This month I’m flirting with Andrea of Best World Yet. I was lucky enough to recently meet Andrea while she is back in Atlanta selling all of her worldly possessions before embarking on her RTW Trip this May!
Let’s start with an easy question – tell me about yourself and your blog.
I’m Andrea, an adventuress with a severe case of wanderlust. I am of the belief that almost anything that gets your blood racing is worth doing, which accounts for my love of paragliding off cliffs, rappelling into caves and climbing to new heights. I’m always striving to push myself outside my comfort zone, using yoga and wine to then relax. Balance is key!
In 2015, my boyfriend Bryan and I decided our short (though frequent) travel spurts were no longer enough to satisfy our cravings. We set out to follow a dream of passion and adventure. Packing everything we could fit into backpacks, we bought a one way ticket to EVERYWHERE with plans to globe hop for the foreseeable future. Though no immediate plans to settle, our long term goal is a ‘more permanent’ place of residence. Part of the trip’s agenda is discovering what place that might be.
Our travels also allow us to share first-hand recommendations, travel tips, and inspiration for adventure through our blog, BestWorldYet.com. From city-based fine dining, arts and entertainment, to hiking and thrill seeking in remote locations – Best World Yet offers unique perspective from a fun-loving, adrenaline-junkie who likes to wake up for the sunrise, seize the day, and embrace life and cultures all over the world!
What’s your favorite UNESCO world heritage site?
After a quick ‘Google’ to make sure I wasn’t forgetting any, I realized again how many amazing UNESCO sites there are in the world. I also realized how many we’ve had the pleasure to experience (and how many we still have to go). With so many to chose from, I can still say that my pick was obvious, as it’s the most beautiful world I’ve ever seen. Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia, a magical place with lakes of a different color! We visited at the beginning of Fall for a chance to see the leaves changing colors against this unbelievably unique natural canvas.
What made you give up your “normal” life to travel full-time?
I’ve spent the last 7 years in corporate America, ‘working… to feed my passion’. I’m lucky to have had a career that’s allowed me flexibility to travel the world, but its also required me to squeeze this travel into short trips, while also continuing to actively work during any time abroad. I am certainly not complaining. I feel very fortunate to have held a position that, while demanding and requiring long hours, allowed me to simultaneously do what I love. I began working harder than ever as a result of my career’s progression, but I realized I was no longer happy in my work. Getting ‘burnt out’ is a common experience, and most people (logically) choose to either push forward or ‘change it up a bit’. The urge I had was more the latter, and a bit more drastic.
Bryan has always had the ability to be 100% remote; working from his laptop anywhere in the world. The idea seemed a dream to me, as my position required in-person meetings and frequent networking events. I remember sharing my dream of shifting careers, allowing us to live our passion, with Bryan. I wanted time to explore more than what we were able to fit into a tight schedule. I wanted to just live, traveling the world, trying to experience being a local. I had dreams of seeing the world through different eyes. Bryan, being the more logical compliment to my ‘head in the clouds’ modus operandi, even confirmed that living our passion was not an unreachable goal. Determination set in!
I’m thrilled to say that we now both have remote-capable careers. Our office is wherever we take our laptops. Our worst enemy is poor WiFi. We are taking our work around the world as we live our passion! Some think it’s a bit crazy, and that may be true, but success in this new venture is likely to be the journey itself, whatever the outcome or end-destination.
What are your top 3 essential travel items?
My inflatable neck pillow. It’s easy to pack away and essential for overnight plane and train trips. My camera, of course! And, books! Multiple electronic books are always on my packing list. I like to combine fun stories with travel reading applicable to where we are headed.
Favorite “off the beaten path” destination?
We constantly travel in search of off the beaten path adventures, but there is one destination so ‘far off the path’, that we found ourselves surrounded by nothingness; wild beauty as far as the eye can see. Tayrona National Park is the perfect combination of relaxation, adventure and escape! An enchanting, secluded jungle completely removed from the outside world. We spent our time hiking through the jungle, over giant boulders, to the most beautiful virgin beaches I’ve ever seen.
Until ten years ago, Tayrona was mostly associated with civil war and narcotics. A military crackdown in the area cleaned out the drug gangs and eventually lead to Tayrona being promoted as a tourist destination. We stayed in a small secluded hut, built cliff-side, part of the Ecohab Resort. Without electricity or any notable entertainment, it provides a unique experience to rise with the sun, relax in the afternoon and listen to nature chirping in the evening. Tayrona is a place with nothing but beauty and balance.
Most awkward travel moment?
It was my first time in Italy, a trip I had been dreaming about for years. Though one of my top places to visit, it had taken me entirely too long to get there. With Italian roots from my mother’s family, we had a household that lived closely with Italian cuisine (my favorite!). I had a strong desire to mangia my way through the country!
