Jason Moore fits nearly every definition of a “travel influencer.” His Zero To Travel podcast has been downloaded over 3 million times and regularly features high-profile guests from across the travel and digital nomad scenes. Along with business partner Travis Sherry (host of the Extra Pack of Peanuts podcast), Jason started an online community called Location Indie, aiming to help people from around the world build a location-independent lifestyle.
His knowledge is gleaned from over a decade spent traversing the US working travel-related jobs from marketing events to concerts. Jason grew up outside of Philadelphia and since his early twenties, being on the road has been his life in one way or another. He now lives in Oslo, Norway with his wife and daughter. We caught up via Skype to talk travel, business, and life.
What’s your earliest memory of travel?
One was going camping with my dad. He took us on some camping trips early on, and I loved being in a new place and being outside, this feeling of adventure. I remember channeling my inner Indiana Jones, if you will. Being out in the world was always a great feeling, and I always felt at home in some way. We didn’t take too many family vacations when I was growing up, but I remember thinking, “This is a thing that people do, that’s totally different from our everyday lives.” When you’re a kid, driving twenty minutes away is like a road trip. It didn’t really matter that we were only driving an hour and a half away in the Poconos, it was just that feeling of sleeping somewhere different.
How did you get started working in the travel industry?
I fell into an industry called event marketing, which is essentially live events. Companies want to get their product into people’s hands, so they put together these wacky events to go out and promote a new product, do a launch, or just get people to try it out and have an experience with their product or brand.
I didn’t know this was a giant multi-billion-dollar industry. When I came out of college, I was in this no-man’s land. “What am I going to do, I don’t know what to do,” and I realized that I just wanted to travel. Instead of getting a career job and trying to travel afterward I thought, “Why don’t I just get a job that allows me to travel?”
I have to give credit to my Mom, because I did get offered a regular job and I was like “I don’t really want to do this, I want to travel.” She supported me, even though I was living on her couch taking up space.
I stumbled across this job, a charity event called the Kmart Kids Race Against Drugs. It was going from city to city for eight months. They faxed me — faxed — the schedule. I got to travel to a different city every week, this was incredible. They paid me $500 a week, which felt like a king’s ransom. I loved it.
I ended up taking a decade-long road trip around the United States doing experiential marketing events. This led to being a tour manager for a band.
The band was Matt and Kim, right? How did you line that up?
Yeah, it was Matt and Kim. I was doing this experiential marketing tour for Bacardi, but it was tied in with a music tour. I handled the hospitality for artists. I don’t know if we became friends, but we were seeing each other a lot. One day backstage, Kim asked me if I did tour management.
Their manager, he was pretty hard. He first told me I wasn’t qualified. I proceeded to talk his ear off for 20 minutes telling him why I was qualified. Finally, he was like, “Ok, I’ll call you back tomorrow.” He called me back and said, “We’re going to give you a shot but don’t screw this up.”
How was that? It seems like a dream job.
It was great, but when I got into the music stuff, I was getting burnt out on the road. I’d been touring for ten years full on, and about another 5 on and off. I wanted to figure out how I could travel on my own terms and not have a schedule dictated to me.
That’s how you got into the world of entrepreneurship.
Yep. I had a business in the event industry that I worked in for a long time. It was an online business, but I recently shut that down because I’m having too much fun with all the other stuff I’m doing — like Zero To Travel, the travel publishing company and podcast, the Location Indie community, and The Paradise Pack.
When I traveled all those years, I talked to so many travelers on the road. I was fascinated by all the different ways that people were traveling. I went on my first tour in 1998. You didn’t see all these blogs and you couldn’t necessarily see all the ways people were traveling. But, as you traveled around, you got to know these people and how they did it. (What is now) Google was an old-fashioned conversation, talking to people in hostels and such. People were painting boats port to port, there were families living in RVs, this person’s hitchhiking around, this person’s working on sailboats.
I knew that people had to know about this. I got really excited about the idea of helping other people do it. When I decided to start another website after my event business, I wanted to do something around travel because I’m so passionate about it and helping others do it.
It sounds like you do quite a bit. Give me a rundown on it all.
I spent a couple years working in Colorado. That’s when I started to figure out how I could do this location-independent, digital nomad deal where I get to travel where I want, when I want. I started self-educating and learning, and joined a community online. I dove deep and long story short, I got things going. I started moving back and forth between Norway and the United States.
Editor’s note: Jason’s wife, Anne Dorthe, is Norwegian. Their dating years included many trips back and forth to see each other before Jason eventually settled in Norway.
Do you think it’s too late to start a travel blog? Is it still possible to pick up traction?
No, it’s not too late. Because everybody has a unique experience and voice to bring to whatever world they want to bring it to. Yes, there are a lot of travel blogs, but there are great ones that come out every day that help someone. Nobody else can have your voice — you have unique experiences, so when you put something out there in your own way, you’re in the position to serve other people in the unique way that only you can.
What gives you the most satisfaction?
I read something somewhere that said, “It’s all selfish — even if you’re doing something that helps others, you do it to make yourself feel good.” So in that way, am I selfish? I don’t know. I love the opportunity to share whatever knowledge I have and to be able to bring other people onto my podcast that can share their knowledge so that people can learn and go out and build their lives around travel. I get these emails sometimes that bring me to tears, telling me about how my work has helped them in some way. I always tell them that they did the hard work. I’m glad I could help, but it takes a lot of guts to quit a job and travel, or to start a business and go out on your own.
Another thing that I like personally is that it grows with you. If you want to be a full-time traveler and live on the road, you can do that. But if you’re someone like me who’s now later on in life, you don’t have to be a full-time nomad. I have a child, and because of my lifestyle, I can spend more time with her. I can take her to kindergarten in the morning and still get my work done.
I love having the freedom to be location-independent, where I can run my business from anywhere even if that anywhere is from home. To always have the option to be able to travel is a wonderful thing.