Post by Megan Edelman
I am an adventurer. Come along with me as I explore the world. At times my travel will veer off the beaten path, but it will always make a story worth telling. So here I am, lucky enough to combine what I love with how I plan to make my living.
When I was young I liked to ride my bike around my neighborhood exploring what I thought were undiscovered backyards and hidden playgrounds. I liked kimchi, the tango and Latin music. I liked romance languages, I liked meeting people from different backgrounds and cultures. My favorite subject was geography. In the 5th grade we had to learn the capitals of the major countries in the world. A kaleidoscope of exotic images swirled in my mind as I thought of all of these places. I dreamed of seeing those images come to life.
As a pre-teen my grandfather took our family to Scandinavia and Russia. The turning point however for my exploration came in the form of my step-mother. When I turned eighteen my father married a career flight attendant and I became the lucky beneficiary of free flight benefits! I was crazed with excitement as I considered the possibilities! Although I had to fly stand-by, I could fly internationally, often in first class, free of charge, no questions asked. This opportunity was an answer to a prayer.
The summer after freshman year of college I obtained an Australian work visa. I had researched online how to backpack and work down-under for the summer (or rather the winter). Since it wasn’t easy to find someone my age who could afford such an extensive adventure, I knew I would be flying solo.
Welcome to The Barking Kuala, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia—my very first hostel experience. Twelve people shared dorms, shared showers, shared kitchens. We enjoyed free breakfast, group activities and met people from around the world. All this for $7 a night. Incredible!
After a week in Sydney and a brief stint as a beer maiden at a few rugby matches, I headed north. In traditional backpacker fashion, I met up with a group of friendly Canadians who invited me on their road trip up the east coast—sold! Destination: Bundaberg, Queensland. Putting my work visa to good use, I found a decent paying job, packing corn, peppers and zucchini into wooden crates for shipping. There I was, hairnet and all, standing at my conveyer belt looking reminiscent of Lucille Ball. After exploring regional attractions like camping on Fraiser Island, sailing the Witt Sundays, scuba diving along the Great Barrier Reef, I headed southward. Thinking I would make my way back to Sydney to work during my remaining two months, I discovered Blackheath Ranch; a 1,000 acre ranch in the small mountain town of Blackheath, New South Wales. Solo California girl living and working in the outback, who’d a thunk it!
Although the ranch was a self-sustaining farm, it also offered lodging and ranch packages to guests and groups. With ten years of equestrian experience, this was a natural fit. Cleaning the geese and chicken huts at 6 am, milking the ranch goats and cows, breaking in green and wild horses, helping birth baby lambs and leading trail rides in the bush were all part of my weekly duties.
After almost four months in Australia I returned home. Since then I have embarked on other world adventures to far off destinations. More to come about those excursions in future posts.
I have always been excited by adventure travel, sustainable travel and eco-travel, only I didn’t know these types of travel were, in fact, fields of study. Now a semester into my master's degree program in Tourism and Hospitality Management, I am certain I have found my calling.
In mid-December I’m off to Peru, Argentina and Chile for one month. Backpacking, hosteling, camping and hiking. But most of all I’m on the lookout for unique experiences in each new destination. Lastly, inquiring minds want to know- What is the most memorable lodging experience of your life to date? If you haven’t had it yet, you better go find it. Hasta luego amigos!