In this edition of Celebrity Travel Addicts, we speak with JJ Yosh, a world traveler, actor, and TV host who’s always on the lookout for his next travel adventure. We chat with JJ about what made him want to explore the world, a memorable trip he took to Kenya, going on adventures with his cat, and much more! Check out his favorite destinations around the globe and find out where he’s off to next!
How did your passion for travel get started?
Back in college at The University of California Santa Barbara, I was a member of the Excursion Club where we would lead group hikes and explore the mountains. This is when I went backpacking for the first time and became hooked! I started traveling soon after, using my backpacking skills to hike and camp — from the mountains of Bolivia to the base camp of Mount Everest.
How many days/weeks are you traveling in any given year? What are the types of places you like to visit?
I travel at least once a month, sometimes for short distances like a recent weekend trip to Buena Vista Colorado, and also longer adventures, like going to Ireland for a week earlier this year, and Kenya last winter for about a week. I like to visit places I haven’t been to before, and also places that have fun activities to do. In Wales, I went rock climbing, zip-lining, and a crazy head-first version of river rafting!
You’ve gone on lots of unique adventures, from beach clean-ups in Honduras to ghost hunting in bars in Denver. What would you say is the most outside-the-box adventure you’ve gone on? Please tell us a bit about it.
Kenya was pretty unique! I went with Lifestraw to bring clean drinking water to remote villages. It was amazing and unlike anywhere else I’ve visited — Very surreal to wake up and see giraffes and elephants in the distance from the roof of the hotel I stayed at.
You often travel with your adorable cat, Simon, who seems to be the most adventurous cat on social media. What made you want to take him along when you go exploring?
Simon pretty much demanded to be taken along! I would be leaving for an adventure and he’d try to leave with me, so I decided to get him a leash and try walking around with him outdoors. We were soon doing trails around the mountains of Boulder every week. He loves being outdoors, he’s always hunting for grasshoppers and crickets.
In addition to your travels, you’ve also worked as an actor, director, producer, and writer. Have any of the skills needed for those professions ever influenced or impacted your travels or vice versa? If so, how?
One of my first TV appearances was for a Discovery/TLC show, Fun Taiwan where I co-hosted an adventure travel show. I got to put my outdoor skills to work as we explored local mountains, hiked through ancient forests, and went windsurfing, all while the camera was rolling.
My skills for acting and producing I’m sure have helped me become comfortable in new places easier. I try to study what locals are doing to understand the cultures better and this is usually very important when you are working with new team members.
What do you want audiences to gain and learn from your work?
I started my path in the media to share my adventures with others. I want people to witness the beauty of mother earth, so they can see first hand why we need to cherish and protect our planet. Social media has made sharing with a larger audience so much easier. We can save this planet if we all work together.
What are the top three destinations you’ve visited?
Give us your ‘Top 5’ list for one of your top 3 destinations. Like a mini-guide or a to-do list of sorts. It can be anything from your favorite hotel, the best place to have lunch, the best sightseeing, etc.
My top 5 must to tries in Thailand are:
Visit Koh Toh – A small beautiful tranquil island in Thailand that isn’t overly touristy and has an assortment of adventures.
Koh Pha-ngan Full Moon Party – a must-attend event that happens every month on Koh Pha-ngan.
Krabi Rock climbing – Experience multi-pitch rock climbing right over the ocean.
Bangkok food scene – I love food and there are so many unbelievably amazing street vendors where you can get anything you want for not much money.
Wat Phra Kaew – The Temple of the Emerald Buddha is an incredible gold-encrusted structure you need to see in person!
How many countries have you visited so far?
What are your top 3 favorite cuisines?
Indian, Seafood in general, and Japanese
What is your favorite restaurant in the world? What dish do you recommend there?
Honestly? I love cooking for myself and friends in the backcountry. …Not that I’m the most amazing cook in the world but anything you cook over an open fire with friends is going to taste great. I love cooking fish like salmon, as well as doing chicken stir-fries with rice and peppers.
What is your favorite travel movie?
What is your favorite international airport?
The Singapore Changi Airport – it’s out of this world!
Which city had the friendliest people?
Who is your favorite travel companion?
My cat Simon of course! He goes with the flow no matter what the activity. Sure he might have some reservations towards water, wind and heat – but he quickly gets over it.
What is the best way to kill time while traveling?
Assuming there is no wifi available – listening to music and journaling. I love making gratitude lists to express my thanks for all the blessings in my life.
What is the most exotic place your career has taken you?
I absolutely loved visiting the Maldives. Definitely one of the longest and most arduous destinations to reach. The Maldives is as exotic as you can get – and what makes this country so magical are thousands of islands that collectively make it. Each location is on another island. Imagine traveling to your friends house on another island!
What is your best bit of travel advice for someone who wants to, or is about to, embark on a life of travel?
Just go for it, the longer you wait the harder it will get to do! Also try to make as many friends along the way as you can. I’ve met life long friends on each journey I’ve taken, many who have now visited me in Boulder, or I’ve gone on other trips with.
What are 4 things you could never travel without?
My cat Simon, a chocolate bar, my phone with loaded music, and a journal with a pen.
What is your ultimate dream destination?
My top dream destination is Angel Falls in Venezuela.
What is your favorite travel quote?
“Only by going alone in silence, without baggage, can one truly get into the heart of the wilderness. All other travel is mere dust and hotels and baggage and chatter.” – John Muir
Where are you headed next?
I’m going to try and climb a couple more Colorado 14’er mountains before the winter sets in. Last weekend I climbed Torreys Peak with friends, the high country is great in the fall with Aspen trees turning gold all around.
I’m originally from San Jose, California. My parents are of Japanese and Irish descent. I went to the University of Santa Barbara where I studied chemical engineering and was active in the Excursion Club. After college, I moved to Boulder Colorado and started working as a commercial actor and model in Denver and Boulder. Between 2010 – 2015 I hosted several tv shows on Discovery, Tastemade, and others. In 2016 I wrote, acted, and directed in the full-length film, Ancient Tomorrow. In 2017 I adopted my cat Simon, and started working on building my social media following and Simon’s after his Instagram went viral! In 2011 I started Higher Earth Media. I live and work in the foothills near Boulder Colorado, where we produce short films and shoot still content for sponsors.
Connect with JJ Yosh and learn more about him and his travels on his website, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook! And follow his adorable traveling cat, Simon, on Instagram and on TikTok at @backpackingkitty!