Meet: Christine Stoddard

Name & Age? Christine Stoddard, 27

Where's home? Brooklyn, NY

What was/is your last/current trip? I'm currently in Charlotte, North Carolina! My next trip will be to the Crystal Coast, also in North Carolina.

What got you started? I've been writing and making art professionally since high school, which has led to various opportunities to travel and explore.

#Chinatown #NYC #newyork #newyorkcity #manhattan #quailbell #quailbellmag #quailbellmagazine #money #lucky #goodluck #chinese

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How do you pay the way? It really depends. Sometimes I pay out of pocket and go somewhere simply for leisure, but more I travel for business. That may mean anything from going on a press trip to speaking at an out-of-town event. I also do writer/artist residencies or readings and art shows where I usually receive a stipend, honorarium, or scholarship of some kind. No matter what, I make it work on my admittedly limited budget.

What's always on your packing list? Sunscreen! A sun hat! My digital camera! A notebook! I add exclamation points because these items are crucial. Depending on the type of trip it is, I usually bring a book and my laptop, too.

What’s the last thing that blew your mind? The Sketchbook Project in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It's a collection of thousands of artist sketchbooks from around the world. No two sketchbooks are alike. I saw the collection about a month after moving to New York and still can't shake it.

By land, by sea, or by air? Many variables come into play, but if I have the time and energy, I prefer driving. That way I can make my own schedule. From there, my ranking is as follows: 1. train, 2. plane, 3. ship.

Hotel or hostel? Camp or Couchsurf? It depends on the vibe of the trip! I love hotels, hostels, and couch surfing for different reasons. Hotels are great for privacy and comfort; hostels are lovely for meeting new people from around the world; and couch surfing is fun for seeing the city from a local's perspective and forming a more personal connection with an individual or couple. I have to admit that I'm not huge on tent camping but do like RVing.

What's your travel pet peeve? False advertising. If a hotel says it will offer something, then I expect it. Normally, though, I just try to go with the flow. After all, one of the points of traveling is to break your routine and indulge in the unexpected.

#nyc #newyork #newyorkcity #manhattan #quailbell #quailbellmag #quailbellmagazine #travel #traveltheworld #aroundtheworld

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How do people react to you as a solo female traveler? It depends. Some people express concern, while others express admiration. For my own safety, I try not to let on that I'm alone. I always wear my wedding ring and if people ask where my husband is, I can usually just say he's resting at the hotel (even if he's actually at home.)

What scares you? Getting seriously sick or injured. Thus far, my health while traveling hasn't been badly compromised. The worst I've experienced is food poisoning, but when that happens, I rest up and stay hydrated.

How do you overcome fear / anxiety / doubt? I remind myself to just do it. More often than not, when it comes to travel, you'll regret NOT doing something than doing something, so I push myself to try new things.

#BDSM German duckies. #StoddardFuchs #Honeymoon #QuailBell #Latergram

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Worst memory: Getting food poisoning at a mission in Peru. It suddenly hit in the middle of the night and I spent far too long in the bathroom.

One unforgettable memory: Calling an ambulance for an unconscious woman at the Necropolis in Glasgow, Scotland. It wasn't so easy when I didn't have a cell phone and was stuck in a labyrinth of tombstones. Not to mention that the closest group of people was a Polish tour group. I had to perform all kinds of cultural gymnastics in a very short period of time.

#StoddardFuchs #Honeymoon #QuailBell #Latergram

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Bravest memory: Bringing cameras to a shelter for sexually abused children in Guadalajara, Mexico. I spent an afternoon guiding a group of American medical students, many of whom only spoke English, in taking photos with the kids.

Culture shock moment: It's not the biggest, but it was the first I experienced as an adult. When I studied abroad in France in college, it was the first time I had been out of the country without my family. On my very first night in La Rochelle, my host family took me to a neighborhood party. I was dumped on a bunch of high school students mainly because they were the closest to my age. And let me tell you, I have never seen a more enthusiastic group of McDonald's fans. They scarfed down a huge order, while I ate party fare. So much for the French hating fast food!

Best reason to talk to strangers: You have the freedom to let your guard down.

How are you different while traveling? I'm bolder. I say 'yes' more often. I also focus more on the little details that make my art and writing richer. At home, it's easy to get up in what's routine and familiar and sometimes overlook the nuances of your daily environment.

Is it harder to leave or to stay put? To stay put. Definitely. I want to do readings of my writings and showcase my art around the world. I want to take photos everywhere I go. I want to write about new experiences and use every trip as inspiration for new fiction and poetry.

Three things you've learned on the road:

  1. You can't escape your problems but time and distance from home can help you discover new solutions.
  2. Never pass up the chance to use a clean toilet.
  3. Each place means new memories and experiences to draw on for future creations.

What keeps you going? The size of the world! I can't stop until I've seen the whole planet. Plus, I'm eager to continue creating. Artists and writers need new experiences to inspire them.

What's next? This year I have lots of domestic trips planned. One of the many I'm excited about is seeing Poplar Forest, Thomas Jefferson's summer home and plantation near Lynchburg, Virginia. I can't wait to take photos and learn about the lesser-known aspects of TJ's day-to-day life. But I'm also thrilled about exploring New York City's nooks and crannies. One of the top items on my list is the Cloisters. I imagine that visit will inspire some fiction or poetry. How could it not?

Husband and wife. #cacti #cactus #phoenix #arizona #stoddardsisters #westernadventure #quailbell #quailbell

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What would you be doing if you’d never left home? I'd probably still writing and making art, just more locally. I created Quail Bell Magazine while I was a college student in Richmond, Virginia and brought it with me when I moved back to my native Arlington, Virginia. Arlington is part of the Washington, D.C. metro area, so it's not a small place. There would still be plenty of excitement and opportunity. But no matter what, it's important to leave home for at least a little while. I'm glad I have.

What advice do you have for wanna-be Wild Hearts? Make travel a priority. Maybe that means going out to eat less at home or not updating your wardrobe as often as you'd like. But those little sacrifices you make in other parts of your life will make it possible to travel. And I'd rather visit a new place than own another designer dress any day. In the long run, that trip will make memories and teach me things that a dress, no matter how exquisite, simply cannot.

Last question: What would make you stop traveling? Poor health. If it were physically too difficult or dangerous, I would stop. Otherwise, I'm going to keep at it. Even when I have children, I will find ways to bring them with me. My parents raised me to be traveler and I want to raise my children the same way.

Follow Christine: WordsmithChristine.com, WorldOfChristineStoddard.com, QuailBellMagazine.com