Having traveled to so many places, how do you plan your next trip?
It really depends on how I plan on traveling--like if I plan to go alone, with friends or on a tour. Sometimes I find an online community of avid travelers and I will book trips with them. Traveling with others is great because it’s an opportunity to meet so many different people and share experiences with them.
If a trip is multiple weeks or a month I often book a flight to the first destination, and then book the rest of it with help from locals if I can. I like to book locally when because I know I’m supporting their small, local economy.
I most recently started a journey in the US where I travel strictly by van. Well, as much as I can stay in a van as possible.
There can be stigmas about traveling alone, especially as a grown woman. How have you handled that? Do you ever have fears when traveling by yourself?
Honestly, when I’m alone I get invited by locals to do more--and more interesting--things than I do when I’m with a group. Once while traveling the Silk Road, I got invited to someone's home for tea, and when in Armenia a family invited me to more than one meal at their home. Those are the kinds of experiences that make traveling so special.
When I travel by myself I try to not be by myself days on end. As an introvert naturally, I really try to meet people as best I can. Being aware is something I take seriously, but you also have to enjoy yourself. However, getting out of your comfort zone is important because you are in a foreign country, you have to adapt as best as possible. Communication is really key, even with language barriers. Hand language believe it or not, has gotten me very far in my travels.
What have you learned while traveling alone?
At home I can be isolated and keep to myself, but traveling taught me how to break out of my shell. Experiencing different cultures and places forces me to branch out. Otherwise my experience is really limited to my own observations and thoughts. Also, I’m moving around so much on these trips that I have really pared down my packing list. It really helps to have a good set of staple items for travel.
What is one piece of packing advice for travelers?
The one thing I do not travel without is technology. I know some people like to unplug when on vacation but technology is crucial. You never know when something will go wrong or you will need new directions. Second piece of advice would be to do thorough research on the places you are planning to go. Plan ahead of time, plan for issues, and plan for weather changes. You can never be too prepared for something of this caliber like traveling outside of a familiar place.
What do you plan to travel next?
Well, between September to November I’m hitting ten new countries. I am working my way towards Camino de Santiago, the walk from France to Spain. My current focus is getting in shape for that!