David Kosloski: 00:10 Hello and welcome to the Peru Travel Podcast. I’m your host, Dave Kosloski alongside me is Kevin Groh. And today we’ve got a really cool episode because we’re actually interviewing Jen Ruiz and she’s gonna be telling us about Huayna Picchu, and her experience and then talk a little about what she’s got going on outside of the Peru travel space if you will. So Kevin, you feeling good buddy?Kevin Groh: 00:28 Feeling pretty good. Ready to go.David Kosloski: 00:30 Your beard is still looking delicious, man. You put flowers in there. I’m telling you got to come on the show one time with daisies in it. So, now that we’re going to be talking about Huayna Picchu again today and we’ve got Jen Ruiz on the phone. Jen, how are you doing?Jen Ruiz: 00:44 I’m doing well. How are you?David Kosloski: 00:46 We’re doing good in case you guys don’t know listening in. Jen has a killer Instagram page. It’s Jen on a Jetplane and her story is phenomenal. It’s hard to believe when you hear about travel bloggers they basically quit their job. They pack up their lives and they just hit the ground running and they travel. And it’s always like this crazy, how did they do it experience? And the good thing is that Jen actually wrote a book to explain this. Am I saying this correctly? And she has done, she’s a lawyer who quit being a lawyer and studying law. And she has done a Ted Talk. She’s been featured on Business Insider and Huffington Post published the book, The Affordable Flight Guide and it was a best seller on Amazon, which is those are some amazing accolades.Jen Ruiz: 01:29 Thank you. Yeah. I’ve been working hard.David Kosloski: 01:32 Yeah. So what was it like doing a Ted talk? Just curious.Jen Ruiz: 01:37 Really nerve-wracking. I had gotten accepted about two and a half, three months before I had to give the speech. So pretty much my whole life stalled while I worked on that stop. Just because it was just something that I knew I had to do well. And I had a really good opportunity to deliver a message in a strong way to a lot of people. So I had to really take it seriously. And so my whole life was put on hold. I would end up dreaming about the talk and forgetting my words on stage and all kinds of crazy things. But I’m happy to report that it went off without a hitch. It was really a wonderful event. It’s at Tedx Penn State University, Burke’s campus. So they were students that were really knowledgeable as to what they were doing. They had a really wonderful set and then you know, everything prepared to, you know, get you on video from four different camera angles and things like that. So they were just really, really sweet and well put together and it was a very non-intimidating space. So I’m, I’m glad I had that experience.David Kosloski: 02:35 Yeah, that’s great. And when you did that what was your message? Just curious.Jen Ruiz: 02:41 My talk was on the power of flying solo and why people should be able to travel as a kind of cure for what ails them.David Kosloski: 02:49 Man, that’s some deep stuff. That’s great. When you say that too like the travel solo part is this is a confession that’s a fear of mine. Like I’m scared to travel alone. Is that, what it was kind of about?Jen Ruiz: 03:04 So, yes, and actually men are less likely to travel alone than women for some reason. It’s just, they’ll wait for whatever, a friend to go with them, family members, whatever the case may be. But I think women have just a kind of… it’s fearful for everybody, but I think you have to kind of like have to show people that I can do it, you know, kind of like I want to show everybody and prove everybody wrong and prove that I’m capable of this. Whereas I think generally think men can really do whatever they’d like to do. You guys have it good.David Kosloski: 03:36 We give off a good surface facade. Yeah, we can do whatever we want. Not really.Kevin Groh: 03:42 Actually that you say that. I went to Vietnam a couple of years ago and most of the people that I met that were traveling solo were female.Jen Ruiz: 03:54 It’s really caught on and it’s a good way I think for people to discover new places. Get out of their own bubbles, get some perspective on their own problems. And just give you a whole new view on life. So I think travel really can be transformative and I’m glad that so many women are venturing out to do it by themselves now.David Kosloski: 04:12 Yeah, no, that’s great. That’s super cool. Impressed. Very, very impressed. And then your book, The Affordable Flight Guide. What’s that about?Jen Ruiz: 04:21 When I was doing my challenge, I had at 12 trips in 12 months challenge before my 30th birthday. While I was practicing law full time for legal aid in Florida. And I was working at a nonprofit, so I was not making enough to fund 12 extravagant trips around the world. And I realized that a lot of the expenses for travel