In this week’s ¨Who’s Out There Now¨ feature, we bring to you Angie, who I’ve known for a while from Twitter and finally had the chance to meet in Italy in April at the Travel Bloggers Unite Conference. She’s been all over the world hitting up almost all of the continents and blogging about it (with some pretty fab photos) at Angie Away.
1. So, where in the world are you answering these questions?
Luxurious Middleburg, Fla., home of my family, my stuff and little else. I’m taking a break from travel for the summer to catch up on blog writing, work on a book proposal and do some social media & PR consulting.
2. You’ve got real, positive energy both in real life and in your writing. Are you just always hopped up on caffeine or is there something about travel that brings it out of you?
Travel is definitely a part of my positive outlook. Quitting my PR job and giving myself space to think and write and be creative has helped me get back to who I was made to be – a sunnier, smilier, less stressed version of me. And thinking about how vast and beautiful the world is, and how blessed I am to see so much of it and how much opportunity I’ve been given puts me in a pretty good place most days.
Want to know my deep, dark secret? I can’t drink caffeine – it gives me panic attacks!
3. Kenya seemed to have made a real impact on you. I don’t know if it was the near plane crash or your volunteer experience. But, it seemed to stick out in my mind. Am I wrong or was there something special there?
It was such a wild experience! I stayed with a family in a Nairobi suburb, spent time with kids and their parents in a slum and yes, I survived a little aviation scare in the Masai Mara. It’s always confronting to come face to face with heartbreaking poverty, and I was just in the process brainstorming a way to help the slum families when I literally saw my life flash before my eyes on that tiny Cessna. It was a reminder that I don’t know how much time I have on earth, and my biggest regret would be getting to the end of my life with nothing to show but beautiful pictures and some good stories.
After the Kenya trip, I founded Adopt-a-Slum, an effort devised to help 30 families start their own businesses. Shockingly, it only takes about $100 per family to give them everything they need to get started, and the goal is to help 30 families. So far I’ve raised about $1,100 and I hope to get back there in the next couple of years to see how an investment that’s so small from a Western perspective can change the course of so many lives.
4. You’ve mixed up going to some more frequently visited countries like Spain to heading way off the path to places like Laos. Do you like the change or do you have a preference for one type of country over another?
I really don’t have a preference. Ultimately I want to go everywhere, so every dot on the map is fair game. As far as working from the road goes, I love the well-traveled path and its precious, speedy WiFi! But for the real down-and-dirty experiences and some of the best pictures, getting off the path is ideal.
5. I liked your Reflections From the Road section of your site. I read your first entry from 60 days in and your last from 16 months in to your trip. Knowing what you know now, would you travel differently in those initial countries (New Zealand, Australia, Fiji) you visited?
You know what they say, “If ‘ifs’ were ‘fifths,’ we’d all be drunk.” If I’d known then what I know now, I might have made a few changes. I have learned so much about myself in a year and a half, particularly about the pace and duration I like to travel. And I could have stretched my savings longer had I planned shorter 3-4 month adventures followed by concentrated 1-2 month working stints. It’s been a steep learning curve, and I marvel at how my perspective has evolved in such a short time.
6. Career break, nomadic adventure, backpacking, how do you characterize your trips?
What started as a career break has become a total lifestyle overhaul. I thought after a year of travel, I’d be ready to settle down and I’d figure out where exactly I wanted to do that… but now I’m happy to be a nomad for the foreseeable future. One thing I do know – I don’t want to be an office slave ever again! Even before I set out on this journey, I wouldn’t normally travel in just one category – backpacking, luxury, tours, solo – so I decided not to pigeonhole myself from a travel blogging perspective either. I love luxury hotels & spas. I loved staying with a family in Kenya because I learned heaps about their culture. I loved sleeping in a tent in Wadi Rum. I love traveling alone. I love traveling with my family. As long as there’s a story to tell, it doesn’t matter to me which bucket it comes from.
7. What are some of the secrets to travel that you’ve discovered that you think more people who aren’t traveling should know?
