Discovering the Unknown with Leah Walker
We're handing over today's blog to Leah Walker of LeahTravels.com to start off this Friday with some travel inspiration! Now happily living in Paris after years of wandering the globe, exploring her options, Leah chats about her approach to living a life off of the beaten path.
Your life changed dramatically at age 31, which motivated you to switch some things up and stop allowing "life to happen to you..." - what keeps you motivated to continue trotting our beautiful globe?
A life of constant travel isn’t an easy one. I’ve realized that I really want some roots, which I’ve planted the last year in Paris. Sometimes I find myself not wanting to leave the city, but once I’m on a plane or train, I rediscover what I love about travel: discovering the unknown.
You are closing in on walking every continent, what city/country has topped your list as a favorite? Why?
France has a hold on me that I can’t quite describe. Despite not speaking French or visiting until 2012, I just am drawn to the culture and way of life. However, it’s difficult to surpass the natural beauty of New Zealand and friendliness of the Kiwis. The idea of New Zealand still gives me butterflies some five years after visiting.
If you travel enough, crazy things will happen and force you to just "go with the flow..." Any fun stories when you had to just adapt and go with it?
I suppose the biggest go-with-the-flow moment came a few years ago when I was at the Shangri-La Boracay. Super typhoon Yolanda was heading straight for the Philippines, and Boracay in particular. Guests were asked to stay in our rooms, just after lunch with the storm was approaching. Around 6:00 pm, the electricity and wifi went out, leaving my loved ones wondering about my safety. Luckily, Boracay didn’t get the brunt of the storm, but power remained down and the airport closed for a day or two. My flight to Hong Kong was canceled, and I ‘had’ to stay at the Shangri-La longer. Unfortunately, other parts of the Philippines weren’t so lucky.
We are always encouraging our readers to at least try some foreign travel - any advice to encourage someone to push past their fears?
I think the most nerve-wracking thing about traveling abroad is the unknown, yet it’s also the most exciting. Not knowing how things work in a foreign place can even leave me with a case of the nerves. Observing and assimilating to the local culture will keep you from standing out like a sore thumb. Also, the language barrier is also a fear of novice travelers. Remember, there’s usually someone who speaks a bit of English, but it’s also respectful and smart to learn a few words and phrases from the place you’re visiting. Most of the time, the effort is appreciated, along with a smile.
Packing. My least favorite part of travel. You must be a packing pro at this point. Any advice on a must haves for travel?
I absolutely hate packing. I usually opt for a neutral color palate with pieces that can be interchanged with one another. Scarves and jewelry are vices of mine, and I use them to add color and change the look of outfits. I pack a smaller purse for evening and have a large, leather tote that lays flat in my suitcase. During the day, I can carry my computer, cameras, and lenses in it while working, without drawing a ton of attention to myself. In transit, whether that’s by plane, train, or automobile, you’ll always see me with a Tumi backpack, which is filled with my electronics. I don’t love backpacks, but this one allows me to look somewhat stylish while schlepping around 30 pounds worth of equipment. I also try to limit myself to no more than three pairs of shoes, which isn’t easy considering I’m a shoe glutton.
Follow along with Leah as she searches out the luxury everywhere she goes.