Saturday, October 24, 2015

Alisathome Answers Travel Questions

In all honesty, I've thought a lot about laying this blog to rest over the past few months. After all, I'm no longer abroad, so it seems a little silly to keep writing in a blog called Alisabroad. Wouldn't a more appropriate name be Alisathome?

Alisathome's adventures are a bit more *ahem* exercise in the woods!

If I'm no longer an expat having international adventures, how can I maintain a blog devoted to them? Is there really any point in trying? Mightn't it be better to just give up? Wouldn't I seem like a fraud?

And yet, it seems a shame to just abandon something that I've been working on for over 6.5 years, especially when I feel like I had just been starting to find my voice and connect with other people.

But if I were to decide to keep writing, about past adventures, about potential future adventures, or even about life in the United States (which I do realize, IS 'abroad' for most of the world, and still feels pretty damn foreign to me after all these years away), I'd have to first get over something. For the past few months, I've been continually wrestling with that mean little voice in the back of my head that says "You're not that good of a writer anyway. Quit bothering people with your whiny expat stories, because no one wants to hear your humblebragging. That life is over now. Get used to it."

On the best of days, that voice is no more than an annoying whisper that I can easily tune out. But when I'm feeling low and not sure that the decisions I've made were the right ones, it screams in my ear with force enough to knock me off my feet.

And lately, that terrible voice has been roaring at me with gale force winds, and I've spent most of my time falling arse over teakettle, trying desperately to stand back up again and usually failing.

Is it any surprise, then, that I haven't had the courage to blog about my transition back to living in the United States? That I abandoned my resolution to blog once a week, every week, all year long? That instead I haven't written in over four months?

And to be honest, I could have just slunk away quietly and pretended that this blog had never existed, that I didn't care about giving up on it entirely. But instead, I'm dragging myself back up and writing this right now because I have the support of some great friends. I can't pretend to be that wonderful of a long-distance friend (or in-person one, for that matter), as I continually forget to respond to emails and texts for weeks at a time and get so wrapped up in my own stuff that I don't reach out to people when I should.

Luckily, not everyone out there is like me. I have some wonderful friends who won't let me fall off the radar, accidentally or otherwise, and for that I am so grateful. There have been numerous lovely people reaching out to me while I've been burrowed away in my little personal cocoon these last few months, but there is one in particular to thank for my trying blogging again, and that's Linda from Indie Travel Podcast.

Me and Linda at about this time last year

Linda was one of my work buddies last year in Alcalá de Henares, and I was delighted the day that I learned that she and her husband Craig were travel bloggers, like me! Of course, their podcast is all, like, famous and really really good and stuff and I'm still too lazy to bother to do a lot of things that bloggers are "supposed" to do, but whatever. As fellow members of the international travelers' club, we formed a bond that I still look back on fondly.

Linda wrote a blog post a few weeks ago about 10 awesome female bloggers. As I was reading it one day during my lunch break at work, I found my name on the list, and I was quite touched. She then wrote me a message saying that she hoped I would continue blogging as she'd missed reading my updates since I stopped. Although I still struggled with silencing my fears, I felt like I owed it to her to keep writing. If nothing else, I had to at least answer the questions she'd put out on that post, being that I was so honored to have made her list at all!

So that's what I'm doing today, answering her ten questions about traveling and hoping doing so will help to quiet that jerk of a voice in the back of my head. Perhaps her little prod may end up being to blame for starting me blogging regularly again! As they say at Hogwarts, "Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus," never tickle a sleeping dragon. ;-)

So without further ado, Linda's travel questions and my answers.


1. Why do you travel?

I travel because I can't think of anything else I would rather do. Because the world is so big and interesting, because I love to learn about anything and everything, and because I have a ridiculously long list of places I haven't seen yet (not with these eyes). It's a yearning, it's a passion, and it's the only thing I ever think of when I get asked "What would you do if you won a million dollars?"

Nothing makes me feel more alive than experiencing new parts of the world!

2. Suitcase or backpack? 

When I move abroad to live for a year or longer, I usually take one of each. But once I get there, for all my trips I take a Patagonia 30L backpack, which I am quite talented at stuffing to the brims and still getting on Ryanair flights for free.

