We’ve all heard of the phrase ‘Carpe Diem’, but have you heard of Carpe Travel?
Carpe Travel, run by Elaine Schoch (pronounced Shock), is a travel site focused on balancing work, life, traveling with kids, “no kids allowed” travels, and simply letting wanderlust lead the way.
Once a slave to the corporate world, Elaine began to view life differently after her father passed away from an aggressive form of lung cancer. His “someday I’ll do this or that” never happened.
I spoke to Elaine recently about how she now makes “some-day” her everyday.
What do you love the most about travelling?
I love being an explorer discovering not only new things, and places but yourself. I’ve come to learn more about who I am, what I want in life and what/who I want to be by traveling.
What inspired you to start travelling?
My dad. He had this plan for retirement – travel the world. But cancer took him when he was only 53 years old. His “someday I’ll do this” never happened. I was sitting on a patio in New Orleans a few months after he died thinking about how he never got see Italy, Greece or any of the places he wanted to visit. So I made MY “make it happen” list. And I started making it happen.
What is ‘Carpe Travel’ all about?
I began writing Carpe Travel after saying goodbye to 15 years in the corporate world. Those 60+ hour workweeks and 24-hour calls from clients left little time for me to focus on my passions – my family, travel and wine.
While I’m still working, it’s on my schedule. This new work-life balance has allowed more flexibility and time to live the life I want to with my family. One filled with crazy, sometimes stressful and other times just plain fun adventures.
At Carpe Travel I not only write about my family’s travels but about wine. Yes, family travel and wine can (and should) be paired nicely with one another!
One thing you don’t like about travelling?
I love to travel but I can’t say I love everything about it. I think the one thing I dislike the most is having my body out of sorts. Not necessarily from jet lag, although that does take its toll. But more from the combination of everything travel – lack of sleep, different food, different schedules, etc. Your body is just “off”.
The two things I’ve done that have played a huge role in helping to lessen this “pain” is upping my vitamins when I travel and making sure I exercise everyday. Even if I can’t get a run in, a quick 20 minutes of Pilates in the morning in the hotel room can set me straight for the day.
Funniest or most embarrassing travel moment?
I can laugh about it now but six years ago it was not a laughing matter.
I was seven-months pregnant and the Husband and I decided to take a “babymoon” to Cabo. I had always wanted to go deep-sea fishing and Cabo is known for amazing fishing excursions.
We set out early one morning for a daylong fishing trip. Within an hour I got sea-sick. REALLY sea-sick. After loosing my breakfast, dinner the night before and whatever else my body chose not to keep, I laid my head on the table, closed my eyes and tried to pretend I was somewhere else. Anywhere else.
After six-hours on the boat, and my husband nearly killing the captain (he wouldn’t turn around to take us back), we finally stepped back onto the dock.
Biggest cultural shock you have experienced while travelling?
One of my best friends is from Brazil and she had her wedding at her home in her family’s village. I was in the wedding and got to help her mom the day of, which meant going to pick up things for the meal. She had hired several local women to cook different dishes and our job was to go pickup the items and take them home.
We drove around a lot that day, through different “neighbourhoods”. I felt as if I was driving through Pueblo Indian villages, like the ones you would see at Mesa Verde. The homes were built of stone, adobe, and wood yet none had a roof.
You could see right into them as you drove up the winding hills. I simply couldn’t grasp how people didn’t have roofs, yet everyone had a satellite dish and TV!
The greatest challenge you’ve faced while travelling?
I had to change flights in Ekatrinburg from Chita, Siberia on my way back into Moscow. We simply had to deplane for one hour and then get back on the same plane. Simple, right?
What should have been an easy process became a nightmare. After about 30 minutes on the ground, the flight was cancelled. How does a flight get canceled at the layover point was the first question, followed by, now what?
My translator wasn’t there and as luck would have it the WiFi in the airport wasn’t working so my translation apps I had used so many times to get by in Russia were a bust. And there didn’t seem to be anyone who could (or would) speak English to help me figure it out.
Luckily I had been stalking a few passengers on the initial flight to make sure I got back onto the plane when it was time. (My Russian is a joke so I couldn’t understand the announcements. I opted to memorize the faces, and outfits of several passengers whom I knew were going to Moscow.)
There was one helpful passenger who had been on my initial flight who figured out I was following him around. He made sure I followed him out of the terminal, to the customer service area, back into the terminal, to baggage claim and then back to the ticket desk. He clearly didn’t speak English but his help ensured I at least got into the correct lines.
Essentially I had to go to baggage claim, get my bag, figure out how to exchange my cancelled tickets for new ones, go back through security all over again, check my bag (all bags over a certain weight had to be checked) and get back on a flight with a pack full of Russians who are “experts” at pushing and shoving past anyone to get through lines (truly a skill in this country).
I sat on the plane, praying I was on the correct flight. Thankfully I made it to Moscow.
Three things you can’t travel without?
1. My iPhone. It’s my camera. My reading material. My way to stay connected. My translator. It’s my trusted travel companion.
2. My old metal cigarette case now wallet that holds my ID, American Express and Visa.
3. My Chaco’s flip-flops. They went with me to Siberia in the dead of winter. And yes, I did wear them (inside of course).
Which destinations are at the top of your bucket list?
1. Egypt. I’ve always wanted to see the pyramids.
3. Visit Glacier National Park before it melts
4. Walk the Great Wall of China (ok, maybe not the whole thing)
5. See the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights). There isn’t really a specific destination I MUST visit to see the lights since the lights are my destination. But I’ve been told Finland, Sweden, Iceland and Alaska are great places to see them.
Most practical piece of travel advice?
Don’t wait. Don’t make excuses. Make it happen. Just do it.
Why should people travel?
I truly believe the more people who travel, the better the world would be.
I was reminded of this on our last trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico we had plans to spend a day at the beach with some good friends who live there. A few hours before we met up we learned their two children spoke very little English. Ours speak even less Spanish.
Within five minutes of reaching the beach house the kids were in the backyard playing chase. Squirting one another with water guns. Hunting for crabs. Pulling each another on the water toys and jumping in the waves. Language didn’t matter. The color of their skin was not important.
The fact they couldn’t speak to each other, but only laugh, run around and splash was all that mattered. Having fun was the only requirement. It was truly the only thing they needed to find the joy in being with each another.
Kids have this innocence, openness and tolerance for people, places and cultures that are different than theirs.
It was a simple and powerful reminder that living life with fewer filters would create a better world. Essentially, the more people who travel, the more they understand and experience different cultures, the better the world would be.
To create a better world, one where we have fewer filters and more tolerance for people and their cultures, we have to know they exist and experience them outside of textbooks, magazines and dare I say it, travel blogs. It’s a colorful world out there. Go see it. Go make it a better place for all of us to live in.