This week we would like to introduce Vanessa of Turnipseed Travel. Vanessa Chiasson is Turnipseed Travel – an ocean loving Maritimer, now settled as a freelance writer in Ottawa. Her diverse travels include Paris, where she ran a marathon, the coffee farms of Hawaii, and 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 (her dashing husband, a jaunty black lab, and a disgruntled cat.)
1. What inspires you to travel, and how has travel changed you?
I love meeting new people, exploring new cultures, trying new food and wine, and exploring history and art. Travel has made me more confident and more in touch with who I really am.
2. What has been your most memorable travel experience so far?
I loved living in East Sussex, England as an exchange student. That opportunity really allowed me to soak in British history, politics, literature, and geography and I had the chance to explore around Europe when I was done.
3. What’s the funniest, weirdest cultural norm/tradition you’ve either witnessed or experienced?
In Malawi, when someone wants to get your attention, they make a sound that’s somewhere between a “hiss” and a “psst” sound. Not effective at all in anything but a silent room! It was hilarious to see people try to get someone else’s attention. They are not shouting people!
4. Have you ever had high hopes for a destination, tour, etc., only to be disappointed in the end? Or any travel mishaps?
I lived in Newfoundland for a year and a half in grad school and it wasn’t a good fit for me at the time. It didn’t help that being a student meant limited opportunities to travel and explore, so I didn’t get a chance to really connection with that location.
5. What souvenir do you have to buy at all your destinations?
My husband and I started the tradition of buying a magnet – usually at a National Parks gift shop – for each destination we visit. Cheap, lightweight, cheesy – the best possible combination!
6. How about the one thing you cannot travel without?
I have three that I love – my blue speckled sarong, mini stuffed bunny keychain, and cocoa butter lotion. You can read why I love all three and never travel without them here.
7. Do you have favorite travel blogs that you read regularly?
I’ve been reading Journey Woman since the late 1990s – it’s an incredible resource for women (and everyone) who travel. It’s a great place to visit if you want to learn about a lovely, affordable B&B in London, or a female-friendly wine bar in a hidden corner of Rome.
8. Why did you begin blogging? And how did you come up with your blog name?
I’ve been writing since I was 5 years old, and blogging combines my passions for the written word and travel. Turnipseed? What’s with that? While we do have a community garden plot, we’re not professional rutabaga farmers! Turnipseed was a childhood nickname of mine but it seems suitable for a blog that focuses on great value. A package of turnip seeds contains hundreds of tiny seeds for a tiny price, but they grow quickly, reliably, and big. That analogy works for me!
9. What advice do you have for people who want to begin writing a travel blog?
Don’t wait until you are the perfect writer or until you know more about the business of blogging – just start writing and the rest will eventually come. The only way to get better is to practice and, when the time comes to embrace the business side of things, your longevity will matter.
10. They say hindsight is 20/20. If you could do it all over again, what’s the biggest piece of advice you wish you’d known?
That there’s nothing wrong with calling it a day, soaking in a hot bath with a glass of wine, and trying again tomorrow.
11. What is #Girlstravel and how did you become involved?
#Girlstravel is the only Twitter travel chat exclusively for women and I was fortunate to be asked to co-host at its inception in Sept 2012, after connecting with several of the other hosts online. #Girlstravel is a great forum not only for passionate travelers, but also for those women who dream of travel. It’s a welcoming, friendly community and each week we feature a different topic – everything from wine, the natural world, solo travel, technology, to holiday fun. #Girlstravel happens every Monday at 6pm GMT.
12. What are you most looking forward to on your RTW trip later this year?
I’ll be going to regions and continents that I’ve never been to before – Turkey, South East Asia, Australia. My travel experience lies with North America, Europe, and Africa, so this is a new and exciting adventure! I can’t wait to eat my way through the markets and see some ancient religious and spiritual sites.
Backpack or suitcase? Backpack.
Window or aisle? Window! I do get up and pee a lot (sorry, seat buddy) but motion sickness dictates that I need to look out the window.
Solo or group? Solo or with my husband.
Tapas or sushi? Tapas. Sushi is just wrong. Raw fish, seaweed – it’s a weed, people. From the sea!
Beach or mountains? Beach. I’m a Maritime girl!
Follow Vanessa and her exciting RTW trip coming up later in 2013!