Our Traveler this week is Kelsey from the Greater Seattle Area. Hi, Kelsey!
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 am a person who loves fitness, travel, family and friends more than anything else in life. I work for a technology company in Bellevue, WA and spend any and all free time fitnessing (yes that is a word in my vocabulary), traveling or eating/drinking/laughing with my people.
Did you grow up traveling? If no, when did you start?
I have been fortunate enough to travel starting at a young age. Before I can even remember my parents were taking me with them on trips (mostly within the US). We had family vacations in Hawaii, Disney World (Orlando, FL), California and of course camping all over the state of WA and just over the border into Canada.
What is your favorite trip you have taken? Why?
That is a tough one. Every trip I take has some sort of special meaning or significance to it. Travel keeps getting better and better the more I do it. I would have to say one of three…
1. Marbella, Spain with my mother. We went for an incentive trip with her company and we truly soaked up the Spanish lifestyle. Eating dinner at 9pm, and then going out to the bars and nightclubs at 2am or 3am (with of course the aide of that afternoon’s siesta). We could read a book by the pool and hang out in silence. We would talk all night with sporadic eruptions of laughter…Those memories will stay with me for a lifetime.
2. New Orleans, LA with a couple girlfriends. We had no plans going into the trip other than to have fun and experience as much culture as we could. Our first night, after a couple cocktails, we made a list of all the things we wanted to do. Some were as small as going to Café du Monde for some beignets. Others were finding a local festival, taking a swamp tour to see alligators, and touring a haunted graveyard. We checked off everything and we had an absolute blast doing it!
3. Kenya and Tanzania with two of my closest friends and my mom. THIS was a trip of a lifetime! I loved the fact that I didn’t have to plan anything. Everything I wanted to do and see was already built into the itinerary. We spent 18 days in Africa and 8 of those days were on a Safari through four national parks in Tanzania. In Kenya, we kissed giraffes. In Tanzania, we got up close and personal with a few packs of lions. We saw thousands of zebras, wildebeests, and so much more. Getting to experience this with my close friends and my mother was something I will never forget. To top it off, we didn’t even get sick of each other…I don’t think. ☺
How do you normally plan your trips? (do you plan them, join a group tour, hire an agent, etc.)
I personally don’t like planning trips. If I have to, I will. However, if there is someone else in the group who likes to or is willing then I defer to them. I have never hired a formal travel agent but I have very talented friends who are just as good or better than any agency I would have gone through.
What is the biggest obstacle you have overcome while traveling?
Emergency medical care in a 3rd world country.
When I was in high school, my family went to Costa Rica for winter break. We were in a small village, with very little infrastructure, called Jaco. On the last night there I fell into an uncovered manhole walking to dinner. The fall took a big chunk out of my shin (all the way to the bone).
A local was walking by and saw that I needed medical attention and asked us in English if we needed help. The people of Costa Rica are some of the most generous and helpful people you will meet. He went to the Ice Cream parlor and borrowed their phone and called for an aid car for us.
Within minutes a big white van, with no windows and a cherry light on top, pulled up. They put me in the back with my parents. At the time it seemed VERY sketchy, but the guy ensured us it was okay. He even rode with us. The rest of my family followed us to the “hospital”. This “hospital” was a one story tin building with a roll up garage door! My parents were thinking “what in the actual h*ll is this…” Turned out this WAS an urgent care facility and thankfully was very clean and sterile.
The doctor didn’t speak the best English and told my parents that they had a “very beautiful son”…hmpf. At the time (I’m not sure if it is still this way) they would not accept any form of payment for cleaning and stitching me up. Not even a tip. We left having had a great experience (all things considered) and truly appreciated the hospitality of the Costa Rican people.
Best travel tip you have ever received?
Truly though, you only live once and who knows if you will be back in the same place and get an opportunity to experience XYZ again.
So go for it! Give it a try. Spend a little extra cash and enjoy. I believe that I have done a good job of this with traveling. The one area that I am not that adventurous is with food. I DO NOT want to be sick or have an upset stomach while I am traveling and therefore I am a little more cautious about what I order on a menu or what I will try in a different country.
What is a travel essential that you must travel with and why?
This may be boring but I would have to say my Camera and a good scarf.
Camera: Obviously snapping pics of the incredible things you are doing and seeing is a must. I have some of the coolest pictures and photo books that I get to re-live whenever I want. It’s so fun to look back and remember the small nuances that made a place special.
Scarf: Whether it’s used to snuggle up and keep warm on a plane, to keep bugs or mosquitoes at bay, or to keep dust out of my face or mouth. I LOVE having a scarf with me when I travel. It also can mix up outfits that might be plainer and easy to travel in, which is always a plus. ☺
Where do you want to visit in the future, why?
I want to go to Machu Picchu, Peru. I actually have a trip booked for April of 2018! This has always been a bucket list trip for me ever since my parents went for their 25th wedding anniversary. They said it was truly one of the most magical trips they have taken.
Some other places (in no particular order) are: Japan, Southeast Asia, Antarctica, Portugal, Egypt, Iceland, Ireland, Croatia…the list could go on and on.
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