Jet Set Zero

From Podpedia
Jet Set Zero
Jet Set Zero
Hosted byLaurene Mainguy (FR)
Freddie Orozco (US)
Ryan Preciado (US)
Jenna Meister (US)
Courtney Scott (US)
Sarah Bailey (US)
Perrin Bailey (US)
Lynne Campbell (UK)
GenreVideo podcast
UpdatesFriday 10:00 am PDT
Video formatQuickTime, Flash
Original releaseSeptember 1, 2008 – present

Jet Set Zero is an HD streaming video and video podcast adventure-travel series that follows a team of people as they travel the world with a restricted budget.

In past and current seasons, the cast has lived in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Tokyo, Seoul, Istanbul, Quito, and Italy while traveling to other cities in their host countries.

The cast tells their stories through a mixture of weekly episodes, short clips, blog posts, and photo albums. The main episodes, released weekly, tell the primary struggles of the cast as they journey through these countries. The shorter clips or mini-episodes highlight other aspects of their lives abroad. The photo albums and blog posts offer supplementary material.

Synopsis[edit | edit source]

Rob Ward, Matt Chwierut and Dan Vandermark.

Jet Set Zero is “a jet set life on zero dollars.” The show aims to prove that the adventures of a jet set life are possible on any budget for anyone willing to take risks. In each country, the cast makes local friends and attempts to find full-time jobs to learn more about local living. The show films in each country for a maximum of 90 days.

In June 2007, the cast started with only 3 months rent in the Northgate suburb of Seattle. They worked low-wage jobs (averaging around $8.50/hour), and after three months of living on a budget, saved enough to fly to Vietnam. Once there, they obtained jobs and worked for 3 months to afford plane tickets to Japan. They continued this process for 9 months, eventually traveling to Korea and Turkey before handing the show to a new cast, which once again started in Vietnam before going on to Ecuador. In 2010 the producers added a second international cast with a mission to travel Italy.

As Lisa Montfort of the Calgary Herald put it, “These guys don’t aspire to be lavish high-flying tourists, and they live by a simple code: they must fund their trip through three months of work in the U.S. with jobs paying no more than $10 an hour; live like a local by experiencing a country through new friendships, local jobs and housing; and spend at least three months in one place — whether it’s a success or a failure.”[1]

Episodes[edit | edit source]

Season 1: Ho Chi Minh City[edit | edit source]

Episode Description
1 Arrival Jet Set Zero founders Matt, Rob, Brian, and Dan discuss their inspiration for the show, their goals and ambitions, and their desire to inspire others to travel and not be held back by life. The team packs up their lives in Seattle and flies to Vietnam.
2 Settling In As they adjust to life in a developing country, the cast tries to navigate the chaos in the city of Saigon. Feeling discouraged, they begin to second guess their choice of Saigon as a viable first location, as they encounter difficulties in finding jobs and housing.
3 Nha Trang After a stressful first couple of days in Vietnam, the cast decides to leave the city for a weekend trip to the countryside of Nha Trang. Trading in culture shock and jet lag for fun and relaxation, the cast takes an interesting ride on a night train, has a surprising experience at a seafood restaurant, and finds some peace on the beach.
4 English As A Second Language Continuing their job search, the cast discusses the politics behind teaching English in foreign countries. Matt struggles in teaching his class, while Brian, in contrast, teaches corporate students in a fancy office building. In order to get to their new jobs, the gang learns how to ride motorbikes.
5 Student-Teacher Relationships The Jet Set Zero team gets a chance to see traditional culture and village life as they travel with their ESL students to Buon Ma Thuot to attend a Vietnamese wedding. Learning to balance adventure with teaching, they ride elephants and learn how to dance and drink from the Vietnamese locals.
6 VietFriend Adventures Despite Rob’s fear of roller coasters, the cast visits Dai Nam amusement park. Before attempting the Vietnamese pastime of “grass skiing,” the cast goes to a zoo where they have a memorable experience attempting to ride ostriches.
7 Relationships Abroad The Jet Set Zero project takes its toll on the personal lives of cast members. Rob gets bad news from home and must deal with divorce. But meanwhile, life in Vietnam doesn’t stop.
8 Packing Up The cast reflects on their experience thus far, as they travel to Phu Quoc Island to continue search for adventure. Feeling as though he hasn’t fulfilled his personal Jet Set Zero dream, Dan decides to pack up and leave early.
9 Departure In the final episode of Season 1, the cast packs their bags and gets ready for something new. Rob returns home to the US to settle his divorce. Because of political instability in Bangkok, Matt and Brian find it difficult to get to Tokyo.

