Each month, I turn towards the talented and thriving travel community to shine a spotlight on writers, photographers, bloggers, editors and travelers around the world. This month, I am happy to introduce one The Pin the Map Project’s own writers, Elisa Fourt. Elisa is a world traveler who has lived in Lebanon, Mexico, Spain, the United States, Morocco and now Jordan—straying far from her home country of France. At the age of 26, Elisa is a fearless writer whose passion for travel seems to permeate every aspect of her life. We are very excited to have her on our team! Here, Elisa shares what inspires her to travel and where she’s headed next.
What inspires you to travel?
I have always been a curious person. Even when I was very young, I was already talking about places I didn’t know and people I hadn’t met yet. My main goal was to reach them, even though at the time, I didn’t really know how. I have a big love for humanity and as I grew older, I found that traveling was a great way to truly feel it, on top of the amazing landscapes you get to discover on any trip.
For those who don’t yet know you, can you explain your travel style?
I usually travel solo, with my “life” in a huge backpack. I found that it’s the best way to meet people on the road and it’s especially convenient for me as I try to couch surf, wherever I go, as much as possible. However, I’m also happy when I am joined by one of my friends or a member of my family on a journey. My dad, for instance, is a great travel companion and exploring new countries together has really brought us a lot closer.
How do you afford your travels?
I usually work a lot, save money until I can afford my next big trip and then I just buy a plane ticket and fly out just a few days after I quit. I know, not very responsible, but I feel like it would be a shame to wait until I am retired to go explore the world. I also took every opportunity I had to live abroad, when I was still a student in college or even in high school. I did exchange programs in America and Mexico and interned in Spain, Jordan, Lebanon and Morocco. Most of those internships were unpaid so I juggled my studies and a lot of part-time jobs while at university (working in a call center, as a sales advisor, a teacher, a flight attendant…) to be able to afford it.
Where has been your favorite destination and why?
This is the question everybody asks me and I am still unable to answer it. I usually tell them “It depends what you mean by favorite destination: In terms of landscapes? Of people? Or overall?” I would say that the mountains took my breath away in Tajikistan and that the most stunning landscapes I have seen in my life are probably in Montenegro and Bolivia. In terms of population, I was also extremely touched by the kindness and the hospitality of people in countries such as Iran, Indonesia and Cambodia. The places that impacted me the most so far are certainly Palestine and Bosnia. But if you speak in general, the Middle-East is my region of heart, the place where I really do feel home. I can’t explain why, I just feel like that’s where I belong.
If you had to settle down in one location forever, where would you choose and why?
That’s a question I have been asking myself for a while now and then again, I still don’t know. At the end of the day, I am truly convinced that any place in the world has its advantages and disadvantages. But I also believe that home is where the heart is. So if I ever settled down somewhere forever, I’d like my loved ones to be around and it’ll be enough to live happily ever after!
What’s the funniest or weirdest cultural idiosyncrasy you’ve either witnessed or experienced?
One time, in Uzbekistan, a taxi driver hitchhiked for me and another time, in the same country, it took me two hours to understand that a man telling me to “buy a chicken” was actually advising me to book a train ticket. Central Asia in general was definitely my biggest challenge as I didn’t speak a word of the language but it led to tons of other hilarious non-sense situations that are actually, now, some of my best memories!
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)
I usually buy postcards but it’s not really for me, as I send them all to my friends and family. My backpack is not big enough for souvenirs so I find it a nice way to show them that they are with me, even when I am far away.
How about the one thing you cannot travel without?
I like to read so I usually put a few books in my backpack. I also love to capture what I see, so I always bring my camera with me.
Have you ever traveled solo? If yes, what was the experience like?
I’ve traveled solo quite a lot but I have done two big trips on my own. The first one was in South America, when I traveled through Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina. Last year, I traveled to Europe from Indonesia, crossing regions as diverse as South-East and Central Asia, the Middle-East, Caucasus and ex-Yugoslavia. Both of these solo trips were my best traveling experiences by far, and I will cherish the memories I got from them forever.
What are your go-to travel apps?
I’m not really a technology addict and I tend not to use my cellphone too much when I am abroad. Give me Whatsapp and that’s more than enough.
What is the best piece of travel advice you’ve picked up over the years?
You can learn something from anyone you meet on the road, so talk to people, don’t be scared, the vast majority of them are genuinely good.
Do you have your own travel site? If yes, tell us about it!
No, but I am a contributor to Travelettes.net and a proud new writer of the Pin the Map Project! 🙂
What is your best piece of advice to budding travel writers?
You just have to find how to include travel writing into your life. Personally, I love contributing frequently to different platforms without having to manage a whole website on my own. I wouldn’t make traveling my profession and I am perfectly content with juggling in between writing articles and having a different job.
What’s next for you in 2016? (Trips planned, etc.)
I just moved to Jordan for my new job and I will probably spend most of the year there as I won’t have much vacations. However, my new position (Communication Advisor on the Syrian Crisis) will also take me to neighboring countries such as Iraq or Lebanon. 2016 will then be spent in my region of predilection!
Stay tuned for the upcoming Traveler Series interview with our other writer, Christine Stoddard; and make sure to check out last month’s interview with Becky! Follow Elisa and her global adventures on Instagram!