were associated with just the flight to get there, especially at some of these more far away places. So I started just learning everything I could about budget travel, finding cheap flights, travel hacking, flight alerts, mistake fares like you name it. I was doing my research nonstop and I managed to find some really good flight deals, like a $16 flight to Ecuador, a $30 flight to New Zealand.David Kosloski: 05:05 Wait? What? Please elaborate on how someone finds that.Jen Ruiz: 05:10 So there’s three main ways that I think people should start going about saving money. The first is by signing up for flight alerts. So flight alerts are a whole new business model that have really emerged and taken off in the last couple of years where the whole point of the flight alert programs is that they try to get somebody that’s constantly searching the internet for different, either sale, price drops, mistakes fares, whatever the case may be. But there’s something that drops. They want to be the first people to let you know. And there’s so many flight alert programs right now that are competing with each other, but I’m personally a fan of Scott’s Cheap Flights. I use them. He’s been out for a while and he’s pretty thorough and I’m on his premium lists so I get a lot of deals that way.Jen Ruiz: 05:53 So that’s the first step for people that are just starting out. So you can see what kind of deals are available, how frequently they come up and just get them kind of delivered to you versus you having to search or them. The second strategy that I would use is I would fly with budget airlines. So I found a ticket to the $99 flights to Iceland on Wow Air. You know, I landed one of those and that was my first time in Iceland. And so there’s always different catches associated with budget airlines, but for the most part, if you travel light, you can really save money going that route. And then the last route is by getting credit cards and miles and points and learning how to use them to redeem free award travel.David Kosloski: 06:31 Yeah, definitely. So the points guy type of thing. Yeah. That’s awesome.Kevin Groh: 06:35 I’m hearing that a $99 Iceland trip and kinda wishing we had that one.David Kosloski: 06:40 Yeah. We had a flight booked to Iceland. We’re going in March actually, and we’ve got 14 guys going, it’s going to be insane. It was supposed to be a bachelor party. However, the guy getting married unfortunately is no longer getting married. So we’re all going in as a group, for just friends. It’s nuts because we had a Wow flight but they actually ended up booking or excuse me, canceling the flight. So we had to book a different airline last second. So it’s kind of frustrating.Jen Ruiz: 07:08 Oh no, I’m sorry to hear that.David Kosloski: 07:11 It happens. It’s okay. You roll with the punches.Jen Ruiz: 07:14 The good news is having 14 guys in Iceland, it’s so expensive. But with having 14 guys, you should be able to find some really good accommodations cause you’re splitting it 14 ways.David Kosloski: 07:22 Right, right. Yeah. No, it should be a fun time. We’re all really excited. So let’s talk about life outside of the book right now and then we’re going to jump into Huayna Picchu. I promise we’re going to get to the Peru stuff. You just went to Bali, is that correct? Yeah, man. What’s that like?Jen Ruiz: 07:38 It’s very hot.Jen Ruiz: 07:43 It is warm. I mean, you step outside and you’re sweating within a couple of seconds.David Kosloski: 07:48 Like high humidity or?Jen Ruiz: 07:50 Yeah, high humidity, just heavy sunlight. It’s an island, a lot of volcanic action. So it just kind of has a heavier feel to it when you’re on it. I can’t explain it. But it’s a lot and I think people, it takes a little bit to get acclimated to it. So I was glad to see you when I went, and I met some other people that were visiting that they kind of had similar symptoms. Like wow, I walked outside an hour and I feel beat kind of thing. It was really wonderful. It was, it’s a very safe place. So for people who are traveling solo, it was a great place to go. You know, the crime rate there.Jen Ruiz: 08:26 I did a question to Alexa before I left, just comparing the crime rate of Baltimore where I went to law school and, Indonesia. It was like a half a person gets murdered in Indonesia, like versus like the hundreds in Baltimore, you know. So it was clearly an upgrade safety wise. It’s very affordable. I was in a homestay that had wifi that I could work remotely because I also teach English online. Could do that through the Wifi there in the room. I had my own on suite bathroom and it was all for $14 a night. So I mean three weeks there and I spent maybe like $300 on my accommodations approximately. It was great and they had so many like wonderful handcrafted items. I got this beautiful pair of silver earrings there that were handcrafted silver and