Name & Age? Tara, 30
Where's home? Portland, Oregon
What got you started? I was sick of working a boring job that contributed nothing other than a paycheck to my life.
What was/is your last/current trip? Europe! Currently in Banbridge, Northern Ireland
How do you pay the way? Cashed out a savings account, and am doing volunteer work along the way in exchange for free accommodation and meals.
What's always on your packing list? Wellies and a waterproof jacket.
What’s the last thing that blew your mind? I stayed for 4 weeks over then summer in a small fishermens' village near Cork, Ireland. There was a cliff walk about a 5 minute walk from my house with the most incredible views and hardly anyone else along the trails. It was amazing to see to my right was green pastures, with cows and sheep, and to my left was the beautiful sea and these enormous , rocky cliffs!
By land, by sea, or by air? In Europe, airfare is really really cheap, so I've been flying a lot, but I took a train from Madrid to Barcelona and it was the most beautiful ride. Plus it's definitely more comfortable and you don't have to worry about checking luggage and going through security.
Hotel or hostel? Camp or Couchsurf? Hotels? What are those?! Ha! I've been staying in hostels, and it's been lovely! Everyone is traveling, so you make friends easily and the workers at hostels will join you for nights out a lot of the time.
What's your travel pet peeve? I sat next to a man on a flight from Vancouver, Canada to Frankfurt, Germany, who picked a scab on his elbow for the entire flight. That was definitely a bit annoying... How about let's not do disgusting things on flights, okay?!
How do people react to you as a solo female traveler? "You're SO brave!" Is a comment that I hear pretty regularly. I don't really see it that way, me not living my life in a way that would be satisfying to me, seems a lot more scary.
What scares you? I get scared of being lost when it's dark and I'm trying to find my accommodations. I got lost for three hours in Barcelona, and it was getting dark and I couldn't find my hostel, and I was walking around, asking for help and no one could help me. My GPS and phone both don't work here, so when I'm lost, I have to rely on the kindness of strangers to help me. If I'm lost during the day, I'm okay, but when it's dark, I start to panic.
How do you overcome fear / anxiety / doubt? I remember something my father always says to me when I'm stressed out or feeling overwhelmed, "everything will work out, because it has to". Whatever I'm scared or worried about, in the end, it'll be something that I faced and dealt with and even a really bad day, is just that- a bad day.
Worst memory: I was working at a bed and breakfast in Sicily with a man that didn't speak any English and could only communicate via google translator. It was just him and me, and a week after being at this BnB, he started to ask me strange questions, like if I, "liked giving massages?" And do I, "believe in passion as first sight", I shrugged it off as a cultural difference and then one night he told me his heart beats for me and I must experience everything Sicilian and said he wanted to come to my room. I told him no. Several times. The days following he stopped giving my things to do and then a week later told me I was lazy and would have to leave. I was uncomfortable there, so leaving wasn't an issue, but being asked to leave because I was "lazy" when the real reason is I wouldn't sleep with him, was not a great feeling.
One unforgettable memory: Staying at a hostel in Belfast, I went out one night with a group of people I'd met that day. None of us knew each other previously, we all met that day. We went to a weird night club and drank beer and danced like maniacs and laughed so hard all of our voices were hoarse the next day! No one was worried about looking cool, or weird, everyone was just enjoying the moment and being free. It was incredible.
Bravest memory: I've tried hitch hiking! It's so dangerous back home, I would never do it there- but in Scotland, apparently it's not all that dangerous. I got picked up within a minute of sticking my thumb out!
Culture shock moment: 1). Santa doesn't deliver the gifts in Switzerland. Baby Jesus does.
2). The amount of liver that is consumed in Germany.
3). Siesta in Sicily. Around noon it's a total ghost town!
Best reason to talk to strangers: Everyone has a story to share! And traveling alone, I like to draw inspiration for everyone! You get ideas of how to travel and what you have to see that you wouldn't ordinarily. I would have never gone to Cefalú, had never even heard of it, but it is the most beautiful beach and picturesque landscape I've ever seen!
How are you different while traveling? Back home, I am girly. I curl my hair and wear makeup and dresses... I'm rugged here! I don't even touch my hair unless it's to throw it in a braid.
Is it harder to leave or to stay put? It depends. I've found it easy to leave everywhere except for Ireland. I love it. I immediately felt at home when I got here. The people, the scenery, the weather (yes, I like the weather!) It's a total dream!
Three things you've learned on the road:
- Even though it seems like you don't have enough packed, you do. Don't buy anything!
- Tinder is a great way to connect with people who will show you around and buy you pints.
- Couchsurfing is also a fantastic was to meet locals and make friends.
What keeps you going? Knowing that even on days when I'm homesick, my home will be there, waiting for me until I decide to return. I will never be this young and free again. I need to embrace that. This journey will only improve my life.
What's next? I've decided to stay in Ireland for a year. I met a family that just had a baby and have offered me an incredible opportunity to nanny for them. Since I've only spent seven weeks here, and haven't even scratched the surface, I decided to accept.
What would you be doing if you’d never left home? Probably working a job I didn't like, dating the same men that aren't right for me and day dreaming about being the adventurous woman I am today!
What advice do you have for wanna-be Wild Hearts? You will never regret taking a leap of faith and quitting a life that you aren't fulfilled with and taking a chance to travel the world! You'll wish you'd done it sooner.
Last question: What would make you stop traveling? If something happened to my family or a loved one back home, I would go home tomorrow, but I'll never stop traveling in my life. This is my life now.
Follow Tara: @misstararene