Interview Series, Edition 4
For the fourth edition of the interview series, we got in touch with Clare Laming of Monarch Butterfly Voyager. She is an Irish blogger living in Paris, France. Previously, we have interviewed tattoo artist and world-traveler Amber Harris, Adrian Ann of Adrian’s Travel Tales, and Jenn Turnbull-Houde of Two Weeks in Costa Rica. In the series, we ask a handful of questions to female travelers and expats who can offer unique perspectives on the transient or foreign lifestyle. If you or someone you know falls into this category, please don’t hesitate to drop us a line. The interview questions will be tailored to your specific story, as you’ll see below.
About Clare: Clare is a travel blogger from Belfast, Northern Ireland. In 2007, she embarked on a round-the-world trip, then in 2013 spent a year in Portugal, and now lives in Paris with her husband. After a family tragedy, she made the decision to focus full-time on her travel writing career. You can read more about her on her website.
SGT: I read on your blog about some of the travel writers that inspire you. Does your family also travel? Are they supportive of your decision to live abroad, or did they take some convincing?
CL: All of my family travel at some point in the year. My great aunt travelled to India in the 1920s by herself. I would love to have known what she got up to. I’m not sure if she wrote about it and if there is a travel journal hidden somewhere. Many of my family members have lived abroad at some point, so they were supportive of my decision to live abroad.
SGT: Which destination(s) most surprised you? Why?
CL: Cambodia really surprised me. I had been to most of the SEA countries but Cambodia really hit home at how lucky I am to be where I am from and how privileged I am to be able to travel, but also even having access to the basic medicine Paracetamol (Tylenol). Many Cambodian children were dying needlessly (and probably still are) of Dengue Fever because they didn’t have access to Paracetamol, an over-the-counter drug that we take for granted. Cambodia is such a wonderful country with amazing people and scenery, but the poverty and seeing all those street children (some with no limbs) made me be less materialistic. I don’t need to have the latest gadget or the latest designer handbag, I’d rather travel.
SGT: Does your husband also have the “travel bug”? How has living as expats challenged your relationship?
CL: Indeed he does have the travel bug. He says it was when he started going out with me that he started getting itchy feet. We went on a couple of holidays together and when we both finished our bachelor degrees we decided to go around the world for over seven months. I think travelling made us realise that we liked the same things but know when to compromise. When he went scuba diving, I went sky-diving. I think travelling has helped our expat life to be a lot smoother than it could have been. There have been challenges, mostly French administration and trying to find an apartment in Paris, but we’ve gotten through it and ended up enjoying it.
SGT: What is your social circle like in Paris? Do you find it difficult to make friends in a foreign country? How is your grasp of the language?
CL: To be honest finding a social circle in Paris is hard. We are constantly going away at the weekends, which probably doesn’t help. All our friends in Paris come and go as well, so it is hard to establish friendships when you-or-they are never about. We lived in Portugal for six months and we were invited to quite a few social events there, whereas in Paris, people generally keep themselves to themselves or are simply too busy. I have many visitors from around the world who come visit as well, so life is busy!
SGT: Do you have a day job? What’s a day-in-the-life like for you?
CL: I am trying to become a freelancer/travel blogger. I was supposed to be teaching English via babysitting in Paris but unfortunately my Mum died suddenly of misdiagnosed ovarian cancer so I had to — and wanted to — go home to Ireland for a few months. When we moved to Portugal in 2013, I decided to start Monarch Butterfly Voyager, my travel blog. As you can imagine, life has been a little chaotic the past few years. I have done some online courses too, to keep my brain active, including a creative travel-writing course with the Cambridge University. I’m hoping life will settle down and I can take my career seriously.
SGT: If you could give one piece of advice to a woman considering the expat life, what would it be?
CL: Don’t make rigid plans and be pragmatic. Being pragmatic will make life easier as obstacles will happen, such as administrative delays.
Follow Clare on Monarch Butterfly Voyager.
Read the interviews with Amber Harris, Adrian Ann, and Jenn Turnbull-Houde
Are you a female expat/former expat or permanent traveler who would like to be interviewed for Savvy Girl Travel? Get in touch.