Bali’s known for its silver. And I like splurged on that and I paid like $35 for that pair of earrings.David Kosloski: 09:22 Wow. Holy smokes. Wow. That’s amazing. That’s super cool.Jen Ruiz: 09:30 Yeah, it’s a wonderful place and I recommend it for people who want to have an affordable getaway, want to be somewhere with tropical weather and wanting to be kind of easy because the people in Bali are very kind in a very open to tourism and they go out of their way to help you. I mean, you have to haggle. That’s kind of the way it is anywhere in Asia. And I hate that because I’m the worst that haggling for prices. Like the worst. but other than that, it’s a very welcoming place. They speak English pretty broadly there and you can get around easily and there’s a lot of the other tourists. It’s actually kind of getting so heavily saturated now, after Eat, Pray Love blue with places that she went to on her year-long mission in Eat, Pray, Love. So it’s filled with people trying to recreate that experience for themselves. But there’s still a lot of genuine experiences to be had on the island and me for the travelers.David Kosloski: 10:20 That’s awesome. What is the name of the buildings in Bali that just like are stacked? Like I’m looking at some photos here and there’s like almost like they look like temples of some sort.Jen Ruiz: 10:33 They would be temples and pagodas at the temples.David Kosloski: 10:36 Yeah, it looks sweet. Beautiful. It was like one in the middle of like the water it looks like.Jen Ruiz: 10:41 Yeah, that’s commonly referred to as The Floating Temple. But actually, I went there with a photo tour of Northern Bali, so it was up in the northern area of Bali in the mountains. And it’s beautiful. I think it’s on the second largest lake on the island so people can actually go and canoe or row there around the lake and it’s a very serene place. I know which one you’re talking about. I’m not even going to try to pronounce the name cuz I’ll butcher it, but we’ll just suffice it to say The Floating Temple. But yes, it’s a very scenic place.David Kosloski: 11:09 Yeah. And then the water looks amazing. Like there’s like some bungalow photos. It looks like an incredible place. Definitely on the list. So sweet. Now you have faced the endeavor of climbing Huayna Picchu. And I’ve never done that. Kevin’s never done it. And I think the question that we’re always wondering is how hard is it? How difficult is this hike?Jen Ruiz: 11:33 I’m so glad that I didn’t properly research this before going up on my trip, because I might’ve chickened out. And I’ve seen so many videos now with like the Stairs of Death and all kinds of stuff. And so I just kind of ignorantly blissfully just walked on in thinking like, oh, like it’s really weird that they asked me to sign a guestbook. And they’re like, no, you have to sign it on your way in and on your way out. And I was like, what do you mean? They’re like, so if you don’t come out, we know. I didn’t realize that was a possibility. I thought I was going to come out from this night. I’m reconsidering, but not at this point. There’s a line of people behind me. So that’s at the main check-in point when you’re already inside the ruins inside the Machu Picchu site and you’re about to start the trek.Jen Ruiz: 12:28 So that’s where you sign the book and you get ready to go. And I had gone up, I took the short route, so I had only gone through, I had only gone overnight to Aguas Calientes, and then I woke up early in the morning to go and do this hike. And I took the shuttle up from Aguas Calientes up to Machu Picchu the first one I could. Because they say that the shuttle starts like around 6:00 AM or right around sunrise, but people are lining up already by 4:00 AM. It’s insane. It’s like the worst Disney line you’ve ever seen on steroids to take that shuttle bus. But, thankfully they have like shuttle buses that are just ready to go once they do start running. So one after the other, they’ll start from another. So then it moves pretty quickly at that point. So I was able to get in right before the sunrise shot, around that time. And it was so foggy that I remember thinking, I’ve come all this way. I expect to kind of walk through the gates and be confronted with this majestic, shot of the sunrise over Machu Picchu. And I was like, all I see is fog. Something’s gone horribly wrong.David Kosloski: 13:25 Welcome to Machu Picchu right?Jen Ruiz: 13:33 And so, I was really disappointed. And then that’s when I decided to just go straight into the hike instead of-of waiting for this magical experience. And then I got confronted with having to sign my name in the book and potentially risking my life and that’s when it hit me. This may be more serious than I anticipated. I had just gone in regular hiking shoes, like workout shoes, like sneakers. Not even my hiking boots that now I have proper