I came across Shannon’s blog as I was searching for some information on how to travel and volunteer around the world.
Shannon, like other travellers, sold almost all her possessions and set on an RTW last 2008. She went to Australia, through SE Asia, India, Nepal, Eastern Europe, the UK, and Ireland for about 11 months.
Unlike most travellers and tourists, Shannon engages herself in volunteer activities whenever she travels.
Get to know her more, visit her at A Little Adrift.
Here’s Flip’s short interview with Shannon.
How did you discover your passion for travelling?
“My dad always kept me subscribed to National Geographic magazines while I was growing up and that ignited the travel spark. Then I took the plunge and signed up for a Italy summer study abroad while at University and that clinched the deal; I spent two months in Italy and Europe and was hooked!”
What’s the most horrible experience that you’ve had on the road?
“Really just getting sick. Although there are really frustrating situations on the road the only times that stick with me are when I was alone and ill. I got incredibly sick in Laos for about 10 days and actually thought I might die…that was a low point – and the only time I got that seriously sick so it’s not something others should be worried about as long as you have a nicely stocked med kit!”
What’s the most outstanding travel experience that you’ve ever had?
“That definitely comes down to my volunteer experiences around the world, but particularly teaching English to young monks in Nepal. It’s so easy to stay on the tourist and backpacker path when exploring so settling into a smaller town really grounded the experience for me – I was able to become friends with some of the locals, get their stories and interact rather than the fleeting meetings of faster style travel. It’s the shared laughs, smiles, and stories that continue to stick with me the most.”
What’s the biggest realization that you’ve gotten out of travelling?
“That the planet is smaller than you’d think and yet there are an unfathomable number of different cultures and communities. I realized that there is no place on earth too far away…it just may take a plane, train, bus, tuk-tuk and walking to get there! Before I left the US for the first time I was afraid at some level of the size of all that I didn’t know – the world seemed so huge and unattainable, but now that I’ved journeyed through so many countries and cultures I respect that it’s still a really big place, but more accessible and welcoming than I could have ever thought possible.”
What keeps you going? What keeps you motivated?
“I love seeing how other cultures are living their lives – their customs, language, crafts, their stories. The US is such a contained environment in so many ways – we like it American-style: food, clothes, shops, etc (which I do crave at times). But outside the borders of the US it’s just so remarkably different…and yes, it gets tiring which is why I slow down and stay longer in places – it fights the burnout and I also learn so much more about with each country and culture.”
This is a silly and hypothetical one. If you would be given a chance to travel with a popular person or a celebrity, who would it be and why?
“Angelina Jolie; I think we could be great friends I also admire the real and actual effort she puts into her humanitarian efforts. It’s not secondary or for publicity, she is truly out there getting involved and getting her hands dirty – I respect that a lot. It’s easy to throw money at a problem when you have the money to throw, but totally different to actually invest your own time and passion into a project.”
What could stop you from travelling?
“Nothing. If I couldn’t leave the states I would travel my own country. I hear people use kids, houses, mortgages, and other things as excuses for staying put but I’ve been traveling enough to know that it’s all doable with kids, doable on a budget, and doable solo if my future husband (whoever he should be) doesn’t like to travel.”
Among the places that you’ve been to, which one fascinated you the most?
“To just pick one? That’s not fair. But if I had to pick one of many I found fascinating it would be India. The country has too many facets to even begin describing how I feel about traveling through India. Sometimes I got so mad at the country and so very frustrated – but other times it is the highest of highs. The food is flat out amazing; the most varied veggie food in the world I would reckon and the people are quirky and fun – there’s not a day that goes by in India that you’re not laughing a true and honest laugh with the locals.”
What do you think about yourself?
“Travel has given my life a purpose and focus over the past couple of years that I really found lacking before I left – I’m in this transition phase right now and I have the rare ability to actually take my work on the road and perpetually travel to some degree. I love that. I feel fortunate and grateful that I am able to continue exploring new cultures, learn languages, and take advantage of the volunteer opportunities that continually allow me to bring my skills and hands to volunteer efforts all over the planet – and the Universe has kept it all fresh and interesting by bringing new opportunities and jobs my way that so closely align with my personal goals right now – like the worth I am now doing with Geeks International that takes me off the backpacking route for a while but still fully in the travel sphere!”
“It’s a smattering of sorts – a hodge-podge of tips for other RTW travelers. Advice just for female travelers. Travel stories, experiences, inspiration, and a chronicle of my personal journey as I wander the world.” – Shannon