I’m Jenny, and I love to travel. I’m not even sure how it happened. I just kind of fell into it, took a trip and just kept going not really knowing at the time that this was going to become my lifestyle but now I’m completely unable to stop!
My parents were travelers (still are!). Not in a big way at the time, as they had many children to look after so they kept our travel to family camping trips and vacations to Disneyland and Mexican resorts. But in the past, long before us little ones came along, they had spent a year traveling the world. I grew up hearing about their adventures in India, Nepal, and Pakistan, about working in Australia and freezing in New Zealand, about having guns pointed at them by Czechoslovakian border guards.
Periodically they’d give a slideshow (yes, slides!) and I would see images of much younger versions of my parents in places that seemed so exotic; Mom looking terrified holding a snake or Dad with his big bushy travel beard. An Australian friend who’d been on much of the same trip with them came to visit several times, and regaled us with tales of Australian ranching and South Pacific islands.
I read Nevil Shute’s ‘A Town Like Alice’, which my parents had read on their tip and takes place partly in Australia, and then all the travel books I could get. I watched Lonely Planet on TV, thinking how lucky the hosts were to have a job that let them travel all over. I went to a travel trade show and filled my bag with brochures, which I spent hours poring over. As time went by my need to see the world became stronger and stronger.
Finally the desire to explore overtook everything else. After working at a resort in the Canadian Rockies for a long season, I had saved enough money and put myself on a plane to New Zealand for three months, then spent a year in Australia on a Working Holiday Visa. I had an amazing time. I tried abseiling and scuba diving and sand boarding, and went on hiking, cycling, kayaking, sailing and snorkeling trips. I saw penguins, kiwis, koalas, kangaroos, spiders and snakes. I worked in a hostel, a restaurant, a hotel and a coffee shop. I learned a lot about the countries I was in, as well as about myself and other people. I was hooked.
I wound up back at home, in debt, without a job or a car and living with my mom, longing for the adventurous life I’d left behind. I remember during a job interview the woman looked at me and said ‘But you’re just going to leave again’ and I had trouble convincing her that it wasn’t so, when I knew deep inside that she was probably right.
At the end of 2004, after working in a crappy job for a year and a half, I did leave again. I boarded a plane to Seoul, TEFL certificate in hand, terrified and excited. I didn’t know it at the time, but that was only the beginning, and I haven’t lived in Canada since. I’ve visited more than 30 more countries, several of them more than once, and lived in South Korea, Scotland, and Vietnam. I’ve had some amazing experiences, met some fascinating people, and seen landscapes that have taken my breath away. I wouldn’t change it for anything.
I believe in slow travel, in experiencing a country and its people and seeing how they really live, rather than just visiting the touristy places. I take my time, wander back streets and alleyways, sit in parks and just watch. I often find that when other travelers say you can ‘do’ a place in a day, I can keep myself quite busy for three or four days, or if three days are required, I want a week.
I like to live in places, because then I can really get a feel for life in that country. I can immerse myself in the culture more, meet the people, and even try cooking my favourite local food. It’s amazing how much more I can get to know about a place just by staying a while.
I have nearly always traveled solo. Though perhaps I meet people along the way and spend a day or a week with them, I like always having the freedom to do what I want, when I want. And being alone gives me more opportunities to interact with both locals and other travelers.
I like the person that I am when I’m traveling. Not that I don’t otherwise, but I feel like my traveling self is the best version of me. The challenges that travel often presents make me feel more confident and clever. I’m more active, and generally just happier when I’m on the road. I realized at one point when I was living in Korea that I would always feel a little bit down if I did not have a trip I was planning for!
So there’s everything you need to know about me. Any questions, just ask!