Madison and I met through a Facebook travel community of women called Girls Love Travel. I knew I had to learn more about her travel adventures when saw some of her beautiful videos on Youtube. A West Virginia native she uses video to tell the stories of her travels and of the people she meets along the way. As a story teller in a different sense, I loved seeing another awesome woman traveller taking on the world one travel at a time!
What started your passion for traveling?
I think I’ve always had this inherent desire to see new places and meet new people. As a kid, I was never satisfied with the status quo and couldn’t wait to go to college. I grew up in a fairly small town and I think that had a lot to do with it. I knew everyone and had been everywhere. There was no sense of adventure or newness. Everything was the same. I went to university seven hours away from home and after meeting people from different places and doing some domestic travel with friends during our breaks from school, I knew I had to see more of the world.
What’s one travel tip you think the world should know?
Pack light. My friends reading this will laugh. I am the worst at this, but it really is so important. Not only is it inconvenient to carry around a 50-pound suitcase, but also it can be a pain at airports. You do not need the extra pair of shoes or your entire makeup bag.
What’s your favorite cultural habit you’ve picked up?
The locals in Australia are really laid back. It’s partly why I love the culture so much – everyone is super chill. They walk around barefoot a lot and I especially noticed how strange it was that people go barefoot in supermarkets. In the United States, that’s not normal. So as simple as that sounds, was really a shock for me. Now I find myself slipping my shoes off when I drive or taking the trash out barefoot.
What would you suggest for other women who are thinking about solo traveling?
Plan and be prepared and be smart, obviously. But go!
What’s one failure that you learned a lot from, when it comes to travel?
Somewhere along the railway from Vienna, Austria to Budapest, Hungary all of my camera equipment was stolen on the train. As a filmmaker over 1,500 miles from home in a foreign country, I felt completely hopeless. It was heartbreaking. It was the biggest challenge I have ever faced while challenging. I learned to travel smart. I keep an eye on my stuff and have found the right suitcases, backpacks, camera bags, etc. that allow me pack efficiently and compactly.
What’s the best and worst part about traveling solo?
Worst: You’re by yourself. You can only share your experience with words and photos rather than share the actual moment with someone you love. Sometimes that’s hard, and other times it’s really cool to share something with yourself or a total stranger.
Best: You find out so much about yourself. I found this incredible sense of independence by traveling by myself. I learned how to live with a carefree spirit and it’s carried over into my day-to-day life.
What’s one fear that you’ve overcome, while traveling?
I overcame my fear of being alone. I used to hate it so much – being alone. As an extrovert, I never thought being alone would be my thing. But I’ve slowly become so comfortable with being myself. I think that has come in part with growing more comfortable with who I am. Because I love myself, I love being by myself. Now I have no idea what I was so afraid of.
What is your favorite way to travel and why?
I think all offer a unique way of seeing things and their own level of convenience. Planes are fast and becoming relatively inexpensive. Trains offer the beautiful scenery – places that you’d only see by taking the train. And then there’s that feeling you get driving down a long road with the sea out the window, the windows rolled down, and your favorite song playing. That’s a beautiful way to travel, too.
What is one piece of advice that you wish you could give your past self?
It’s ok if you don’t know what you want to do in 10 years. In fact, it’s normal. Pursue what you love and if that passion changes, let it, and pursue your new passion. Never “half-ass” anything. And always be kind to everyone you meet. There’s a soul inside of everyone.
What is one place at the top of your bucket list that you’d like to visit?
There are so many places. I would really like to hike the Patagonia or Mt. Kilimanjaro. I haven’t done much “adventure” travel and that’s something I want to start doing more of.
Do you have any upcoming trips? Where to and what will you be doing?
I’m planning a few trips that I’m really excited about. I’ll be filming all of them – of course. I’d like to do a Canadian road trip to see the national parks because they’re all free in 2017. I’d also like to see more the United States. Cuba is also on my 2017 list. I’m really excited about the opportunity to see more of the world and meet so many new people.
Anything else you’d like to add about yourself?
Travel has completely changed my life – and my career. I am humbled by everything life has thrown my way and am thoroughly looking forward to what is next.
Tea Talk is a bi-monthly series that is published on the 1st and 15th of each month. Join me again on March 1st for our next feature! – Emilee