Most of time, safety comes down to personal responsibility. My family was terrified when I said I was going to travel around the world by myself. Up until the day I left, they were trying to convince me to stay until I could find a travel companion. I heard so many times that “the girl next door” shouldn’t travel the world alone. But guess what? The world just isn’t as scary as Nancy Grace would have you believe. If I can do it, anyone can. Also, traveling is not as expensive as people think! I spend far less in a year seeing the world than I ever did living in Manhattan. Folks think I have a trust fund or that I’m in the CIA – seriously, I get that a lot – but honestly it all comes down to choices. I choose travel. Some choose to own a home, or 180 pairs of shoes, or an SUV. But for me, it’s always going to be plane tickets.
8. What was your first ¨We’re not in Kansas anymore¨ moment on this trip?
About two days into my adventure, I was in Fiji on my very first tour of the island. I was the only person on the trip that day, so when my guide dropped me off for a hike to some mysterious waterfall, I was concerned about being in the rainforest alone with this one random village guy. It went against everything I ever saw on Nancy Grace! When we were about a mile in, well out of sight of the village, he whipped out a machete and I thought, “Mom was right. I’m lunch!” Turns out, he just wanted to chop up some fresh pineapple for us to snack on. I felt like a right idiot.
9. What’s been your most ¨local¨ experience so far?
So many come to mind! I definitely felt like a local in Mykonos. I stayed for three weeks and got to know just about everyone in town. In particular, I made friends at this one restaurant, Katerina’s, in Little Venice. I stumbled across it one afternoon and ended up sticking around like a little stray cat. The staff made me feel like I had a family waiting for me at dinner every night. It was really special.
When I was in Laos during the wet and wild new year celebrations they have in April, I went to a Chinese disco with three friends I’d met on my Stray Asia tour. On the way, some locals saw us walking down the street and invited us to drink homemade rice wine from a huge pot in their backyard. It was like the Laos version of a 4th of July BBQ in the South and we had a blast trying to understand one another. God only knows what was in that pot!
10. What has been your most embarrassing moment?
That’s the best part of being a solo traveler. If no one else saw it, it didn’t happen. If I had to confess something, it would be the time I flipped out because I thought the barista had cheated me. I’m not great with exchange rates and I’d just gone to the ATM where I thought I took out $100 in rupiah. Turns out, I took out $10. But I was furious thinking I was charged $40 for a latte. Once I figured it out, I was furious that I spent $5 in fees to take $10 from the ATM. Ugh, why am I telling the Internet this?! So embarrassing.
Oh gosh, and then there was the time I got a seaweed wrap at a spa and had to walk from the treatment room to the shower butt-naked, wrapped in stinky green mush and plastic wrap. Ok, I’m just going to stop now…
11. What’s your secret for getting the most out of your journey?
Write it down! I take detailed notes every day I travel, and not just of big events. Colors, textures, tastes and smells. People I meet & people I watch. I have 109 notes in my iPhone and counting… that way, when I read the notes from home, I am transported in my memory back to that place. It keeps the journey fresher longer. Like Tupperware.
12. Finally, our lightning round.
- Best dish you’ve found so far: Katerina’s Salmon Risotto – Mykonos
- Most exotic food eaten: Eel. Maybe kangaroo
- Most breathtaking moment: Sunrise on Mt. Sinai, Egypt, after an overnight hike up the mountain
- Biggest disappointment: Boys with accents. Thailand. Running with the Bulls
- Most memorable place: Greece, Laos, Egypt
- Most memorable person: Pam, my Dutch yoga-and-surf retreat buddy in Bali or Haytham, my guide in Egypt. And about 300 other amazing people
- Best thing to have on a long bus ride: My handmade baby blanket
- Worst thing to have on a long bus ride: A 65-year-old Turkish seatmate trying to convince you to become his 4th wife on a 12-hour overnight bus to Istanbul
- Best thing you packed: My Kindle w/ 3G
- Dumbest thing you packed: Travel mirror. It shattered before I got to my first stop
- Funniest travel habit you: I have to tidy hotel rooms before I check out
- Place you wish you could’ve stayed longer: Turkey. 10 days was not enough
Every week, Career Break Secrets profiles a different traveler or traveling couple who are embracing the ¨Because Life Is Out There TM¨ travel spirit. These are people who have taken the plunge to embark on a career break and are currently traveling the world.
Tags: Who´s Out There Now