So, I’ve had more than a few people approach me over the past few years and ask me why I don’t start my own blog. The truth is, I was afraid to be “just another travel blogger”. I was worried about what other people might think and was worried that my experiences wouldn’t really offer anything unique. But I’ve come to realize that that’s a silly thought; My experiences are just that, ‘my experiences, and that is unique enough. But chances are too, there are at least a few other people out there who have similar situations to me and are looking for some advice or perspective — Maybe they’re just looking to know that someone else out there is going through something similar or is trying to do the same thing as them. Regardless, we got some kind of tribe here, and I’m down; I’m here for you, heyyy!
So, here it is- my ‘go’ at starting a blog!
A little about me…
I thought I’d start this first post off with a way for you to get to know me a bit better. I’m 26 years old and originally from Ontario, Canada! I became fascinated with the world at a very young age and was first bitten by the travel bug at age 15 with my first ever trip to Scotland and Peru. However, I never went on yearly family holidays abroad and I never went on year-end high school trips or reading week holidays. We simply couldn’t afford them.
Yet, I have managed to travel almost consistently since those first trips back in 2007 and I’m still a student. HOW? I get asked this question more frequently than probably anything else! How can I travel so much? How do I do it?
The truth is, I am constantly seeking opportunities to travel and I travel responsibly. Sounds easy enough, doesn’t it? But, at first, this was hard because I was so focused on a select bucket list of places I had dreamt about going to based on things/places I saw on TV, in National Geographic magazines, and now on things like Instagram and Pinterest. Then I realized, everywhere is on my bucket list. I want to go everywhere! Now, don’t get me wrong — I still have specific places at the top of my bucket list, but the truth is when you decide that you are open to opportunities for travel wherever travelling suddenly becomes a much easier thing to do!!
How I started to travel…
It started off with opportunities in my inner circle. And then, it grew.
My parents have always had a significant influence on me and for 12 years, they were the leaders of multiple medical teams that travelled up the Amazon River in Peru — something I wanted to be a part of so badly! However, my parents, though incredibly generous and supportive, always taught me that nothing comes without hard work and dedication. This lesson lead me to take initiative and learn Spanish as a second language so that I could volunteer with the teams and help them abroad (little did I know, this would also open the door for other opportunities down the road!). I was blessed to join them on 7 different trips, which opened my eyes to so much of the world that we don’t see in the glamorous shots of luxurious travel. After this, I only wanted to learn more about the world around me!
After high school, I took a year for some self-discovery. I took part in a Canadian government program called ‘Katimavik’ which placed me in several different locations across Canada, over a 6-month period. During this time, I spent my days, nights, and weekends, volunteering, learning about the diversity of my own country, and focusing on civic engagement. Through this opportunity, I got to live on the East Coast of Canada in Prince Edward Island, in the Canadian Arctic in Nunavut, and in French Canada – in Quebec, all while experiencing so much of Canada’s amazing and diverse culture!
Eventually, discovering a deeper passion for cultural diversity and education, I studied a Bachelors's in International Development at the University of Guelph. During my studies there, I was lucky enough to take on an opportunity to study abroad in Guatemala (thanks, Spanish!), while at the same time furthering my knowledge of the Spanish language and continuing my annual volunteer work in Peru.
Upon graduation, I left for my first job, working for an NGO based outside of London in the United Kingdom. It was a wonderful and enlightening experience but, again, it sparked and fuelled a deeper passion to learn and discover more!
Over the past year, I have been completing my Masters in International/Intercultural Communications with the Geert Hofstede Consortium — working on my courses between Vilnius University in Lithuania and IULM University in Italy.
Of course, with all of this, I’ve also been finding time to travel (duh!). And while it helps that flights are much cheaper once you’re in Europe (this is not news to most people), as a student, I’ve really had to focus and find ways to sustain my life, pay for tuition, and still save money to travel. This has been especially important since I still have student loans to pay off from my bachelor studies in Canada and don’t want to climb into any more debt!
Please know that I’m not saying you need to be a student forever to travel more! But seeking opportunities that fit with your lifestyle, networks, and your situation definitely helps. These have just been some of the paths I’ve taken and some of my personal experiences.
So, regarding this blog, I’m hoping to share with you guys all my secrets of how I do it! I’m not saying I’ve got it down pat – I don’t, I’m still learning… But I have learned a thing or two! My hope is that this can be a community where we are able to discuss how to seek out travel opportunities that work for your situation and fit with your lifestyle — in addition to a community where we can share travel experiences and tips that are useful for the average student and/or budget backpacker!
In this blog, I hope to discuss:
How to find travel opportunities
How to plan for travel
How to budget your trips
How to travel ethically and responsibly
Budget-friendly locations to travel
Advice and tips on budget-friendly accommodations, activities, places to eat, etc. in locations mentioned
Anything else you want to know about or discuss!
One thing I do want to make clear real quick before I close this post — Though I do LOVE travel, it has not been the sole target of my life choices and pathways, however, it has definitely been a bi-product of my desire to fuel my passions for cultural understanding, global citizenship, and international development. Additionally, I love learning and I love growing — two things I find happen most when I am challenged by people and situations different from what I am accustomed to! (And what better way to experience this than through travel?!) Even with everything crazy and messed up going on in this world right now, it is still such a beautiful place. But, in my opinion — we need to learn, and we need to grow, and we need to understand, in order to open our eyes, minds, and hearts to see such beauty. Travelling and discovering the world around me is my favourite way to do this.
Now, if you’ve actually made it all the way to the end of this post, I salute you and thank you for reading! I hope this first entry (although long) gave you some insight into a bit of my past, how I’ve gotten to where I am now, and where I hope to be going with you!
So, if you like what you’ve read and want to keep up, please feel free to subscribe, join my community, and follow along. Please also always feel free to leave requests for certain topics, or ask me any questions you might have, in the comments or messages below — I’d also love for you to share your thoughts on anything in this post and/or how YOU have managed to travel on a budget or in a way that fits with your lifestyle!
Now, pass the prosecco, and let’s get this party started.
P.S. For those who are interested in following, my Instagram handle is @lilyslensonlife