Our Traveler this week is Becky from Richmond, Virginia, founder of sightDOING. Hi, Becky!
This post is part of our YouPaca The Bag Traveler Series. This series looks at how people from all walks of life travel. We analyze what works for them and what doesn’t, their travel planning strategies, obstacles they’ve encountered, destinations they enjoy, their future travel goals, and more. We hope you enjoy reading this series as much as we’ve enjoyed putting it together!
Tell us about yourself.
I’m a Virginia resident who loves exploring the world. I’ve been working remotely for about four years — which definitely gives me the opportunity to travel! When I’m not traveling, I love cooking, hiking, and spending time with my husband and dog at home. I’m also a big believer that travel is amazing, but home can be great too.
Did you grow up traveling? If no, when did you start to travel?
Yes, but all my travel growing up was family road trips. Because of that, I saw a ton of the east coast USA (driving distance from home) but I didn’t leave North America until I took a college trip to Ecuador. It wasn’t until I graduated that I started traveling to a major extent.
What is your favorite trip you have taken? Why?
It’s always impossible to choose a single trip that was my favorite, but Nicaragua stands out in my head because it was when I fully embraced solo travel, slow travel, and my love for Latin America. All of those things impact my travels today, even though I definitely branched out from that.
Nicaragua was/is also one of the top places in the world for what I call “sightDOING”, or hands-on travel. There were chances to hike volcanoes, take cooking classes, try to salsa (ha!), and so much more.
How do you normally plan your trips? (Do you plan them, join a group tour, hire an agent, etc.)
I am an obsessive planner – that’s half the fun! I do extensive reading before a trip and then compile a loose itinerary as a Google Doc which I update and share with any travel companions ahead of time.
What is the biggest obstacle you have overcome while traveling?
Two years ago, I got stranded in Panama City for four days while Washington Dulles airport (and other major hubs) were closed and I couldn’t get home. Thousands of flights were cancelled, so it was impossible to find an empty seat home.
The first day in Panama was a fun surprise, but each day thereafter got more complicated. I was out of clean clothes, fell behind on work I had to do, and it was expensive to add four days onto my trip that I hadn’t planned or budgeted for. Thankfully, travel insurance reimbursed (most) of my expenses, but it didn’t make up for events I missed at home and a few work deadlines.
Best travel tip you have ever received?
“Travel like you live.” It’s all about making sure that the trip you’re planning (and taking) is melded to you. That’s why my trips include lots of outdoor activities and good restaurants…it echoes my interests at home, too.
Plus I know that things like couchsurfing aren’t a good fit for me. I wouldn’t crash on a friend’s couch at home, so I don’t want to do it traveling. Knowing your comfort level can make sure you are pushing yourself in a good way and not overwhelming yourself for no reason at all. Of course there are always exceptions, as long as you keep this in the back of your mind and make conscious choices.
What is a travel essential that you must travel with and why?
Good socks! I know that sounds ridiculous, but happy feet equals a happy traveler! I do a ton of walking, both on city streets or on nature hikes, and there’s nothing like a blister or cold, wet feet to ruin your day.
Where do you want to visit in the future and why?
Have you ever met a traveler that doesn’t have a list a mile long? It’s hard for me to narrow things down, but I do want to take an African safari because it would be so different from anywhere else I’ve been. I’m actually hoping to visit Namibia this fall, so cross your fingers for me!
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