hiking boots after having done some of these harder trails. I think what it is, it’s the elevation. And so it’s not even so much that it’s a strenuous trail. I mean, it is, and you have to kind of, at some point you’re climbing completely like if you were climbing a ladder of stairs, so to speak.Jen Ruiz: 14:15 But for the most part it’s just a steady incline up and so it hurts a lot with your thighs. You’re already kind of short for air and gasping for air. And I was so desperate on that hike that I was trying anything to just feel like I wasn’t out of breath. So there were people that had the coca leaves. And in my mind, I reasoned it, like there’s people that dip tobacco and they like put it on there, they chew it and put it underneath their lip to hope that it reaches their bloodstream quicker. Right? So, I’m going to do this with the coca leaf, pray to God. So I have these chewed up coca leaves now underneath my lip.Jen Ruiz: 14:56 Like I thought I would I know anything about this at all. But I’m just so desperate, you know, to get like any kind of oxygen because I was so out of breath. And as I’m sitting there with leaves coming out from my bottom lip, there’s this little kid, he’s a tourist coming from somewhere in Asia just comes and he skips on by with like one Mickey Mouse hand. Like a tiny Michael Jackson. Breezes right past me, you know, without any issues whatsoever. I’m sitting here looking rough for you know the wear. And that little kid actually really did motivate me and keep me going a lot of times because every time I would kind of collapse and just be like, “he, would just, you know, skip on by like, oh, is this hard for you? Oh, that’s so unfortunate.” So he actually was a good motivator. I think maybe I needed that to help push me up the mountain. And then when I did get up there, I had this wonderful moment where finally the fog cleared and I finally saw the ruins and I saw them from above, which was just amazing and way better than anything I could’ve imagined. So that was a great experience.Kevin Groh: 16:07 Now, I’m curious, you said that it was pretty steep, was there any point where you were kind of going on all fours or anything like that?Jen Ruiz: 16:13 Yeah, towards the end.David Kosloski: 16:15 And what was it like going down then?Jen Ruiz: 16:18 So you don’t go down the same path. You just kind of like continue walking down the path that you walked up on and it takes you kind of around and down the other side of the mountain. So, I mean at some point some of the paths overlap. But for the most part, you have a little bit of an area where you kind of clear away. And then yes, once they kind of converges again you might see it. Cause I was in the first group so there were points where I did have people that were crossing back that were coming in the second group. And as I was going down we were on the same trail. So thankfully it’s not really a narrow trail.Jen Ruiz: 16:52 Most of the parts you have some pretty good walking space where you can fit two or more people easily with ample room and shoulder on the sides. Towards the very end on your way up, it gets to be pretty much vertical. The stairs are very interesting. I just didn’t see those Stairs of Death, thankfully. I think they’re just around maybe another side. And I was so busy, you know, the fog, I think that did a really good job of clearing up how high I actually was.David Kosloski: 17:18 How wrecked were you after? How awful did it hurt the next day? Were you pretty wrecked?Jen Ruiz: 17:22 Pretty bad. And so I had gotten there around 6:00 AM I got in there. So by 1:00 PM I wanted to stay longer. I really did. And I was just, “nope, can’t do it. I need food and a bed right now.”David Kosloski: 17:37 Wow. What did you do when you were up there exactly?Jen Ruiz: 17:40 I hung out. So when I got up there, there were a lot of rocks jutting up and out. And so people kind of took their perch on a rock and tried to claim that rock. And so at first, you got to find a good rock.David Kosloski: 18:03 That’s a nice boulder. That’s like some donkey stuff from Shrek.Jen Ruiz: 18:07 Exactly. And then, maybe if you have your eye on another rock, you want to be nice to that person. And then ask that person to maybe let you take a picture there. So I spent some time working my way over across some of the rocks to this one prime rock. And then kind of waiting it out and then asking to take a picture there. Which is, which is really great as well. But you gotta get your camera to somebody who’s on another rock.David Kosloski: 18:31 That’s a lot of rocks.Kevin Groh: 18:32 It’s kind of like Charlie, That rock right there. That’s the one I want.Jen Ruiz: 18:38 And you don’t want to drop things around there either because you’re pretty high up. So you just don’t want to have to go searching for anything there. So once you get up to the top, people