Every Monday during our Shut Up and Go team calls, we gush over how brilliant this damn community is. We receive heart-warming messages about travelers (new & experienced) getting ready to take over the world. Every story is super touching, but the one we’re about to share left a special passport stamp on our hearts. Meet Juan and Naaz, two besties with fresh ink, two backpacks, and vibrant experiences!
What’s your name? Where are you from? Where’s the coolest place you’ve ever visited?
NAAZ: I’m Gulnaaz (or Naaz), I’m 19 and I was born in Punjab, India, but raised in Vancouver, Canada. The coolest place I’ve ever been would have to be either the Sahara Desert or Seoul, South Korea, I can’t choose between the two because they’re both just so different and beautiful.
JUAN: Hey Shut up and Go, I’m Juan, a Colombian-born Canadian living in Vancouver, Canada. Thus far though, the coolest place I’ve ever been has to be Morrocan Sahara, just outside the town of Merzouga. With a camel ride through the desert, a couple tries at sandboarding ancient dunes and the best stargazing of my life, the Sahara is a must-do trip.
Where did you two meet?
NAAZ: Juan and I met at our local YMCA where we both used to volunteer in the youth leadership program. We later found out that we both went to the same high school and had a French class together that really brought us closer. Ever since, we’ve been best friends/travel buds and I’ve jokingly been calling Juan the Damon to my Jo.
JUAN: Gulnaaz and I met at out local YMCA while volunteering (I know – not the crazy travel story you’re expecting). However, we bonded over common interests. Crazily enough though, it turned out that we were in the same high school and then the same French class the following semester! We’ve been best friends ever since.
Tell us about your dope backpacking trip. What inspired you to go? How long did you go for, and where did you go?
NAAZ: We’ve been wanting to do a big trip around Europe for a long time, and we realized that we had the opportunity to do it this summer, so we both decided to just Shut Up and make it happen. My biggest inspirations were definitely Damon and Jo and the Shut up and Go Facebook group. We’re 1.5 months into our 2-month-long trip and so far we’ve been to the UK, Portugal, Spain, Morocco, France, and Italy!
JUAN: Damon and Jo were our biggest inspirations. But Gulnaaz has an addiction at looking for cheap flights and when she found a 300 dollar ticket straight to London, we decided to Shut Up and Go!
OKAY. So, – these tattoos though. What was the moment when you were like “Damn, let’s get tatted right now.”? What inspired the tattoo? Give us the whole backstory!
I kind of wish I could say that the tattoos were a spontaneous decision, but truth be told, we’ve been wanting to get these for such a long time that I can’t even remember how the idea originally came about. Ever since I discovered Damon and Jo’s channel 3 years ago, my outlook on life has completely changed. I always knew I wanted to travel the world (as most people do), but Damon and Jo were the ones that made me realize that I actually have the power to make it happen.
I truly believe that the Shut Up and Go attitude has helped to shape me into the person that I am. I’ve met so many people I never would have met and had countless experiences that I never would have had if not for “Shut Up and Go.” I honestly just love how simple all of the advice about how to pursue your dreams to travel is summed up into four words. When I told Juan about the tattoo idea, he was instantly down to get them (as a good best friend and travel partner should be). We’d been trying to do walk-in appointments in almost every city we went to on this trip to get them but so far were unsuccessful every time.
And as if this whole tangent I went on wasn’t corny enough already: while we were in Valencia, we had so many of those magical euphoric travel moments that just make you realize how amazing travelling really is. On one of these nights out, right after going skinny dipping in the Mediterranean with some amazing friends that we’d just met, I decided that tomorrow, no matter what, I’m making sure we get the tattoos.
The next day, we realized that for some reason, literally EVERY tattoo parlour in Valencia was closed. And since Google Maps has been lying to us so much on this trip, we decided to call a lot of them to find out that, yes, they actually were closed. We’d basically given up and were just relaxing in the park when I got a call from a tattoo artist that said he could squeeze us in for an appointment if we made it to his studio (on the other side of the city) in 20 minutes. So, we quickly packed up our little picnic, hopped on a bus and ran to his studio.
The best part of it all was that even though the tattoo artist barely spoke English, he understood right away the meaning of “Shut Up and Go” and how it was about not making excuses for travelling. For me, this tattoo will always remind me of the amazing time I had on this trip, how I met strangers that turned into best friends so quickly, and of how if you really want to, it’s possible to turn everything you want into your reality.
I’ve met so many people I never would have met and had countless experiences that I never would have had if not for “Shut Up and Go”. I
JUAN: So, I was actually a bit hesitant at first about getting a tattoo. I mean its cool in theory but they’re on you…like forever. Regardless, on our last day in Valencia, we decided to shut up and get it when we found a cheap tattoo parlour which happened to be the ONLY open one in the city. 30 mins later, we had the tattoos on us… and the rest is history.
30 mins later, we had the tattoos on us… and the rest is history.
What advice do you have for people who need that extra push just to SHUT UP AND GO?
NAAZ: Before coming on this trip, Juan and I had never travelled by ourselves, always just with school/youth groups or family. Despite how determined we were to make it happen; we had a LOT of moments where we doubted if we were actually capable of travelling alone for so long. Our families were completely against us going for such a long time and we began to think that they were right. As soon as we began the trip though, we realized that we’d made the right decision. My only advice is: There are SO MANY of your favourite people, places, foods, and experiences that are just waiting for you to find them, and without travelling, you’re never going to. The kind of happiness you get from those magical travel moments is really special, and you have to just forget all the doubts you have and just SHUT UP AND GO!!!!
JUAN: Honestly the best advice for those who are hesitant to travel is to tell that money will come back, but time won’t. And as bombastic as it may sound, with the world on the verge of an environmental collapse, travel while you can! The amount of amazing life-changing experiences that have happened to me while travelling are ones that I’ll remember my whole life. I would have never gotten to experience skinny dipping in Valencia, or belly dancing in Morroco, Carnaval in Colombia, or living it up in Montréal, within the comfort of my Canadian suburb.
So get out there and travel, because it’s worth it and that is a promise.