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Before she started traveling, Dana Newman thought she was pretty smart. She had always gotten good grades in school, and she could hold her own in Jeopardy. She had always been a very curious person, however it wasn’t until she started traveling that she realized everything else in life pales in comparison to seeing the world with your own eyes, and that traveling the world makes you realize how little you actually know!

After graduating university in 2008 she decided she wanted an adventure, so packed her bags and took off for Europe. But she didn’t just travel there – she moved.

What then ensued were a crazy cocktail of adventures across Europe and Asia including bumping into the Queen of England…kind of…and poking at giant tarantulas in the rain-forests of Thailand with sticks.

Dana Newman is our inspiring traveler of the week.

What do you love the most about travelling?

I’m a very curious person. I love learning about new places, and there’s nothing like seeing the world with your own eyes.

Dana Newman I Wanted an adventure

There’s nothing like seeing the world with your own eyes.

I’m awed by this world, both by the people in it and the miraculous array of different natural structures on it.

What inspired you to start travelling?

I can’t put my finger on exactly what it was, but sometime between 19 years old and 20 a switch got flipped and all of a sudden I went from never really seriously entertaining the idea of traveling to feeling deep within my soul the drive to see as much of this world as possible.

What is ‘Wanted an Adventure’ all about?

When I graduated from university in 2008, something simply pushed me to move to Europe. Not just to travel there, but to move there. I didn’t know what it was or why, but I knew I had to go!

I didn’t know a soul across the pond and had no connections, so I looked at the whole thing as one big adventure. I packed what I could fit into 2 duffle bags–sold at a yardsale what wouldn’t–and bought a one-way ticket to Prague in the Czech Republic, the country of my ancestors.

Prague town square

Prague Old Town Square. Photo CC by Nitin Vyas

I wanted an adventure, and an adventure is certainly what I got!

Tell us about some of these adventures!

When I arrived in Prague, I had 2 months to find an apartment and get a job that would sponsor a more permanent visa for me, and then 1 more month to secure said visa before my 90-day tourist visa ran out.

Within those first 3 months I also enrolled in an intensive 4-week TEFL course; tracked down and met up with some of my “long-lost” Czech relatives from my grandmother’s side; traveled to the birthplace of my grandfather, who had been a politician in former Czechoslovakia and whose childhood home is decorated with a plaque in his honor; and traveled for a week to Egypt to fulfill a lifelong dream of visiting the pyramids.

I’d say those first 90 days were pretty epic!

You sold everything to travel the world – was that scary?

Let’s just say that in the weeks leading up to my trip I started meditating daily–something I’d never before done and haven’t done since.

How do you afford to continue your travels – are you rich?!

HA! No. I wish, but no. I don’t travel continuously. I live and work in Germany, and being in Central Europe, this affords me the opportunity to travel quickly and easily all around the continent.

Dana Newman Munich Beer

Live and work in Germany.

I then try to go on a bigger trip once or twice a year if savings allow.

One thing which you don’t like about travelling?

That dizzy, vertigo-like sensation I get on airplanes.

I don’t get it every time I fly, but when I do it really interrupts the movie I’m trying to watch!

Biggest cultural shock you have experienced while travelling?

My very first time abroad was during college as part of a study abroad program in Spain. I was supposed to spend 3 months in Granada…and made it all of 6 weeks before I went running home, pretty much crying.

I wrote a guest post on overcoming that less than successful travel experience here if you’re interested in the full story.

The coolest person you have met on your adventures?

The Queen!

Dana and the Queen!

Dana and the Queen!

Nah, just kidding…I know you were impressed, but I’ll tell you a secret: it’s just a cardboard cutout at the London Heathrow Airport. Shhhh.

All joking aside, back at the beginning of October, while visiting Koh Chang, Thailand, I went jungle trekking and our guide was this awesome guy who went by the name Jungleman Raht. And he certainly fit the bill.

The way he called out to the animals, coaxed a tarantula from its home with a stick, and just generally seemed one with the rain-forest around us left a strong and lasting impression on me.

Click to subscribe to Dana on YouTube

Funniest or most embarrassing travel moment?

This doesn’t really fall into the category of funny so much as just weird, but while I was living in Prague, one afternoon I traveled from the city out to the countryside by train.

It was pretty empty, save for me and this one guy across the aisle. He seemed normal enough, until I saw him take a cracker or small biscuit out of a baggie, bring it up to the collar of his t-shirt, and slip it inside. Huh? A few seconds later he did it again. Why in the world is this guy sticking crackers down his shirt?

