helps empower women to live the good life as they get older, and to be “Fit, feisty, funky and fun”. Jo’s lived in 11 different countries, is married to a geologist, is not related to Fidel Castro, doesn’t smoke cigars – ever, has two grown up children, enjoys Margaret River wines a little too much, and now resides near a beach in South Western Australia where her gypsy heart is content, but maybe not quite tamed.


  1. Love it!

  2. Fabulous to read about Jo’s life and experiences. What an amazing lady she is!

  3. Thanks Claudette and Jill! Amanda has the knack of asking insightful open ended questions that really get you thinking, and I enjoyed the interview so much. Thanks Amanda 🙂

  4. Great interview! There are some great points here. Travel helps you to “accept” situations as they are and moreover it gives you the ability to quickly adjust to new situations without regrets. It is a great way to learn and grow our self, without having to attend expensive self-growth trainings 😀

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