are really taking their time. Nobody’s trying to rush you on your way out. There was a guide or some, some kind of official person in some capacity when I got up there, that was kind of just kind of overseeing the whole experience. And he had been walking up there when I was walking up there too. And they will keep telling you, “you’re so close.” You’re not close. I hate when people do that because it’s so deceptive. And you’re, “I’ve been walking for like an hour. Like how close is close?” There’s somebody up there I think to just the monitor the situation and you can take your time and make your way back down carefully. Just being aware that if you go on the first group you will have to probably cross paths with the second group that’s coming up.Kevin Groh: 19:23 When you came back down, did you get down to see the Temple of the Moon?Jen Ruiz: 19:29 So I went down and I got kind of a ruins tour of the ruins that were right there immediately around the area. So this was back when you could still walk in and around the site. So somebody just came and they did kind of a quick hour and a half tour of this particular building. We used it for this particular purpose, but I didn’t go to the Sun Gate. That was too far of a hike. That’s another two hours. And so I don’t remember if I saw the Moon Temple specifically, but I honestly at that point I saw some ruins.David Kosloski: 20:01 You’re probably drained so much. You’re like, “I don’t even care. I just want to go home. Give me a Margarita.”Jen Ruiz: 20:09 Yeah a Pisco Sour in that case.David Kosloski: 20:10 Pisco Sour. Yeah. And I’ve got two more on this. So was it worth it?Jen Ruiz: 20:18 Yeah, I would do that hike again. That was a beautiful hike. And when the fog cleared, that’s to date one of my favorite views. I don’t think you get a view like that very often. It’s just magical. I’ve taken a lot of pictures now, and it’s one of the pictures I still love. And it’s me with my hair off for the hot mess and it’s still a picture that I’m so proud of and I really enjoy showing to people.David Kosloski: 20:46 That part right there statement. I mean, I just got a few goosebumps. But yeah, I mean I think when people like take a lot of photos, you know, it’s easy to take a photo in front of the Eiffel Tower. You take a little bus, take a taxi, whatever, you can step in front of it. But when you get to do something like that where you get to, you have to kind of like put some sweat into it, put some muscle work into it, and you get to take that photo. It just means so much more because there’s a story behind it. Do you know what I mean? Like everyone’s seen these like simple photos of the cool beach that you’re on, but those ones that take work and have this big journey behind it of, yeah, I had to hike up this mountain to get here and then I found this rock and now it was a nice rock and I sat there and then had to find another, got another rock.David Kosloski: 21:22 I mean just the story in itself. Clearly, that photo has a lot of memories attached to it. I think that’s really awesome. So one thing that we always recommend is and, and it’s obviously different from everybody. We recommend that you do two days in Machu Picchu if you’re gonna do Huayna Picchu the reason is just kind of just being there, be able to relax the day you get in. Go see Machu Picchu, but then the second day, do Huayna Picchu if you wanted to. What do you think? Do you think that’s recommended on your end? If you did it again, would you do two different days or would you to do it all the same day and just kind of tough it out?Jen Ruiz: 21:58 No, I agree with you completely. I had to do it kind of all the same day and tough it out because at the time I had my limited work schedule and I was trying to be back, you know, within a certain point. But if I could do it again, I would definitely spend one day just exploring. Maybe even hiking to the Sun Gate. Really getting to see the ruins for what they are. And then the other day to do Huayna Picchu because it does, Huayna Picchu just drains you. And after you’re like, I’ve already like seen Machu Picchu from the best angle. It’s a lot.David Kosloski: 22:29 I got to ask because I’m hearing the way you say these words, do you speak Spanish?Jen Ruiz: 22:33 I do.David Kosloski: 22:34 I knew it, man. There you go. I was like, man, she’s saying things way better than I can ever think to say them. I need to brush up on some Spanish. That’s awesome. That’s super cool. I mean, do you think, are you in the running to go back to Peru sometime soon?Jen Ruiz: 22:47 I would love to. I had a great time in Peru. To date the Alpaca socks that I bought there are still my favorite souvenirs of all the time. They actually served me really well in Iceland. Of all places, you know, everybody else is like, my toes are frozen. And I was like, I have these bomb alpaca