“Have Bag – Will Travel: Adventures in International Living, Self-Discovery, and a Life of Meaning”

Book Release: Have Bag - Will Travel
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SUMMER 2021 

James Cameron Mielke 



Have Bag – Will Travel” is a compelling memoir detailing international living, self-discovery, and adventure, and is available for immediate release on Amazon’s e-book marketplace. A coming-of-age story, young James spends his days ill at ease with American life and is at the mercy of an at-times grueling digestive disorder. At the age of 19, James received an ileostomy, and life after recovery felt as thrilling as being shot from a cannon.

This exhilarating tale presents vivid descriptions of exotic far-off lands, unique and meaningful international work experiences, the growth of goals and aspirations, and a rare mix of people along the way. Packed with pithy narratives of overseas adventures, the thrills, humor, and heartaches, some romance, and stunningly beautiful natural scenes – these stories give some glimpses into an evolving insight of a young man moving through the seasons of his life.

Many young people are eager for an overseas experience, and are searching for direction, but for various reasons, never get there. In a world of increasing global interdependence, the lasting benefits of international travel and cross-cultural service experiences are truly priceless.   

James first learned about YMCA overseas volunteer opportunities when he was a college student working a summer job at Silver Bay YMCA on Lake George, New York. After graduating in 1982, he was soon off to Sri Lanka for a six-week internship with the Colombo YMCA, where he led outdoor recreation and life skills programs for disadvantaged youth. He ended up staying for six months. 

After Sri Lanka, James was hooked on the thrill of international living. For the next eight years, he worked with voluntary organizations in developing countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region. In general, nothing was planned — there was no grand strategy, no burning ambition, no life-long dream or goal to achieve, only a keen desire to continue living this incredibly fulfilling lifestyle out in the world.

That was about 40 years ago, and the lure of continued fun, adventure, personal growth, and meaningful work as a humanitarian aid worker has taken James to over 20 developing countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Except for six years of graduate studies in Hawaii, where he completed Master’s and Doctoral degrees in Public Health, he has been overseas ever since. 

Have Bag – Will Travel” is the first book in the “Adventures in International Living” series. Drawing on over 45 years of personal journal entries, the series chronicles some of his experiences living and working in developing countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region, as well as low-cost adventure travel to exotic destinations on every continent except Antarctica.  

10% of proceeds from book purchases will be donated to charitable organizations in the developing world.   


It will stoke the fires of adventure, especially among young people – It will inspire and encourage those seeking something beyond their national borders, beyond the mainstream tourist destinations, superficial material lifestyles and empty career paths. The discovery early in life of the deeper meaning and potential derived from international and cross-cultural perspectives might even save 30 years of meaningless work later.   

It will resonate with anyone who has desired to travel and live overseas – the stories demonstrate how anyone can experience genuine fulfillment and self-discovery through different, freer ways of living, no matter what your budget.  

It reveals that you grow when you give back – Giving back to the world in return for all that has been given, and expanding one’s horizons through travel, leads to immense personal growth.  

It demonstrates perseverance with a positive mindset – After years of suffering with Inflammatory Bowel Disease, receiving an ileostomy was the best thing that happened to James. It gave him back his health, his freedom – and 45 years on, life keeps getting better all the time.  This story encourages readers to be accepting, flexible and to learn to roll with the flow. Bumped off the track? The next adventure is about to begin! Find the silver lining that transforms negatives into positives, and new doors open. 

About the Author


James Cameron Mielke is originally from Buffalo, New York, and grew up as a pastor’s son. At age 19 he was fitted with an external pouch, following years of pain, depression and suffering with Crohn’s disease. The pain and misery were gone. Almost immediately after receiving the ‘bag,’ he felt strong and exhilarated and was catapulted into a whole new energized life. For the first time in years, he was free to enjoy all that life offers and that freedom continues now, 45 years later.  

Over the years, James has spoken to college students, members of voluntary organizations and other interested groups about world service work and other options for international experiences – just as someone spoke to him 45 years ago, when he was a summer employee at the YMCA.   

James has lived and worked in over 20 countries of the Asia-Pacific region. In that time, he completed his master’s and doctoral degrees in public health at the University of Hawaii. This was funded by a State of Hawaii academic award and a US Government grant administered by the East-West Center research institute in Honolulu, whose mission is to “promote better relations and understanding among the people and nations of the United States, Asia, and the Pacific through cooperative study, research, and dialogue.”  

James Mielke is an experienced expat, and also enjoys adventure travel. He has been to more than 60 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe, North and South America and the Pacific. James currently works as an international health and development consultant for various humanitarian aid agencies. He is also an internationally certified classical yoga and meditation teacher and teaches both as a seasonal volunteer at YMCAs in the USA and abroad. Having  survived  these adventures,  James still travels, and lives in a peaceful seaside setting on Phuket island in southern Thailand. 

Have Bag ‒ Will TravelReview 

“Jim’s memoir clearly illustrates the power of the human spirit. The book is a rich mixture of travel, adventure, personal growth and cultural exchange. In a tumultuous era this is a guidebook to the soul. The author compels us not only to “know ourselves” in a spiritual way but to make friends and have some fun in the process. Jim is both a practical guy who rolls with life’s punches while remaining an inveterate optimist. It’s a must read for anyone with an interest in Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

Rob Kay, Lonely Planet author, creator of FijiGuide.com and recipient of Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Award




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