Name: Claire M.
From: Exeter, England
Country Count: 40
Occupation: Professor of Modern European History
Music: Enjoy some well-known British music while reading over Claire's spotlight.
Claire was my roommate for basically the entire 23 day GAdventure Multi-Stan tour. She was able to sleep through everything - even my blog typing through the wee hours of the morning. I could not have asked for a better roommate - we shared in adventures and stories but still gave each other enough space and quiet time. While looking out over the mountains of Kyrgyzstan, I was able to ask her a few questions.
And the spotlight begins….
When did you first start traveling and why?: My first trip abroad was when I was 17, but my first real travel was after I finished my master’s degree. I was 23. I finished university and I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life. So I packed a bag and ran off to the other side of the world with a guy I hardly knew and I ran off for a year.
What is one of the most memorable countries you have visited and why?: Western coast of Australia. Just stunningly beautiful. We had a camper van. Unadulterated freedom. Us and the campervan. Living in the campervan sleeping in parks. Then Jordan in 2014 – first experience with the Middle East. Beautiful and varied country with people who were very welcoming and generous.
Do you buy any particular souvenirs?: I tend to get things that are specific to that country, but definitely hand crafts. I tend to buy a lot of ceramics or wood carvings. Stuff that goes in my house and I can look at and give me a memory of the trip. Stuff that will last rather than clothes or jewelry that I might stop wearing.
How often do you travel?: As often as I can. With my job I basically have three points in the year when I can travel.
How long are your vacations on average?: On average 14 nights. This is the longest trip I have taken in several years.
How do you afford travel?: Well (laughs) I earn fairly decent money and my job is fairly time consuming during term time. So I don’t have a great deal of opportunity to spend money, so any disposable money you might use for nights out or restaurants, I use towards trips.
How do you plan your vacations: It depends sometimes if I have an idea in my head I can plan out ahead of time. Or it can be very last minute. I know I have a window of opportunity so I find a place I can go depending on availability and what time of year it is.
How much time off per year do you have?: 30 days.
1) I tend to travel with aloe vera – great for sunburn, heat rash, insect bites.
2) Always travel with sheet or sleeping bag liner, so if the bed isn’t as clean as you would like it to be, you have something to sleep in.
3) Always travel with a scarf. It is good for covering your head if you need shade. They are light but very warm. Use them to cover your shoulders for sun protection. Wrap it around your leg for a little more support. Or for ladies, if it starts to rain, you can wrap it around your chest.
4) Bring a toilet paper roll and take the cardboard out so that it packs flat.
Something to Consider (Tours): Tour Drawback – you can feel like you are cocooned from the society you are traveling in. It can be comforting to not have to lug your luggage around, but sometimes you can feel removed. Some of my best experiences with locals are having conversations with them on buses and trains. And sometimes when traveling in groups, you miss that interaction.
Thank you Claire for being an incredibly patient, understanding, informative, educated, and interesting roommate. I learned a lot about the history of the region from your stories and insight. All the best in the future!