This week on The Traveler Series, meet Ashley of Ashley Abroad. Ashley is a travel blogger who moved to Paris when she was 21 and has been traveling the world ever since! After growing up in Michigan and earning a degree in Advertising/PR, Ashley decided to ‘call it quits’ on normal and move to France. Her adventures abroad took her from the savory streets of Paris to motorcycling across Vietnam, to completing yoga training in India. With a desire to live a life worth writing about, Ashley’s blog aims to prove that you can travel while young and on a budget (something I can definitely stand behind!). Here I interview Ashley on her travel style, favorite destination and what’s next for 2014.
What inspires you to travel?
So, so many things! Firstly I love homestays and language-learning as there is nothing more interesting to me than local culture. I also love history, architecture and adventure activities, everything from canyoning to scuba-diving. But all around travel is when I feel happiest and most excited about life.
For those who don’t yet know you, can you explain your travel style?
I’m a budget traveler who occasionally likes to splurge. I usually stay with friends, Couchsurf or stay in hostels, and then once every couple weeks will book myself into a nice hotel- there’s nothing like a bath and room service after weeks of bunk beds and shared showers!
How do you afford your travels?
I afford my travels through lots of different ways. One way is by working abroad, which I did last year in France as an au pair. Another is by working as a travel blogger and freelance writer when on the road. And thirdly I save up like crazy when I’m home- and once I’ve replenished my funds, I’m off again!
Also my travels are quite cheap- this year I spent six weeks in Europe but only paid for seven nights accommodation due to staying with friends. And when I’m not in Europe I’m usually in inexpensive countries like India or Thailand.
Tough one! I return time and time again to Spain and France, but also have loved Vietnam, Indonesia, Ireland and Mexico.
If you had to settle down in one location forever, where would you choose and why?
My favorite cities are San Francisco, London and Saigon, but I definitely fanaticize about having a home in the countryside- preferably the French countryside.
What’s the funniest or weirdest cultural idiosyncrasy you’ve either witnessed or experienced?
I found it really strange in Vietnam how middle-aged men, who are often sporting beer bellies, flip up their wifebeaters to above their navels! I know it’s hot, but why?
What keepsake do you have to get at all your destinations? (Whether it’s something free like ticket stubs or brochures, or something you have to buy)
My favorite thing to collect is kitchenware. I have olive wood cheese boards from Spain, copper pots from Chile and tablecloths from Bali. When I finally have a kitchen it will be gorgeous!
How about the one thing you cannot travel without?
I think it’s a three-way tie between my eyemask, Kindle and iPhone.
Have you ever traveled solo? If yes, what was the experience like?
Yes, I’ve traveled solo quite a bit. Last year I traveled solo for two months in Vietnam and Indonesia, which was quite trying at times. I love solo travel but only for about two weeks- any more than that and I start to feel lonely.
What are your go-to travel apps?
I love CityMapper for navigating foreign cities as well as xe currency for converting foreign currencies. TuneIn Radio is great for listening to foreign radio- I especially did this in France when I was learning French! Yelp and TripAdvisor are also indispensable.
What is the best piece of travel advice you’ve picked up over the years?
Most people in the world are good and want to help you. I’ve accepted so many acts of kindness from strangers who received nothing in return; in my humble opinion, the world is a much more beautiful place than we often belive.
Why did you begin your website? How did you come up with your website name?
I started my blog in August, 2012, and chose the name because it’s easy to remember and alliterative. In retrospect I think I could’ve been a bit more creative!
What is your best piece of advice to budding travel writers looking to start a blog or website?
I actually have a post on how to start a travel blog on my blog! http://ashleyabroad.com/2014/01/30/how-to-start-a-travel-blog/ But my number one piece of advice is only start a blog if you sincerely love photography, writing and spending all day on your laptop.
I’m currently looking for a job stateside and have no travel plans for the immediate future! Though I just got back from a weekend at a friend’s ranch in Montana and can’t wait to blog about it.
Follow Ashley on her travels here: