“A Drifter Out To See The World”

“A Drifter Out To See The World”

Clay: I recently had the good fortune to be interviewed by the Northern Express, a local paper in my home town of Traverse City, about the Syrian refugee crisis that I saw while I was living in Scotland and traveling across Europe. The article was written by Patrick Sullivan and can be found below:

A passion for travel writing sent Clay Winowiecki to Europe, a trip highlighted by seeing the European refugee crisis up close.

Winowiecki, a Kingsley High School graduate, travels and writes about traveling on his blog, headedabroad.com, whenever he can; he’s also a student at Lake Superior State University, where he majors in creative writing and marketing. Last fall, the 21-year-old came face-to-face with desperate Syrian refugees and he found it heartbreaking. The Express recently chatted with him about his adventures, his blog and his concern for the displaced.

Northern Express: How did you get into travel writing?

Winowiecki: I went to a technical school in high school called the Career Tech Center and for about three years I studied to become a police officer, and three months before I graduated and went on to college I thought, ‘Is this really what I want to do with my life? Being a police officer?’ And I just decided that I wanted to travel the world. And I was always told that I was a decent writer and I just took that plunge my first year of university; I became a journalist at the university newspaper.

NE: And you eventually started a travel blog?

Winowiecki: Over the summer, I started Headed Abroad, which is my travel website, and I started writing budget travel articles for sites like Thought Catalog and Lifehack. In August, so about 2 1/2 months in, I wrote an article for Elite Daily about budget destinations for college students and that went viral, the first time it was read by over a million people, and controlled basically Facebook for a weekend, and the second time it went viral, the following January, it was read by about two million more people.

NE: Was this past summer the first time you went to Europe?

Winowiecki: Yeah. I left for Europe, I think it was Aug. 10, and I came back from Europe Nov. 24. I was studying over there and I was also working on developing a new company that I just started and I was also focusing on my travel writing. So I was doing a bunch of different stuff.

NE: What did you find in Europe that surprised you?

Winowiecki: The first thing I noticed was that in Edinburgh, which is this gorgeous, young, kind of sooty city — it’s not young in age but it has this young feel to it — there’s all these people on the streets that are homeless. I mean that’s traditional for any decent-sized city that you go to, but about half of them, I noticed, looked like they were from the Middle East and they all had the same cookie cutter signs — it was a basic cardboard, about one-foot-by-one-foot, with a printed note saying that they are from Syria, that they had excellent kids at home. And I also noticed that most of the people that were begging on the streets that looked they were from the Middle East were middle-aged woman in traditional dress. They always had very stoic looks on their face, it seemed like they weren’t trying to show any pain or fear, but it’s something that is hard to hide, especially in the eyes, and you feel really bad for them, because you want to help them, but it’s so hard because there are so many and you don’t know how. You’re trying to figure out what you can do for these people, but as an individual it’s hard, you know? Especially for me. You know, you can give them coins, but coins, they only buy one meal and that doesn’t seem like it helps the issue at all.

NE: Does what you saw differ from what we hear is happening?

Winowiecki: That’s a good question. I think there’s the same fears among the people, in the U.S. and in Europe, but I feel like it’s more radicalized in the United States thanks to people who are perpetuating the issue like Donald Trump. There are people in Europe who feel that terrorist attacks are going to happen because of it or that it’s going to become a Muslim continent. But what people don’t understand is that Europe right now is four percent Muslim. If every refugee of the 10 and a half million were to come in and they were all Muslim, which they are not all Muslim, it would only raise the Muslim population to five percent. So I think there is this blowup of misreported facts that a lot of people believe and they think it’s going to change the economy, but in actuality, it’s probably only going to better the economy in the long run if they stay.

NE: Do you believe that people in the U.S. should be more open to accepting refugees?

Winowiecki: Completely. I think they should. I mean, we’re only letting in 10,000 people in 2016. We’ve only let in 1,500 to 1,800 this year, and it’s hardly been scratching the surface. More needs to be done. There’s only been two and a half million refugees that have been resettled places.

NE: What can a person do to help the refugees?

