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 Ashley from Ashley Abroad. Ashley is a baguette-partial 22-year old who, in addition to her current city of Paris, has also lived in Chicago and Buenos Aires. She’s constantly dreaming about travel and street art as well as planning her next meal in Paris and beyond.1. How do you define the word “traveler,” and why would you consider yourself one?
I define a traveler as anyone curious about the outside world. I don’t think you have to go anywhere necessarily to have the mind and heart of the traveler — those who travel vicariously through books are just travelers-to-be!
2. What has been your favorite travel experience thus far?
The first summer I spent working for a French family in France was one of the best experiences of my life. I learned how to shop at the market, speak a little French and make ratatouille, while logging lots of beach hours and dining on a terrace that overlooked Spain. That summer was a pivotal point in so many ways; it taught me a lot about the life I wanted to live going forward.
3. How about your proudest travel moment?
I have to say that learning languages has made me proudest — my French used to be absolutely terrible but little by little I am improving and I am proud of every broken sentence that comes out of my mouth! I had forgotten what an enormous amount of work it is to learn another language but it’s always thrilling to see the progress I’ve made.
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?
In my travels I’ve been extremely lucky, but there have still been a few mishaps: battling a 104-degree fever while Couchsurfing in 105-degree Greece, enduring several sleepless 24-hour bus rides in South America and flying Ryanair… in general. But the most troubling incident was when I was pickpocketed on a bus in Argentina which left me stranded with no cash for three weeks in a country that rarely accepts credit!
5. Name one thing you can’t travel without.
My Kindle has absolutely changed my life — instead of hauling around half a suitcase of books I can access almost any book I want with just a few clicks. As a lifelong bookworm, this has made me a much happier traveler.
6. Name one thing you wish you COULD travel without.
I wish I could travel without the fear of being robbed or hurt. I wouldn’t say that I’m a particularly paranoid person but the simple fact of the matter is that you always have to be somewhat on guard especially as a female traveler.
7. What do you think has been the biggest thing you’ve learned while traveling (about yourself, a destination, a culture, travel itself)?
Despite my last answer I think that over the years I have grown much more optimistic about human nature. (Backwards, right?) Through solo travel especially I have met countless people who have fed me when I was hungry, given me a place to stay and walked me to my hostel. Travel has taught me that most people are incredibly kind and generous.8. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I honestly think I’m happiest when I hop from city to city as an expat, spending a year in one place and the next year in another. Right now I’m enjoying Paris but I’m also looking forward to taking on my next metropolis — San Francisco and London are currently my top two contenders!
9. Name one place you’d like to see or one experience you’d like to have before you die.
I’ve been dreaming of Southeast Asia since high school and now the trip is finally on the horizon — I just booked my ticket to Hong Kong in August! My Southeast Asian bucket list includes learning how to scuba-dive, taking cooking classes in every country I visit, volunteering at an elephant sanctuary, and partying on the beach at the Full Moon Party. If I could finally see that region of the world I would be so, so grateful.
10. If there was one thing you wish somebody would have told you before you started traveling, what would it be?
Bring a good camera wherever you go. On my first non-parent international trip to Ecuador in 2006, I brought a disposable camera — meaning I hiked the Andes and have awful, blurry coverage of it.
And if I could have a conversation with my five-years-younger self, I would tell her that it’s okay not to see everything — it’s better to explore a small region slowly than wave to cities from the bus while rushing around.