An Interview with Anastasia Allison: Adventurepreneur, Wanderer and Entrepreneur
Hey Wanderers! I have another fellow wanderer to introduce you to. Anastasia Allison has wandered for years learning tips and adventures that she shares on her Instagram and blog. So sit back relax and meet an amazing woman who has learned to turn her passion into a life style.
Lets learn a little about you to start. Where are you from and what got you into traveling?
I currently live just north of Seattle, Washington. I spent most of my childhood living on the east coast - my family moved a lot for my dad's job, so I've lived in Florida, Alabama, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. From a young age, I was always an explorer - even if it was just in my backyard. Growing up in small towns, I think I had a natural curiosity to learn more about, "the rest of the world". I started flying on my own when I was 13 - just to visit my grandparents, so I never experienced a fear of going to a new place, it was always very exciting for me. As a young child, my parents placed a really high priority on taking us around the USA to experience different national parks. I am a violinist, and when I was 12, I went to Puerto Rico to perform. Even though Puerto Rico is a US Territory, it was still a magical experience for me. I knew that travelling and exploring was always going to be a part of my life.
How many countries have you been to?
Thirteen (including Canada). I've been to a few of them multiple times: Belize, Guatemala, The Cayman Islands (technically a British Territory), Bhutan, Scotland (2x), England, Italy (2x), Greece, Argentina, Chile, Thailand, and several islands in French Polynesia. I'm going to be going to Mexico for the first time this November.
What is your favorite travel destination and why?
This is a tough question, because they are all so unique and completely different from one another - it's hard to compare being on an atoll in Bora Bora with ascending a high pass in the Himalayas of Bhutan. I love that it is so difficult to pick a favorite, because it means that all of the places that I have visited are so special and unique. If I absolutely had to pick a favorite place, I would choose Bhutan in the Himalayas - it is probably the most magical place I have ever visited, and I can't wait to go back!
Do you have a favorite travel story/experience you can share with us?
This wasn't my favorite at the time, but in retrospect it's terrific story: I actually spent an entire night completely lost and randomly wandering around the streets of Venice, Italy. My family went to Italy for Christmas many years ago, and my sister and I went to a café one evening. If you've been to Venice, then you know that it is a very confusing tangle of canals and bridges and buildings - everything looks the same. Somehow, we got turned around leaving the café and we couldn't find our way back to our hotel. We ended up wandering around the city for almost 7 hours in the middle of the night - it was about 30 degrees and my sister only had a thin leather jacket. We were absolutely FREEZING, and at one point we both broke down crying in despair. Finally, we found a woman walking through the streets around 5am, and she was able to direct us to St. Mark's Square - from that point, we were able to navigate our way back to our hotel. We didn't make it back until 6am! It was a horrible night, but we still laugh about that experience because it was so memorable.
I have to share one more, only because it's funny... in Bhutan, I had the incredible opportunity to sit in some monasteries to watch Monk's performing various religious ceremonies and chanting. It was a beautiful, spiritual experience! We went to a monastery in Gasa, Bhutan and as I entered the room, a few monks attempted to tell me something, but I didn't know what they were trying to say. I sat down on the floor with a few of the men from my trekking group, and immediately every single one of the monks looked at me and started laughing hysterically - I had no idea what was so funny, but I started laughing too. Soon, everybody in the room was in a complete fit of laughter. My guide rushed into the room and was able to tell me what was going on - apparently, I had inadvertently walked into a room that was for men only. The monks were so kind and good-hearted and patient with me - and their laughter was so cheerful, it was just a beautiful experience.
The number one question I get asked, and I’m sure you do to, is how does someone afford to travel the world? Can you tell us a little bit about how you have managed to travel to so many places? How do you make it work financially?
The first truly international trip that I took was a 2 week trip to Scotland when I was 17 years old. I saved up for the plane ticket and purchased it on my own. Travel has always been a priority in my life, so I definitely factor that into my budget on a regular basis - I am the type of girl who would much rather travel to a foreign country and have an experience than spend my money on "stuff". I have always been a pretty fiscally responsible person - so, I don't spend money that I don't have, and I set aside money into a "travel fund" every single month.
I will also say this: if you want to visit a place, don't let money intimidate you. Most of my trips have started with simply visualizing that experience and seeing myself travelling to a new place. When you start to make the experience real in your mind and you can connect to the feeling of what it will be like to visit that new location, it becomes easier to find ways to manifest the money to pay for the trip.
I worked a 9-5 job for most of my life, and I quit that job so that I could become a professional adventurepreneur and focus on developing my own business and doing things that are fulfilling to me - travelling is definitely a part of that, and I'm going to be including travel as a part of my own career. Also, keep in mind that travel doesn't necessarily have to be "expensive" right of the bat - even going on small "microadventures" locally and/or exploring the United States (or whatever country you are from) can be extremely exciting. Some of my best trips and adventures have been within my own state.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve gotten about traveling?
Keep an open mind and go with the flow. Also, leave yourself A LOT of extra time at international airports. Navigating a new country can be frustrating, particularly if there is a language barrier, so just set yourself up for success so that you aren't making a difficult situation even more challenging. And LAUGH. A lot. Immerse yourself in the culture and get off the beaten path when you can. The more you travel, the more you realize how amazing the world is and how wonderful other people and cultures are. We truly live on an incredible planet.
What advice would you give to someone just starting to travel?
I would say, just go for it! Pick a place that excites you, and make it happen. Travel with enrich your life in ways that you cannot even imagine.
Do you travel on your own or with a companion? What are the advantages and disadvantages of either?
I have done both, but I prefer to travel with a companion. I've travelled with my family and also with friends and my husband. For me, travel is about shared experiences. I love meeting new people when I travel, but I LOVE being able to come home and have somebody that I care about (i.e. my husband) who can relate to the experiences that we shared together. The memories that you make while travelling are entertaining, special and priceless. I don't think I would enjoy travelling as much if I didn't have somebody special to share those experiences with.
What is something you can’t travel without? What are things people should not bring with them?
When I travel to countries where I am worried about getting sick from the water, I always bring a SteriPen and a Nalgene bottle with me - this way I can treat water in my hotel room without having to constantly buy bottled water to drink. I also love to upload books onto my phone so that I can read without having to carry a suitcase of books.
I would say leave a closed mind at home - travel is about being open to new cultures and new experiences.
Any favorite apps or other resource you use while traveling?
I definitely love AirBNB for travelling and I like using the TripAdvisor App to read hotel reviews if I am going to be staying in a resort.
When traveling do you stay in hotels, hostels or an airbnb type accommodations?
I've stayed in all of them, actually! I think it really depends on the particular trip - when my husband and I got married in French Polynesia, we stayed in resorts because we wanted the luxurious experience. When I was in Bhutan, I stayed in hotels and in a tent on the trek. In the USA, I stay in a lot of AirBNBs, which I love. I stayed at a small hostel in southern Argentina a few years ago, and it was wonderful. The internet is such a powerful tool, and it really allows us to do a lot of research on the accommodations prior to our arrival. I remember years ago when I was planning my trip to Greece, and it was nearly impossible to make reservations online. The internet has made travel so much more accessible!
How can people follow your adventures?
My blog/website is www.anastasiaallison.com
I'm on IG @anastasia.allison
And I run a backpacking/hiking focused Facebook group at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/towardthemountaintopinchbyinch/