Daughter. Sister. Friend. Girlfriend. Traveler
Travel has been my passion starting from a very young age. I found myself studying globes and maps instead of wanting to play with kids my own age. I wanted to know about world capitals or national parks all over the map instead of wanting to explore my own back yard. I fantasized myself living in far away places and having the chance to meet people that lived a very different life than I did.
This isn’t something that I was aware of in my childhood but now that I look back when I was growing up I remember myself as a happy loner always wanting to learn anything travel related. I got lost in Samantha Browns’ show on the Travel Channel and wanted to emulate her in every way.
Movies such as Swiss Family Robinson had me referring back to my globe to trace where on the map the movie was filmed. Through my young adolescent years I knew that one day there would come a better way. A way that would allow me to break out from the norm and to follow what I had always desired; exploring the world and sharing my experiences.
My hobby as a kid was focusing on my atlas when I was in my room studying names of countries, oceans, and capital cities. In my young adolescence I found books such as Eat, Pray Love and The Lost Girls resonating with me. Later on when I found myself thinking about my just as Liz Gilbert had I felt much closer to that true story minus experiencing a divorce.
At the age of 20 I was in Cape Town, South Africa as an exchange student and traveled through seven African nations on a guided safari of Sub Saharan Africa. It was a trip of a lifetime and I still visualize the varying landscapes, the people, local markets, and warm meals with my group around the camp fire. I saw the Big Five in Kruger National Park, got swept up in the mighty rapids of Victoria Falls, did game drives in Chobe National Park and witnessed tons of wildlife while on a 24 night over landing safari. Each night my team pitched a tent under the stars and pondered life around the campfire.
When I returned home from my adventures around Africa I was forever a different person. It was difficult to understand my life back home again. I missed the cafes in Stellenbosch and riding my bike through town. It was when I came home that I vowed to myself that I would find a way to land a job abroad upon graduation from university to continue traveling while still earning a salary. I refused to accept what society was telling me about how I should follow the path of a traditional 9-5 job and saving up to take a one week vacation each year. I wanted more for myself. I wanted to continuously immerse myself in new places, learn about life from those around the world, and take with me my memories that would become part of me for the rest of my life.
With a lot of research my curiosity about South Korea led me on a three year journey teaching English in rural Korea, eating my way around Seoul, and learning how to cope with culture shock. With the time I spent in Korea I curiously explored local life, Korean cuisine, and culture while understanding a more simpler way of living in the countryside. From backpacking Jeju Island for a week to hiking Seoraksan Mountain in Gangwon-do to a weekend temple stay in Gyeongju with Buddhist monks, I can truly say that I loved my life in Korea. Living in Korea taught me a lot about how I want to live my life. More recently I revisited many of the places that I fell in love with in Seoul such as Dragon Hill Spa, Insadong and Namsan Park and had the chance to spend time with coworkers who were very kind and welcoming to me in my last year living in Korea. My time in Korea taught me to toughen up and learn how to make many decisions on my own and who I wanted to be. I wouldn’t trade any of those experiences in for anything.
Fast forward three years later and I’m currently employed at sea on a major cruise lines. This isn’t a typical path that the average person chooses but for me it has opened my mind to a completely different way of earning a living. I have fallen deeper in love with new destinations around the world that my job has afforded me to experience. I have a great support system here and I believe that I am recognized for all of my efforts in regard to the quality of care I deliver to the children on board.
Alana Travels captures my experiences around the globe with the intention of giving encouragement and meaning to the first time traveler. As a solo traveler who has visited more than sixty countries I hope to give some courage to the one with a wanderlust soul to step out of their comfort zone and take a deeper look at what is around them in this beautiful world. Always remember, you are never truly alone. There will be people along the way in your path when you are traveling who will guide you, teach you, and show you a better way. The memories created will teach you things that you will hold dearly, forever.
A lot of people are puzzled as to how I have traveled as much as I have in the past seven years. My advice to you: You don’t have to spend a ton of money in order to travel. Save every single airline ticket so you add to your skymiles, take only what you need on your journey, and instead of booking hotels, why not try Airbnb? With a little bit of planning and budgeting you can easily begin your journey of experiencing the world and immersing yourself in new destinations.
My travel memories stick with me and now are part of me. I have found great meaning in the places I have had the privilege to discover and the people along my journey who have guided me.