1.) Where was the first place that you traveled that made you think WOW—travel is amazing (think history book come to life or …..)
Traveling to Washington D.C. as a tween for an eighth grade school trip was incredible. It was incredible to explore and learn about the world without my parents. But I fell hardcore in love with travel the first time I went to Europe with my family at age 15. I was particularly smitten with Paris and its curly cue architecture, delicious pastries and confident populace.
2.) If you had unlimited resources, where would you go and what would you do?
If I had unlimited resources I would embark on an around the world cruise with my family for a year. Ahh…to dream!
3.) What were you afraid to do and how did you find the courage to overcome it?
I spent a lot of my childhood being afraid of failing or looking stupid. I have spent much of my adulthood living outside my comfort zone. I was afraid to spend a month living abroad with a French family the summer after I graduated high school, but I did it anyway. I was terrified to move to France for my junior year abroad, but I forced myself to go. As a travel blogger, I get incredible opportunities to do things I am afraid of, and I do them…like leading a dogsled of howling wild canines through the Canadian wilderness for a couple of hours, flinging myself onto a boat in big waves in Mexico to try parasailing, speaking at conferences, and making dozens of appearances on television and radio. I try not to think too much about any of these intimidating things. Leap first, think later.
4.) What apps do you use regularly that make your life easier?
I love the Yelp app for finding (and rating) restaurants, hotels, stores and beyond. I use the Fitbit app to help keep me motivated and in shape. I adore the BeautyPlus app for a quick way to edit photos of faces (ba-bye wrinkles!). And, of course I need the Lyft and Uber apps for getting around without a car when traveling and occasionally at home.
5.) What place do you wish more people would see?
Visiting the Beaches of Normandy had a profound and life-changing effect on me, so I’ll go with that. Seeing all of those graves of the brave people who fought for our freedom made me appreciate life more and sweat the small stuff a lot less.
6.) Best advice you have been given and by whom?
I learn a lot of wonderful life lessons from Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday series on the OWN Network. I am forever writing little words of wisdom I glean from her guests, like Deepak Chopra, Cheryl Strayed, and Elizabeth Gilbert. My latest favorite, though, I heard on the TED Radio Hour podcast. It’s by Dr. Stuart Brown, the founder of the National Institute of Play. He said, “The opposite of play is not work. It’s depression.” I have been taking on a lot of new and exciting work projects lately but I have not been taking time off to unplug and recharge, and it’s been taking a toll. I heard this quote and thought, “No wonder I’ve been feeling so sad lately. I need to PLAY more!”
7.) When were you surprised by the kindness of strangers on a trip?
I went on this fjord tour in Norway and everyone else on the boat ordered something for lunch or a snack. I was this grubby 20-year-old backpacker, wearing a filthy pair of jeans and traveling through Europe solo for several weeks. It must have been pretty obvious that I didn’t have the money to buy any treats and I was probably unknowingly looking at my fellow passengers’ food with longing. One elderly passenger broke her sandwich in half and gave it to me. At first I refused but she insisted. Pretty soon another passenger handed me some of her potato chips, and another bought me a soda. They were small gestures of kindness, but it almost brings tears to my eyes when I think about it all these years later. It’s amazing how we can do these little things to make others feel so much happiness and gratitude.
8.) What inspired you to travel for extended periods of time or live in a new country?
When I went to Paris as a teen all those years ago, I declared to my parents that someday I would live in France. They didn’t believe me because I was not the type of person to take on big, scary adventures. I felt like I had to follow through on my declaration. It was a turning point for me in terms of having faith in myself and pushing myself to be the person I wanted to be, instead of hiding from life.
9.) I travel because….
Travel because it forces you to take notice of the incredible, glorious world we live in!
Colleen is the author of the award-winning book, “The Travel Mamas’ Guide.” Colleen’s greatest passions in life are parenting, travel, writing and fabulous swimming pools (not necessarily in that order). She lives in Arizona with her husband, two children and dog.
For current and aspiring bloggers, Colleen recommends:
Attending blogging conferences: “I attend the North American TBEX (the Travel Bloggers Exchange) conference every year. I have also heard wonderful things about the Type-A Parent and Mom 2.0 conferences.”
Stay up-to-date with Colleen through her:
Our next Travel Influencer interview will be up in a week, follow the series here.