My Italian grandmother subtlety enforced our family’s love for all things Italy. One of my favorite such treats were the thin, crisp, delicately patterned co
Bryan and I looked EVERYWHERE for these cookies and asked EVERYONE where to find them! There are tons of Italian bakeries and cookie shops around Rome, and we went to each one asking if they had any “Pizzelles”. We were on a mission, and were both surprised by the reactions received during our search. “My girlfriend is looking for “Pizzelles” Bryan would say, and the only response he would receive was a blank, confused stare. “Do you know where I can find Pizzelles” I would ask, and everyone responded with the same confused head-shake, as if to say “no, are you crazy?”.
“They must not make these cookies in Rome” I said to Bryan. “Everyone thinks we are crazy!” Bryan decided to ask one more person before giving up, the concierge at our hotel who spoke English very well (and had been very helpful during our stay). We asked, for the last time, “do you know where we can find any Pizzelles?” As soon as I saw his confused face, I began explaining the cookies in greater detail in hopes he would know what we were looking for.
Ahhhh! He said, ‘Pizzelles’ (pronouncing the word with the ‘t’ sound like “pizza”).
“Yes!” I exclaimed. No wonder people have been looking at us weird, we were pronouncing it wrong! Indeed we had been pronouncing the word incorrectly and, as he explained, the word that we were using is pretty close to a slang term used to describe male genitalia. I’ll be blunt – we had gone all over Rome asking where we could find some penis. We went on to learn that Pizzelles are only made in specific regions of central Italy. Our quest was not well researched, and a slight mispronunciation lead to many shocked Italians that day. It was quite an awkward, yet hysterical, realization.
Most memorable travel moment?
Alright, I can’t help but be a bit cheesy so brace yourself 😉 My most memorable travel moment was when Bryan proposed to me in Paris on my 30th Birthday. We have been traveling the world together for years. People always seemed to expect us to come home engaged, but we were simply enjoying our adventures together and living in the moment.
When Bryan asked where we should spend my birthday that year, I was exhausted from our recent, high energy adventures and decided I wanted to relax in a familiar (but far away!) place. Paris has always been one of our favorite spots, likely due to our constant craving for French cuisine! For this trip, we decided to avoid any/all tourist sites and simply enjoy living and relaxing in Paris.
We spent the week drinking wine while watching the sun set over the Seine, exploring off-the-beaten-path parts of the city. We collected fresh croissants, pate and cheese for picnics in local parks. Bryan gave me the shock of my life when he proposed during one of our picnics, high on a hill overlooking the city, to which I said ‘oui!’
Here’s a question most travelers hate, but readers love- what’s your top 3 “favorite” travel destinations (if you’re absolutely forced to choose!)?
1. The Galapagos Islands: Being an huge animal lover, a visit to the Galapagos was high on my list and I had enormous expectations. I can’t even express in words how incredible our time was exploring the islands. The diverse abundance of wildlife was expected, but what blew me away was how comfortable most of the creatures we encountered were with humans. The highlight of my trip was swimming with a playful sea lion who enjoyed a quick splash-fight 🙂
2. Salkantay Trail to Machu Picchu: Machu Picchu seems a location on almost everyone’s bucket list, and for good reason. While Machu Picchu was incredible to see, we found the journey to be even more enjoyable than the destination. There are two main ways to hike to Machu Picchu. The traditional Incan Trail is the most popular, with a trail of rocky stairs leading most of the way. We decided to hike off-the-beaten-path by way of the Salkantay Trail on a 4 day trek. We encountered a total of 6 people the entire journey! This was one of the most dynamic and refreshing experiences of my life. We hiked through various elevations, witnessing the change in surroundings each day – from tall, snowy peaks to lush jungles and stunning waterfalls. Disconnecting from the outside world completely, and immersing yourself in mother nature (Peruvian’s call ‘Pacha Mama’) is truly good for the soul.
3: South Africa: I can’t say enough about South Africa. I was blown away by the gorgeous, ever-changing landscapes and especially the wildlife we were able to experience. We started our adventure exploring the Western Cape, staying near the beach in Camps Bay, venturing to Table Mountain and also to Cape Point where we saw a troop of baboons and a colony of penguins along the way! We also fed my wine cravings with a quick visit to the Cape Winelands. The highlight of the trip, was a Sabi Sands Safari at the Ulusaba Private Game Reserve. This experience was one beyond my wildest dreams. I was shocked at how close we were able to get to the wild animals – watching prowling leopards, feasting lions, charging elephants, and a pack of wild dogs on the hunt from just a few feet away!
Do you have a travel tip or pearl of wisdom to impart upon my readers?
The only consistent tip throughout all of our adventures I might offer, is to see your travels as just that – an adventure. You will likely come across obstacles with any journey into unfamiliar territory. Travel can be stressful, it can be disappointing, it can be exhausting and even overwhelming! Maybe you miss your flight, causing you to miss your first Safari drive (true story), or you break your toe and twist your knee a few days into your 4-day hike to Machu Picchu (yep, also true). Something unexpected is always going to happen, but how you choose to deal with unfortunate situations will be the difference between an ordeal or an adventure.
Want to Keep in touch with Andrea and Bryan? Check out their blog Best World Yet.
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