Today I want to introduce a lady who has spent her life traveling the world! I met Rhea through my first grad class and we became friends and kept in touch. She is a Canadian currently living in South Korea and she travels ALL THE TIME. Meet Rhea!
Tell me about your early life. What do you think sparked your passion for traveling?
Actually, I had wanted to be a lawyer. I never really considered it consciously until I was doing my undergrad, and I saw posters up on campus for teaching overseas. I thought, neat – an easy fun way to pay off my student loan! Then later, I found an international program called Canadian Crossroads International that sent me to Africa. When I came back, I think I never really came all the way back. I just haven’t had the urge to live in my home country since then. That was almost 14 years ago. I speculate that, in my early years, I always preferred to be outside and on the go, walking through forests, riding horses, bikes, snowmobiles, and motorcycles, or going anywhere new and unexplored. At that time travel overseas just wasn’t something that could be a reality. Years later and countries later, I’m still not sure where it all started.
What was the best meal you have eaten while traveling?
Sooo hard to pick one. I will say fresh papaya in Indonesia or Thailand.
What do you pack in your bag that isn’t totally necessary, but you just love traveling with it?
Lightness. My favorite feeling is a bag pared down to the essentials: passport, money, and a few clothes.
What is your favorite place you have traveled to?
Paris is my favorite city. Moçambique is my favorite place for natural beauty. Bali and Lombok are my favorite places to go to be uplifted and rejuvenated. India is my favorite place to have my mind blown. Every place is unique. I always love the feeling of getting out of a plane, and wondering what the air will feel and smell like.
What is on your travel bucket list?
These days I’m interested in trying travel on foot. El Camino de Santiago, or one in the triple crown of American hiking trails: The PCT, The AT, or the Continental Divide trail. I also want to revisit Bali and surf. Go snowboarding in Hokkaido. Try living somewhere to be immersed in a language and not be able to be dependent on English. Maybe Paris, for French. The bucket is deep, bottomless. I’ll see how many more places I have the chance to see, but I’m not in a hurry.
Who is the most interesting person you have met while on the road?
A boy I met in India comes to mind. My friend and I asked him about a bus, and he gave us very helpful advice. He asked us for notebooks or pencils, so we gave some to him. I have a picture of him I will give you here. Just look into his eyes.
I know you travel solo sometimes. What advice can you give to other women travelers about being safe, while still enjoying the solitude?
I have always been a bit of a tomboy. I think being physically active inspires self confidence and awareness of surroundings. Secondly, have faith. I don’t go into a situation expecting danger, but I trust my senses to tell me what to do and how to approach people. Fear begets fear, and a smile or a peaceful demeanor go a long way.
Most embarrassing moment while on the road?
Probably on my first trip, volunteering in Swaziland. I got really sick from eating meat at a fancy buffet, and my friends tried to get me to a hospital as soon as possible but we were a few hours away, as we had ventured out to a game reserve to watch animals. On the way to the hospital I was in the back of a truck, and couldn’t stop vomiting. I remember vomit flying out of the truck and hitting a person in the face, like a wet pancake. I felt so sorry and disgusted with myself, but I guess I couldn’t help it. I ended up being fine. It was food poisoning, and I had to get plenty of rest and hydration for a week. But yes, that was a moment.
Favorite Travel Quote?
“A journey, after all, neither begins in the instant we set out, nor ends when we have reached our door step once again. It starts much earlier and is really never over, because the film of memory continues running on inside of us long after we have come to a physical standstill. Indeed, there exists something like a contagion of travel, and the disease is essentially incurable.”
― Ryszard Kapuściński, Travels with Herodotus
I recommend the book this quote is from. It changed the way I thought about travel.
Can you give us any tips for traveling on a budget?
Take stock of what you want to do, and prioritize. Don’t overestimate how much it takes to go experience what you want to.
Tell me about your job as a teacher. How did you hear about it and how can others interested in teaching abroad find a similar job?
My first teaching job was when I was 14. My new neighbours taught me sign language so I could babysit for their five year old son, Damian, who was deaf. His mother was very innovative, and got funding to run a summer sign language program, and convinced me to run it. I partially enjoyed it and partially thought, I never, ever want to be a teacher. It’s exhausting! Yet, I ended up in E.F.L. (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) and in spurts of teaching and traveling, the years passed by and I grew to enjoy teaching. I still don’t really identify myself as a teacher though.
If you want a job teaching, get on the internet and start searching. Everything you need to know is there, and your new life is just a few clicks away.
Have you encountered any foreign traditions that you loved so much that you would like to integrate into your life (or in the future with your own family)?
If I have a family I hope we can be nomadic, or at least quasi-nomadic, insomuch that we feel the world is our country. Living the dream, right? Haha. That’s probably why I’m still single. I’m not sure how practical that is but that is what I think I would want. Either that, or I would like to meet someone from another culture who invites me into their world to settle down.