Winowiecki: For someone like me, I think the best thing a person can do is if you look at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, they are severely underfunded. Most of the people who are in Syria who are escaping the civil war, all the people who have left, most of them are in the surrounding countries, these are countries like Iraq that have 250,000 refugees, Jordan has 650,000, Egypt has 130,000, Lebanon has 1.2 million and Turkey has 1.9 million. This all started in 2011. This kind of happened unexpectedly for the United Nations. They all of a sudden have to build all of these camps in all of these countries. So they are running out of resources now; refugees are living in essentially cities of tents. So if anyone can do anything, if you can’t go over there and volunteer while you’re taking a break from college, you can at least toss five dollars over there to maybe help build a new tent or take care of a family for a day.

For more information go to you go: http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/home

Link to the original: A Drifter Out To See The World

Some Ponderings on Writing

It’s been a busy start of the year for me and I haven’t been able to publish nearly as much as i’d like to, because i’m trying to figure out how to write for a purpose.

When I started writing travel I stuck to basic informational pieces, they were useful to a point, and I loved when they were able to help people, but I grew sick of myself for writing them and being a part of the “content-mill” generation of writers.

You know, the list’s of articles like “10 Best Caribbean Destinations” or better yet, “20 Travel Tips You CAN’T Live Without”?

While those posts are enjoyable to skim through and if you’re lucky, you’ll learn something you hadn’t known before, they aren’t much more than that. So is that what I want to be known for? As that travel list guy? Not really.

There’s no doubt that these lists have brought me a fair amount of success and landed me jobs that paid me to write, a difficult feat in itself, just take a look at this one that’s nearing 500,000 shares:

Travel Cheap And Travel Young: 10 Countries You Can Visit On A College Budget

That article landed me a job that paid me thousands of dollars a month for only working a few hours per week – pretty good for a twenty year old in college. It helped me pay my bills, bought me my new Mac Air I needed for when I travel, AND a $1,300 round-trip plane ticket to Europe.

But that style of writing is not who I feel that I am. When I write, I want people to go grab a cup of coffee, sit in a cozy chair, and read it for the next forty minutes. Bookmark it and send the link through email to their friends or share it on Facebook. I want it to make people think critically, be more highly informed, and not just skim through the sensationalized subheadings in thirty seconds.

I’m fighting everything that digital media is going towards.

Because of these longer articles, it allows me to fill them with a depth that wouldn’t be possible in a listicle. The downside is that it takes much longer to craft and write. I can whip out a 750 word “Top 10” list that sells in about five minutes, but when i’m creating mountains of text, I expect no less than two weeks and a high amount of effort. I’ll even bring out the whiteboard and start sketching.

There are certain sites that I follow that inspire me, such as the Newyorker, which often writes what some may call “books”, for articles. Each one a beautifully written masterpiece that can be read five years from now and still have an impact, unlike your average “Top 10” post.

I’ve spent some time writing a few of these posts and while I don’t claim that they hold their weight against the Newyorker, I do say that they are more powerful than any content-mill post I could publish. In a way, it’s how i’m working on developing my own voice, because you don’t really see many travel writers dropping 4,000 words on an article all too often, not that it’s a bad thing if they don’t.

[Examples of long posts i’ve written:



Another reason that these extensive articles take so long to publish is because it can be hard to be certain that it’s perfect when you finish writing it. Take an article i’m working on now, for example. It’s been sitting on my laptop for the past month and a half, completely written. 5,000 words done. But something felt off about it and I couldn’t place it, so I sent it to a good friend (who I believe to be a better writer than I), and asked him to give me some feedback. He gave me his thoughts and now i’m reworking the piece, so hopefully it doesn’t take me too much longer before I get it on the blog. 


There have been a few other things on my plate as well, all good, that have been slowing down the writing process as well. My little confession is that only until recently have I actually been actively trying to improve my writing. To work on finding my own voice in it that’s powerful and can paint images with words as if paint on canvas. And while I have been working on a Creative Writing degree for the past 2.5 years, something in me has only recently clicked, and now I want to make sure that I get my writing right.

