Vanessa Chiasson is TurnipseedTravel – an ocean loving Maritimer now settled as a freelance writer in Ottawa. Her diverse travels have seen her run marathons in Paris, handle the coffee farms of Hawaii, and tour the national parks of Malawi. Next up? A round-the-world trip with 9 stops, including Turkey, Myanmar, and Australia. When not on the road, she loves to read, bake, garden, & spend time with her family (dashing husband, jaunty black lab, disgruntled cat.)
What do you love the most about travelling?
I’m a bit of a homebody, so travel helps me break out of my shell and the rewards are amazing – I love exploring new foods, wines, artists and I love meeting new people.
What inspired you to start travelling?
I had a great aunt who served overseas in World War II and she was such a spunky, adventurous spirit who never let humble circumstances stop her from dreaming.
Describe your travelling personality.
I’m an organizer/planner. My idea of spontaneous is switching from blueberry pie to apple at the last minute. My husband is a bit more relaxed so we balance each other out well.
One thing which you don’t like about travelling?
Unpacking! I love packing and start days, if not weeks in advance, but I drag my feet when it comes to unpacking.
How do you afford to travel?
My work focuses on value and I try to follow my own lessons. I spend more money on what I really want from a trip and skimp on the less important parts. When I was in Maui, I really wanted to do a wide range of activities – snorkelling, roadtrips, National Parks, farms – and we stayed in a modest cottage a few blocks away from the beach to save money. For our wedding anniversary in Vegas, we splurged on a gorgeous suite at the MGM Signature – it was romantic, relaxing, and the perfect place to recharge midtrip. The suite came with a kitchen and one night we spent about $5 to make ourselves spaghetti for supper. I was just as happy as if I had gone out for a fancy dinner.
The coolest person you have met on your travels?
Coffee farmers at Island X (The Old Sugar Factory) on the north shore of Oahu. Great people, helping a community revitalize – and phenomenal coffee.
Biggest cultural shock you have experienced while travelling?
Living in Newfoundland for graduate school. I’m originally from the East Coast of Canada and I thought it would be an easy adjustment but there were many subtle cultural differences I wasn’t prepared for. Overall, it was a stressful time to balance school and personal life and I never got much opportunity to travel and explore.
The greatest challenge you’ve faced while travelling?
They’re usually financially related! I also have motion sickness that decides to make a reappearance at the worst possible times. Once again, I apologize to the riders of the CAT ferry from Portland Maine to Yarmouth Nova Scotia!
Funniest or most embarrassing travel moment?
See above. CAT ferry, choppy waves, no medication made for vomit all over the children’s theatre.
Three things you can’t travel without?
My blue speckled sarong, mini stuffed bunny key chain, and cocoa butter lotion. All three are always in my pack! Here’s the history of how they became my best travel friends.
Which destinations are at the top of your bucket list?
I want to go to Cuba and soon. As a Canadian, I can travel there easily and affordably, so I don’t know why I’ve been putting it off. It won’t be long before the golden arches make an appearance in old Havana and I want to see it before it changes.
Most practical piece of travel advice?
Invest in good quality, supportive, comfortable shoes. Break them in before you go but still bring some flipflops for back up! Nothing else matter if your feet hurt.
Why should people travel?
Because there’s got to be more to life than sitting on the couch, watching crime show reruns until you die!