One of my favourite travel sites launched an amazing project called Indie 30. The premise: each day they provide their readers with a travel-related prompt and invite them to respond however they wish. You’re free to blog, write, draw, dance, tweet or photograph any material that “answers” the prompt. I loved the idea, but didn’t think I would have the time (or imagination) to creatively respond to a daily prompt. Instead, I’m choosing to address them all (briefly…ish) in a blog post!
1. How has your view of the world changed because of travel? The world has become much more comprehensible since I began travelling. I feel like I have a lot more knowledge and context in conversation. At the same time, it’s opened my eyes to a lot of realities I didn’t know about which generates a lot of questions and confusion. I’m tempted to say the world has become smaller, because I know how possible it is to cover. But every trip I take leaves me dreaming of the next one, so my world view is always expanding.
2. When, where, what, and with who is the story of your travel origin? My first flight across the country would have been moving back to Toronto at 9 months old. My first international flight would’ve been to Disney World a few years later. I was fortunate to do quite a bit of travel as a child: cruises, Caribbean resorts, and even a friend-of-family trip to the Philippines and Korea. But I consider my “travel origin” to be my whirlwind 3-week solo Europe trip in the summer of 2012. It was born out of a sense of restlessness and a desire to really start seeing the world.
3. What is your travel style? I still struggle with this one. I think “budget comfort” might sort of sum it up. I can sleep in hostels, wear a backpack and eat street food for most meals. But I also really enjoy private rooms, rolling suitcases and fancy meals. I usually try to make sure any place I stay at fulfils the three Cs: cheap, clean and close (to major attractions). This usually means going for a mid-range hostel.
4. What is your favourite method of overland travel and why? Well, for long stretches, I really like trains. I find that I don’t get carsick and it is still a great way to travel relatively quickly and see the sights. Of course, for exploring a city, walking is best!
5. What else (besides travel) are you passionate about? Writing, social justice & equality, food, musical theatre, my relationships
6: What do you do to save money for long-term travel? So much of my travel experience has been extremely untraditional, so my first step to saving money is to try and find a way not to pay for it (e.g. win a trip to Australia!). But seriously, a lot of my trips have come out of awesome undiscovered opportunities. Other than that, I work while I attend uni and do part-time jobs over the summer. I try to stay pretty frugal while I am travelling, which (theoretically) should help me from hanging out in Europe with an empty wallet.
7: What kind of packer are you? A really good one! You don’t move houses over 20x in your life and not learn some pretty handy packing skills! But that confidence also means I’m an extremely last minute packer. For example, packing to move to Amsterdam for 5 months was done the night before and day of my flight. But, it worked! I also pride myself on being a pretty minimalist packer with an easy ability to throw out/donate/leave behind any item at the drop of a hat.
8: What’s the worst travel experience you’ve ever had? I think I might have mentally repressed the actual worst experience, because I am drawing a huge blank. I consider myself pretty lucky to never have been hurt or in imminent danger during my travels, though I have felt scared. Anytime travel plans go awry, I get a bit stressed. I remember missing my overnight bus from Madrid to Lisbon and feeling so helpless and lost at the bus station. None of the attendants were being helpful, everything was closed, no one spoke English, etc. But then something clicked and I realized that buses/trains/planes get missed all the time and it really isn’t the end of the world. I finally found someone who could re-book my ticket, and then I checked myself into the nearest hotel for a few hours of sleep. Problem solved!
9: What is the best experience you’ve ever had while traveling? Wow, I have had so many “best” experiences during my travels that I honestly can’t narrow it down to just one. Right now the first experiences that come to mind are my first solo 5 days in London, escaping to Cape Town during my summer in Swaziland and fireworks over the Opera House in Sydney.
10: What is the strangest food you’ve eaten during your travels? I’m pretty sure I sampled some guinea pig or something like that when I was in Peru. I may have tried something stranger, but again, I must have blocked it out!
11: Tell us about a time you did something, something you knew you probably shouldn’t do, while travelling. Hitch-hiking in Swaziland probably wasn’t my safest idea but the few times we did get lifts, the drivers ended up being much less sketchy than the kombi bus drivers we usually rode with!
12: Have you ever been helped by a total stranger when travelling? The kindness of strangers! I can wax poetic about this for days, but instead, will just point you to this post.
13: If you could wake up tomorrow knowing any one language (one you don’t already know), what would it be and why? I would absolutely love to be able to speak sign language. I think it is so beautiful and such a cool, unique way to communicate. My second choice would probably be Mandarin, since it’s so widely spoken and I don’t see myself picking it up any time soon, despite taking 2 years of it at UBC.
14: Write us a poem about a travel experience. I can’t write poems that don’t rhyme. And I can’t rhyme at 2am (the time I’m writing this).
15: If you could pick any country in Asia to go to, which one would you pick and why? Only 1? Well, I really want to do the traditional route through SE Asia, but couldn’t pick just one of those countries. I guess I would say Jordan, because I think it would be amazing to see Petra and get my first taste of the Middle East. Ooo or India! Can I please pick 2?
16: What city in Europe would you like to visit the most? I have the luxury of being in Europe at the moment so no city is too far off. However, I know I won’t be getting to Greece on this trip, so I would have to say a Greek city, like Athens or Santorini, would be my pick.
