In ‘Today’s Traveler’ I’ll introduce you to a world traveler. Get to know them, learn what makes them tick and why they love to travel. Meet Amanda Williams, the small-town Ohio travel blogger behind A Dangerous Business. Amanda is an ordinary girl searching for extraordinary adventures beyond her Midwest bubble. Balancing a “normal” life of school and work, she writes as well as shares her photos and videos of her quest to discover the world. Through her site she aims to inspire others to overcome their travel fears, just do it and live with no regrets. See how Amanda fell in love with travel after a trip to New Zealand, lives in the moment and what’s up next in her global pursuit of adventure.
1. Have your travels helped you create your own meaning of the word ‘travel?’ If so, what have you come up with?
Definitely. Though, the more I travel, the more I realize that there’s no one “best” way to define it. To travel is to grow and learn and see and do. It’s about leaving behind what you’re used to and exploring something new. Travel challenges you, and opens your eyes to things you never noticed before – about the world, and about yourself.
2. What encouraged you to take your first trip abroad in 2005, what got you hooked?
My first big trip abroad was to New Zealand in 2005. NZ was my chosen destination because I had spent most of my high school career obsessed with the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. All three movies were filmed in New Zealand, and I fell in love with the country before I ever stepped foot on its soil. I spent more than two years saving up money for that trip, and it’s still one of my favorite travel memories.
As for what got me hooked? I’m still trying to figure out how to explain it. But it definitely has something to do with realizing how MUCH there is outside of the comfortable borders I grew up inside.
3. How do you balance work, travel & blogging?
Well, it ain’t always pretty. I’m currently in graduate school full-time, have a job as a research assistant, and also run my blog and travel as frequently as I can. Most weeks, I never do quite strike a balance; I feel like something is always slightly neglected, whether it’s the paper that’s due next week, or the blog post I need to write for tomorrow. But I’m getting better at juggling everything over time. So far, the key has been to get the most important things out of the way first, and not stress about the rest of it. The “no worries” attitude I picked up from living in New Zealand has definitely come in handy!
4. Have you had any really embarrassing moments while traveling?
Oh, plenty! The worst was definitely renting a car with some friends in New Zealand and driving it out of the lot not realizing that the parking brake was on (what can I say, I don’t use those where I live in Ohio!). If driving down the highway in a screeching car wasn’t bad enough, none of us realized what the problem was, and so I drove BACK to the rental place, only to be made fun of relentlessly by the guys working there. Talk about mortifying!
5. Is there one experience from your travels that you will never forget?
There are MANY travel experiences that I will never forget. At least one or two are not blog-safe, but plenty of others are. Like the time I played in a marching band concert on the Great Wall of China, or seeing gymnastics live at the London 2012 Olympics, or swimming with sharks in Belize, or the New Year’s Day when I jumped into a freezing cold river in Scotland, or taking a fixed-wing plane flight over the mountains in New Zealand. I really could go on and on – travel makes for such amazing memories!
6. What is one thing travel has taught you?
That, deep down, people all over the world want the same things. We may not always agree on matters of religion or politics or economics. But, at the end of the day, we’re all searching for the things in life that make us happy.
I’m definitely a glass-half-full kind of gal, and always try to see the best in people and in the world. Traveling has definitely proven to me that, while certainly flawed, people are for the most part good and kind and worth knowing.
7. What has been the weirdest thing and the best thing you’ve eaten in a foreign country?
The weirdest would probably have to be either puffin or minke whale, both of which I tried last year in Iceland. I found both to be disgusting, and felt really guilty for trying them.
As for the best thing I’ve eaten abroad… that’s a tough one! I’m not super adventurous when it comes to eating (though I’m definitely working on that!), and I also haven’t been to a lot of the major “foodie” destinations in the world. So I’d have to go with either some gnocchi in a creamy tomato sauce that I had in Italy back in 2005, or some of the fresh Shopska salads I ate last summer in Bulgaria. Fresh, simple foods are the best!
8. If you could travel with one person, from the past or present, who would it be and why?
Another tough one! Am I allowed to just say myself? While I do enjoy traveling with a friend or in a small group frequently, I often have the most fun just traveling solo. I love the freedom and the flexibility that comes along with not having to answer to anyone but myself.
9. What do you think is the greatest fear to overcome about traveling?
Well, any travel-related fear usually boils down to one thing: fear of the unknown. Any excuse that anyone has ever made to not travel usually stems from this fear. To overcome it is not easy. You have to let go of the anxiety – and a lot of the control. Once you realize that some things in life are just out of your hands but that, in the end, everything has a way of working itself out, then you’re well on your way to overcoming that fear.
10. Any travel tips/advice for future travelers with the desire to explore?
I’ll steal a line from Nike here – just DO IT.
There are so many reasons not to – not enough money, too many responsibilities, not enough time – that many people keep putting travel off, telling themselves they’ll do it “later” when they feel more secure in their lives. Well, the sad thing is, that “later” never comes for most people.
Instead of putting it off, just travel NOW. I’ve yet to meet anyone who regrets it.
Visit Amanda’s site: A Dangerous Business
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Follow her on Twitter @DangerousBiz