Brown Girl Abroad Interview Series
BMA: Introduce yourself!
My name is Ashley Jackson, I’m 30 years old and I’m from a small town in Ohio, USA. I have always had a travel addiction, but not enough time to do it properly! I quit my unfulfilling job to travel the world extensively. And I am enjoying every minute of this trip of a lifetime!
BMA: What age did you receive your passport?
I got my passport when I was 23 years old.
BMA: Do you speak or are you currently learning a language other than English?
Unfortunately, I only know English fluently…but I do know enough Spanish to get me around and get some food!
BMA: How long do you plan on traveling abroad?
I plan on traveling about 10 months altogether, I will be taking a “travel break” and go home for about 10 days and then hit the road again
BMA: Can you list all the countries you’ve traveled to?
So far 30 countries (and counting), and five continents:
- British Virgin Islands
- Cayman Islands
- Dominican Republic
- New Zealand
- Puerto Rico
- St. Lucia
- St. Martin
- St. Maarten
- United Kingdom
- US Virgin Islands
BMA: What made you decide to travel abroad?
I was in an unfulfilling and undesirable job so I decided to quit. I figure you have only one life to live and it shouldn’t be spent at a job that you hate. My main motivation was my family, specifically my Dad always told me to follow my dreams and go after what I want in life!
BMA: Have you experienced any discrimination traveling abroad?
I haven’t experienced any blatant discrimination while abroad, but just sheer curiosity. A lot of people in Asia do not get out of their countries, so all they have to go by is the television when it comes to black culture. I have had to correct numerous people on using the “n” word and why it’s not appropriate even though they hear it in rap music, it is NOT a word that should be in their vocab!
BMA: What do you wish you knew before traveling abroad?
I wish someone would’ve told me that backpacking and long-term traveling in general is not glamorous and can become tiring after a while! You still have fun, but you get tired some days and just don’t even want to leave your hostel!
BMA: If married or in a relationship, did you meet your husband abroad?
I am not married, but I do have a boyfriend of over two years. I was planning my trip before we even became a couple, so he understood my decision and supports me along the way! Technology is so amazing nowadays, there’s WhatsApp, Skype, Facetime, and Facebook to keep in touch. .
BMA: How does your family feel about you living abroad?
My family is so impressed and happy with me for doing this! They always told me that I never took time to focus on me and that I needed this time for me and to figure out what my purpose is.
BMA: What do you miss most about home?
I miss decent Mexican food! OMG! Like the first thing I want is a burrito from Chipotle when I get home!
BMA: When were you first bitten by the travel bug?
My parents always had my brother and I going all over America when we were younger. When I got older and I saw some of my friends leaving the country and I knew I had to get my passport and go somewhere!
BMA: What advice can you share with women thinking of traveling abroad?
The world is indeed huge, but that doesn’t make it scary! I have never once felt threatened while traveling the world by myself over the past 6 months. My motto is “fake it til you make it”, meaning even if you do not know where you are going act as if you do! Always seem to have an air of confidence about you, most people will leave you alone if you look like you know what you’re doing. But there are times when I have had to ask for help and the result has been perfectly great! Listen to your instincts, they never fail you!
BMA: What city or country is your favorite and least favorite place to visit?
I actually don’t have a least favorite country, but I can tell you that my favorite one is Vietnam. I love the people of Vietnam, the diversity of landscape…you can have the countryside, beach towns, and city life all within an hour plane ride of each other (or a very long bus ride). The food gets drastically better as you travel from north to south, and so does the nightlife! There is so much history there that I didn’t even know about until exploring Vietnam…did I mention how awesome the Vietnamese people are? I cried when I left this country and I plan on going back next year!
Some of my favorite cities I have visited are: Perth, Australia, Hoi An, Vietnam, Hanoi, Vietnam, Chiang Mai, Thailand, Luang Prabang, Laos, Barcelona, Spain, Georgetown on Penang island, Malaysia, and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
BMA: What is your traveling style?
I used to be the person that would have a detailed plan on what to do, but now sometimes I just show up in a country and figure out what to do when I get there. And this is key to why staying in hostels can be amazing, so you can bounce ideas off of other people and see where they’ve been and what they may still want to do!
BMA: How do you finance your traveling?
I saved for about three years and I use websites like couch-surfing and workaway to help save me digging too far into my savings. I’ve also started applying to some contract positions so I can become a digital nomad!
BMA: How often do you travel?
Right now I’m on a long stretch of traveling, but usually I got three weeks of vacation per year when I was working.
BMA: What are your top 3 travel tips for women?
- Always know your surroundings and remember confidence is key.
- Less is more (you don’t need to bring that Michael Kors/Gucci bag with you).
- if you are traveling alone stay in hostels so you can meet other cool travelers who may want to grab food or go hit the town with!
BMA: What are your favorite travel resources?
I usually turn to travel blogs, Snapchat, and Lonely Planet guidebooks for guidance on where to go and what to do in certain places.
BMA: Tell us a travel story we’d enjoy!
I remember that I had just gotten to Bangkok, Thailand and I met an American girl from Oregon who was traveling with two French Canadians, they invited me to lunch. Of course I’m not one to turn down food, and the three of us hit it off and we got to talking about where each other was going next and we all said Chiang Mai, so we decided to travel together! I traveled with these three girls for the next two weeks, we went to Pai and Chiang Rai and just had a blast together. Traveling with them was so easy and fun! I even started learning some French! Even though everybody went back home except for me, we still communicate almost weekly. This story just shows you that you are never truly alone when you travel solo, you make lifelong friends along the way.
BMA: How can we follow your travels?
My blog is www.purposedrivendreamchaser.com
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