I reached out to Vicky of Chasing the Map on Instagram because, well, food. That and she has a really cute cat. Vicky has just returned from staying on an island in the Caribbean called Vieques which by the looks of her recent post on Rancho Choli has me wanting to hop on a plane for roast pork! An island girl at heart, but based in New England, Vicky quit her 9-5 and made traveling a priority.
Let’s meet travel blogger Vicky!
When and how did you become a traveler?
For me, I don’t think that it was something I discovered; it just was. For as far back as I can remember, I always had an adventurous spirit. I loved exploring new places and meeting new people. More recently I became a solo traveler, and I love it! I still travel with my family, but I also know that I can go somewhere (even abroad) by myself and feel confident, safe, and be the explorer that I know in my heart that I’m meant to be.
Where do you love to travel?
I love traveling around the Caribbean. The climate is perfect and most of the people that I’ve encountered are incredibly friendly and welcoming. I’m an island girl and heart and have saltwater flowing through my veins.
Most memorable travel moment.
I’d have to say that it was when I was 26, on my honeymoon, and my first trip out of the country. The small hotel that I’d researched online looked fantastic. It boasted oceanfront views from well-equipped rooms. When we arrived, the area itself looked 3rd world. Chickens and other livestock roamed freely, and there were more cars up on blocks than there were cars with tires.
The hotel looked run down and deserted. We were pointed up a stairwell to our room, which was incredibly outdated, dirty, and had a huge can of Raid on the nightstand. I looked at my new husband and burst into tears! Needless to say, we high-tailed it out of there to another hotel I had researched, which turned out to be the perfect place!
What won’t you travel without?
A pen and my travel journal. I’m still old school in that I love to write notes and observations down on paper.
A day isn’t complete until I…
Write my impressions and thoughts in my writer’s journal at night.
A quirky daily habit of mine is…
I always have to have at least a sheet covering me in bed at night. It doesn’t matter how hot it may be, there has to be bedding over me while I sleep.
Travel essential – 3 things you always travel with:
My Kindle, Crocs flip-flops, and several bathing suits.
Name one thing people would be surprised to find in your travel bag:
I’ve learned over the years to pack bubble wrap. From mementos to bottles of alcohol, it keeps things more protected than not in my luggage.
Perfect travel day from start to finish.
I wake up early, savor a cup of local coffee on my oceanfront balcony, and watch the sunrise. I pack my beach bag and lunch and arrive at the beach before 9 am. I sunbathe, read, eat, drink, swim, and explore the shoreline. I stop on the way home after a full day at a local watering hole for a cold drink. Then I head back to where I’m staying, shower, and read on the balcony until the sunsets.
What are your favorite food cities? What restaurants do you go to in each?
I manage to find great food no matter which city I visit. Some meals are better than others, but there hasn’t been anything glaring that makes me say a place isn’t so great. I love local dives and simple places to eat. That’s where you meet the natives and really learn about the culture.
Have you been anywhere which turned out to be totally different to how you imagined? If so, how?
In my earlier travel days, I went to New Orleans. I romanticized the city because of its Garden District and French Quarter. Those areas are indeed beautiful and unique, but there’s also more poverty and crime than I anticipated. Coming from a relatively rural area and having very limited “city” experiences, it was definitely a culture shock for me.
What has travel taught you?
To be flexible. Things don’t always go smoothly, and you need to adapt rather than be disappointed.
Best and Worst place you’ve been to and why?
The best place I’ve been to, hands down, is Vieques Island. Only 4 by 20 miles, with no stoplights or fast-food chains, it’s one of the still relatively underdeveloped islands in the Caribbean. I honestly could live there and had the good fortune to spend 5 consecutive weeks on this small island. After that amount of time, I was starting to feel like a local!
The worst place I’ve been too…I can’t say there is one. Any travel destination can go from bad to good if you keep a positive outlook and are able to adapt to change.
What’s one location on your bucket list?
India. I will get there one day.
Vicky’s Lightning Round of Favorites
Hotel: The Hacienda Tamarindo, in Vieques, Puerto Rico. Not really a hotel, but more of a small inn/guesthouse. Full American breakfast included an honor bar, quaint rooms, and the best pool with a view on the island!
Airline: Southwest. The crew is incredibly friendly, the prices are extremely reasonable, and they still give you free in-flight snacks!
Airport: Henry E. Rohlsen Airport, Saint Croix, Virgin Islands, where you’re warmly welcomed by musicians and handed tropical libations made with the islands’ own Cruzan rum.
Mode of Transportation: Airplanes! They get me quickly to my intended destination.
Travel snack: Single-serve Sabra roasted red pepper hummus with pretzels.
Country: So far, Panama.
Travel Gear: I LOVE my black Travex Connect Tech Travel Bag by Eddie Bauer. A super comfortable crossbody bag that holds all of my writing essentials including my iPad, notebooks, pens, iPhone and more.
Travel App: iTranslate has come in very handy for me on several trips when my Spanish was rusty and I needed to communicate with the locals.
Travel Book: Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. I’m a huge book nerd, so it’s 944 pages didn’t intimidate me. I’d suggest getting it on your Kindle if you plan to take it on vacation!
Travel Mag: Islands Magazine. I’m an island girl through and through. I have to read this with a handkerchief, though, because I’m usually drooling all over the pages!
Travel Movie: There are many, but if I had to narrow it down, I’d say The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.
Song on your smartphone: Toes by the Zac Brown Band.
How about you? What would you like to know about Vicky?
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