3. What luxury item do you take with you? 

I'm a pretty bare-bones traveler, especially because the majority of my trips are of a duration of two months or less before I check in at my home base (wherever in the world that may be at the time). I can't fit a lot besides basic clothes and toiletries in my tiny backpack, but the one "unnecessary" (except to my mental health) item I always have is my daily journal. I go nowhere without that. Quite often, I also have a paperback book to read when my phone's battery is dead, and I have, on occasion, backpacked with my laptop (although that brings the weight of my poor little backpack WAY up).

4. Who do you like to travel with? 

This is actually a really hard question. Without a doubt, the people I have traveled the MOST with are my parents, but, with no offense meant to them, the way I travel with them is rather different from how I travel on my own. There are a lot of improvements, of course, but I also miss out on some more "funky" things I would do if all by myself. Actually, probably the majority of my travels at this point have been totally solo, but while that can be really amazing, it can be really lonely too, especially for someone as shy as me. I've had some really good trips with different friends, but I'd say I'm still looking for that perfect travel partner. In a perfect world, I suppose it would be whoever I end up marrying someday!

Again, not at all to diss traveling with my parents...we had a blast in Estonia this past summer!

5. What’s great about your hometown? 

It's kind of funny to be asked this question, since right now I'm actually living back in my hometown for the first time since I was 18. I have lots of memories here, but I'm currently struggling to figure out what it might have to offer someone in their mid-twenties who's traveled the world and come back again. There are a few new interesting places that have opened up since I left, including some craft breweries, and even when I was younger I loved visiting the local Japanese gardens.

6. Do you ever feel tired of traveling? 

Absolutely. I've learned that I'm not really cut out for long-term travel because after a certain point in long trips I get tired of packing up my things and changing locations. I even start to feel like every destination looks the same! At these moments, all I want is a lazy day alone at home in my pajamas watching movies on my computer! There are ways to combat this travel ennui while on the road, of course, but it's also good to know how you travel best, and for me that's in shorter spurts.

7. What’s the most challenging thing about travel?

Probably how difficult it can be to accomplish even the simplest of tasks. Learning how things work in other places is part of the joy of travel too, but when you're already worn out from a full day of travel, just trying to find somewhere decent to eat can seem like a huge mountain to climb. And that's not to mention dealing with rude and intolerant people, language barriers, currency issues, strange opening hours, difficult-to-read train timetables, or immigration paperwork.

8. Tell me about a moment when you felt really happy. 

Hmmm....when I was backpacking around Morocco during Semana Santa 2013 with a group of Spanish friends, we ended up hiring a local guide to take us around Fez's medina, since it was almost impossible to navigate on our own and we were tired of being harassed by locals trying to sell us things. After doing a fantastic job all day long taking us to the most interesting places around town, he invited all four of us to his family home for dinner. That evening was one of the most enlightening experiences of my life, and I remember feeling so very lucky that a family who cooked all of their meals on a hot plate was generous enough to share what little they had with four people they had never seen before in their lives. We ate without utensils, we laughed, they taught us how to dance using mainly our shoulders, and I was so happy that I got to experience such a unique and special moment.

Delicious tea in our Moroccan guide's home

9. What have you only recently learned about travel or about yourself? 

I've said for a long time that I will eat literally anything, at least once. But I recently learned while in Mexico this summer that I just CANNOT do spicy breakfast. It seems like a weird thing, but I kept saying over and over to my Mexican friend "But does EVERY meal have to be spicy? Even BREAKFAST??" Nope nope nope. That early in the morning, I only want coffee with cereal, bread with butter and jam, pancakes, waffles, etc. No salt, and please god no habanero peppers.

10. Which travel destination would you love to go back to? 

You mean besides wanting to move back to Vigo? Well, there are so many places I'd like to see more of, even in countries I know well. The UK will always have more things for me to see (if you're tired of London you're tired of life, after all), there are so many places I'd still like to go in France, and there are even a few places left on my Spain wish list. I guess if I have to pick just one I'll say Iceland, because I feel like I was only there for a hot second, and the whole time I was limping and kind of miserable due to a misfortunate incident at the Blue Lagoon, so it kind of needs a do-over.

If only travel were as easy as hopping in a blue police box...

Looks like I still have a lot of places left to get to (or get back to)! So here's to hoping that, despite being back Stateside for now, there are more travel adventures in my well as plenty of ganas to write about them! 

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