17: Roadside attractions, national parks, or big cities? What’s your favourite part of travelling in the USA? I actually haven’t travelled too extensively in the US (I assume these questions are aimed at Americans). But I would really love to do a US roadtrip and see all of the big sites: Vegas, Hoover Dam, Mt Rushmore, White House, etc. My favourite part would probably be exploring all of the cities.
18: What one thing, when you see photos of it, make you just want to just pack your bags and go? It really doesn’t take much for a photo to make me want to travel. But photos of Cinque Terre, Italy seem to do it every time.
19: Have you ever been to South America? What stands out? I have! I spent 3 weeks volunteering in Lima, Peru. I don’t think I’ve spent enough time on that continent to know what stands out but I would love to do an extended overland trip in South America at some point. I want to visit Chile and Brazil, see Machu Picchu and (if I’m lucky) set off from Argentina to get to Antarctica!
20: What part of Africa interests you the most? Right now I’m really interested in central Africa (Kenya, Rwanda, Congo, etc.) as well as some of the northern countries, like Egypt. I’ve only spent some time in Swaziland and South Africa, so have a lot more of that continent to discover as well!
21: Where do you most want to go in 2014? Well, I think most of my travel plans are set for the rest of 2014. My mom is flying across the pond in a few weeks and we’re planning to visit London, Amsterdam, a few spots in Germany and then the coast of Croatia and Montenegro. Once my term in Amsterdam is up, I’ll be flying to Japan for a 3 week job at a language camp. And then it’s back to Canada for a month in Toronto before finishing my degree back in Vancouver! There might be 1 or 2 US trips once I’m back in Canada, but I don’t imagine anything else coming up. I’ve gotta say, I’m pretty satisfied with the travel plans for 2014 as they stand right now.
22: Write a 24-hour guide to your hometown (where you grew up, or where you live now) for someone who has never been there. I’ll do Amsterdam, since that’s where I’m currently based. I would start my day picking up fresh fruit and other breakfast items at the Noordemarkt. From there, walk over to the (most likely long) que at the Anne Frank House. After touring the house, walk down the street for the most delicious Dutch pancakes! Once you’re full, take a scenic stroll along the canals, through the windy roads all the way down to Museumplein. Check out the I amsterdam letters and pop into the Van Gogh or Rijksmuseum if you have time. Walk a little farther to the Albert Cuypmarkt to pick up supplies for a picnic dinner in beautiful Vondel Park. After dinner, walk back into town and check out the bars around Dam Square before walking through the infamous Red Light District.
23: Tell us about the best road trip you’ve ever been on. I haven’t been on too many (hoping to change that) but the most memorable was definitely the time my dad & stepmom rented an RV for our family to drive out to Canada’s east coast. It’s my only time seeing that part of Canada and was quite an experience with 4 people (5, with our dog) sharing the same living and driving space.
24: Tell us a story set around the worst accommodations you’ve ever stayed in. The first one that comes to mind is my hostel in Nice back in 2012. I checked into a closet they were passing off as a 4-person room. There was no air-conditioning while it was 30 degrees outside and even hotter inside. There was a toilet with no door in our room and no place to lock luggage. The showers on the floor were out of order. Overall, it was just a mess! I decided to beg the adjoining hotel to help me out and ended up in a tiny, but air-conditioned, single hotel room.
25: Show us your photos! See rest of this blog and my facebook albums 🙂
26: What is your idea of the perfect trip? That changes with every trip I take! Usually, I want to be going somewhere that has a lot to do and see. I want to be able to walk around and have a big list of things to do, but the flexibility to veer from that list as needed. I want to be comfortable and have the time and head space to appreciate where I am and what I’m seeing. And the perfect trip would be shared with the perfect person: a friend, family member or myself, depending on the location!
27: Tell us about a time you celebrated a holiday abroad? Christmas is my big holiday (my x-mas playlist has over 400 songs) but, luckily, I’ve always gotten to celebrate it with all of my family in Toronto. My birthday, however, has often been celebrated elsewhere. In 2007, I celebrated my first birthday without my family in the Philippines. Last year I was at my internship in Mbabane, Swaziland (though we went to Cape Town for my birthday weekend). And this year, I plan to be in Tokyo when I turn 22!
28: What song amps you up for travel? I don’t have a specific song but I do like to make travel playlists for the plane/road to get me a little pumped up. I also love hearing songs that remind me of certain trips. For example, whenever this song comes up on iTunes, I am immediately brought back to car rides and parties with our host brother in Swaziland. I also have a few songs that always make me nostalgic for home: “Home”- Blake Shelton and “Leaving on a Jet Plane”.
29: Design the perfect hostel Well, the perfect hostel would be small (no more than 10 rooms), extremely clean and right in the centre of the city by good public transport. There wouldn’t be any bunkbeds, every room would have an en suite and the wifi would work really well. The complimentary breakfast would be delicious and, of course, this whole package would be really cheap! In Annecy, we actually talked about what our hostel would look like and I imagined mine would be musical-themed: each room would be in tribute to a different musical and there would be nightly musical movie viewings. Also, instead of a pub crawl, we would do a bakery-crawl sampling the best baked goods each morning.
30: What is the best piece of advice you have received while travelling? Oh, where to start! I live for
cheesy travel quotes! Some of my favourites are: “Adventure might hurt you, but monotony will kill you”, “Eat well, travel often”, “Collect moments, not things” and “Never stop wondering, never stop wandering.”