Soul Society 101: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us. Where are you from originally and where do you reside now?
Jeff: I am, originally, from Chicago – the south side to be specific. However, I’ve been living in Washington DC for the last 11 years. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long…
Soul Society 101: What are some of your favorite places to visit (restaurants, bars, lounges, sites) in your home town and your current town?
Jeff: Interestingly, I don’t know much about Chicago, as an adult. Because I went to college at 18 and only visit Chicago on special occasions, I’ve had limited exposure to Chicago’s nightlife and couldn’t name even one social spot that I’d call my “favorite.”
To complicate things, my parents moved to Atlanta when I was a junior in college, so I still don’t get to Chicago much because I visit them during the holidays. If I had to name my favorite Chicago spots, I would have to lean on my early experiences driving down, and hanging around, Lake Shore Drive, going to Harold’s Chicken, skating at “The Rink,” or going to “The Taste (of Chicago)” in Grant Park.
In DC, I’ve gone through nightlife stages where I’ve liked Love, The Park, and places like Lux Lounge. Now, I’d rather bowl at Lucky Strike in Chinatown, attend a friend’s game night, or watch the Bulls or Bears play at Bar Louie. As far as restaurants are concerned, I like Sequoia in Georgetown (not so much for the food, but for the waterside environment), and Ping Pong. And while I haven’t done it in a while, a night-time monument walk is always nice in the summer.
Soul Society 101: What inspired your interest in travel?
Jeff: It wasn’t until recently that I began to recall all the traveling I did with my parents when I was younger. My parents, both ministers, would always bring me along to church conferences across the country. There was something about being away from home, seeing something new, getting my bed made in hotel rooms, and having unfettered access to a hotel swimming pool that made me extremely excited about traveling.
I would say I had a resurgence of my travel interest in 2009 when I went to London with one of The MusicianShip’sco-founders. He is a professional musician and tours the world. I asked to tag along and he let me crash in his room. Prior to this trip, I had been to Canada, Bermuda, and the Bahamas. While I very much enjoyed those trips, I never felt like I was experiencing notably different people, cultures, food, or social mores.
My trip to London really opened my eyes. Part of what made this trip so fascinating was seeing constructs that were hundreds of years older than anything you’ll see in the United States. I really took to how they were dressed, how they spoke, and how passionate they were about their nationality. After this trip, I vowed to travel abroad at least once every other year. Since that trip to London, I’ve traveled abroad, not only once each year, but some times 2 or 3 times each year. This year, I’ll be aboard 4 times, not to mention the domestic travel I’m doing, just about, each month that I’m stateside.
Soul Society 101: Does your travel have to do with your career, or is it mostly personal?
Jeff: Yes and no. My travel is a mixture between personal and business, sometimes in the same trip. Nearly 6 years ago, while in law school, founded a nonprofit organization called The MusicianShip that facilitates music lessons, experiences, and opportunities for at-risk youth. Through my work with The MusicianShip, I’ve visited Europe 5 times. I go to a major music conference every year in Frankfurt for business because we have sponsors who attend the conference. While in Germany, I try to visit two other countries I haven’t been to for my personal exploration and enjoyment. In 2015, The MusicianShip will also send me to California, New York, South Carolina, Houston, and New Orleans.
Soul Society 101: What was the first stamp in your passport?
Jeff: My first passport stamp was from Canada as a child.
Soul Society 101: What are your top 3 travel experiences to date and what did you love about each of them?
Jeff: Australia is my favorite nature destination. It was my first time digesting God’s creation in a jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring way. The Great Ocean Road tour, featuring the Twelve Apostles made me say “Only God could have created something this beautiful.”
Rome is my favorite man-made city. It’s so old, historic, and impressive. There is, literally, something around every corner that makes you say “Are you serious? They really built this 200 years ago and its still in use?” Rome is where the heart is.
Australia and Rome are, unequivocally, my favorite two trips. There are a lot of close thirds. But, for some reason, Hawaii sticks out—maybe because I went sky-diving. The island of Kauai is also supposed to be the sixth most beautiful island in the world.
Soul Society 101: What's your dream location to visit within your lifetime? Or have you already been there?
Jeff: I don’t know if I have a dream location, but my goal is to visit every continent by 30. I’m visiting Africa for the first time in August. Somehow, I’ll need to squeeze in South America and, perhaps, Antarctica before April 27th of next year. There are actually cruises from South America to Antarctica. That’ll do. Haha!
Soul Society 101: If you could live a parallel life anywhere in the US or around the world, at the same time as your current life in your current city, where would it be and why?
Jeff: I really feel like I could live in Spain. It’s exciting, yet chill. It’s European, yet “ethnic.” I’d have to learn Spanish, but I think I’d enjoy that—especially because I’m somewhat familiar with the language. I could live in a lot of places, but I think I’d really enjoy Spain—specifically Barcelona or Madrid.
Soul Society 101: What has your biggest learning experience from traveling been?
Jeff: I think that traveling has made me more culturally sensitive and culturally aware. It’s easy to critique foreigner who come to the U.S., but when you travel you’re a foreigner. And although there are, at times, privileges that come with being American, it’s important to me that I don’t approach life abroad with an arrogant American lens. I try to embrace other nations, their culture, and their people with humility, openness, and eager inquisition.
Soul Society 101: What are some travel tips that you can share to help novice travelers create the best deals/experiences possible?
Jeff: I’m actually sharing some travel tips, for the first time, on my Instagram page (@JeffTrouble). If I could give three tips it would be to; 1)Take advantage of free lodging opportunities, 2) Create a professional life—be it your career, business venture(s), or combination in between—that allows you to travel, 3) Make traveling a priority.
Once you get to where you’re going, the experience will take care of itself if you’ve done some planning and work towards having a great time!