Saturday, May 10, 2014

Interview (30) - Lena

My name is Lena, I’m 29. I am a trained waitress and have a bachelors degree in Social work. I support teenagers with difficult background and learning disabilities through their professional training in Hospitality, and help them find a job and through the first few month of their first « real » Job.
I have a passion for animals, especially Horses. From them, I learned all I need for my travels ; patience, peace of mind, staying calm if it gets difficult or even dangerous, taking everything as it comes, be happy with the small things in life and always look at life with a smile on your face.
me & Rosie (Woofing in Vernon, BC)

  1. What was your inspiration or the event/idea that made you want to travel?
My brother and I were very lucky ; Our parents took us all over the place when we were kids. So I guess I just went on doing the same thing on my own as soon as I was old enough.
  1. What was your first travel experience?
When I was 16, a friend and I had this traincard that allowed us to use all public transport in Switzerland. So we set out to Zurich trainstation, the closest big trainstation near where I grew up and boarded a train to somewhere in Switzerland. We had no plan were we were going and would hop on and off the train were ever we wanted to. Wherever we were by 6 o’clock in the evening, we would stay fort he night. We stayed in Hostels and some formares haybarn, depending on where we ended up!
  1. Have you ever felt lonely travelling solo?
Yes. After a few month of travelling I get a day or so, on which I’d be ready to go home and feel like I’m the only person in the world, normally when something happened. But after a day I’m ready to move on and meet people again.
  1. 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?”
I’m sure I have heeps of them. But I can’t think of one right now.
  1.  What was your best travel experience?
There isn’t a „best travel experience“. Wooffing in Canada was agreat experience, but also working in an Animal rescue center in Costa Rica. Sleeping in the Sahara…there is no best, I couldn’t rank all oft he experiences I had.
One that could be rate das one oft he best was back in 2005 in a random Bar in New Zealand. I met this guy I went to school with. We live in the same city and I haven’t seen him in three years back home. And there he was, on the other side oft he world in the same bar as me.
  1.  Is there anything you would have done differently/ any regrets, if you could do it over again?
No. I don’t have to do another Greyhound Tour through the Northamerica again, but I probably end up doing it again anyways.
  1. What was your worst travel experience?
Having to go to Hospital in Indonesia was scary. But all worked out fine!
  1. What’s the strangest situation you have found yourself in?
Probably when I was stuck at the Greyhound station in Oakland,CA. I had this Greyhound Flexipass. I wanted to change buses and the ticketguy ran away with my ticket. He appeared five minutes later, saying: „This Ticket is a fake. You’re lucky I’m not calling the police, but the Ticket is a fake, and I am going to confisticate it“. I didn’t understand what was going on, I had already been travelling from Vernon BC all the way down to Oakland in a month, and never have I had any Problems. So as I told him I didn’t understand, he just said: „What do you not understand English? This ticket is a fake and you can see how you get to San Diego.“ It was Lunchtime, I had a major cold, haven’t had Coffee or anything to eat at that point. So I had some sort of a Nervous Breakdown and sat on the floor of the station crying my heart out. After twenty minutes, the Guy comes over to me again, asking me to come along. He gave me back the Ticket saying : « I called the Canada office, your Ticket is real. » Oh, seriously ? What a surprise !! I was too stunned to say anything…Now I can laugh about it, but back then, it was horrible.
  1. Where will you never return to?
Casablanca in Morrocco.
  1.  What advice would you give women traveling solo to your home country?
Use common sense and keep your eyes open. Switzerland is save, if you don’t get yourself into troubles.
  1.  What are your future travel plans?
I just came back from a trip through Southeast Asia. Southamerica might be next, but I don’t know yet. There is too much to see out there.
  1. What are your top three tips for women traveling solo?
    1. Listen to your heart and gut
    2. Use Common Sense
    3. Have fun and enjoy!

  1. What would you tell women who are looking to travel alone but worry about their safety?
There is no such thing as complete safety. Read about the places you’re going to, try to blend in with the woman from the country you are in (don’t wear Hotpants when all the other woman are wearing a headscarf). Ask in your Hostel wether there are places in the city you shouldn’t be going to. Listen to your heart, guts and feelings. If Something inside you says „NO“ then don’t do it. I have gotten myself into some dodgy situations because I wasn’t listening to my inner voices.
  1. Couchsurfing..what do you think about that?
I have hosted and surfed, and I love it. I met friends for live and done things I never would hve done if I had stayed in Hostels.
  1. How do you pay for a life of travel?
I work and save up.
  1. Tell us about the best food you have ever eaten on your travels?
I like to eat. I love Morroccan Tajine, Cambodian Amok, even Congolese Fufu (although it’s probably the most boring thing I’ve ever eaten). The best things in foreign countrys are the fruit that really grow there. There is no better thing than a Mango directly from the tree…
  1. What is the most breathtaking view you have ever witnessed on your travels
Sunset on the Rinjani in Lombok
  1. What do you miss about your home when you go traveling?
Bread. And good espresso.
  1. What item will you always carry in your backpack?
Sewing kit, one pair of woolen socks, pocket knive.

  1. Who was the kindest or most generous person you met on your travels, and what did they do?
I only met great people. One of the most generous was probably the lady I couchsurfed with in Calgary. She was around 60 and always had at least one surfer in. I was in Calgary because I wanted to go into a programm on a Ranch near Calgary where I could lern to train horses. This as been my dream for more than 10 years now. I was supposed to stay there for three month. Two weeks into the programm on the Ranch I had to leave because I couldn’t agree with the way the horses were treated. I called he Lady. She told me to came back immidiately and that there will always be a place in her house. So I went, she came to pick me up at the busstop. I had no money to add three month of traveling to my plans. I was supposed to be on the ranch for three month, where I wouldn’t need more then 5 bucks a day. I had to reorganise my whole trip and come clean with the fact that my dream just crashed down on me. It took me almost a week to get reorganised. The Lady let me stay, took me walking her dogs, to dinner with friends and so much more. I am forever grateful that I had a „surrogate Mum“ in those few days.
  1. What have you learned from travelling?
When I’m at home, i am a very social person. I always need people around me. Traveling solo has teached me that I can be my own best friend when I need to and that I can do almost everything on my own. It teached me to be thankful for what i have and for where I grew up. And it teached me to never ever give up pursuing your dreams and goals.
  1. Who inspires you? What other travellers do you look up to?
Every person I meet travelling or at home is some kind of inspiration for me. But as travelers, I think the people that inspired my the most were my parents. Never ever were my brother or I too small to set out on a real adventure. The moment we could walk we got our own little backpack made by grandma and we carried our diapers around. My parents took us all over europe by train, car, Motorhome, Houseboat, canoe, took us through some parts of the states by car, to Indonesia, Tunisia, Egypt…and never ever was the Holiday all planned out, we went, and figured it out as we went along. And now, they are around sixty and go to the strangest places ; Chad, DR Congo, Madagaskar and they never run out of a new destination.


  1. I liked "It teached me to be thankful for what i have and for where I grew up."
    We travellers are the lucky ones and we shouldn't forget it! We have some of the most valuable things anyone could ever wish for, and that most people in this world do not have: freedom, loving family and friends to support us and enough education or emotional intelligence to enjoy diversity, appreciate the small miracles and understand how lucky we really are. :)