Brianne of A Traveling Life is a very active travel blogger based out of Boston. When she is not planning her own trips she is heading up the Boston chapter of Meet Plan Go, so basically she is in travel mode all the time! She is an advocate for traveling abroad for volunteer work and she has plenty of insights to share if you are interesting in learning how to combine travel with doing good around the world.
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Let’s meet Brianne!
When and how did you become a traveler?
I’ve been a traveler as long as I can remember. Growing up, my family took regular road trips to historical sites and museums in and around New Jersey, and of course, we spent a lot of time on the Jersey Shore. I remember getting such a thrill out of packing up the car and hitting the road, and I still get a rush of excitement whenever I leave on an adventure – regardless of whether I’m exploring close to home (Boston) or heading overseas.
Where do you love to travel?
I’ve always felt a really strong connection to Asia, Southeast Asia, in particular. I spent nearly two months there last fall, and I hope to return this winter. For a solo female traveler, it’s relatively safe, and there are a lot of other travelers around if you’re looking for company. It’s also very vegetarian friendly.
Most memorable travel moment:
I spent Thanksgiving weekend a few years ago with very good friends in the chic and secluded beach community of Jose Ignacio, Uruguay, less than an hour north of the larger and livelier Punta del Este. There weren’t many other tourists there since it was off-season, so our ultra-modern boutique hotel – right in the dunes – was a steal, and we had the wide, pristine beaches almost to ourselves. We ate a lot of seafood, drank lots of wine and talked for hours under the stars.
What won’t you travel without?
Books! As soon as I plan a trip, the next thing I do is plan what I’m going to read while I’m on the road. (And, yes, I usually take paperbacks, not my Kindle.)
A day isn’t complete until I…
Read. No matter how tired I am, I need to read a few pages of something before falling asleep.
A quirky daily habit of mine is…
I decide first thing in the morning if it’s going to be a coffee day or a tea day – I pick one and stick with it for the duration. I never switch back and forth.
Travel essential – 3 things you always travel with:
If I’m heading somewhere warm, sunblock and bug spray are essential, since they are usually hard to find overseas (and expensive if you do find them). I also make sure I have plenty of chapstick.
Name one thing people would be surprised to find in your travel bag:
I always travel with a headlamp, in case there’s no bedside lamp or the power goes out. I went to Colombia with a friend in August, and she was shocked to see that my headlamp made the cut, since I said I was packing light.
Perfect travel day from start to finish.
Waking up in a cozy bed after a good night’s sleep, savoring a strong cup of coffee and eating lots of fruit, strolling around some sort of easily walkable town without getting lost, touring a cultural site or two, partaking in some sort of physical activity, having meaningful conversations with friendly locals, drinking a really good glass or two of wine – and ending the day with enough energy to write it all down in my journal! (I realize this day is not at all possible!)
What are your favorite food cities? What restaurants do you go to in each?
I loved the pho in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) – I had a fun meal at Pho 2000, where President Bill Clinton dined at one point. Here in the U.S., my most memorable meals were at Greens Restaurant in San Francisco and Vedge in Philadelphia.
Have you been anywhere which turned out to be totally different to how you imagined? If so, how?
I had heard so many negative comments about Athens before I left for Greece – that it was dirty, for example. However, I ended up really enjoying all of the cultural attractions and museums, as well as the cafes and nightlife. I also liked that it had a little edge to it.
What has travel taught you?
It’s taught me that I can handle pretty much any situation life throws at me – if I can get from point A to point B by myself in a country where I don’t speak the language and don’t know anyone, I know that I’ll be just fine handling most day-to-day challenges.
Best and Worst place you’ve been to and why?
Stockholm was one of my favorite travel destinations of all time – it’s so beautiful and clean, the people are incredibly friendly, and I loved being right on the water (We even stayed in a boat/hostel). It’s rare if I dislike a place – I usually try to find something to appreciate wherever I am – however, I had a particularly bad time in St. Louis when I was there for a conference one bitterly cold February.
What’s one location on your bucket list?
Hotel: I usually prefer unique accommodations – AirBnB or a local guesthouse/hostel – to a hotel. When I was in Sri Lanka earlier this year, I stayed in a 300-year-old home in Galle that has been owned by the same family since it was built.
Airline: I usually fly United or JetBlue.
Airport: If I fly internationally, I usually leave from Newark (New Jersey). I drive down from Boston to my parents’ house, which is about an hour from EWR, so I can leave my dog with them while I’m away. My dad – the nice guy that he is – drives me to and from the airport.
Mode of Transportation: My feet – followed by the bus or subway whenever possible
Travel snack: Granola bars – I bring a huge bag of them with me on long trips and then ration them out.
Travel Gear: I’ve had the same Eagle Creek backpack since 1998!
Travel App: I use Trip Advisor frequently while on the road to get up-to-the-minute reviews and recommendations on activities and lodging.
Travel Book: Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven by Susan Jane Gilman – I was almost late to a wedding because I couldn’t put it down.
Travel Movie: I loved Midnight in Paris.
Song on your smartphone: My favorite travel anthem is Open Road by Kris Delmhorst.
How about you? What would you like to know about Brianne?