Since leaving the United States over 19 months ago to travel the world full time, I have had a chance to experience bucket list destinations like Machu Picchu, The Taj Mahal, and The Sistine Chapel. I’ve walked the streets of some of the most mind-blowing cities on the planet like Hong Kong, Cape Town, and Venice. And during the journey, there have been many ways to connect with the people of these 30+ countries, like partying in their streets during a festival, celebrating a wedding, or eating their unique cuisine (alpaca, goat head, and ostrich to name a few).
But one experience has stood out as a way for me to connect with the local men, bond in a shared ritual, and walk away feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. I am talking about my time spent in barber shops around the world.
If you would rather listen to our detailed podcast episode on WBSA, check out Podcast 33: World Barber Shop Adventures (Why, How, & What’s Next?).
I have set out to share my journey of barber shop experiences from salons along the side streets of Kerala, India to high-end lounges in wealthy Zurich. I will give insight on both the happenings in the barber shop and the cultural highlights of my journey. The viewer will see my bread trims, straight-edge neck shaves, unique facial treatments, nose hairs being pulled, and fire used to burn those pesky ear hairs. You will experience it with me in barber chairs around the globe.
This new Youtube docuseries has been appropriately named – World Barber Shop Adventures – and the first five adventures are available now: Doha, Qatar; Osaka, Japan; Tallinn, Estonia; Zurich, Switzerland; Krakow, Poland; and Bucharest, Romania. Subscribe to the YouTube Page Now.
Please continue reading below the launch video…
I am incredibly excited to share my journey as I believe it is a right of passage for boys/men all over the world to sit in the barber chair and enjoy the experience that comes with a good haircut or shave. It is a luxury, something we look forward to after a tough week or before a big date. The confidence you gain by looking your best, ready to conquer what the world has dealt up.
As Deion Sanders once famously said “If you look good, you feel good. If you feel good, you play good. If you play good, they pay good.”
I realize that longer beards are becoming more popular, and guys like Viktor Erik Jensen make it look easy to maintain and lengthen their epic facial hair but I prefer a shorter look, so beard trims and neck shaves are a big part of the treatment that I will share in the series. You’ll quickly begin to understand how different the processes are around the world. You will find the barbers own many of the same types of blades or razors, but they don’t necessarily use them the same way.
I’ve been going to barbers since I was a kid, growing up in a military family I rocked a high and tight until I got to the age where I wanted to choose my own style. When I was in high school in Milwaukee, I would find my way into the inner city to have P-da-Barber work on his newly formed passion as a 16-year-old cutting hair in his house. He is still creating masterpieces, but now in Houston, Texas.
While playing basketball in college, to save money, I had teammates cut my hair, like Marc Law who is now a clothing line entrepreneur. He would set up the chair in the dorm room, like a barber shop, and we would tell stories as he made my fade perfect.
Even though I have never attempted to become a barber myself, my passion for the business hasn’t stopped as I love understanding the in’s and out’s talking to pro’s back home like Eric and the fellas at Red’s Classic Barber Shop.
I love this stuff. I love the process. I love the experience. I love the brotherhood.
Fast forward to my current life of living out of a backpack and traveling the world full time, I’ve gotten my hair cut in over 20 countries now. It gives me a chance to hunt out a new adventure and discover new processes within the craft. It’s wild, these things I have seen along the way. Even though I missed the chance to document my experiences in places like Ecuador, Portugal, and South Africa, I look forward to sharing upcoming destinations.
World Barber Shop Adventures will begin with six full episodes to launch the docuseries and will add 2-3 new videos each month. My goals are as follows:
1 – Show travelers that stepping outside of your comfort zone and into a foreign barber shop can be a unique and exciting experience.
2 – Provide insight for barbers on other techniques and processes from around the world in case they want to implement the new discoveries into their shops.
3 – Share stories and insight into the cultures I am experiencing in the hopes that you will also want to discover these cities on your next adventure.
I am confident that the barber shop, and all of the positivity that comes with stepping into those four walls, is not making a comeback but, more like, reestablishing itself in the modern culture around the world. That rotating pole of red, white, and sometimes blue is an important welcome sign to chairs where we share stories of sports and finance, and attempt to understand women better.
In those walls, we learn about independence, resourcefulness, and self-reliance. We are taught to be confident, have self-worth, and what it means to be a gentleman.
Going to the barber shop is a tradition. Going to the barber shop is important.
Below I am sharing a few of the most memorable experiences in the chair so far. Enjoy.
Best experience of getting to a barber:
A great local guy, Nishad, that I befriended in Kochi, India, last October had great hair. So I did what you’re supposed to do, I asked him where he got it cut. He then told me he could take me to the shop – Morph – on his motorcycle. ‘Let’s roll!’
The proper way to clean up the Movember stache:
In support of the fantastic organization that raises money for men’s health awareness, Movember, I was rocking a beautiful mustache while in Da Nang, Vietnam and since it was December 1st, I needed to get it taken care of. The team at Ky Lee Barber Shop gave tremendous service in their high energy barber shop.
Best use of fire:
You will have a great look at this style of ear hair removal from Arizona Hair Cutting Salon in the Doha, Qatar episode. What an adventure!
Most unique location:
Galapagos Islands – 1,000km off the coast of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean, in the middle of nowhere. While in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island, I got a haircut with a local barber, an older gentleman who I awoke from his nap. It turned out well nonetheless. If you want to listen to us talk all about the Galapagos Islands check out Podcast 27: Galapagos Islands (One of Earth’s Most Unique Locations)
Memorable visit with a buddy:
I visited a friend while he spent the summer in Madrid, Spain last year. His hair needed attention so we ventured out to The Barbershop Vergara. Something about hanging in a barber shop with your buddy that makes it more special.
Best use of a single edge blade:
While in Antofagasta, Chile, my barber at Black and White VIP Peluqueria pulled out a single edge blade right out of the box to give me the perfect edge up. These guys were a lot of fun talking about the South American soccer teams.
Best wash up:
The team concept, where multiple barbers are helping with the process, was a lot of fun in both Hong Kong and Osaka, Japan. You have to see my reaction from plus-D Barbers during the episode in Osaka to understand how good it felt. The older gentleman in Hong Kong also realized how to dig in deep to give me a wonderful wash ending my visit in their classic shop.
I appreciate any support in subscribing to the Youtube series and if you want to hear me and my wife tell stories and share tips of our journey around the world, check out our podcast – Passport Joy Travel Talk.