My question was answered shortly when a gray rat with a long pinkish tail crawled out the top of his shirt, around his neck, and back down and in on the other side.

Which destinations are at the top of your bucket list?

New Zealand and mainland Thailand.

Most practical piece of advice for those planning travel?

Try seeing the whole thing as one big adventure. Everything from planning the trip, to all the buses and planes you’ll have to take to get to your destination, to the endlessly long lines you might get stuck in.

I’m not saying this is easy, believe me, it’s not! But thinking of the whole thing as an adventure helps keep me sane after I’ve been up for 20 hours and feel like I must be going in circles at the airport.

*Epiphany: I just realized this might be the key to a happy life as well…*

Three things you can’t travel without?

Hand warmers (knitted by my mom!), snacks, and sunglasses.

See

I can’t travel without my hand warmers!

Why should people travel?

Before I started traveling, I thought I was pretty knowledgeable. I mean, I’d always gotten good grades in school and could hold my own in Jeopardy. But with every trip I’ve taken, I’ve simultaneously had my eyes opened to so many new things out there in the world while at the same time been reminded of how little I actually know!

Travel teaches us about the world, about ourselves, and serves us with a good dose of humility and a reminder that we don’t know as much as we might have thought.

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Dana Newman is an expat YouTube vlogger and writer whose debut novel, entitled Found in Prague, is based loosely on her experiences living in the Czech Republic when she first moved to Europe in search of her roots.

For the inside scoop on expat life (such as Oktoberfest tips and tricks and the secret of the “magical” European Diet) as well as travel videos from around the world, check out and subscribe to her Wanted an Adventure YouTube channel.

For updates and photos from her trips, check out her Wanted an Adventure Facebook page.

    22 Comments

  1. I actually cringed when I read poking tarantulas…blaaaaaaghh! Brave, brave lady.

    • haha Yeah, believe me, I was holding my breath the whole time he was poking into that hole with the stick!! And then the tarantula popped out to say hello, which was pretty cool, but I was still relieved when he went back into his home below the earth 🙂

  2. Dana has a way cool story! For me the flip was switched between 35 and 36 and I never looked back. She started earlier. Either way, once you dive in and go forward you are golden. You’ll never feel more free and you may find yourself poking tarantulas in Thailand 😉

    Keep on inspiring guys!

    Ryan
    Ryan Biddulph recently posted…17 Blogging Lessons I Learned on a 22 Hour Flight to BaliMy Profile

    • Thanks Ryan! I agree, it’s certainly an amazing feeling 🙂 Happy travels!!

    • Hope you enjoy it, Alli! I was pretty terrified at the time, but I’m happy to be able to look back at it now and see how far I’ve come 😀

    • LOL Really? Which one? I’ll have to go check it out!

    • Oh wow Suze that’s awesome! It’s ok, I still count having seen the Pope even though it was from afar, so that totally counts :D!

    • Yup, definitely still counts! Awesome 😀

  3. Great interview! I love researching family history and making connections around the world–so cool you got to do that, Dana! Love the advice about thinking of the big picture and all the hassles as an adventure–it really does help change a frustrating situation into something that isn’t quite as bad!
    Jenna recently posted…45th Parallel Distillery Tour and TastingMy Profile

    • Thanks Jenna! And totally agree – everything looks different when you try and view it in terms of the big picture. It wouldn’t be an adventure without some misadventure thrown into the mix!

    • Thanks so much, Jenna! Glad you enjoyed it 😀 Even though I know it helps, I have to work hard to remember to remind myself to think about the big picture too. Happy travels 🙂

    • Lol she makes a few appearances at Madame Tussaud around the world quite often, I managed to catch her a few times too 😀

    • Wouldn’t that be lovely! We’re ditching flights completely for our next trip and doing a roadtrip – 3 months with our car and no planes – going to be heavenly!

    • Maybe it’ll be possible one day! 😀

  4. Great interview! I’m totally jealous that you got to live and work in Germany. Since visiting for the first time this past summer, I’ve been obsessed and contemplating the idea of moving there for a bit!
    Beth recently posted…#FindingAsia: San Francisco’s ChinatownMy Profile

  5. I totally second the part about Central Europe – being based here is the best that can happen to traveler! We’re close to just about everywhere and the connections around are extremely good 🙂 great interview, thanks for sharing!
    kami recently posted…Sunday with Pictures: Buenos Aires street artMy Profile

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