So i’ve started by enrolling in a Journalism class, looking at post-graduate degrees, and getting into publishing through print (which i’ll share with the e-mail list). I took a position as the Editor-in-Chief of my universities Creative/Academic Journal, so I can look upon the finer things in writing that make a story work. And I’ve begun reading books on the matter, interviewing people, asking for feedback, and studying those that have come before me.

It’s every persons quest in life to find out their purpose if they choose to pursue it and I firmly believe that mine is with writing, even though I often feel my writing is atrocious. It’s a learning process and i’m but a humble student to its will.

So while I feel bad that there has been a lack of posts as of late, I promise you that there are many great stories and tid bits of wisdom on travel to come. I’ll still even occasionally publish a listicle, and I may even enjoy the straight-forwardness of it for the reader and the ease of it for myself, but my search for discovering the ways of powerful writing continue. Until next time, my friends.



With the holiday season upon us and in full swing, I decided that i’d love to give back to the readers of this site and so in honor of that i’ll be giving away promo codes for the Full Version of City Walks Apps by GPSmyCity. While i’d love to give everyone one of these apps, I simply don’t have the resources, however, I do have 20 full-version city apps of your choosing to give away. So the odds are still pretty good! Please note these promo codes work with only iOS devices (sorry!). Google Play Store does not allow app promo codes. To learn more about GPSmyCity, click here.

This giveaway is pretty straight forward, all you have to do is leave a comment on THIS post with what city you would like to receive the app for. The self-guided city walks app has over 470 cities in its database.

Here’s a snippet I took off of the GPSmyCity Website:

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 9.24.01 AM

Possible cities include:

Australia: Melbourne (18 guides)
Bahamas: Nassau (4 guides)
England: London (27 guides)
Germany: Munich (29 guides)
Bahrain: Manama (8 guides)
USA: Boston (20 guides)
Argentina: Buenos Aires (39 guides)

To check out the full list, you can here.

All you have to do to win one of these apps is comment on the blog with which city you want to go to, and i’ll get in touch with you after the 30 day giveaway is over.


  • This giveaway is open WORLDWIDE.
  • This giveaway will start on December 14 (10 AM EST) and will end on January 14 (10 AM EST). Winners will be randomly selected and will be announced on the next day, January 15 at the Headed Abroad Facebook Page.
  • Entries that are incomplete or inaccurate will be deemed invalid.
  • This giveaway is hosted by Headed Abroad in partnership with GPSmyCity.

Thanks guys and best of luck! I hope your holidays are lovely and filled with good company.

Guest Post: How to Survive an Airport Layover

Guest Post: How to Survive an Airport Layover

Unfortunately, there comes a time in every traveler’s life where you’re stuck with that long layover. Whether it’s because you booked the cheapest flight available or there’s no other way to make your flights work out, these layovers are a fact of living—for all that we may wish it otherwise. Instead of twiddling your thumbs on your next layover, here are some things to try instead:

Install the GateGuru App

If you’re hungry or you’re traveling with bored children or…well, there’s a lot of reasons why the GateGuru app can be useful to you. Airports know that you’re not going to be too happy when you have to pass the time on a long layover, and they also know that you’re less likely to be grumpy and obnoxious around the airport and on your flights if you’re a bit happier on your layover. You can use this app to find everything from restaurants to play areas to other fun activities in the airport.

Turn It Into a Mini-vacation

Rather than having a short stopover that you have to kill in the airport, if you’ve got some flexibility in your travel plans, why not schedule a longer layover that will allow you to get out and explore the city? Even if your layover is just for a day, you’ll be able to see something of the city and try some of the local food. Just make sure you have the appropriate visa (if necessary) and that you leave yourself enough time to get back through security!

Play a Game of Airport Bingo

Especially if you’re traveling with others, printing off some airport bingo sheets ahead of time can make passing time in the airport into a game. Your boxes can range from anything from “the parent who can’t control their child” to “someone who missed a flight.” Don’t have time to make up your own cards? There are plenty of free ones already floating around out there.

