Name & Age? Andrea MacEachern 36
Where's home? Lingan, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada
What was/is your last/current trip? Barbados - December 2015
What got you started? I fell in love with travel after a month-long family road trip from Cape Breton to Florida and everywhere in between. I fell in love with writing in high school when I discovered that I loved writing essays and and sharing my life and knowledge with others and I fell in love with travel writing when I started writing about and sharing my travel with friends and later, on my blog I started in 2009.
How do you pay the way? I work seasonal with the government and freelance write on the side. The money I make at my regular job pays my living expenses while the money I make writing pays for my travels.
What's always on your packing list? Sunscreen, sunglasses, good walking shoes and my quillow (half blanket, half pillow handmade by my mom and is great for sleeping on places, airports or wherever I may find myself needing a rest).
What’s the last thing that blew your mind? Watching news coverage of people fleeing the massive wildfires in Fort MacMurray (Canada) and seeing families stuck in traffic along the highway with flames touching the cars...and finding out no one was killed or injured!
By land, by sea, or by air? By land when it allows. I love myself a good road trip. There is just something magical about being out there on the open road with no destination in mind and exploring the unknown roads off the well beaten path and finding those places I never knew existed.
Hotel or hostel? Camp or Couchsurf? Hostel when traveling far and wide. Camping when traveling closer to home. I hate all-inclusive resorts!! I cannot say that enough. I had one bad experience and it was so bad that I will never go back.
What's your travel pet peeve? People who drink too much and act like idiots in foreign lands that are not their own. It's painful and embarrassing to watch someone act like that especially when they are from Canada because they are representing my country. I see no need to become so drunk that your vacation is a blur. Why waste the money and time to travel so far from home if you are only wasting the trip anyway. Save the money and rent a hotel at home and pass out in your own bed!
How do people react to you as a solo female traveler? They react exactly as I thought they would — like I'm crazy! They tell me I am crazy for putting myself out there and risking my life. They tell me I should travel in a group for safety. They tell me I should be ashamed of myself for making my parents worry so much (my parents worry as much as any parent does any time their child walks out the door) and it goes on and on. It's only recently that people have started to say things like "wow, you travel alone! Good for you. You are in inspiration". I guess people are starting to realize that solo female travel can't be all that dangerous since I am still alive and kicking and nothing remotely dangerous has ever happened to me...except that time I nearly stepped on a poisonous pit viper.
What scares you? Until recently, nothing really scared me. I don't mean to sound cliche or like I'm letting CNN control my thoughts but recently, I've become aware of, as much as I hate to admit it, afraid of the threat of terrorism that now seems to be very much a global thing that can and does happen anywhere, anytime. It won't stop me from traveling but it makes me more cautious and aware of my surroundings.
How do you overcome fear / anxiety / doubt? Shake it off. That's the only way to deal with it really. Whatever it is that we are afraid of isn't going anywhere so we might as well just learn to deal with it and face it head on.
Worst memory: Oh dear, honestly, I don't have that many bad memories. I guess I've been blessed with a wonderful life — or at least one that I am able to accept that bad things happen and take it in stride and not dwell. But if I had to pick a particularly bad travel memory, I would say it was the time I walked out of my room at a resort in Varadero, Cuba (this was the experience that turned me away from resorts) and was met by a nearly naked, middle aged man passed out in my doorway in a puddle of puke. Yeah, not a pretty sight first thing in the morning.
One unforgettable memory: Oh my there are so many! My first time surfing stands out though so I'll go with that one. I was terrified to try it at first and once I was out there, I fell in love with the sport and became addicted!
Bravest memory: Again, surfing for the first time. Oh wait, I guess my bravest memory would be traveling solo for the first time — and that was a trip to Cuba all by my lonesome. My first taste of the great big world on my own.
Culture shock moment: I haven't really experienced culture shock. I do so much research before I travel that I am always aware of what to expect. That being said, I witnessed a few things that surprised and shocked me over the years. The Policia Tourista and their huge guns walking down the streets in Mexico was something I found a little unsettling at first. Trying to communicate with cab drivers in their native tongue proved to be a difficult thing I often come across in my travels. How happy people in some of the poorest places are compared to folks at home. That's about all I can think of.
Best reason to talk to strangers: The reasons are endless! Talking to strangers allows to make new friends and therefore new and unforgettable memories. Local strangers are also full of information about the area and they have insider information about the best places to see and things to do that are not in the guidebooks so you never know where you will end up.
How are you different while traveling? I am more bold and more likely to talk to more people more often. I am usually a loner at home. I like to stick to myself a lot and prefer low key activities. But when I am traveling, I come out of my shell.
Is it harder to leave or to stay put? Hard to Leave. When I say that, I mean hard to leave my travel destination, not hard to leave home to head to my travel destination!
Three things you've learned on the road:
- Getting lost is rarely a bad thing.
- It's always a good idea to go down that deserted country road in the middle of nowhere that you have idea where it leads.
- Truck stops are usually a safe and relatively quiet area to take a snooze for free and there are usually food and bathrooms available right there in the parking lot.
What keeps you going? My love of adventure, of the unknown, of seeing new places, of meeting new cultures, of trying new foods, of experiencing new things and of continuously learning everything about everything. I love to be on the move, never idle.
What's next? I'm in the process of moving right now, but later this summer and fall I have trips to the Alberta Rockies, Newfoundland and Scotland planned.
What would you be doing if you’d never left home? I have no idea. I can't imagine how dreadful my life would be if I never left home. I guess I would know any different though if I'd never traveled. So I guess I would just be doing everything else I love like hiking, camping, reading, writing and going to museums.
What advice do you have for wanna-be Wild Hearts? Just do it that first time. The first time is the hardest because you are full of doubt and everyone else is filling you with doubt. Once you go that first time and come back in one piece, you will already be planning the next one. It's so easy you will be wondering why you never went earlier.
Last question: What would make you stop traveling? Nothing would make me stop traveling.
Follow Andrea: anotherdayforgrace.blogspot.ca