We are excited to be introducing a new feature to the Tasi blog; Tales From the Road. This series was designed to inspire and offer helpful tips and personal experiences from real life travellers. First up, we chat to Hannah Rheaume, a travel blogger for her website The Sunny Side of Things. Hannah has been travelling full time for over a year, having left the comforts of her full time job at the end of 2016. She loves discovering new places off the beaten track, and when she isn't travelling, Hannah calls Maine home.
What are the three things you never travel without?
The three things you will always find in tow during any trip (aside from the obvious: cameras and laptop) are: first, an empty water bottle to reuse and refill during the entire trip. Second: Vaseline - intense healing lip therapy because changing climates so often is so harsh on my lips. Bonus, you can use it on dry skin spots too! If I run out I usually substitute with vitamin E oil. Third, SNACKS! I have a pretty restricted diet so I always pack protein bars (Go Macro and RX Bars are my favorites), peanut/almond butter, protein powder, and nuts. And once I'm in the destination I'll swing by the grocery store.
What has been your most eye-opening travel experience?
This would have to be my very first international trip which took me all the way to Hong Kong. Prior to this trip, I had no idea what the world was like on an international level. It's one thing to see photos, watch the news or read about it, but to step off the plane and taxi to your hotel, passing by street signs in a foreign language and marveling at the city around you, those first feelings of being so lost and so far from home but simultaneously realizing this is what it's all about, man there is nothing like it. Hong Kong was when it really hit me, there is this big beautiful world and so many just stay in one place. In that moment I found my purpose.
What is it that you love about travelling?
Honestly for me, there is nothing I don't love about traveling. The long hauls, jet lag, foreign smells and foods, meeting new people, seeing new sites, the shouts from across the street, the broken luggage, lost items, marveling with your mouth open at the world around you- e v e r y t h i n g. The good, the bad, AND the ugly. It is all a part of the experience and the memories of a trip. Without the good stuff and bad stuff- the trip simply wouldn't be the same. The experience begins during the ride to the airport to catch your departing flight and ends on that drive home after your flight, you're two different people at those points in time. That very feeling and understanding, there is nothing like it.
Have you noticed a change within yourself or do you see the world differently since you've been exploring it?
I will be the first to say it: travel changes you in ways you can't even begin to comprehend. Furthermore, you can't comprehend it if you've never travelled. Since my first trip abroad, the way I view the world, on both a global and national level, has completely changed. I'm more patient and sensitive towards people, I don't jump to judgements as quickly and I try to understand the cultures of the places I'm visiting. Each trip becomes a part of me in some way, ultimately changing me in the slightest ways.
Was there a particular catalyst that pushed you towards a life of wandering, or have you always had itchy feet?
I didn't grow up traveling and I had never been out of the United States until I was 24. Travelling was always this "thing" I wanted to do but didn't necessarily know how to make it happen. On a whim, I entered an Instagram contest and ended up winning among thousands of other entries. This is the trip that took me to Hong Kong. And ever since, I haven't stopped travelling.
What's your favourite place you've ever travelled, and why?
Such a hard question! Each place is so different and holds a special place in my heart for one reason or another. But I recently travelled to Morocco and fell head over heels in love with it. Morocco is unique and intoxicating and I can assure if you visit, you will understand why. The culture, architecture, it's people, the souks, history, the prayer calls- everything leaves you wanting more at the end of the day. I remember resting my head on my pillow each night looking forward to waking up to do it all, all over again.
Best piece of advice you would give to another traveller?
Try not to let others' negative experiences of a destination impact your decision to visit a location. If I listened to everyone that told me not to visit Morocco or even Cuba, I would have never travelled to either. I would say, 'trust your gut' in every situation and decision you make when it comes to travel. If you have a bad feeling about a place, don't go because chances are you'll worry the entire time. If there are excessive travel warnings, I'd probably say don't visit. Travelling is this delicate dance between pushing yourself out of your comfort zone but also being comfortable and feeling safe in every situation. Just do your research on every destination you're visiting and go with your gut- it's (usually) never wrong!
Where to next?
I leave for my next trip on Monday, January 8! Sweden and Switzerland, I'm coming for ya!