Name & Age? Jennifer Melroy, 25
Where's home? I am currently living in Virginia, USA but my parents place in Tennessee is still home (even though I haven't lived there since I was 18).
What was/is your last/current trip? My last big trip was an African Safari in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. I do a lot of weekend trips around the United States. I go to a lot of National Parks on my weekends.
What got you started? My parents got me started on traveling. I was 2 months old on my first plane ride and haven't stopped traveling since.
How do you pay the way? I try to save as much of my engineering salary as I can. My work has a couple of small bonus plans that I work really hard to make the most of.
What's always on your packing list? Hiking boots, camera, computer.
What’s the last thing that blew your mind? Last year, I did a trek to see the gorilla in Rwanda. I will never forget watching those animals from less than 10 feet away. Looking into their eyes you could see the intelligence.
By land, by sea, or by air? I love all three. I tend to lean towards road trips since they are a great way to see a country without the added cost of flying.
Hotel or hostel? Camp or Couchsurf? I love hostels. They are a great way to meet other local travelers and find people to hang out and explore with.
What's your travel pet peeve? Idiot tourists. I hate watching tourists do idiotic things that put themselves, others, or sites at risk. Some people seem to think that national parks are playgrounds and the signs don't matter or apply to them.
How do people react to you as a solo female traveler? It's usually a combo of, "Really is that safe?", or "That's so amazing and I wish I could do that!"
What scares you? Not much. Some things have made me nervous but I try not to let things scare me or worry me while traveling. Things happen anywhere and everywhere.
How do you overcome fear / anxiety / doubt? I put one foot in front of the other and just keep pushing myself.
Worst memory: It was towards the end of my winter Iceland road trip when I hit a patch of black ice and spun my rental car into a guardrail. It made a bad day worse since the weather forecast had changed and the odd of seeing the northern lights had gone down. I had been in Iceland for almost two weeks and still hadn't seen the lights.
One unforgettable memory: I was 6 years old when my parents took me to Yellowstone National Park. I was going though that obsessed with wolves phase. Yellowstone had just reintroduced wolves a couple months previously. I will never forget looking though the binoculars and seeing a real wolf in Yellowstone.
Bravest memory: I was in between cities in northern Iceland when a snowstorm blew in. I didn't have much choice but to keep driving with blowing wind and snow. I am still not sure how I made it though when at points I couldn't see the road.
Culture shock moment: I was getting some supplies for my job in Equatorial Guinea. I had to go to the local market. I had no idea what I was getting into when I arrived at the market. I had about 5 personal shoppers descend on me to help with my shopping. I just wanted to wander around and check out the shops. It was weird that I had a bunch of guys following me around the whole time wanting to know what I was looking for.
Best reason to talk to strangers: You never know what you are going to learn. I love asking a random local for restaurant recommendations. It starts the conversation and they always recommend something great at a reasonable price.
How are you different while traveling? I am a little more focused on the road. I am more willing to get up and get my day moving.
Is it harder to leave or to stay put? Some places are really hard to leave. They just get in your blood stream and want to stay there. Iceland is a big one for me. I can't wait to go back at some point.
Three things you've learned on the road:
- Trust your gut.
- Pack half the amount of stuff you thing you need.
- Don't over stress about things beyond your control.
What keeps you going? My next adventure.
What's next? More U.S. travel (finishing up visiting all the USA national parks). This winter hopefully, Egypt and somewhere in Europe.
What would you be doing if you’d never left home? I have no idea. Probably, married with a kid living near my parents.
What advice do you have for wanna-be Wild Hearts? Don't let others fears stop you. Trust yourself and your instincts.
Last question: What would make you stop traveling? Death. I am always looking for my next adventure even if it is just a adventure in the town I am living in.
Follow Jennifer: www.made-all-the-difference.com