Today the Tuesday Talk is with Barbara Weibel from the travel blog, Hole in the Donut Cultural Travel. Barbara used to work more than 70 hours a week, until an illness made Barbara re-evaluate her life, and pursue her passion of travel. That was 6 years ago. Let’s hear what Barbara has to say about travel.
Barbara, tell us a bit about yourself.
It’s interesting how one seemingly insignificant event can mold a life. Around the age of 11, my uncle gave me an old Leica film camera. I carried it everywhere, snapping shots and mounting up processing fees that nearly sent my parents to the poor house. From that point forward I dreamed of traveling the world, taking photos and writing about the exotic people and places I’d seen in the National Geographic magazines stacked in our front hall. Unfortunately, the need to earn a living sent me in a different direction and my dreams slowly faded into obscurity. For 30-some years, I worked 70+ hours per week at jobs I detested, growing more and more disillusioned. Finally, a serious illness forced me to re-examine my life. I promised myself that, if I could recover, I would walk away from my successful career to pursue my true passions. At the age of 54, I set up a blog to keep friends and family apprised of my whereabouts, slung a backpack over my shoulder, and headed out to see the world. That was more than six years ago. I’ve been traveling ever since and the blog that started as a casual hobby has become successful enough to finance my travels.
You’ve been travelling full time for a bit over 3 years now, what’s it feel like to be a full time traveller?
For the first three years I had a home base but as the amount of time I was traveling increased it soon made no sense to keep an apartment. I sold or gave away my remaining possessions and hit the road permanently. It was a scary proposition at first, but it helped to know that I could always come back to Chicago to stay with my father, or to Atlanta to stay with friends who had a free guest room. It didn’t take long for perpetual travel to become the norm for me however being on the road full time can sometimes be stressful. I travel without concrete plans and rarely have reservations. I stay in each destination until I’ve had my fill and then figure out where to go next. While this way of living affords me great flexibility, it means I am always scrambling to find inexpensive accommodations and transportation at the last moment, but other than that challenge I really love wandering in this fashion.
Out of all the places you have visited on your travels, which one would you go back to and why?
For most of my life I couldn’t conceive of visiting a place more than once. My mantra used to be, “so many places, so little time.” Then three years ago I went to Nepal for the first time and fell in love with the country and the Nepali people. Since then I’ve spent about three months there each year and plan to continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
Is there any particular culture that had a big impact on you?
Of course, the Nepali culture is precious to me, but I also feel a deep connection with the cultures of Southeast Asia. Not only have I long been a Buddhist, but I also have a deep appreciation for the Asian commitment to family and their ability to be happy regardless of material circumstances.
You take lots of travel photos like me, and I know this is always a tough question, but do you have a favorite photo?
Since I have more than 75,000 digital photos it would be quite impossible to pick my favorite, however I will say that I particularly like some of the close-up portraits that I have taken of indigenous people.
Is there any advice you can offer anyone thinking about full time travel?
Fear holds people back from becoming full-time travelers. Fear about earning a living or what others will think if we choose this lifestyle. Fear that we can’t speak the language or that it’s not safe. But in the end you are the only person you need to please. If you have the ability to be patient and flexible, to roll with the punches, and are creative enough to find a way to earn a living as a digital nomad, the fear will subside within a few weeks. If a life of perpetual travel appeals to you, just do it. Even if it doesn’t work out, you’ll never have to wonder “what if.”
Thank you Barbara for spending some time answering some questions for me. If you would like to read more about Barbara’s travels, or see some of her photos you can head over to Hole in the Donut Cultural Travel. You can also follow her on Twitter @holeinthedonut.