Name & Age? Shaina Wexler, 30
Where's home? A bit of everywhere! Paris half time, the whole United States the other half.
What got you started? I had a deep sense that there was so much more that I could be and become. I wanted to stretch myself to my limits, grow, and find personal freedom.
What was/is your last/current trip? My most recent trip was to Seattle last week. I adored every moment!
How do you pay the way? I am a singer/songwriter/composer/musician/ recording artist/ dancer/ choreographer/ actress. My arts careers fund my travels.
What's always on your packing list? The most important thing for me to always have packed with me is my phone and charger so that I can always be in close touch with my family and friends regardless of where I am in the world.
What’s the last thing that blew your mind? I am always fascinated to witness how much one's cultural upbringing plays into the their life and world views.
By land, by sea, or by air? I actually suffer from severe motion sickness, so no form of transport is a picnic for me, however, I adore my careers as well as exploration and both necessitate a lot of travel. I generally travel by air and by land.
Hotel or hostel? Camp or Couchsurf? I have had the opportunity to discover many forms of lodging for my adventures. Hotels are always lovely, but I also really enjoy Couchsurfing which affords me the opportunity to meet and truly get to know locals from the cities in which I am staying.
What's your travel pet peeve? It is a bit frustrating when I go to the trouble of planning, organizing, making accommodations for myself in the city I am traveling to, and upon arrival find that the plans I made have fallen through. Scrambling at the last second isn't my favorite, but I have learned to roll with it.
How do people react to you as a solo female traveler? Generally people are very supportive, and express that they think it is very admirable and courageous.
What scares you? The few people in this world who would prey upon the vulnerabilities of a solo female.
How do you overcome fear / anxiety / doubt? Awareness is the best safety tip I can ever offer. When traveling alone, one must ALWAYS stay vigilant and aware of their surroundings, no matter where they are traveling or what part of town they are staying. Being aware helps in avoiding potentially dangerous situations.
Worst memory: Once, when I was riding a train at night, five men surrounded me, grabbed at me and attempted to attack me. Thankfully, I managed to slip out from their grasp, run to the other end of the train, and call someone to have them meet me at my train stop.
One unforgettable memory: Riding through Paris by night on the back of a very handsome Frenchman's motor bike. Seeing the dazzling lights all around me and realizing that after all my hard work, I had finally made it to the place of my dreams! The whole scene felt like it came straight out of a movie, and that gorgeous realization caused me to laugh with utter joy! I remember the French man looking back at me curiously while I was giggling, and me simply responding with, "Je suis trop heureuse!"- "I am just too happy!"
Bravest memory: When I travel, I generally commit to spending anywhere from 3 months to a year in any given location so that I can truly become part of the culture. Most of the time, I choose to travel to intimidatingly large cities that I have never before visited. Each time, I find a place to stay/live online, and then make the leap having never before seen in person where I am going to be living or knowing anything about the city. Doing it that way makes it so that I am fully committed to just diving in — come what may!
Culture shock moment: It may sound strange, but living in New York City was actually the most stark culture shock that I have experienced. The pace and energy of that city is like that of a totally different planet. It is the only place I have traveled to where my smiling and positive demeanor was met with distrust and skepticism.
Best reason to talk to strangers: I am always fascinated and inspired by how much of one's time some locals are willing to give to me while I am a complete stranger to them. Speaking to them always reinforces my love for and belief in humanity.
How are you different while traveling? Traveling makes me hyper aware of opportunities to make connection with people and to learn. I try to keep that mindset with me wherever I go.
Is it harder to leave or to stay put? Staying put is infinitely more difficult for me haha. I am finding a happy balance between the two, and allowing each season to aide my growth in its unique way.
Three things you've learned on the road:
- There are a lot more wonderful, well meaning people in this world than there are people to fear.
- Understanding when I need help, and asking for it.
- I am far more capable and independent than I ever imagined possible!
What keeps you going? I am, and always have been, very internally motivated. My own thirst for knowledge, skill, discovery, exploration, betterment and adventure is what drives me on a daily basis.
What's next? So happy that you asked! I am getting ready to embark upon a concert tour, which will take me through Colorado, Utah, California, Oregon, Washington, and parts of Canada!! I am so excited to be able to share my music while exploring some new places, and hopefully meeting some new, wonderful people!
What advice do you have for wanna-be Wild Hearts? Go for it! Plan as many details as you can in advance, and then just go with the flow of your experience. Most importantly, GO FOR IT! You will be so happy you did!
What would you be doing if you’d never left home? I would likely still be involved in the arts, since that is what drives me, but it would be on a much smaller scale than what it has currently grown to be.
Last question: What would make you stop traveling? I don't think that there is anything that could make me stop traveling altogether. I imagine that my life will always be filled, to some degree, with the variation of travel.