Today’s featured traveler is Diana. She is an avid wanderer who has visited more than 40 countries on 6 continents. Recently, Diana started to share “some of the amazing (and not so amazing) things she has learned, seen, and come across in her past and future travels” in her blog Just Wanderlust. Learn more about this adventure seeker in the following interview.
Tell me a little bit about yourself
I’m a tad obsessed with traveling. I’ve always been interested in traveling but I really fell in love with it when I studied abroad in Sweden about 10 years ago. Studying abroad in Europe was great because it gave me the opportunity to immerse myself in Swedish culture while jetting off to other European countries over the weekend. Ever since I made it a goal to travel to 4 countries every year and I’ve kept it up so far — 40+ countries and 6 continents!
Where are you currently living? What is your current life project?
I recently got married (destination wedding in Cabo!) so my current project is learning how to be slightly more domesticated while carrying on a demanding full-time job– oh, and trying to figure out how to get to our 4 countries this year with my limited vacation time. We currently live in Orange County, California.
Where have you been? Where do you want to go?
As for North America, I’ve been to half of the states in the U.S., Canada, Greenland, and Mexico. I’ve also been to Panama and Costa Rica in Central America. As for South America, I’ve been to Peru, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, and Chile. In Asia, I’ve been to Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, and Taiwan. In Africa, I’ve been to South Africa, Egypt, Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe. In the South Pacific, I’ve been to Australia and French Polynesia (that was our honeymoon!). I’ve also been to a few places in the Caribbean and all over Europe. Whew! I might be missing some places, but you get the idea…
As for where I want to go, I’m down to go anywhere I haven’t been to before! Some places that are currently on my radar are Russia, Croatia, Japan, Columbia, and the UAE.
When did you get the travel bug?
I think I was born with it! When I was young, I used to get so excited before any flight I took. I just loved, loved, loved flying, and airports… In fact, this weekend, I’m taking my husband to take flying lessons!
How has travel changed your life?
When I first started traveling, it was eye-opening just to learn about new cultures and fascinating to see all the things I learned about in history class in person– the rest of the world just has so much more history than the U.S. As I’ve traveled more, I’ve realized there are more and more places I want to visit! The world is just so big!
I’ve also found that since I’ve visited a lot of the more frequently visited destinations, I’m just now hitting up some of the more “random” destinations (for instance, last year I went to Greenland) and I’ve found these destinations are amazing in their own right and far surpass any expectation I’ve ever had. More people really should visit these off the beaten path travel destinations. As a result, I feel like the best is yet to come!
How would you inspire someone to travel?
I love talking about traveling and I’ve found that people feel inspired to travel more after just hearing some travel stories and seeing some of the pictures. There’s a misperception that it takes a lot of money to travel or you need a lot of time to do it, but it’s not true! Anyone can travel if they just make it a priority.
And you don’t have to go to 4 countries each year — weekend getaways to nearby cities count, too! The point is to go somewhere new and allow yourself to explore.
What are the most underrated and overrated places you have visited?
I recently posted about Iceland and Greenland — both places which I think are underrated. Iceland with its volcanos, glaciers, and hot springs is one of the most breathtaking countries I’ve ever visited. Greenland’s icy, mountainous landscape and its remoteness from the rest of the world left me feeling truly blessed to even get to experience it.
I hate to say it, but I’d place Paris as one of the most overrated places. Don’t get me wrong – I would definitely go back — but growing up I always thought Paris would live up to its romantic “City of Lights” nickname. When I actually went, my impression was that it was just like any other city — it is crowded, there’s traffic, there’s garbage on the streets, and hardly as “romantic” as I envisioned. 🙂
What are your travel pet peeves?
My pet peeves are travelers or vacationers who are too shy to speak the language of the country we’re in. I know it’s natural to worry about mispronouncing the foreign language, but I’ve found that people love it when you try to speak their language (even if you’ve completely butchered it). In fact, all you really need to do is learn one phrase: “Do you speak English?” and it will get you far when traveling! At least try!
I love food. What is your favorite dish?
I love food, too! I don’t think I have a favorite dish, but I love anything with truffles in it. I also love my mom’s home cooking. There’s just something so comforting about any kind of food made with love. 🙂
Have you tried some exotic or weird foods (insects, organs, or something like that)?
I’m only recently learning to be more adventurous when it comes to food, but I did learn that I will eat practically anything if I’m hungry enough. Well, almost anything. I am scared to death of insects so I can’t imagine sticking those in my mouth.
In my recent attempts to be more “adventurous”, I’ve tried kudu, kangaroo, putrified shark, and mink whale. With the exception of putrified shark, everything else was quite tasty!
What travel moment has made you laugh like there is no tomorrow?
When my husband and I were dating, we took a cruise to Mexico and on two occasions, completely missed our transfer back to the cruise ship — what luck! On the first occasion, we didn’t realize the city we were in was an hour ahead of Pacific time so we totally didn’t show up when our water taxi was waiting for us. On the second occasion, we somehow got lost from the rest of our tour. Mishaps like this can happen when you’re traveling, but instead of letting it get to us, we laughed our heads off at the situation — that’s how I knew he was a keeper!
What travel resources do you use?
Whenever I start traveling planning, I usually Google tours in the country I’m going to in order to get a sense of what the major attractions are. That helps me figure out how long I should spend in each city. Then I’ll use Lonely Planet or Let’s Go books because they’re great at highlighting attractions and suggesting budget-friendly restaurants and accommodations.
What is your blog about (and why you started to blog)?
I just started my new travel blog, Just Wanderlust Blog, this year, and it’s been so much fun! I was inspired to start Just Wanderlust because I couldn’t stop thinking about Iceland after the trip I took and I wanted a place to write down all the random travel thoughts that fill my head.
Also, I really, really, really hope that through my travel stories and photos, someone else out there will be inspired to travel, too — that would make me so happy!
How can we found more about you and your upcoming projects?
You can visit me at Just Wanderlust to keep up with my latest travel stories and tips. I also love hearing from novice travelers or experienced travelers about anything — I’m always down to swap travel stories, too!
Feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or comments. A lot of post ideas stem from questions people have asked me about places I’ve been or questions about travel recommendations!
Something else you want to add?
Wow, I think that was more than a handful! 🙂 Thanks so much, Ruth, for spending the time with me to do this interview! I’m looking forward to continuing this blogging journey with Just Wanderlust and learning from experienced bloggers like yourself.
Thanks, Diana for sharing with us all your wonderful travel experiences. Make sure to check Just Wanderlust for travel tips and inspiration.