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Interview: Ashley of SouthernGypsy.com

1. Can you start by giving us a little bit of background about yourself and your blog. How did you start traveling? When did you start blogging, and what did you expect readers to get out of it?

I’m 27 year old psych grad who spent a lot of time and money to get a degree I haven’t used, at least professionally.  I’ve held a lot of random jobs from horse caretaker to secretary to camp counselor.  I’ve been married and divorced.  I’ve lived on both sides of the country.  None of these things were fulfilling.  It took a lot of heartache and time, but everything kind of came together this year (after falling apart and hitting my rockbottom).  With my newfound plans to sell everything, save up, quit my job, and travel the world, came the startup of my blog.  I’ve only been blogging for a couple months.  Of course, I hope to continue doing this for a long time, if not forever.  I want to see it grow and hopefully inspire others to follow their dreams or at least entertain them as I follow mine.

My family always took vacations every year-usually going to Florida or New York every year as we had family in both places.  I’ve been to Miami, Disney World, New York City, Destin, and so on more times than I can count.  We’ve gone on several cruises growing up as well.  So, while not exactly the most adventurous travel, I still developed my love for it quickly.

2. Let’s talk experiences – what has been the best experience you’ve had on the road? The worst?

I’ve seen some great things.  I’ve stood inside the Colosseum where the gladiators fought, I’ve experienced culture shock in South Korea, I’ve stood in awe at the fjiords of Norway, but I’d say the most personal experience I’ve had to date was visiting the tiny parish village in England where my ancestors are from.  While I’m thankful for the things I’ve done, I haven’t had the chance to travel like I really want to.  I can’t wait to travel slowly.  That’s how you have the experiences and truly get immersed in a culture and that’s what I crave.

Let’s talk about the bad…and the ugly.  The roadtrip from hell which included a 1995 Bronco pulling a uhaul with myself, my brother, my mom, two large dogs and a lot of crap, driving from Washington state to Tennessee.  Let’s just say it included radiator leaks, burning brakes (literally-there were flames), running out of gas, lots of familial fights, dogs getting into motor oil and having to be bathed at a gas station.  I’ve tried to write a post about those three days, but I just can’t find the perfect words yet to adequately describe the hell.

 

The Colosseum

The Colosseum

3. I see you have a bucket list, what are some you think you might accomplish in the near future?

I plan on getting scuba certified either before I leave for SE Asia or when I arrive in Thailand.  While it’s cheaper in Thailand, I would like the experience before I get there.  i’m claustrophobic so the more confident I feel about it, the better.  Volunteering abroad is something I plan on doing in SE  Asia as well.  No really set plans on where, but I do plan on doing so when the opportunity presents itself.  I’m an animal lover so I would like to volunteer with elephants and also have found a reptile rescue in Bali that looks interesting to me.  Some other items I plan on crossing off my list next year while in SE Asia include seeing Angkor Wat, attending Loy Krathong, take a cooking class, swim with whale sharks, and swim in the jellyfish lake in Palau (I figure while I’m so close, I may as well go here too).

Skydiving is something I am going to be doing in the spring sometime.  While I don’t suppose Tennessee is the most exciting place to skydive, it’s as good a place as any to lose my skydiving virginity.

4. You’re planning on going just about everywhere in South East Asia – which place are you looking forward  to the most?

This is a hard decision as I’m honestly going into this open-minded and some of things I’m most excited about may be disappointing and I may be surprised by other destinations.   (Fun fact-I’m terrible at making decisions-I don’t like to play favorites).  Some of the things I’m most excited about though are searching out the best dive spots, visiting Komodo Island, trying all the street food, volunteering with elephants, hiking the volcanoes in Indonesia…the list goes on.

Had to Get my Tourist Photo in Pisa

Had to Get my Tourist Photo in Pisa

5. In your about me you wrote that you’re claustrophobic. Does that affect your travel in any way?

It does somewhat.  I’m worse the smaller the space gets-obviously.  I don’t mind planes.  In fact, I actually love flying.  I get a little freaked out in a packed train or subway, but I normally just find a corner so I’m not surrounded by people on all sides.  As I mentioned earlier, I’m a littler nervous about scuba diving.  I feel once I try it though I’ll be fine.  I went to the Bell Witch Cave here in TN last weekend and on the way in, I was behind and in front of several people and they were taking forever to walk through so I started panicking a little.  On the way out though, no one was in front of me and I felt fine.  So, it seems the more control (not waiting on others to move), the better I feel.  About the only thing I could say I’d be truly terrified of doing is spelunking to the point where you’re crawling.  Everything else I’d try, even if I felt uncomfortable at first.

6. One of your goals is to go to all 50 states. What STATES are you looking forward to the most?

Alaska, Hawaii, Montana, Louisiana, and Arizona if I had to narrow it down to 5.  I’ve been to Alaska, but I was 12 and it was on a cruise.  I desperately want to go back.  I’m very big into hiking, camping, and wildlife so what better place than Alaska.  I’ve driven through Montana when moving back from Washington, but that’s it.  One of my bucket list items is to hike the Continental Divide which involves Montana.

Mount Rainier, Washington

Mount Rainier, Washington

7. What are some of your interests outside of traveling?

I’ve been proud of the fact that I’m a fairly well-rounded person.  While it can be a curse because I enjoy so many things that I have trouble focusing on one goal, it is also a blessing to enjoy so many things.  Books are a large part of my life and have been one of the hardest things for me to part with as I’ve sold off most of my belongings.  I also enjoy working out, more specifically Crossfit.  Due to my ACL surgery a few months ago, I wasn’t able to do anything for 6 months.  But, I’m hoping to get back into it very soon and it’s something I plan on finding ways of keeping up with even while traveling.  Otherwise, I enjoy cooking, baking, spending time with my puppies, mountain biking, hiking, camping, fishing, and hunting.  What can I say, I’m from the south.

8. What are your upcoming plans, both travel and non travel?

Travel-I plan on being in SE Asia next fall, October timeframe as I just found out my 10 year reunion is in September.  I’ve got a planned trip to Disney World coming up in February though (yes, I’m a kid at heart).  There’s also been some talk of kayaking down the Mississippi River from Memphis to NOLA in the spring.  Of course, I plan on doing as many day trips in the Tennessee area.  I’d love to hear input on what people would like to read about in Tennessee, or even the surrounding states.

Non-travel-I wasn’t aware this was a topic.  Joking aside, besides my job and my blog and my current travel plans, it doesn’t leave much room for other plans.  I’m always looking for something new and exciting to do though.  I love to camp and hike and will try to do that as much as possible when spring and summer roll around.  There’s a lot in my home state I’ve taken advantage of and never seen that I’d really like to see and do before leaving.  With saving practically every penny until I leave, I have to get creative on my non-travel plans 🙂

Bio PictureBio: Ashley is the author of the travel blog, A Southern Gypsy.  Having spent the past decade and the majority of her 20’s trying to figure out her life, she has finally realized it’s time to go after her passions and dreams.  She is in the works of selling off her possessions, saving up money, and planning the opportunity (hopefully, indefinite) of a lifetime.  To pass the time before she heads off on her own, she is working on her travel blog, photography skills, and writing about the annoyance of being stuck at home.  You can follow her on TwitterFacebook, or Pinterest.

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2 Responses to Interview: Ashley of SouthernGypsy.com

  1. It’s great to see another traveler in preparation for their big trip! These interviews give a great perspective.

    Mig November 9, 2013 at 3:15 PM Reply
  2. Pingback: Prepping for Long Term Travel: Month Three | A Southern Gypsy's Adventures

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