If we met IRL I think Charli and I would be great friends. I can imagine us catching up over coffee, dreaming about Paris and talking about the highs and lows of experiencing so much travel and adventure. I love how sincere and true her blog posts are and how kind and supportive she has been through creating this interview together. If you don’t already, you really really need to check out Charli’s Instagram posts – they are incredible.
After travelling to so many places and going on countless adventures, Charli has some amazing stories to share and a lot of advice for travellers, check out her site for epic USA road trips, advice on editing photos and so much more…
As always I start with the question every traveller struggles to answer… Please share with us your favourite/ best/scariest or funniest travel story…
One of my favourite travel memories is from a day we had in Greece. My husband, Andy, and I flew to Crete for a week and made a last minute decision to take a short trip to Athens and Paros Island. We awoke super early to catch our 5:30 AM flight out of Chania, arriving in Athens an hour later. Right before we left though, our banking information was hacked by someone in Denmark and they completely drained the account. Obviously trying to save on money, we had to still figure out how we were going to get from the airport in Athens to the Piraeus port for our ferry. The little Euro we had in our wallets was enough for 2 train tickets to the Acropolis and, after walking around that area for a while, we began trekking towards the port. In 110F degree temps and the sun a blazing, THIRTEEN miles later we made it to Piraeus. Anyone that had seen us must have assumed we had just jumped out of the sea because we were completely drenched and, on top of that, I had blisters on my feet–we were totally spent. Since it was later in the afternoon when we hopped on our ferry, we didn’t arrive in Paros until about 10 PM. By the time we got to our Airbnb, it was pitch dark outside and really, we were just ready to crash but our host insisted on showing us the property–in the black of night. Using just the flashlight on his phone, he took us down a hill to show us the entrance to the beach with Andy and I trailing behind him. Well, I’m not sure if all of the walking and exhaustion finally got to me or what but, out of nowhere, my legs completely gave out on me. I go flying down a flight of cement stairs, landing face first in the dirt below. Andy instantly turned around and, after making sure I was okay, the giggling started which got me giggling too and, all the while, our host is still rambling on and explaining everything; he had never even turned around! According to my husband, that was the most graceful fall of all time. We still laugh about that to this day and he’ll stand by his word that during the whole ordeal, he never heard one peep out of me the during the 10 seconds it took me to fall down that flight of stairs!
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever had (travel related or otherwise)?
I think the best piece of advice I’ve been given is to never get too complacent. I grew up in a small farm town in the midwest of the US and, especially in a place like that, it’s very easy to get used to the elements around you that you’ve adapted to. Almost everyone I know from my town has had the same job from graduation to retirement, have hardly ever travelled and leave the state maybe once a year. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that lifestyle, it’s just not for me. My parents always instilled in me that there was more to this world than that little farm town and to never get too complacent here. This is probably a huge reason why I’m a wanderer at heart!
If you could only go back to one place in the world, where would you go and why?
Every time someone asks me this question I have the hardest time answering! My favourite places throughout the world differentiate from each other immensely so I’m going to try and compromise on this one. If I was told I could only go back to one city I’d pick Paris. It was a dream of mine since I was a little girl to live in Paris someday and, while I haven’t made that dream happen, I have visited the city a dozen or so times and truthfully, I just have an unexplained connection with it. BUT, I cannot just go to one place (I’m way too antsy for that) so if I had to pick somewhere else I’d go with Crete. Not only is there mountainous terrain to explore in (my favourite), the island is home to some of the most beautiful beaches and lagoons in the world. Not to mention, the locals are incredibly friendly, they love their dogs, the food is amazing and everything is pretty cheap!
What has travel taught you?
The biggest thing that travel has taught me is to get out of my bubble. Like I mentioned earlier, in my hometown, it’s very easy to become complacent and get stuck within the same sort of lifestyle you grew up with. I spent the first 20 years of my life like that and then I met my husband who whisked me off to Germany and began showing me the world. There have been times I’ve had to push myself out of my comfort zone: I’ve tried (and failed) to communicate with people who have no idea what I’m saying; I’ve ordered off a food menu without knowing what I was really going to be eating; I’ve been lost in foreign places without a cell phone or map, forced to find my route back the old school way. All of these things have propelled me to get out of the comfortable bubble I live in and I think that’s a huge reason why travel is SO valuable: it pressures us to do things we never thought we’d do.
What is that one moment from a trip you will never ever forget?
This answer will have to come from the last day we stayed on Phi Phi Island on my most recent trip to Thailand, which was SO incredible! The entire island of Phi Phi is like a jungle and insanely elevated so, walking from one end of the island to the other is pretty much out of the question. We really wanted to find another beach to visit since we’d been to ours so many times and, knowing that we definitely couldn’t walk to anywhere else, we opted to rent a kayak from one of the locals down the road from our bungalow. We’d only been paddling for a few minutes when we found ourselves out in the sea with tons of boats flying past us. Luckily, the boats were entering and leaving this hidden cove so we paddled our way on over there, unsure of what we were about to stumble upon. Getting closer and closer to the beach, I start seeing little animals running around everywhere and it hit me: these are monkeys! My absolute favourite animal. I paddled even faster, making it to the beach in record time. We pull our kayaks ashore and walk not even 5 feet away to go watch the cuties interact with one another when out of nowhere, I hear the couple behind us causing some sort of commotion. I turn around and a monkey is ripping the lid off of our water bottles and half-drinking/half-spilling our only fresh water everywhere. Within 30 seconds, the little bugger drained 2 liters of water and ravaged through all of our belongings, even throwing my towel out into the sea. I think that’s definitely a moment that I will never forget
And finally… What’s your favourite line from the Stories from a Backpack manifesto and why?
This quote resonated with me the most because that’s truly how I look at travelling for myself. In my early 20s, I was lucky enough to live in Germany for a few years and, whenever I was feeling uneasy about anything, I took a trip. I was having a hard time with my graduate degree and I flew to Malta; I was feeling really lost and unsure of where I was trying to go professionally and I spent a week in the Swiss Alps. I use travel for many things but the main reason I do it is to find meaning within myself and this world we live in. If you’re searching for any sort of answers in your life, book a trip. I can almost guarantee you’ll return home refreshed, enlightened and full of answers.
Thank you Charli from a beautiful insight into your travel adventures. Next month, I’m super excited to share some stories from Ellie Quinn – The Wandering Quinn