In this interview series called What Inspires….. I aim to share with you what inspires other travellers to get out there and see the world in the hope that it inspires you to do the same.
This weeks What Inspires interview is with one of my favourite fellow Aussie bloggers. What makes her one of my favourites is her pure passion and ability to put that passion and her strong beliefs into everything she writes no matter what others might think. She’s one gutsy lady!
Karyn is from Melbourne and spent much of her late teens and early 20s volunteering amongst disadvantaged communities in the north of Thailand. This taught her the importance of responsible tourism and goes hand in hand with her passion for conservation and animal welfare. She strongly believes that the wellbeing of the environment is very closely linked with the wellbeing of people.
On her blog, Not Done Travelling, Karyn writes about these passions as well as her and fiancé Michael’s journey towards a location-independent lifestyle in order to be able to travel long-term.
Read on to find out What Inspires Karyn from Not Done Travelling.
What or who inspired you to travel and discover the world?
I’m such a nerd. I LOVE history and I’m fascinated by ancient civilizations and cultures, so any old building or ruin attracts me like a magnet. I’m not content to simply read about these places – I have to go there myself, walk the paths, press my hands up against the stones and wonder what amazing things they have seen. I also adore nature and can’t get enough of being immersed in it. I’m not a sporty girl, but I’m very much a tree-hugging hippie kind of girl (I used to have dreadlocks down to my butt and I follow a nature-based spiritual path.) As such, I’m very passionate about protecting the environment, and to be honest I’m afraid we are about to lose some very essential ecosystems from this planet. I love to see these precious places, such as rainforests and coral reefs (although I can’t scuba dive, I adore snorkelling).
Where was your first overseas trip and was it everything you expected it to be?
In my teens I was very religious (although I subscribe to a different faith now). When I was 17 I went with my church to do volunteer work amongst the hilltribes of northern Thailand. This trip was hugely impacting – I recall standing on the street corner next to Chiang Mai’s day market, looking up at signs filled with a script I couldn’t read, surrounded by new smells and sounds, hearing a language I didn’t understand, and thinking, “It’s just like on TV!”
Recently, great progress has been made with the infrastructure to the hilltribe villages, but 15 years ago there was still a lot of work to be done. So many of those villages had zero access to healthcare and drug use was rampant, so we saw a lot of things most 17-year-olds would never normally be exposed to. Because of this, and because of the strong friendships we made with the Thais who hosted us, it was a very emotional experience for everybody. I still remember our whole group bawling our eyes out and holding hands across the aisles as we took off from Chiang Mai’s airport. In fact, I almost didn’t come home at all – it was only the fear of my parents’ wrath that got me on that plane home!
As a result of this trip, I ended up returning to Thailand 2 years later to do more volunteer work, then moved there in 2005 to work in an orphanage for 15 months. I think that starting out my travels with these experiences really set the stage for me to be chiefly concerned with responsible and eco-friendly travel. If you’re rich enough to leave your own country, that doesn’t mean the rest of the world is your playground for you do as you please. Step lightly and be mindful of the impact on the communities you are visiting.
What’s one tip you can give to anyone about to head off on their first overseas adventure?
Go with an open mind, an open heart, and open eyes. An open mind will help you to respect cultures, and exposes you to the idea that there is more than one way to live life. An open heart will enable you to see the best in people and shows you that human beings are essentially good, no matter where they’re from. Open eyes do two things: 1) They help you to be smart and avoid danger, and 2) They allow you to see past the touristy façade of wherever you are to the way people really live their lives. This will show you that this entire planet is linked, and that the actions of the richest affect the lives of the poorest.
Best travel experience so far?
Oh, this is so hard! To be perfectly honest my best travel experience changes every day, and I struggle so hard to pinpoint one.
I suppose I should choose something dramatic, like the time I went down a Fijian river in a bamboo raft, or visiting the temples around Angkor Wat, but ultimately I have to go with the time my fiancé Michael and I spent a few days hanging out with our friends Anni and Lisa in Phuket. We rented motorbikes, visited the attractions such as the Big Buddha and Promthep Cape, swam at the best beaches on the island, and got lost (totally my fault – I spent an entire afternoon driving around with poor Anni perched on the back of my bike, trying to use my rusty Thai to find our way back to our hotel.) The four of us even got to pause together at 12:12 on 12/12/12 at a lookout on one of the central mountains, which was particularly meaningful for me.
Although you can fill your travels with big, spectacular moments, I actually think the best memories are about the friendships you make on the road and the quality time you spend with the people you love.
What’s your biggest source of travel inspiration between trips?
I find reading other peoples’ blogs and following them on social media to be hugely inspiring. I love to read about somebody going somewhere I’ve never thought to visit, or doing something I didn’t know it was possible to do. Bloggers are also very honest in recounting their experiences, and what I want most as a reader is honesty.
Do you have a favourite quote, travel related or otherwise?
Again, there are so many to choose from! But currently, I’ve been reflecting on the following: “A man who dares waste one hour of his time has not discovered the value of life”. – Charles Darwin. For me this means: Why are you wasting your precious life doing something you don’t want to be doing? Life is now, not something that happens when you’re 65 and can finally retire. Live the life you want, not the live somebody else told you you should have.
Connect with Karyn
Check out Karyn’s website, Not Done Travelling, to read about her experiences and follow her future travels. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and Instagram for even more extras that don’t make it onto her blog.
Thanks Karyn for sharing your inspiring travel story with us. For a further dose of inspiration, you can look back over all past interviews here.
Over to you!
Who or what, inspires you to travel and discover the world?
Let me know using the comments section below or join me on social media to start a conversation.
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this post.