EOCP #11: Jason Patrick Irish – Professional Backpacker, Global “Yes Man,” and Lessons From Exploring 119 Countries (and Counting)

January 15, 2018
Backpacking Everest

“Live in the moment. Be a ‘Yes Man.’ Be aware of your limits but also push your limits.”

– Jason Patrick Irish


Jason Patrick Irish (@jason.patrick.irish) is a professional backpacker, global “Yes Man,” and world explorer who creates his own opportunities, which has allowed him to visit 119 countries and counting.

After graduation from university in 2009, Jason applied to a few odd jobs around the world. One of these was teaching English in South Korea. He received an offer, accepted, and moved across the pond.

Teaching English in South Korea – which was only supposed to be a year gig – he built up sufficient funds and began backpacking. He departed on his journey and didn’t stop until his money ran out, which then brought him back to South Korea to teach again.

He continued this process a few times and grew his love for both teaching and backpacking. Jason has now visited 119 countries with no plans of stopping anytime soon.

His backpacking adventures have taken him to:

  • Every country in Europe but one
  • The Mount Everest Base Camp in Nepal
  • Living with a tribe in the heart of the Amazon for a week
  • Small countries you’ve likely never heard of,
  • and other incredible places.


Some of the other topics we discuss include:

  • Why would anyone want to travel so extensively?
  • Troubles with relating to friends and family back home
  • Reverse culture shock and feeling like a foreigner in both America and South Korea
  • How an act of generosity from strangers transformed his backpacking career
  • Having past perceptions or bias’s shattered

And so much more.

Scroll down for links and show notes…

Thank you for listening and enjoy!


QUESTION OF THE EPISODE: While on the road, have you ever said yes to doing something that you weren’t super excited about, but it ended up being an incredible experience you still remember to this day?

Please leave your answer in the comments.


Want to hear from another long-term traveler?

Listen to Aqeel Karim’s stories and insights from traveling over 250 days through India, Europe, South America, and Central America.


Want to listen to another conversation about working abroad?

Listen to Isa Lindberg’s experience working and traveling around Australia for a year.


Show Notes and Links

Connect with Jason – Facebook | Instagram | Email

  • Being intentionally bitten by a Piranha. [6:50]
  • Teaching English in South Korea and backpacking around the world for the past five years. [8:30]
  • Accommodations throughout his backpacking adventures. [12:40]
  • Volunteering in Tanzania, Peru, and India. [14:40]
  • Where does Jason’s desire to travel so much come from? [20:00]
  • Are there any countries Jason doesn’t care to see? [21:40]
  • Motivation to continue traveling. [24:30]
  • How do you relate with friends and family back home after living such a different lifestyle? [25:10]
  • Feeling like a foreigner in the U.S. and South Korea. [28:00]
  • Being brought to a wedding in Kyrgyzstan while hitchhiking. [31:45]
  • Representing your country while abroad. [36:10]
  • How do you keep things fresh and remember each place after seeing so many countries? [38:40]
  • Budgeting and money for long-term backpacking. [41:25]
  • Similarities between all countries. [45:15]
  • What about other tourists and travelers grinds his gears? [47:00]
  • What country parties the hardest? [48:55]
  • Other countries Jason would want to work in and finding a career in something different from his university degree. [50:05]
  • Why do more people not do something similar? [52:40]
  • American culture versus other countries. Why are gap years not done as often among Americans? [56:15]
  • Impact of travel on Jason’s interests and habits. [1:00:05]
  • Challenges and annoyances of life on the road. [1:02:50]
  • Corruption and bribes. [1:05:35]

We have a lot of show notes this week…take a breather.

  • Go-to resources for research. [1:10:20]
  • Why is it important to get off the beaten path? [1:12:25]
  • How has traveling changed throughout Jason’s years of backpacking? [1:13:25]
  • Backpacking to the Mount Everest basecamp. [1:17:45]
  • Untraditional holidays and birthdays. [1:20:10]
  • Eating strange foods (from an American perspective). [1:23:00]
  • Going near the Syrian border. [1:25:10]
  • Has Jason seen any major changes in the United States since his last visit before Trump’s election? [1:29:50]
  • Volunteering opportunities. [1:32:10]
  • Doubts about traveling and backpacking so extensively. [1:33:50]
  • If Jason were handed a plane ticket to anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would he want to go? [1:36:00]
  • Appealing countries to live in. [1:36:50]
  • Learning different languages. [1:40:20]
  • Areas of the world that are still largely unexplored. [1:43:40]
  • Countries to move towards the top of your bucket list. [1:44:40]
  • Balance of depth versus range in backpacking. [1:46:05]
  • How do you develop meaningful relationships while backpacking? [1:50:00]
  • The small act of generosity that transformed his backpacking career. [1:52:20]
  • Being a “Yes Man,” pushing your limits, and staying with a tribe in the Amazon. [1:57:25]


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Featured Photos from Jason’s Backpacking Adventures

via Jason’s Facebook

backpacking train


backing through fields

backpacking huashan mountain

backpacking bolivia

backpacking with donkeys


From the suburbs of Chicago. Founder of Edge of Comfort. Currently exploring Asia. I don’t need a tuk-tuk or massage.

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