I am so incredibly excited to share with you today from a dear friend of mine, Amber. She has traveled all over the world, and has seen and experienced some really amazing things. When she travels, she often stays in the country or city for a decent amount of time and tries her best to live as a local. She is so curious about culture, connecting with people and she desires to know and understand about the world around her. It is for these reasons and more, that I wanted to connect with her, to ask some questions and to share with you what she has to say about this very unique way that she has chosen to see the world. I have decided to split her responses into multiple blog posts, in order for you to be able to take in all of here amazing thoughts and advice in bite-sized pieces.
Where are some of the places you have traveled to?
A little bit of everywhere, I have two continents left to get to, and I’ve been too a few dozen countries.
What is it that inspires you to travel?
I believe that it is who I was made to be, it is as much a part of me as my eye colour or voice…that being said, the heart of it I think comes from my love of people, cultures, places, that sort of thing. I like adventure and love exploring. I have a very curious mind and like filling it with new things. I often say that my body doesn’t fit my spirit, and I think I feel far more at home when I am away then when I am staying in one place. I love tasting different foods, listening to new sounds and discovering new art and philosophy. Expanding my horizons makes me feel like I can breathe, while the rest of the time, I sometimes feel like I am suffocating. Travel is when I feel free.
What do you find to be the best ways to document your trip or preserve your memories?
I always take photos because I love photography. My approach, however, is not the same as a lot of people I see, who are constantly seeing through the lens of their camera first, whether it is a world wonder or a concert, and then experiencing it in snippets through their own eyes. I prefer the other way around. I take pictures in a blur without even looking through the ‘viewfinder’ and spend most of the time soaking it in. I always say that the the photos I take are the least beautiful moments I experienced, because I prefer to experience it myself and just have the photos as bullet points to remember the stories and moments. I have a really nice Nikon and a decent Cannon, but I don’t even bring them with me most of the time, because I don’t want to distract myself. When I actually INTEND to focus on photography I set time aside on purpose.
My FAVOURITE way of remembering is a sort of diary/journal/log thing; it’s probably more like a scrapbook. I just put in things that inspire me, or moments that stand out to me. I’ll keep a business card, a napkin, a bottle cap, whatever might help me remember something, and I often have the people I meet be the focus of it…because what I find, more than anything, is that I travel for the LIFE, not the checklist of to-do’s or even seeing places that are famous. It’s the tuktuk driver, the lady selling fruit, or the children playing with you in the airport - they are what I want to remember. Some of the best conversations I’ve ever had have been with strangers on trains, in planes, on buses, on streets; I find a way to connect to them and often they leave something of themselves, if any of that makes sense.
You have managed to find work in different countries as you travel, how do you manage to do that?
A lot of the times it is networking. If you know one person or have one job, they often can give you suggestions, or recommend you to someone and sometimes THEY even move and then you can catch up with them. I just also have a lot of flexibility, unusual priorities, and I’m really low maintenance. In other words, I don’t believe I’m above anything. I’ll clean toilets, shovel animal poo, look after screaming babies, pour coffee, work long, hard, hot thankless hours at jobs that won’t necessarily give me great job security in the future, because travel IS my priority. Also, just saving helps those jobs go further, so if I’m modelling for an art school, I can push that 100$ to last me a week or two, but that goes into street smarts with living and eating and so forth. I DEFINITELY recommend prioritizing, so for me not drinking and smoking and buying tons of stuff, not having cellphone bills or anything too financially costly helps me to focus on what matters to me.
I also really encourage using whatever talents you already have, so if you can teach, or have graphic design, or coding talents, whatever your skill set is, make sure you are prepared to take advantage of it to the best of your ability. Be prepared to market what you are good at. If you speak another language fluently, you are already leagues ahead of us lingually challenged folks...
Where do you hope to go next?
At this moment, I just want to do another trip around the world to revisit all of my dear friends. If you mean a specific continent - Antarctica, country, Syria, place - Niagara Falls. I really want to go to Mexico too, it sort of embarrasses me that I’ve been really far, but haven’t even been to the other main country on my home continent.
What would you say that you love most about travelling?
It changes me. It makes me more of who I am. Part of this is putting myself in other people's shoes, so I can understand other people better. The lessons that travel teaches you are more powerful and deep (if you’re really not just on holiday). It’s like an ordeal by fire sometimes; you find what your limits are and are continually pushing them. The things I’ve seen and experienced travelling, there are no words to even express it. At least not in a succinct way.
Another really important aspect for me, is the fact that it puts ‘problems’ into perspective. People in first world places can get so absorbed in being superficial, or petty, even just being distracted, or stuck in a hamster wheel. When I travel, whether it is a developing country or a country with the highest GDP, because I’m an outsider, and because I meet so many people, my focus goes from myopic to the big picture. It is easier to care about things that matter when you don’t have to play by societal rules and be in the rut that we all fall into when we do the “9-5”. It’s eyeopening. And the cruelty of humanity to the planet, animals, and each other comes into focus. It makes me more passionate to somehow make a difference and change what little I can; to be better and do better.
If you could revisit one place that you already been to, where would you go?
This is HARD! Everywhere…but that’s a cheat answer. So, hmmm, maybe either Morocco or Ireland-the Cliffs of Moher specifically, and watch the sun set.
This is where I have decided to leave the Q&A for now...But keep your eyes open for the second part of this special blog post!