Friday, January 24, 2014

Interview (17) - let me introduce you to Sandy

My name is Sandy, and I'm from Seattle, WA (GO SEAHAWKS!). I returned earlier this spring from a 13 month trip "around the world"...I say that in quotations because that's what all my friends say, but I only went to 5 countries. HARDLY all over the world. To their credit each country was vastly different from one other (Italy, Turkey, England, Thailand, and India). I'm currently working as a freelance photographer and as a communication consultant for a small public relations firm. Before I took off on my travels, I was a communication consultant for the Washington State Department of Transportation.

I have two favorite quotes about life: "The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away." - Pablo Picasso. 
The other is from my friend's dad, Jim Hartle: "Play hard and play a lot and then work hard so you can play again. "

More about me and where I've been can be found on my blog:
  • What was your inspiration or the event/idea that made you want to travel? 
  • My cliche but very true answer to this is: I have always had a wander lust. I suppose it is because my parents have never been big on traveling, and so I always wanted to explore. I love learning about new cultures and meeting people from all different kinds of walks in life. I think the best thing we can do in our lifetime is get to know and understand others. But to be seriously honest, I accidentally fell into this last trip. I was offerred an opportunity to live one of my dreams and I couldn't turn it down. I have no idea what kind of adventure I was embarking on, but I am certainly glad I seized that opportunity when I did.

  • What was your first travel experience? 
  • My first international trip (besides Canada because I don't count it!) was Ireland. It was a short 10 days, but well worth every minute.

  • Have you ever felt lonely travelling solo? 
  • At times, but I FULLY encourage anyone to spend some time traveling solo. You learn really amazing things. I wrote a blog I think many people would appreciate about the pros and cons here:

  • Do you have any fun stories of things that happened to you that you realized even at the time, “This never would have happened if I had been traveling with someone else?” 
  • ALL THE TIME. You meet the best people and form fast relationships with other travelers because you may not ever see each other again and everything is an adventure. I met a guy from England just because he was working with the Discovery Channel and they were doing a segment on the cave hotel I was volunteering at in Turkey and we got along great and two weeks later I was on a plane to visit London for the very first time with a spare room to stay in!

  •  What was your best travel experience? 
  • Can't pick just one. Bathing with Elephants in Thailand or sitting on the floor surrounded by monks and Tibetan refugees in the middle of the Himalayas in India. Or maybe it was the time I was picking wild cherries at the vineyard I was working at in Italy....or waking up to hot air balloons from my tent in Turkey. Man. There's WAY too many.

  •  Is there anything you would have done differently/ any regrets, if you could do it over again? 
  • I would have invested in a smaller and lighter laptop! I carried around this brick of a 17inch laptop. Stupidest decision ever.

  • What was your worst travel experience? 
  • My first night in India. Hands down terrifying. But the good thing is that I had an amazing rest of the trip.

  • What’s the strangest situation you have found yourself in? 
  • Dressing myself in a sari for an Indian wedding. Most self conscious moment of my life. It was strange to be part of an event we (Americans) normally consider intimate and personal. But in India, everyone is invited! I love it!

  • Where will you never return to? 
  • Not sure. There's always one good thing about every "bad place". I don't believe in leaving any place out. Maybe I just had the wrong experience there. I think every city has something to offer.

  •  What advice would you give women traveling solo to your home country? 
  • Be friendly. Americans aren't that used to openly friendly people. But we sure could use a lot more of it.

  •  What are your future travel plans? 
  • Only small trips on the horizon for now. I'm recuperating from my 13 months traveling so getting grounded (I finally moved to my own apartment last week!) and saving money again is really important to me. I just came back from a short jaunt to Texas...THAT was interesting ( But as far as big destinations in the will most likely be Tibet or somewhere in South America. We'll see where the wind blows. I have many friends around the world I would like to see again, and you can most certainly count on me to be in Italy harvesting grapes with my Italian family every fall.

  • What are your top three tips for women traveling solo?
  • 1. Don't be naive. You can be harassed anywhere. You don't need to be in the ghetto or in a developing country. The first time I ever punched a guy in the face (because he tried to grope me) was in England. 2. Bring kleenex with you. You never know when you will end up in a bathroom with no toilet paper! 3. Have fun! You are more confident than you think you are, and you will be amazed what kind of opportunities open up when you are happy.

  • What would you tell women who are looking to travel alone but worry about their safety? 
  • Use common sense. Read up on the countries you are traveling to. Try to make friends wherever you go just so you can have someone else looking out for you too. It doesn't hurt to have mace or a pocket knife (if you're willing to use it).

  • Couchsurfing..what do you think about that? 
  • LOVE IT! Best places for travel advice and meeting other people in the same boat as you! I had a great time in India with a girl from Slovenia because we had the same itinerary for a couple weeks!

  • How do you pay for a life of travel? 
  • Well the last trip, I covered most expenses by volunteering in exchange for room and board. You will be amazed how many places offer that. But as far as actual money I had...I saved it from my job because I thought I was going to buy a house. But you can pick up temporary jobs in almost any place in the world if English is your native language.

  • Tell us about the best food you have ever eaten on your travels? 
  • Italian. Hands down. Nothing beats fresh wild asparagus from the woods in your backyard, with fresh pasta, garlic, and cheese. The simple and freshest ingredients are the most memorable.

  • What is the most breathtaking view you have ever witnessed on your travels. 
  • Ooo that's a hard one. Either watching hot air balloons at sunrise in Turkey, or standing on a 9200 foot mountain and staring at a wall of the Himalayas.

  • What do you miss about your home when you go traveling? 
  • My friends. But Skype and facebook make it easy to stay in touch. But it's also hard to watch them doing all the things they do at home without you.

  • What item will you always carry in your backpack? 
  • Laptop.Just gotta have it.

  • Who was the kindest or most generous person you met on your travels, and what did they do? 
  • Valeria and Corrado, the Italian couple I worked for in Italy at their vineyard. They are my second family and treated me like their daughter. Words can't express how much they have done for me.

  • What have you learned from travelling? 
  • Insert self reflection blog here:

  • Who inspires you? 
  • What other travellers do you look up to? My former highschool teacher Mr. Kelly, and my friend's father, Jim Hartle. Anyone with a zest for life, adventure, and lives with an open heart.

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