What country are you from?
USA (originally Chicago & the last 10yrs in the US were in LA)
What is your age?
I'm a woman - you're not supposed to ask. But ok, I'm about to turn the big 4-0.
How many countries have you visited?
45 but I think it's about the quality of time in each country not a number. Many of those countries I visited on a pathetic American 2wk holiday, staying in a different city every other day. Now as a rule, I try to give even the worst cities at least 3 days & the good ones...I'll stay in for months on end.
What is your greatest joy of living anywhere?
The people. Hands down. I love seeing life from a slightly different angle through someone else's eyes. In my opinion, tourists rarely get to make close connections with local people that you can if you live there.
Why do you live in many cities in many countries?
This sounds bad, but once I feel I truly understand a place, then I start itching to venture to the next city or country.
What is your source or sources of money?
Savings. I started traveling on the money I had from selling some property. With just a year worth of travel money left, I recently taught English in Iraq for 7 months and was able to save for an additional 2yrs of travel. While I don't have to start worrying about money for 2.5 more years, long-term I hope to start doing some consulting work via the internet in my old field. However, I need the US economy to improve before that can happen.
How does a person prepare?
Get rid of debt. Open two or more different bank accounts & pay attention to their foreign transaction fees. Arrange for someone to handle your mail. If you're a girl, stock up on hair rubber bands. Then throw a good pair of walking shoes in a bag & go. Everything else you can get at local stores in even the tiniest towns. However, I will admit, being a girly girl, I've made the occasional trip to a big city just to get some makeup.
Really, do not prepare much. I did and ended up wasting a lot of money. Within the first month, I ditch many of the expensive gadgets I thought I needed. Within six months, I replaced my expensive bag with a better designed one from a local market.
Just do it. After I decided to take off, I dragged my feet for a good 8 months in fear & self-doubt. I had many excuses such as needing to be better prepared with equipment, knowledge of locations and tying of lose ends at home. But really, I accomplished nothing important, only wasted time I could have spent living a life that makes me jump out of bed every morning excited what the day will bring.
What mistakes have you made, that you would recommend people avoid?
Like I said, don't over prepare. I also recommend you start your travels either in a country that you already know well or in SE Asia which has to be the easiest place to travel. Then, watch your money. Either write down how you spend every penny and/or leave the house with only the money you want to spend for the day. Everyone has a tendency to overspend in certain ways, figure out yours, then adjust.
One Travel Tip?
Smile! It will open people's hearts & most doors.
Biography, explanation of life of living in many places, the longer story:
You are a very amazing person! I will be finishing up my degree this year and once the Packer season is over (I make a lot of money that I plan on using for my travels) I will be off to Ireland first. I have a lot of respect for you. I am not nervous going to Ireland as a single woman (I've been there 3 times). I worry, however, how safe a lot of other places are traveling alone as a woman...with extra concern that I do not speak another language. Any tips on places to go (or avoid) would be most beneficial! Thanks!! ~Kelly