Chill Out With A Movie

These days, plenty of airports offer free WiFi access, but that won’t help you if you want to do certain things, such as access Netflix while you’re traveling abroad. The problem is, many sites are only accessible from your home country because of copyright restrictions and contract agreements. This can be annoying when you have one of those hours-long layovers and have nothing to do, but fortunately, you can get around these location restrictions. See, the way Netflix or another site knows where you are is by reading the location off your internet server. But a VPN will re-route all your information through a remote server, meaning you can trick the site into thinking that you’re actually located back home rather than in some foreign airport.

Get Into a VIP Lounge

If you’re traveling a lot, look into getting into one of the nicer parts of the airport. In the United States, you can get into the airport USO with your military ID or dependent ID card if you have one. Airlines also offer their own VIP lounges around the world. Although it may seem frivolous to pay for these, they often offer food, comfortable seating, book exchanges, and other perks that can make that long layover a lot more bearable. You could also book a room at the airport hotel, so you can catch up on some sleep during your layover.

Drink Plenty of Water

This may seem like a strange thing to put on this list, but you’ll actually notice a huge difference in how pleasant your air travel becomes (and how much easier managing jetlag becomes) if you really keep yourself hydrated. The problem is, airplanes and airports are naturally dehydrating to our bodies, so you actually need to drink more water when you’re traveling than you normally might. Not willing to shell out the $5 for a small bottle of water at the airport? Most times you can get away with carrying an empty bottle with you through security and then can fill that up at the water fountains located around the airport.

Although layovers generally aren’t the best part of a trip, it’s definitely possible to keep yourself occupied so that the time flies by.

Travelers, what’s the worst layover you’ve ever had to deal with? How did you cope? Tell us your tales below!

About the author: Jess Signet has been traveling from a young age and loves to explore the world. Currently on a quick break from her travels, she is hoping to hit the road again soon. You can keep up with Jess on Twitter at @JessTravels

Guest Post: Jacob Laukaitis On Exploring Bali

Guest Post: Jacob Laukaitis On Exploring Bali

Clay: Hey guys! A few weeks ago I interviewed a guy named Jacob Laukaitis on how he drove across The Balkans on his motorbike. He’s continued to travel around the world and he’s done some absolutely incredible things. I wanted to bring him back on the site for a little blog post from him as well as to share his latest videos. Enter Jacob.

Hi! My name is Jacob Laukaitis. I’m a digital nomad, meaning I can work from anywhere as long as I have my computer and a Wi-Fi, thus I travel 9-10 months every year. In the last 2 years I visited more than 30 countries and spent most of my time in Asia.

We have this tradition of going on an exotic team retreat every year at ChameleonJohn.com– an online coupons company I co-founded a year and a half ago. Last year we went to Koh Samui in Thailand and this year we decided to go to Bali in Indonesia. So we rented out a beautiful villa in Seminyak, bought flight tickets to all of our employees and spent the whole month living, working and having fun together. I remember when I started traveling around Asia alone I did not have much prior traveling experience. I did 5 countries in 3 months and it was one of the best times of my life.

Every time I come to Bali it absolutely feels like home. The first few days I usually can’t stop myself from smiling, since everything is very exciting: the food, the culture, the people, the scenery, temples, roads and rice fields. Almost every day I’d be driving my motorbike around the island exploring everything I found interesting. I’d come back home just before the midnight, completely exhausted, sun-burned and tired, but happy at the same time because of all the things I had seen or experienced. I can’t wait to come back to Bali next year and finally become fluent in Bahasa Indonesia!

I would say the highlight of my trip was standing on the top of Mount Agung at 3150 meters above sea level after 6 hours of excruciating hike. At that point I felt adrenaline rushing through my body and I was very happy I managed to climb all the way to the top despite my shoes being completely not up to the task.

If I could do this trip all over again I don’t think I’d do anything differently. Maybe just come for a bit longer, because even though you can see quite a bit in a month, there will still be tons of events to attend, restaurants to go to, people to meet and things to learn. I think my next trip to Bali will last about 3 months. We’ll see!

If you would like to find more information about me or my trip you can visit my personal website JacobLaukaitis.com and my Instagram profile where I post the best moments from my trips.









Clay: I’d like to give a big thanks to Jacob for that fun read and for sharing his travels with us. Now, without further adieu, here’s Jacob’s video called “Exploring Bali – Paradise on Earth.”

Bonus video:

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