Today’s feature traveler is Lindsay Hartfield. She is the editor in chief of the online community and digital magazine for international travelers, Native Foreigner. Learn more about Lindsay’s travels, expatriate life, and her latest projects below.
Tell me a little bit about yourself
I am the editor-in-chief of a new digital travel magazine called Native Foreigner. I am originally from Wisconsin and majored in Journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I studied abroad in Florence, Italy my junior year of college and most recently spent more than a year living in a small beach town in Costa Rica. I love all things related to travel and hope to continue to travel throughout my life!
Where are you currently living? What is your current life project?
I’m currently in Samara, Costa Rica. I just returned after living in the states for eight months. I couldn’t stay away!
My current life project is my magazine. It is a digital-only magazine that is geared toward travelers returning home from a long-term trip abroad. I want to give travelers an outlet to connect with others and to share their experiences in a way that is meaningful to them.
Where have you been? Where do you want to go?
I’ve been to England, Italy, Austria, Czech Republic, Greece, France, Hungary, Switzerland, Germany, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Panama.
There are many places I would love to visit, but Belize and Argentina are at the top of my list.
When did you get the travel bug?
I’ve been a traveler all my life – my parents would take my brother, sister and me on camping trips to Colorado when we were kids. We would hike through the Rocky Mountains and tent camp – withstanding wind, rain, and lightning.
However, I really got the travel bug when my older sister decided to head to Ireland after she graduated from college. She toured Europe for a few months and then worked in Dublin for five months. Seeing her pictures and hearing about her experiences really inspired me to travel internationally.
By the time I was a junior in college, I was more than ready to study abroad. A semester in Italy was all it took to instill in me a love for traveling and exploring different cultures.
How has travel changed your life?
Travel has transformed me from a quiet, introverted person to a more outgoing, independent individual. I’ve learned to let go a little more and take things as they come. Travel has also genuinely made me appreciate life. There is so much to enjoy about the world around us and I want to see, hear, taste, and explore as much of it as possible. I’ve come to realize that life spent in an office working for hours on end is not the way most of us are supposed to spend our time here on earth. Live, love, and dream.
How would you inspire someone to travel?
As a writer and graphic designer, reading about other people’s experiences and seeing their photographs inspire me to travel. That’s a huge part of what Native Foreigner strives to do – inspire people to continue with their travel dreams and find ways to make it a reality. Learning how others’ have made travel a part of their lives – despite all of the obstacles – demonstrates how truly possible it is to achieve.
What are the most underrated and overrated places you have visited?
The most overrated place I have visited is Santorini, Greece. I was told how magnificent this Greek Isle is, but was incredibly disappointed once I arrived. The small town that my friends and I stayed in felt like a ghost town. While the views and the black sand beaches were neat to see, the hype didn’t stand up to reality.
The most underrated place I have visited is Siena, Italy. While Siena attracts a fair share of tourists, many people pass over this small Italian town to see Florence. But, after spending three weeks in Siena, I learned to appreciate the small-town feel. The winding cobblestone streets and large piazza are a magnificent display of Italy’s rich history.
What is your travel pet peeve?
I hate when people assume that everyone speaks English. If you are in a different country, at least try to speak the local language. Locals will appreciate it so much more if you demonstrate you are willing to make an effort to fit into their culture.
I love food. What is your favorite dish?
I can’t say that I have one favorite dish. I’m in love with Italian food (I gained almost 10 pounds studying abroad there!). The pesto dishes in Cinque Terre were heavenly and true thin-crust Italian pizza reigns supreme in my book. But hands down, gelato is my favorite dessert!
Have you tried some exotic or weird foods (insects, organs, or something like that)?
I tried cow tongue in Costa Rica. The taste wasn’t so bad, but the texture was a bit rough and rubbery. Fortunately, I wasn’t told what it was until after I tasted it!
What travel moment has made you laugh like there is no tomorrow?
I would have to say the most hilarious moment happened when my girlfriends and I decided to take a nighttime walk on the beach in Costa Rica. We were chatting with one another when we came across a large group of locals all seated in a large circle near the water.
Having walked this beach many times before, we never once stumbled upon such a large group of locals at night. Left to our imaginations, we concluded that it must be a Friday night church group gathering (highly unlikely). As a result, we started singing Kumbayah as we passed the group. Our off-key singing was barely audible over our non-stop laughter.
What travel resources do you use?
I’m connected on different social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, so I get a lot of information simply by following others in the travel realm. I enjoy reading different travel blogs – I gain so much insight from others’ first-hand accounts of places.
Yapta is my number one flight tracker. I set on different dates and then the website e-mails me alerts whenever the price changes. I save almost $250 on my most recent trip to Costa Rica.
What is your digital magazine about (and why you started a project like this)?
Native Foreigner is an online magazine that is targeted toward travelers who have recently returned home from an extended trip abroad. It features personal travel stories, stunning photos from abroad, general travel information, as well as advice on dealing with reverse culture shock.
This magazine was developed from my own personal experience. After returning home this past summer from a year and a half in Costa Rica, I immediately felt like a foreigner in my native country. I had adjusted to a slower, simpler lifestyle in Costa Rica and was overwhelmed by the enormity and fast pace of U.S. culture.
I quickly realized that there were a large number of travelers in the same boat, but there was no outlet for connecting this specific segment of travelers. Anyone who has returned from abroad knows that your friends and family back home simply can’t relate to your experiences abroad. That is when I decided to combine my writing and graphic design skills to create a visually appealing digital magazine that showcases the experiences of returning travelers.
In reality, the magazine is for any and all travelers. From the around-the-world adventurer… to the international English teacher… to the on-the-go family, Native Foreigner demonstrates how travel is changing lives and creating opportunities. For many, the process of returning to your native country – whether after a study abroad, volunteer, or teaching experience – is just a stepping stone toward many future international expeditions.
How can we found more about you and your upcoming projects?
You can follow Native Foreigner on Twitter (@natforeignmag) or Pinterest. In addition, a blog about my personal travel experiences, thoughts, and advice is updated regularly. I’ve just recently returned to Costa Rica for three months, so many of my posts will be updated on the beach lifestyle and crazy happenings in the land of ticos!
Something else you want to add?
I am always looking for new contributors for future issues of Native Foreigner. Anyone interested in sharing their stories, photos, recipes, or videos can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Even you haven’t recently returned from abroad, don’t hesitate to get in touch. I’m always looking for a fresh perspective and new story ideas related to travel!
Many thanks to Lindsay for taking the time to share with us her many exciting travel-related projects.
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