Today is the first in my series of interviews with other travellers, I wanted to include these in my blog to pay homage to travellers before me whose blogs I devoured and gave me the aspirations and inspiration to book my one way flight. By sharing these interviews I want to inspire my readers to take that trip they’ve always been meaning to do and show how other travellers are already taking that path.
Today’s interview is with Emily of www.seehertravel.com, a 31 year old currently in Jamaica and we’re going to hear all about her adventures. Emily, can you give us a brief outline of your travelling experience – where you have travelled and how long you have been travelling?
I’ve been travelling on and off since I was 15. My first experience being abroad was a 3-month exchange to France in high school and after that I was hooked. Heading to Australia after high school at the age of 17 when I should have been going to university wasn’t completely what my parents had in mind for me, but it really shaped how I considered travel to be an integral part of life for my adult life. Since those 7 months in driving around Australia in an unsafe car, I have travelled through Southeast Asia for 6 months, lived in the Cook Islands for an internship, done a semester abroad in New Zealand, worked for the UN in Fiji, backpacked through Central America for 3 months, hiked all over Peru, and lived in Kyrgyzstan for 18 months with the Peace Corps. Now I’m living in Jamaica for a year working for a non-profit, exploring this beautiful country as well as many other Caribbean islands (St. Lucia last week, Curacao next week!)
Sounds amazing, can you tell us how and why did you decided to start travelling?
My first big trip abroad was at 17 with a girl from high school, Kristen. We weren’t actually close friends, but we sat together in senior math, and one day she leaned over and said she was thinking of going to Australia instead of straight to university and did I want to go. I thought about it for about 5 seconds and said “Sure!”
Wow, that’s an early age! How did you initially save up to start your travels?
I have always made travelling a priority: in high school I did menial chores, paper routes, babysitting, house-sitting, and neighborhood labor to make cash, 90% of which I ferociously saved for first my trip to France and then my trip to Australia. Some of my trips have been funded through the work I’m doing, like my time in the Cook Islands and Kyrgyzstan and now Jamaica. My backpacking style is always budget, my philosophy has been to spend less to travel more. I have never had a new car, a big tv, fancy clothes, or the newest iPhone, I prefer to spend my cash on travel.
Do you fund your travels by working along the way?
Depending on the trip, like Jamaica, the Cook Islands, and Kyrgyzstan I have worked in development through internship/volunteering programs. In Australia, I worked behind a bar in the Outback and picked grapes. When I backpacked Central America and Southeast Asia, I was purely backpacking off of savings, though I did volunteer for a month in Thailand with a children’s centre, which was a great experience and saved me some cash.
What other methods do you use to fund your travels or assist to keep your travels on the cheaper side?
I have written travel blogs for my family and friends for years, but in the last 6 months I have begun considering it a business that can help me travel. I have also begun freelance writing and submitting travel writing to magazines to help pay for fun times. I am very budget conscious, probably to a fault. It is a habit that was formed very young and even 14 years later, I have a hard time breaking my go to budget level mentality (I still end up staying in truly horrid places for no reason at all).
Where was your favourite place(s) to visit?
This is a hard one! I was just in St. Lucia and it was absolutely beautiful. I loved bathing in the mineral pools and taking in the gorgeous scenery. I adored my time in Myanmar, a country I had been obsessed with for years. New Zealand is like my home in Canada but smaller and with meat pies, so it is very high on my list. My time spent in El Salvador was also incredible, so many neat things to do and the people were wonderfully friendly, I unexpectedly hitch hiked more in El Salvador than I have anywhere else, save New Zealand of course!
Did you have any nightmare experiences along the way?
Several. I have travelled alone a lot, especially in the last few years, so security as a solo female is always a priority. I’ve has some classic creepy taxi experiences, along with the general catcalling on the street that has gotten too close for comfort. I was in a terrible guesthouse on the Nicaraguan border that was attached to a bar and men were pounding on my door all night. Recently, I was attacked by two dogs here in Jamaica and thought I was going to be maimed for life. I do have some scars, but none incredibly prominent. A monkey jumped on me in Nepal, which to me is an absolute nightmare as a) I despise monkeys (never trust anything with opposable thumbs you can’t reason with) and b) I’m deathly scared of dying from rabies. I did not die from rabies, though I spent an entire night thinking I was going to.
Ah! Luckily I’ve managed to avoid animal attacks so far! Is there anything you would have done differently?
I would have started properly blogging earlier and using my writing talents for my advantage.
Do you ever plan to ‘settle down’?
I’m in the middle of a existential crisis right now actually, do I keep going with the line of work I’m in Jamaica doing or do I follow through with the travel writing/blogging and see where that takes me? Very tough call, but I can’t ever imagine a day where I say “I’m done” when it comes to travelling and exploring this world.
Difficult decision, and there’s still so many more places to explore! What advice would you give to aspiring travellers debating whether to take the plunge?
Just do it! You can make excuses for years, I have heard them all: I have a cat, I can’t save money, I ‘need’ a new car, I don’t have anybody to go with, I’m scared etc. All bullshit in my opinion if travel is really something you want to have in your life. I encourage anybody to just get out there and start. Begin with a short 10 trip somewhere relatively simple where your language is spoken. Stay in one place and do day trips. Work your way up to longer trips and more adventurous destinations. And if you’re a solo, and if you are always waiting for someone to go with you, you will never go anywhere, so make a plan, stay in guesthouses with a community feeling, and do what makes you happy!
Well thank you Emily for your insights! If you want to follow more on Emily’s adventures, head over to www.seehertravel.com.