Season 2: Tokyo[edit | edit source]

Episode Description
1 Home Sweet Home Jet Set Zero’s three-month stay in a new city begins with Brian and Matt moving into a freezing guesthouse in Tokyo. Visiting Shibuya, the Times Square of Tokyo, they are pleased to find a more organized chaos than Saigon. However, they are forced to adjust to a more expensive lifestyle as they celebrate a decidedly lacking and non-Western Christmas.
2 Reunited As funds run low, their job search becomes more desperate. Rob rejoins the group and a new cast member, Jed, is introduced. The completed Tokyo cast celebrates New Years the Japanese way.
3 Things To Do in Tokyo When You're Broke Lacking money or jobs, the cast finds that “there’s always something hilarious going on in Tokyo” as they find free entertainment on the streets of the city. They realize poor timing, planning, and their lack of visas have resulted in their unsuccessful job search.
4 Electric Fish Town The cast visits the famous Tsukiji Fish Market and dine on breakfast at a sushi restaurant with a Japanese friend. They also visit Akihabara, home to everything J-POP, anime, and technology, and Jed spends his last night in Tokyo drinking and singing karaoke.
5 Turning Japanese Living on their “zero” budget, a new friend teaches the cast how to make their own sushi and how to do fire dancing. For Valentine’s Day, Rob and Brian conduct interviews about dating on the streets of Tokyo and travel to Enoshima (a.k.a. Valentine Island), feeling lonely and broke.
6 Working Hard at Being Poor Wondering if they’ve failed in Tokyo, Matt is forced to move out of the apartment and becomes homeless. Trying to get by on a cheap budget, he resorts to living in internet cafes, becoming a net cafe refugee.
7 Onwards and Upwards! The cast reflects on their failures and successes in their Tokyo experience. Now living very close to poverty with a good amount of credit card debt, they pack up and move to Seoul, Korea.

Season 3: Seoul[edit | edit source]

Episode Description
1 Always a Second Chance A new season begins in the diverse, and very confused, Seoul. Rob, Brian, and Matt begin new jobs teaching ESL and successfully find (tiny) housing in a goshiwon.
2 Starting Off on the Right Foot Did they drink too much makgeolli? The cast parties at a nightclub in Hyehwa-dong where Matt falls and dislocates his knee. They learn what it’s like to receive foreign medical treatment. Meanwhile, a new cast member, Nick, is introduced.

The crew's tapes were destroyed by authorities during the 2009 Seoul riots. Many episodes from the third season were never completed.

Season 4: Istanbul[edit | edit source]

The fourth season of Jet Set Zero was told through short clips and blog posts, in part because much of the show's equipment was damaged and/or confiscated by South Korean riot police the previous season.

Season 5: Ho Chi Minh City[edit | edit source]

Episode Description
1 I Never Thought I Would Travel An all-new all-female international cast – Jen and Kris are from Canada, Laurene is from France, Serene’s from the USA – arrive in Saigon. It’s hot, exhausting, full of crazy traffic – and they love it. Opting to stay in a hotel rather than rent an apartment, they must deal with a greedy landlord. Meanwhile, Jen spends time with fellow traveler Ben from Australia.
2 Will Work For Travel The cast begins their job search. Laurene lands a job at a daycare center, while Kris starts researching lessons plans for her ESL class. Desperate, Serene photoshops a fake degree in an effort to get a teaching job. Instead of job-hunting, Jen heads to Cambodia with Ben.
3 Delays The girls grapple with (not) finding love on the road. Jen says goodbye to Ben, as he heads back home to Sydney. Meanwhile, Serene sends a Vietnamese care package to her friend Hussein in Turkey while Kris haggles with the locals to get a good price on a motorbike.
4 Crazy Talk The cast learns about the traditional culture at a Buddhist “Naming of the Dead” ceremony. Finding it hard to meet local people, they later attend LorettoFest, a festival of music with special guest Ratatat. Jen considers leaving early to visit Ben in Australia.
5 No Better Place To Be After Jen buys her plane ticket to Australia, the cast decides they’d like to take a break from the city. They visit a senior center and learn to be grateful for what they have. For Christmas, Laurene spends time in the local village of Mui Ne, while the other girls relax at the beach.
6 End of the Road Laurene continues her solo travels, visiting Phan Rang and learning about Buddhism. After a New Year's Eve to remember, a fed-up Kris quits her job and prepares to leave Saigon for a month-long backpacking trip with Jen. Despite landing a tutoring job, Serene is out of money and leaves to fly home to Missouri.
7 Wouldn't Change A Thing Jen and Kris begin their travels outside of Saigon. Before leaving, Kris goes to the pharmacy to load up on cheap drugs. Laurene goes to an orphanage and visits with children with disabilities. Reflecting on their experience in Saigon, Kris announces she will be heading to Myanmar by herself and Laurene will continue on to Ecuador with Jet Set Zero.

