Interview Series: Edition 2

Adrian Ann of Adrian’s Travel Tales was kind enough to grant SGT an interview for our new series. Curious about the series? Check out Jenn’s interview a few weeks ago. In the series, we ask five-six 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.

Adrian Ann of Adrian's Travel Tales

Adrian on a moto in Vietnam rushing to catch a flight

Some background on Adrian: Adrian is a world traveler who quit her job at 27 and moved to Southeast Asia. She started out in Cambodia, moved to Taiwan for a few months and then went back to Cambo as it had stolen her heart. After teaching 2nd grade in Phnom Penh for 8 months, she decided it was time to start exploring more of the world and switched her career to permanent traveler.

The Interview with Adrian Ann

SGT: Your first move abroad was to Brisbane, Australia at age 16 – Why did it take you so long to make another move? What were you doing in the 10 years in between?

AA: That is such a great question! I wanted to go back to Australia after I graduated high school in the US, so at 18, but my parents said I had to go to school and couldn’t take a year off. At that age, I kinda had to listen to them. I went to a small, private school in Tacoma, WA and had to put myself through college. I ended up working 5 jobs at once to help pay for it all so that didn’t leave any extra money to travel. Then for 4-5 years after college, life got in the way. I made the same excuses everyone does, no time, no money, family obligations, yadde yadde yadda! I had some great jobs (Professional Ballroom Dancer/Teacher, Volunteer Bartender) and some not so great jobs (Recruiter, Care Supervisor, Sales). I lived in Tacoma, Seattle and Las Vegas in those 10 years, mostly Tacoma for college and Seattle for work. But the biggest reason I didn’t travel in those 10 years: fear. Plain and simple. Fear that I couldn’t afford it and fear of leaving the known to explore the unknown.

Sarajevo Church

Sarajevo Church

SGT: What’s your travel style? Are you a permanent traveler or do you call one place home and travel around from there?

AA: I’m a permanent traveler at this point. My parents are in Seattle (Eatonville actually but no one knows where that is) and I visit them regularly (about 2 times a year at this point) but I travel full time. Me and my HUGE backpack. I’ll be dumping a lot of that stuff when I go back for the holidays in November and reorganize so I can get it down to 15 kg at the MOST. You don’t even want to know how much I’m carrying at this point. In my defense, 12kg of my baggage is gifts for family…

SGT: What is one destination that you are dying to visit? What is one that you have little or no interest in visiting? Why?

AA: ANTARTICA!!! I want to hit all 7 continents before I’m 30. I have just under a year and a half to get it done. This season won’t work so I guess 2015-2016 will be my year.

No interest? That’s a hard one. I really want to visit everywhere to be honest. I have some places that are lower on my list, for obvious reasons such as Syria and West Africa but I want to go EVERYWHERE. Literally….

Adrian Ann of Adrian's Travel Tales

Adrian in Dubrovnik, Croatia, climbing a hill with no path!

SGT: Many of your trips and tours are sponsored. What would you say is the best way to get companies to sponsor you? At what point did you begin approaching them? Do you always receive a positive response?

AA: Actually, most of my trips (at this point) are on my dime. I was lucky enough to be part of some sponsored tours and a press trip through Greece by participating in TBEX Athens. I have had some luck approaching smaller companies (tour groups and hostels/accommodations) through email, offering to review their services. As for when I approached them, I was blogging for about, ohhhh… a month and a half. Ha! I think that you should approach a company or business when you have something solid to offer them. It’s not about the social media number you have but about what kind of reach you can give them. Make sure you are offering them something, not asking for something.

SGT: How often do you return to your home country? Does it ever get easier to leave? You mentioned in one post that you got emotional leaving Asia. Has that feeling subsided as you continue to travel?

AA: My original plan was to return home every year or so but it’s turning out to be about 2 times a year, much to my family’s pleasant surprise. It does get easier to leave, believe it or not. My first year abroad (at 16-17 years old) was the hardest. I remember having a panic attack after I left my parents at the security line in Seattle International Airport. The second time, at 27, I was moving to Asia and leaving them was hard, but I knew it was on an adventure and was looking forward to it. Most recently, in May of 2014 I had to go home for my sister’s wedding. Only my mom took me to the airport, and while it was hard to leave her, it was a lot easier than before. Being halfway around the world from your support system is hard but knowing that they’ll ALWAYS be there for me is what keeps me going. There are definitely hard times, like a few days ago when I found out my father had been in the hospital for a few days and I didn’t know because I was traveling with no WIFI access or when I couldn’t be home for the birth of a few friends’ babies. But I can honestly say that my relationships have gotten deeper with those that are home, at least the relationships that are real. Those relationships are what make it easier. That and Skype. And Facebook. And Twitter. And email.

As for the emotional part of leaving second homes, it does subside but it’s still there. Saying goodbye to any type of home is difficult but I have come to realize that nothing is permanent — except a tattoo — and I can always go back. Once I got that through my thick skull, everything became so much easier and much less emotional.

Adrian Ann of Adrian's Travel Tales

Adrian with village children in Purwakarta, Indonesia

SGT: What does the future hold for you? Where do you see yourself in five years?

AA: Ahhhhhhhhhh!! This is such a scary question. Well, I have 6 months till I’m done with my MBA in Global Management so that is really the only thing I have planned at this point…. Is that bad? No, really… I have no plans. In 5 years, I see myself traveling the world, inspiring others to do the same. I see working/partnering/starting a non-profit to help kids in Asia. I see myself making my living through a variety of means – through consulting, writing, owning a travel-related company, speaking engagements, etc. But mostly, in 5 years, I see myself just as happy as I am today. I am finally living the life I was meant to live and fulfilling a dream I’ve had since I was a child.

Follow Adrian’s Blog, Adrian’s Travel Tales

Read the last interview, Jenn Turnbull-Houde of Two Weeks in Costa Rica