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My Questionnaire for the DTour of a Lifetime to North America

DoubleTree Winners DTourists

        As I announced on Thursday, I’m thrilled to have been selected as one of six DTourists to travel the world with DoubleTree by Hilton! I’ll be travelling to North America as an ambassador for DoubleTree by Hilton, and I can’t wait.

        After my first video was shortlisted, the next step of the application for the competition included filling in a questionnaire and filming a 1-minute video. Here are my answers and my video – it’s an interesting exercise to try to identify your travel personality, and to choose which the best trip you’ve ever taken was! If you know, then post it below in the comments!

Describe your Travel Personality

        I’ve often wondered what I’d do if I won the lottery. Lots of people would buy a huge house, go on an extravagant shopping spree, buy a fancy car, throw the party to end all parties… Not me. I would take the whole lot and catch the next flight out of the country. In fact I could happily hop from country to country for the rest of my life, finding out what “life” means in different time zones, in different climates, in different cultures, in different communities. Life is a never-ending lesson, and someone who rarely ventures outside of their home country can never hope to expand their horizons and discover what else awaits them. As Saint Augustine so eloquently put it: “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only the first page”.

diaries        My incurable curiosity to learn about anything and everything means I don’t fit neatly into the “package tourist” box, and I’m not content to follow around a tour guide brandishing a flag or an umbrella. I don’t travel to “tick boxes” or to fill my bookshelves with once-used guide books. My bookshelves are instead full of my diaries – ever since I was 14 I’ve kept a diary of every trip abroad I’ve made, recording my unique impressions, observations and emotions at the time, sticking in mementoes and memories and storing the contact details of the many new friends I’ve met along the way. These endless notepads and diaries I’ve been keeping have now evolved into my travel blog, where I connect with likeminded travel addicts, swap stories and advice and share my impressions and emotions.

So what kind of traveller am I really? I’m the type of traveller who:

  • gets upset upon realising I haven’t got any trips abroad planned in the diary this month. (I can assure you I don’t let this happen often!)
  • will go anywhere once – nowhere is off limits – as there’s something to be learnt from every situation, from a grubby over-night train in rural China to an elegant rooftop restaurant in New York.
  • seeks out the unknown and the unusual. I feel most invigorated when faced with a completely new challenge, whether that be navigating my way around a new city without a map, or learning to scuba dive.
  • reads a phrasebook (not a guidebook) while stting in the airport.
  • loves to speak the language with the locals and meet new people wherever I am.
  • loves hot and cold weather equally – I honestly don’t have a preference between summer and winter.
  • adores speaking to fellow travellers and bloggers about previous and future travels, swapping tips and well-kept secrets about local customs & traditions through word-of-mouth.
  • always travels armed with a camera and my iPhone’s notepad, to be able to share my adventures with my followers and my blog’s readers.
  • wishes each trip would never end, and gets that sinking feeling when it’s time to go home…

Create a short video as to why you would be a good DTourist.

Tell us the most exciting activity you’ve experienced while traveling.

        While it might not be a high-adrenaline activity like skydiving, sleeping in the wild in Kenya was by far the most exciting thing I have done while travelling. We had already spent a few nights in a lovely safari lodge with big fences to keep out the elephants and lions, feeling sheltered, protected and a little detached from the nature around us. We then took a three-day walking safari accompanied by an army of local Masai men and their camels, which exposed us to the reality of life in the wild, sleeping each night in tents and then packing up in the morning to walk to our next spot. Although I felt safe walking around in the daytime, surrounded by these men who had lived all their lives alongside these great but dangerous animals, it was at night that my mind started to wander to “What if…” situations, and our potential proximity to a hungry lion or hyena both excited me and terrified me at the same time.

        Getting that close to the nature and the animals was an exhilarating experience, and learning about Masai culture from our guide brought Kenya to life. Back in our safari lodge I had of course been appreciating the spectacular nature and wildlife, but it came nothing close to our experience of exploring the land on foot and sleeping in the wild, protected by 30 Masai men and their camels, rather than by a big fence.

Name 3 people (dead or alive) that you’d like to go to dinner with and why.

  1. Michael Palin, because I am glued to every travel documentary he makes and he has led an incredibly interesting life, and I’d love to hear all his stories.
  2. Maureen/Tony Wheeler, because they innovated and created Lonely Planet, and managed to turn the travel industry on its head, allowing everyone, regardless of budget or background, to travel independently and find our own paths around the world.
  3. The person who came up with the concept of the Gap Year, because I simply want to say a huge thank you! My travels on my Gap Year exposed me to places and people I had never dreamed of, they expanded my horizons and converted me into a world citizen, developing my passion for and addiction to travel, and I’ve never been the same since!

Describe the best trip you’ve ever taken and why.

         Arriving in Havana, we were buzzing with excitement and expectation. This was our first truly independent trip, free from the shackles of our parents, and free to do entirely as we pleased! My best friend and I had chosen Cuba as our first destination on our Gap Year. My Gap Year was a pivotal period in my life: I matured into an adult, I learnt about the vast world around me and most of all I learnt that I wanted to continue travelling forever and ever. Cuba is an astonishing country to visit, from the beautiful natural surroundings we explored, to the warmth of the locals that accommodated us in their houses, from the challenges of living under a dictatorship, to the island’s rich cultural heritage.

        Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a perfect trip every step of the way. We had underestimated the impact of culture shock and our first battle was fighting the fear of the unknown and realising that no responsible parent was there to look after us. Alongside this we had many setbacks: we got lost, we suffered sun stroke and we were robbed at one point… Despite this, I’d still say that this month-long trip to Cuba was the best I’ve ever had, because we conquered those feelings of self-doubt that the culture shock had instilled in us, we realised that yes, actually, we were able to survive out in the big bad world without our parents and since that moment I’ve never looked back.

2 Comments »

  1. I’m so jealous! Have a fantastic time and can’t wait to read your blog/twitter and see the pics on Instagram 🙂

    Well done!

    Like

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