Season 6: Quito[edit | edit source]

Episode Description
1 A Challenge Jet Set Zero’s sixth season begins on a whole new continent. Freddie and Laurene arrive in Quito, Ecuador and discuss their goals and philosophies. They begin searching for an apartment, learning to use newspapers rather than the internet. Later, they observe some traditional Ecuadorian dance and check out an amazing sunset from the top of a mountain.
2 Wanted: Job, Security The Quito cast is completed, as Ryan and Jenna arrive. Ryan goes skateboarding with the locals, while Freddie begins his job hunt. The cast learns some startling news about their neighborhood – namely, safety issues – but have a fun time celebrating Freddie’s 28th birthday anyway.
3 Easy Come, Easy Go The cast is enduring hardships while trying to enjoy Quito. Freddie gets a job teaching English but finds his class time to be unfulfilling. Also struggling with her job, Laurene has a disagreement with her boss and quits. Meanwhile, Jenna, dealing with maintaining her long distance relationship, finds work at a Vietnamese restaurant as a waitress. The only one not working – Ryan – says he has trouble being 100% happy in Quito, but he does love the abundant art culture.
4 Get Out of Town The cast decides it's time for some change. Freddie and Ryan head out of town and end up meeting a pair of British girls to share an adventure with, while Jenna and Laurene explore the city with new friend/guest cast member Amy Cao. Oh, and everyone quits their jobs.
5 Variety Packed The cast experiences the stunning beauty of Ecuador as well as their most challenging moments yet. Ryan reaches the end of his money while the rest of the cast takes a trip outside of the city with new friend Amy. Upon returning the cast discovers that Ryan isn't the only one with serious financial problems.
6 One Door Opens Are travelers more spiritually aware? The cast splits as they search for answers to some of life's most ancient questions. Jenna ventures into the jungles of Ecuador for a taste of hallucinogenic ayahuasca, while Freddie and Laurene embark on personal quests through some of Ecuador's beautiful Catholic churches. Ryan longs for that other great spiritual center: home.
7 Adios! As one journey ends, new stories begin. Freddie, Jenna, and Laurene take one of their last trips outside of Quito to Isla de la Plata and reflect on their time in Ecuador. Before scenic backdrops and intimate dinners the group reflects on all the trials of Quito, what they've come to love about their temporary home, and the Jet Set Zero lifestyle that they've embraced.

Season 7: Italy[edit | edit source]

Episode Description
1 New Country, New Friends A brand new Jet Set Zero cast sets out to explore the countryside of Italy, one stunning location at a time. Courtney and Lynne are the first to arrive in Bajardo and enjoy the ancient city before meeting up with Sarah and Perrin in San Remo. From here they get their introduction to their new jobs and life in Italy.
2 Week 2: Brescia As the girls finally meet up as a group they now set off to explore the local countryside and begin their jobs teaching with ACLE. Gorgeous vistas, delicious dinners, and farm life abound.

Season 8: Thailand[edit | edit source]

Episode Description
1 Bangkok Nights A new cast lands in Bangkok and begins their 90-day adventure. Jeremiah tries crickets. Tyler tries his hand at cooking street food. JP hijacks a tuk tuk. Evita has problems with Tyler, culminating in a tense dinner confrontation in which the two decide to take a trip together.
2 An Ayutthaya Apology Tyler and Evita work out their differences by traveling to the spiritual destination of Ayutthaya. With Tyler's help, Jeremiah forges a resume in an attempt to get a job as an English teacher. The job interview goes poorly. Tyler learns that he has less than $10 in his bank account, and the group decides to make a break for the city of Chiang Mai in the north.
3 What You Can Do In Chiang Mai Upon arriving in Chiang Mai, the group learns that the jobs and housing they were promised were bogus. Jeremiah and Tyler seek advice from professional traveler Rob Lloyd, who convinces Jeremiah to hustle in his job search. JP and Evita meet David, a strange Westerner living in Chiang Mai, who offers them advice and shows them around town. Jeremiah and Tyler travel to the legendary Cave Monk of Chiang Mai. Through David's help, the group finds jobs and housing, and celebrates by playing with real tigers.
4 The Road to Pai Awaiting release.
5 Dengue Decisions Awaiting release.

More episodes are being released.

Cast[edit | edit source]

Season 1

  • Brian Lio
  • Rob Ward
  • Matt Chwierut
  • Daniel Vandermark

Season 2

  • Brian Lio
  • Rob Ward
  • Matt Chwierut
  • Jedidiah Mitchell

Season 3

  • Brian Lio
  • Rob Ward
  • Matt Chwierut
  • Nick Amante

Season 5

  • Kris Olson
  • Jen Cheng
  • Serene Hayes
  • Laurene Mainguy

Season 6

  • Laurene Mainguy
  • Freddie Orozco
  • Jenna Meister
  • Ryan Preciado

Season 7

  • Lynne Campbell
  • Sarah Bailey
  • Perrin Bailey
  • Courtney Scott

Season 8

Press[edit | edit source]

Jet Set Zero was featured in the March 2010 issue of National Geographic Traveler, as well as the magazine Groove Korea. Jet Set Zero was also cited in Lonely Planet's guidebook to Korea, as a resource for those wanting to know what it's like to live and work in Korea.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Montfort, Lisa. "Jet-set adventures on a beer budget" The Calgary Herald. March 27, 2009: [1]. Retrieved April 4, 2008.

External links[edit | edit source]