Rambling Traveler: An Interview with Stacy

StacyTravel does not necessarily have to involve a lot of money or a lot of time. Nor does it need to involve a flight overseas. Truly rewarding travel experiences can be enjoyed much closer to home, as people like Stacy from Rambling Traveler will testify. Many of her trips are day trips or weekends away around her home in Minnesota, though she also takes every opportunity she can get to head further afield, whether it be a volunteering trip down to Guatemala or an upcoming trip to Scotland.

TravelBlogs caught up with Stacy to find out more about why she loves to travel, her views on volunteer tourism and some special places near her home.

Why do you love to travel?

I’ve actually written about 5 Reasons Why I Travel, and it all comes down to a strong curiosity about other people (past and present) and where they live. I also like that every time I travel, I learn something new. We can become so insulated in our lives at home, that I enjoy seeing or doing something out of the ordinary.

You have travelled quite a bit around the United States and Canada. What are some of your favourite places in North America?

Gooseberry FallsCloser to home: Gooseberry Falls

One of my favorite places is Gunnison National Forest, near Crested Butte, Colorado. Past Mt. Crested Butte, around Gothic, the scenery is everything I imagined the mountains of Colorado would be and it was a fun adventure driving from Schofield Pass to Paradise Divide. If you like the outdoors, there are some amazing campsites out there, and very few people. The roads can be a little scary, though!

Here in Minnesota, the North Shore of Lake Superior is beautiful and great for exploring the outdoors. We’ve gone several times and there is still so much for us to see.

Some of my other favorites include Bryce Canyon in Utah, the Upper Peninsula in Michigan, and the winding back roads of Maryland and Virginia. As you can see, my preference is for the outdoors. I don’t have a strong desire to visit big cities, although I have enjoyed Denver, Washington D.C. and Quebec City.

You made a trip with your son down to Guatemala earlier this year, to volunteer with an organisation called God’s Child Project. Was that the first time you had done a volunteer trip like that?

That was a new experience for me. It was incredible, and I have the best memories of meeting and talking to people who lived there, doing the different volunteer projects, staying with a non-English speaking family, and seeing some of the sites in Guatemala.

An interesting debate about short-term volunteer trips is the extent to which they actually help the local community, and you’ve written about that debate on your blog. What do you think are some of the main benefits of volunteer experiences?

We can become so insulated in our lives at home

Usually, the main benefit is to the volunteer. It is a definite feel good experience, but exposure to other cultures and putting individual faces to numbers presented in news stories also gives the volunteer a different outlook on our global community. Hopefully that converts to benefiting the community once the volunteers are home and take more of a personal interest in continuing to help through donations or other actions.

Although the house we built for Jennifer and her family in Guatemala is great for them, it could have definitely been done more efficiently without us. Because of our experience, though, I find myself more aware of what is going on in that area, and more interested in helping organizations that support the community, especially with sustainable projects.

What advice do you have for people who are interested in doing a short-term volunteer trip and really want their work to make a difference in the local community?

The most important thing you can do is research the organization you are working with. Once you are on site, keep an open mind, don’t make judgments, and be respectful. I also recommend reading Rob Meyer’s post at The EcuaTraveler on making a difference as a volunteer, and checking out VolunteerLogue.

I see you might be going to Scotland… Why Scotland?

The Scottish Highlands have always fascinated me for the rugged, and remote, geography, and for the independent nature of the people. I’m also a bit of a history buff, so visiting the ruins appeals to me. We are considering the trip for next year because there is a possibility we will be in London on a business trip. If we go, I don’t want to pass up the opportunity to take the train up to Fort William and do some exploring.

Check out Stacy’s blog, Rambling Traveler to read more about her travels.

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