socks from Peru. And actually my feet are sweating and they’re amazing socks. They’re like $9 there versus, the $60, you’ll pay for them and the US. So they’re wonderful, so great. Really amazing souvenirs and local culture there that you can support. I loved when I was in Cusco, I went to the planetarium there that I thought was phenomenal and we got to see planets and just really learned a lot about the stars on the Southern Hemisphere. So I learned that there’s all kinds of different constellations that I’d never known of before; just with my own little constellations on this part of the world and in North America. So it was good to see that contrast. Then there’s just so many natural wonders in Peru that I think is really underestimated.David Kosloski: 23:46 Yeah. There’s so many. We, it’s completely even untapped in terms of what we even offer compared to what Peru has. So basically to recap everything you recommend it. It’s worth it. Do it in two days. It’s very difficult, very strenuous. You’re going to want probably do it on the second day and then just relax afterward. What else do you thinking Kev?Kevin Groh: 24:04 I just kind of want to touch on something that you had mentioned. It is kind of like Disneyland and you kind of showed up. You know, with the regulations of how many tickets they allow and how popular it is. Were you able to get tickets when you were there? Did you get them ahead of time?Jen Ruiz: 24:21 So I didn’t sign up far enough ahead of time to get them through the regular booking site just as a regular person. So I had to go with an actual tour provider that sold me kind of like a do it yourself option. So they gave me all the tickets, set up the trains for me and I just went and did it myself. So I landed in Cusco and then somebody met me up there, gave me everything I needed to get on the train from Cusco to Aguas Calientes and then from there they had already arranged the shuttle in advance for me. So I had my shuttle ticket, I just had to get in line and that was pretty convenient. And I think a good middle price point. Obviously, I’m always a big fan of budget travel. So if I can book something directly, I will book it directly through the ticket booking website. But it just wasn’t a possibility for me at that time. So that’s why I had gone with that other option and I had chosen to do Huayna Picchu as an add on with them. But you can do it yourself and make the reservations yourself and obviously, it’s the preferred way to go to save the most money.David Kosloski: 25:19 Yeah, definitely. Right. All right. So it sounds like that’s a good cap on, Huayna Picchu and definitely recommend it, which is good. We’re going to have to add it to the list next time we go. Let’s talk about what you got going on outside of the Peru scope now. So your book’s out. What else do you got going on?Jen Ruiz: 25:38 So that was my first book that did really well. My second book did well as well, actually cracked the top 150 on Amazon’s free list when I did the free promotion. So I was very excited about that. It’s called You Need a Vacation: How to Travel with a Fulltime Job. And now I’m working on my third book it’s kind of nonfiction, how to series to help people get over the common excuses that they use not to travel. And the last one’s on Solo Female Travel specifically. It’s going to be called the solo female travel guide and it’ll be out in March.David Kosloski: 26:07 Awesome. That’s super cool. Well, thank you. I mean it sounds like you have a lot of great stuff going on. We can’t wait to see and hear as you keep exploring and kind of keep up with you. Obviously were following the Instagram Jen and a Jet Plane. Make sure you guys check it out. She’s also got a great blog, jenonajetplane.com believe it or not. It’s the same exact title if you will, of Instagram. And it sounds like there’s a lot of good books coming out too. It’s super exciting to see what you’re doing in the fact that you were one of the few who’s been able to just kind of be like, you know what? I’m making it happen. I’m making it work. I’m quitting the job. I’m going to go travel the world and I see a lot of really cool sites and make great memories and have experienced. So kudos to you.Jen Ruiz: 26:47 Thank you. It’s been a big life change, but it’s been completely worth it. And I encourage people to just try to travel, even if they can’t make that giant leap to even try to fit in travel a little bit in their own lives, even if they have to do Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu all in one day. Like I did that when I was working full time and it’s always worth it. It’s always worth it.David Kosloski: 27:07 Agreed. Agreed. Well, thanks so much, Jen. We really appreciate you. Again, this is David Kosloski my man Kevin Groh. Jen on a Jet Plane, check her out. This is the Peru Travel Podcast. Happy travels guys.