I love happy accidents. Like running into a friend at a coffee shop, or discovering a long-forgotten five-dollar bill in the pocket of my jeans. Recently, one of those happy little surprises was finding Liz Carlson’s travel blog, Young Adventuress. From reading about her life teaching English in Spain, to her recent travels to the Middle East, I love Liz’s inspiring, funny voice; it’s like listening to your best friend give you the scoop on what it’s really like to live abroad and follow your dreams. Liz was kind enough to take time away from packing for her next adventure to answer some questions.
Why (and when) did you start your blog?
I started Young Adventuress back in 2010 on a spring break trip to Peru. Between trekking in the Andes and sandboarding in the desert, I figured it was high time to jump on the blog bandwagon. I mean, who doesn’t like to talk about themselves? I also might have been procrastinating on college finals.
Blogging here and there, a year later I finally got really into writing articles and sharing my travel stories while I was attempting to teach English in southern Spain. During a long distance relationship and unfortunate breakup, my blog became my solace, something I had worked so hard on and could be proud of; I threw all my energy into writing, tweeting, and traveling. Two years later, and I haven’t looked back.
Where have you traveled? And what country is at the top of your must-see-next list?
Since I’ve called Spain home for three years, I have traveled around most of Europe – it’s so easy and affordable to hop from country to country over there, not to mention Spain has an absurd amount of public holidays leaving me plenty of time to travel.
The one country that has been calling to me for years is New Zealand. Europe is so much closer and cheaper to get to which means I have put off making the journey down under. But since Spain (pretty much) deported me, I think it’s about time to see what these far-flung islands are all about. Over the years, I’ve built up such high expectations for New Zealand in my head, that I’ve convinced myself I need months and months to be able to see everything I want to and to do it justice. Without giving too much away, let’s just say this dream is looking more and more like reality with each passing day.
What is your favorite post you’ve written?
That’s a tough question! Can a mother choose her favorite child? In all seriousness, two posts spring to mind. A while back I opened up and shared a very personal story about how blogging saved me and why I chose to travel (and put myself first) over a relationship – one of the hardest choices I’ve ever had to make. The second one I published just last week about finally quitting my full time job to travel the world. These posts are very personal, where I shared my fears, regrets, and hopes. Hopefully, blogging is about community, and I did it in the hopes that maybe someone can relate to how I was feeling and maybe I could inspire others to follow their dreams. I’m all about inspiration on my blog.
What has been your biggest surprise while traveling?
I think every place I’ve been to has surprised me and shattered pretty much whatever image I had in my head beforehand. The Middle East has definitely surprised me a lot. Recently I’ve spent some time in Egypt and Turkey, and I’m heading to Jordan as we speak. I was surprised how these countries were nothing like what we are brought up to believe in the US. The friendliness of strangers in foreign countries continues to amaze me – I think it’s something we can all learn a lesson from.
What has been your favorite experience? And what would you never do again?
From fighting in a wine battle in Spain to riding in a hot air balloon at dawn over the Valley of the Kings in Egypt to sailing around Croatia, it’s really hard to pick a favorite. Teaching English in Spain for two years has to be the best if I had to chose because it opened so many doors for me, plus it taught me patience and confidence.
You couldn’t pay me to go back to Cairo.
I loved your Sunset photo project. Sometimes it’s difficult to appreciate where you are, when you wish you were somewhere else. How have you dealt with being back in the States and taking a break from travel?
While moving home hasn’t been my ideal choice right now, I’ve dealt with it as best I could and am trying to focus on the positive, like being able to drive places and having a dryer for my clothes. It had been well over a year the last time I saw my family, so it has been great getting to spend time with them, and focus on saving money instead of throwing it out the window. Bonus.
Coming home also has been positive in the fact that it has firmly reminded me that I want a life of travel and pretty much the last place I want to be is Washington D.C. I’ve used the past months to build up my travel site, work on improving my writing, and drinking as many chai lattes at Starbucks as humanly possible.
Even though I get insanely jealous seeing fellow travelers’ Instagrams of cool places around the world and delicious looking foreign food, I’ve learned to accept that this is my situation and know that I am working towards my goal of traveling long-term. And when I get super homesick for the rest of the world, I pop in Under the Tuscan Sun and open a bottle of Spanish red.