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Every Thursday, A Dangerous Business will be shining the spotlight on a world nomad, travel blogger, armchair adventurer, or just someone really cool in the travel world. This week, the traveler is Katie Aune of Katie Going Global. Katie is a Minnesota native who is a sports fanatic, running enthusiast, recovering attorney and, of course, obsessed with travel. She recently quit her job in nonprofit fundraising to spend a year volunteering and traveling through the 15 countries of the former Soviet Union.

1. How do you define the word “traveler,” and why would you consider yourself one?

I would say a traveler is anyone who travels – to any place and for any amount of time, whether it is a few days, a few weeks or a few years. Although my current trip is my first experience with extended travel, I have been a traveler since I first went to Europe ten years ago.

2. What has been your favorite travel experience thus far?

Oh gosh, I have to pick just one? I would have to say exploring the Tombs of the Nobles on the left bank of the Nile in Aswan, Egypt.  My friend Jess and I were the only people there and a guy named Mohammed took us around through the caves, miming explanations for the hieroglyphics and frescoes on the walls. Despite the language barrier, we were able to communicate quite well and Mohammed had us laughing from start to finish.

3. How about your proudest travel moment?

Completing the 4 day Inca Trail hike in 2009 – it was by far the most physically challenging thing I’ve ever done.

4. Have you had any travel mishaps or bad experiences? If so, have these influenced how you view the place where they happened? Would you go back?

Luckily, I haven’t had any devastating experiences, although I have had some that were less than ideal – like getting scammed in Cairo, leaving my backpack on a bus in Budapest, not-so-great homestay conditions in St. Petersburg and, most recently, having my debit card eaten by a Russian ATM machine. If anything, all of those experiences showed me the good in the people of the country where they occurred – and they make for fun stories later on!

5. Name one thing you can’t travel without.

My camera – I love to capture what I am seeing so I can remember it clearly later and so I can share with family and friends.

6. Name one thing you wish you COULD travel without.

Again, my camera.  It sounds weird, but sometimes I feel like the camera gets in the way of really seeing my surroundings.  I realized this after arriving in Helsinki to start my current trip. I was jetlagged and accidentally left my camera behind when I headed out to sightsee. At first I was disappointed when I realized I didn’t have it, but as I walked around the city, I felt like I really saw and noticed things so much more because I wasn’t just looking to snap a picture.

7. What do you think has been the biggest thing you’ve learned while traveling (about yourself, a destination, a culture, travel itself)?

I have learned that even if an experience is not what you expected and not what you wanted, it can still be a valuable experience. My recent homestay experience in Russia is a perfect example of this – it didn’t turn out as I hoped or imagined it would, but I learned a lot and am a stronger person for it.

8. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

I have called Chicago home for the last ten years and could easily see returning there after this trip – it is a beautiful, clean city with a Midwestern-nice vibe and so much to do. I also like the laidback feel of Seattle and the whole time I was in St. Petersburg (Russia, not Florida!), I kept thinking I could see myself living there too.

9. Name one place you’d like to see or one experience you’d like to have before you die.

I would love to hike the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal.

10. If there was one thing you wish somebody would have told you before you started traveling, what would it be?

To start traveling sooner!  I didn’t get a passport until I was 24 and didn’t go overseas for the first time until I was 25. I had opportunities to study abroad while I was in college and law school that I passed up for one silly reason or another – looking back, that’s my biggest regret.

Visit Katie’s site: Katie Going Global
Follow Katie on Twitter: @katieaune
“Like” Katie on Facebook: Katie Going Global

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Are you a travel blogger who has something to say on these topics? Do you know of somebody really interesting in the travel universe that you’d like to see interviewed? Speak up! The Thursday Traveler needs some interview subjects.

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7 Responses to Thursday Traveler: Katie Aune

  1. I feel the same way about the camera. Not only can a DSLR be a lug around to carry and make you a target as a tourist. It makes you spend a lot of time traveling behind the lens. Oh well, maybe it’s worth it in the long run.
    Gerard ~ GQ trippin recently posted..A Girl’s “Gadgets” – My Packing Essentials for Long-Term Travel

    • Katie says:

      I don’t even have a DSLR! But yes, constantly whipping out your camera, whatever kind it is, does kind of scream “tourist!” At the same time, I have plenty of moments where I wish I had taken a picture and I didn’t…
      Katie recently posted..Construction, Congestion, Chaos and Cars

      • DangerousBiz says:

        I know EXACTLY what you mean. Lots of times I feel really weird taking out my camera to snap photos of what would be seemingly mundane things to locals. I hate sticking out as a tourist, especially when I’m traveling alone. But, at the same time, there are plenty of things I regret not taking more photos of. Especially now that I’m focusing a lot on my blog, I often think about all those missed photo opportunities that could have enhanced a post or helped me better tell a story! Oh well.

  2. NLM says:

    I agree re: Annapurna! You are way ahead of the game–although I’d been in lots of places in the US, I didn’t get my passport till I was FORTY! But I’m making up for it!n Next trip is to Antarctica.
    NLM recently posted..Smoking in Xi’an

  3. Audrey says:

    Great interview! I’ve really enjoyed following Katie’s adventures across the former Soviet Union.
    Audrey recently posted..Tübingen On A Cloudy Day

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