What inspires you to travel?
I am inspired by how much there is to see in the world! I’ve always been fascinated by learning about different foods, cultures and languages. I love old buildings, sweeping vistas and hostel rooms. Nothing is more exciting to me than going someplace new. Plus, as many travelers have said, the more places I visit, the more I realize that there is to discover. I feel like I’m adding new places to my bucket list faster than I can cross them off.
Teaching English has been a surprisingly powerful experience in a lot of little ways. I have to admit, when Brent (my boyfriend) and I first decided to start teaching, it was a means to an end. We wanted to visit Asia, as well as make some money, and teaching English was an obvious way to do both. I didn’t really think about what it would mean to be a teacher, or what a huge responsibility I was taking on.
It’s turning out to be one of the most frustrating, rewarding, tiring, and inspiring things I’ve ever done. The ability to speak English dramatically increases the possibilities and options these children have. It’s a gateway for them to live almost anywhere in the world they might want to in the future. It feels really amazing to be a part of that.
What are your travel and blogging end-goals?
I’m trying not to have goals or expectations. One thing that I’ve learned since I’ve been on the road is that I accomplish a lot more when I let go of making plans, and don’t worry too much about achievement. I love traveling and I love writing about it, and for now I just want to keep doing both. I believe that if I put my energy into things that make me happy, then personal growth and achievement will happen naturally.
With that said, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I sometimes I fantasize about being able to live off the profits from blogging and freelance travel writing one day. That’s definitely the dream. For now though, I enjoy being thrilled by every new social media share and each tiny jump in blog traffic.
How do you personally deal with the feeling of loneliness while traveling?
I wish I could say I had a really good answer for this one. There have certainly been some very lonely moments for me since I started traveling. It wasn’t something that I anticipated since I’m traveling with Brent. I guess I imagined that having a travel partner would take care of the loneliness thing. Yet, we both miss our friends at home and the freedom to get together with them whenever we want. We’re grateful for the support we can provide to one another of course, but we still miss the separate social circles we had back in Canada.
Traveling life eventually becomes no different than life at home. There are good days and bad days. There are days when I feel on top of the world, and days when I feel lonely and confused. I keep in touch with friends at home as much as possible, and I’m grateful for every passing friendship I’m able to form on the road.
What are a few tips for women on the road?
Traveling with Brent has given me some perspective into how men and women are treated differently in other countries. When we go to restaurants in Asia, the menu is always handed to Brent. There was one time that we went together for a massage, and the male masseuse asked Brent’s permission and not mine for the man to massage me.
I am asked a lot of questions about why I’m not married and as to when I’m planning to have a baby. When we we’re visiting a temple in Luang Prabang, a local man approached me and pointed out a Buddha statue, feeling as though it would be good luck to me. I was pretty excited about this until he lead me to the statue, gestured at my stomach and explained that this Buddha would help me become pregnant. The public interest in this private aspect of my life was a little strange, but I’ve come to understand that it often reflects the high value placed on family ties in certain cultures.
I think that safety on the road is a big concern for women. For not long after our arrival to our current home in Thailand, I took a wrong turn and got lost alone at night. I wandered around for at least an hour before finding my way back to a familiar area - I was terrified. Now that we’ve been here for a few months, I realize that I probably wasn’t in danger at all, because this town is relatively safe. But it’s important to be informed about specific recommendations and precautions for all areas of travel. Yet I learned from my own experience of being lost, that just because a place is unfamiliar, doesn’t always mean that it’s necessarily dangerous. For the most part, I think the same sort of common sense women use at home applies to traveling as well. Overall, as long as you don’t wander into dark alleys, don’t invite shifty-looking strangers over, and don’t get drunk and pass out in a public, then you’ll be fine.