Meet Katie Watson - a graduate of the University of Virginia where she double majored in Foreign Affairs and Media Studies. She worked dozens of jobs throughout her college in order to save money to see the world. Katie has traveled six continents! She also went on a three month backpacking trip from Western Europe to Southeast Asia. (I'm really jealous right now!) She runs a website where she shares all her experiences and gives travelling tips. I came across her profile on Instagram. The photos of her journey around the globe are a treat to see. They are so jaw dropping!
1) Can you tell us how your fascination to travel the world started? Was it perhaps a person, who inspired you?
A dear family friend once told me that the absolute best thing you can do while you're young is to travel. She said that there would be plenty of time for other things, but traveling while you're young is something you can only do once. She inspired me to explore as much of the world as I could, and I have taken every opportunity since then to travel! The more places I see, the more places I want to go, so I know my love for exploring will only grow with time.
2) Money is always an issue for people who wish to see the world. Can you suggest ways how people can save enough money to travel?
I genuinely believe that the memories I make while I travel will be worth infinitely more to me than anything else I could buy, so I make a lot of daily choices to cut my costs and save money. I have often worked multiple jobs, including three at a time throughout college, and I'm always up for an interesting side gig. I make as many things as I can so that I don't have to buy them, I walk or bike instead of taking public transport or a cab, and I look for freelance jobs online when I can. It's not always easy, but the things I've been able to see and do on my travels have made it all worth it.
3) Of all the places you have traveled so far, can you name the city/town you'll love to visit again and again? Why do you love that place?
One city that I could visit a thousand times and it still wouldn't feel like enough is Munich, Germany. It is an absolutely beautiful city with great food, drinks, and so much to do! In summer, you can go to the English Gardens to walk, run, bike, or watch the surfers. Or, you can just spend the day hanging out on the Isar river and soaking up the sun! In the winter, you can go to the Christmas markets, explore museums, or spend the day at one of their hundreds of awesome beer gardens.
Munich is a great place to go with friends, or to travel on your own. Most people speak English and everyone is incredibly friendly, which makes it the perfect place to meet people! I will say though, some of the places I've loved the most are the places I don't think I'll go back to. They are so precious to me in my mind that I worry a trip back could never be just as perfect as the first time I went.
Prague in the Czech Republic is one of those places, as is Reykjavik in Iceland. The trips I had to both of those places were absolute fairy tales. On each trip I had the perfect weather, met the most incredible people, and saw things that made me catch my breath. In Prague, I went with no plan at all and ended up getting swept up from one activity and adventure to another, totally by coincidence. In Reykjavik I saw the Northern Lights twice in 24 hours, all because strangers who became friends made a huge effort to make it happen. I tell everyone looking for an incredible adventure to go to these places, but I don't know that I will be able to do it again for a long time.
4) What has been the most exciting thing you have ever done in your travels?
While I was in Thailand, I spontaneously decided to go bungee jumping and it was a blast!
5) What is your most favourite meal you have ever had in your travels? The meal you always think about...
Oh wow, this is a really hard one! One of the coolest places I've ever eaten was at Suada Club in Istanbul, Turkey. This incredible restaurant was in the middle of the Bosporus river, between Asia and Europe.You have to travel by boat to reach it, and the view is absolutely unbeatable! They serve a variety of fresh fishes and local dishes, and it is undoubtedly the best place in Istanbul to watch a sunset. In general though, the meals I think back to most often are all street foods. From CostaRica, to Vietnam, or Austria, every time I have a "road meal" I find the most delicious and interesting things! Plus it's usually pretty cheap, which is great for a traveler on a budget ;)
6) What were the most common difficulties you faced when traveling? If there were any, can you give tips how aspiring travellers can avoid them?
It can sometimes be a little tough to adjust to local customs, like having to wear long skirts, head coverings, or understanding how body language conveys meaning. I always do my research ahead of time to make sure I know the do's and don'ts of the places I go, which helps a lot!
7) Places you wish to see..
My goal is to travel to all seven continents, and now I just have Antarctica left! I would absolutely love to go to the south of Chile, catch a boat to Antarctica, and explore the coast and Falkan Islands for a couple of weeks.
8) Have you met an extraordinary/wise person in your travels? Can you tell about him/her?
I meet someone extraordinary every time I travel! My favorite thing to do is to chat with my Airbnb host, or the people I meet in restaurants, or to hangout in the coffee shop or bar of my hostel and hear peoples' stories. If you take the time to talk to other travelers and locals, you can learn a lot!
9) Can you suggest the travel planner sites you use, magazines and apps to get the best pocket friendly itinerary?
Well, I would definitely recommend using my site (watsonwanders.com) to start! I have information on every city I've visited, including my favorite places to stay, restaurants to try, and activities to do. I also make custom itineraries for other travelers, and would be happy to help anyone looking for an adventure! For places I haven't been before, I like to use Lonely Planet and National Geographic to get inspiration for where to go and what to do.
10) How do you think travelling changes a person? How has it changed you?
Everyone who travels is sure to be changed by it, but how they change completely depends on the person. Any time you go somewhere new, meet people from different backgrounds, eat foods unlike anything you've had before, and see the sights you've only read about in books, you take a piece of those things back with you. Personally, traveling has changed me in an untold number of wonderful ways. It has made me more independent, confident, globally aware, and grateful for the things I have. It has simultaneously has made me crave more travel and adventure, while also appreciating how nice it is to be home. I truly believe that traveling has given me the best education I could ever receive, and I am a better person for it.