“Home Sweet Home” Questionnaire #14: Ashley Abroad.
1.) Tell us a little bit about yourself and how your passion for travelling started.
Hi! I’m Ashley. I’m 22-year old American originally from Michigan. The first time I traveled without my parents was on a month-long trip to Ecuador when I was 15. We hiked the Andes, roasted guinea pigs on a stick and built a house from the ground up for Habitat for Humanity… after that I was addicted to travel!
2.) When did you decide to hit the road? Was it hard to take that step? What preparations and arrangements did you have to make during the planning period?
After graduating from university last May I immediately left to spend the summer in Paris with the French family I work for every summer. A few days before my departure back to the U.S., an opportunity to stay in France with another family arose, so I went home, sorted out visa issues and returned to France as possible.
3.) Where & how do you celebrate Christmas?
Even though I travel quite a bit these days, I have somehow made it home for Christmas every year (though I rarely make it back for Thanksgiving, unfortunately!) Back in Michigan our Christmas’ are quite traditional; they involve a roaring fire, lots of food and wine and if we’re lucky a blanket of snow outside.
4.) How do you stay in touch with family and friends? Do you write postcards?
I love to email and I Skype with my family a few times a week.
5.) Are you planning on traveling for the rest of your life or would you like to settle down sometime (by settling down we mean finding a place to come home to)?
Someday I would ideally like to have a homebase but a job that allowed me to travel frequently… fingers crossed!
6.) If you could choose one city/country for living, which one would it be? Please give us a little explanation (weather, people, etc.).
I’ve spent two summers in Spain and it’s definitely my happy place: kind, good-humored people, balmy weather, delicious tapas and ham, miles and miles of sea coast, Moorish architecture and a language I can actually speak… for me it’s perfect!
7.) Where are you right now and how did you get there?
I’m at home in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, where I live with a French family and work as their English tutor and au pair.
8.) Travelling is expensive … so how do you get from A to B?
My flight costs are almost always covered because most of my trips have been work-related. But when I do have to book a flight, I religiously check flight websites until I can find a good deal and fly lots of budget airlines like Ryanair and Easy Jet.
9.) Do you use a travel guide (Lonely Planet, etc.)? If so, please tell us which one … if not, why?
I do use travel guides- at the moment I have Lonely Planet Europe, Frommer’s France and Knopf Mapguide: Paris. I like travel guides in order to brief myself on a country’s history, customs and major sites before venturing there; I find I get more out of a trip if I’m already somewhat aware of the culture. I build a loose skeleton of an itinerary before leaving, but often completely change my plans once I’m there- you never know who you’ll meet or what will happen!
10.) What does a perfect day on your trip look like? What season is it? Are you inside or outdoors? Are you in a city or in the middle of nowhere?
My perfect day would involve waking up, doing something active like skiing or hiking, enjoying some really delicious local food and then chilling out for a few hours before going out to a bar, pub or restaurant- in my eyes the nightlife is an essential part of any travel experience.
11.) Name three spots from your last adventure, which you’d probably not find in a guidebook but you could recommend to travellers. Tell us what’s special about them.
My last trip was to Istanbul, Turkey, where I stayed with my cousin who lives there. Here are a few great local places on the Asian side of the city:
1. Çınaraltı – Turkish food served in the style of Korean barbecue. Lively atmosphere, strong drinks, delicious meat and reasonable prices.
2. Namli – One of the city’s best delicatessen’s and a great spot to grab brunch.
3. Monc – A laid-back, live-music rock bar with lots of incredible local bands.
12.) Where & how do you write your blog articles? Do you start with a rough draft or get right to it?
I write rough drafts and then let them ferment for a few days or preferably weeks. Then I come back and overhaul them with edits.
13.) What’s your favorite local dish? Where does it come from? Can you cook it & what are the main ingredients?
My favorite local dish in France is boudin noir, which is the French equivalent of black pudding. It’s easy to cook- just buy it at the butcher and fry it like a normal sausage.
14.) How much does 1 liter (or one gallon) of milk and petrol cost today?
I’m not honestly sure because I don’t buy either… but everything is pricey in France!
15.) On which device to you answer this questionnaire and what shoes are you wearing (if possible please add a picture )?
I’m writing this on my brand-new Macbook Pro (my first Mac, I love it!) and I’m actually not wearing any shoes.
16.) Last but not least: What does “home” mean to you?
Home is wherever my family is! I miss them a lot when I’m gone but I always know they will be there when I come back.
Want to be a part of this series?
If you want to be a part of our series, just go to the “Home Sweet Home” article and download the appropriate questionnaire. We’d really like to read your stories :)
Participants so far:
#1: Ulli Maier
#2: Nisa Maier
#3: Shvyia Nath
#4: Rika Huang
#5: Yvonne Zagermann
#6: Dario Endara
#7: Frankie Thompson
#8: Roy van den Bos
#9: Monica Stott
#10: Doris Neubauer
#11: Amanda Slavinsky
#13: Casper Oppenhuis de Jong
#14: Ashley Abroad
#15: Inma Gregorio