This week we would like to introduce Lauren of The Wandering Orange, a freelance artist that likes to doodle about her travels abroad! Lauren grew up reading A LOT of comic books, and even started drawing some of her own. I guess you’d say she was (and still am) a total NERD! At age 23, she quit her job to travel the world as a solo female backpacker. She got fed up trying to live a life that others would approve of, and went off in search of adventure and living the life of her dreams. While travelling in Thailand, she taught kindergarten to some cute little Thai kids who couldn’t say her name right. Thus “Lauren” became “Orange” and has stuck ever since! For over three years now she’s been drawing comics about her adventures abroad as The Wandering Orange! 

1.  What inspires you to travel, and how would you define the word ‘traveler’?

When I was a kid, my grandfather used to tell me stories about all of his world travels. He married my grandmother and they traveled all over the world together, extensively. Every place they traveled to, they lived there for two or more years.Wandering-Orange-Int-4-300x281

I think, for me, a traveler is someone who wishes to fully immerse themselves in a different culture. In comparison to a tourist who travels to visit a place on holiday. I enjoy long term traveling; living and working in different countries to better understand and enjoy the culture, language, food and people. My plan is to travel around the world this way for as long as I can, drawing and writing about my adventures along the way!

2.  How do you afford your travels?

I work as I go. I am currently on a working holiday visa in Australia, and have worked every job known to (woman) kind. From changing diapers at a childcare center to making skim flat whites as a barista, film storyboard illustration to retail, and now as a Freelance Illustrator…I’ve done it all! I am currently getting a bit of cash flow from my Travel Blog, and I am hoping to be completely Location Independent in the near future!

Also, since traveling to Australia (and pretending to learn how to surf) I’ve started painting surfboards for locals. From sketchbook to surfboard, I love coming up with an idea then painting it on the slick surface of a surfboard, knowing that my artwork will be out there catching some waves!

3.  Where has been your favorite destination? Where has been your least favorite?

My favorite destination would have to be Tacomepai Organic Farm! Located 6km outside of Pai in Northern Thailand, I decided to travel there on a whim after receiving instructions on how to get there by a fellow solo female backpacker. I spent two weeks in a tiny bamboo hut meditating, practicing Tai Chi, planting crops on the New Land and meeting amazing people who became like family to me. It was one of the best experiences of my life, and not a day goes by that I don’t dream about my time there.

My least favorite place is Pattaya, Thailand. If you’ve been there, you know why!

4.  Have you ever had high hopes for a destination, tour, etc., only to be disappointed in the end? Or any travel mishaps?Wandering-Orange-Int-2-300x225

When I first began my travels, I decided to go from Vientiane, Laos to Hue, Vietnam. Big mistake! On the way to the bus station, everyone was excitedly talking about Hanoi, making travel plans together to visit Ha Long Bay and getting ready to party down in the night bus on their way there. When we arrived at the bus station, the bus driver asked, “Who is going to Hanoi?” and to my horror EVERYONE raised their hands except me. I sadly watched them all pile into a huge, air conditioned, brightly lit bus…chock full of Backpackers! “Are you going to Hue?” the driver asked. “Yes!” I squeeked, still looking at the party bus full of lost potential travel buddies. We walked around the back of the bus station where my bus was…it was old and tiny and half of the seats were made out of bags of rice! I had twenty hours on that bus, and it broke down twice in the night! I still laugh about how much of a newbie traveler I was back then!

5.  What’s the funniest or weirdest cultural tradition you’ve either witnessed or experienced?

Song Kran in Thailand! It’s the biggest water fight in the world and sooo much fun! I went up to Chang Mai with some of my Thai friends to “play” Song Kran.  We spent four days getting absolutely drenched with buckets of ice cold water (great in the infamous Thai sun!), singing Karaoke with Thai pop bands on stage, and dancing in the flooded streets of Chang Mai! It was one of the best times of my life!

6.  What souvenir do you have to buy at all your destinations?

I am obsessed with bracelets! I get a bracelet in every country I travel to because they are easy to carry…I just wear them! Often, I give away or trade bracelets with new travel buddies, so each one holds a special memory for me. At the same time, I am always giving them away, so I can’t be too attached to them!Wandering-Orange-Int-5-240x300

7.  How about the one thing you cannot travel without?

My sketchbook!

8.  Why did you begin blogging? And how did you come up with your blog name?

I started blogging in an effort to keep in touch with loved ones back home and inspire others to live the life of their dreams. I quickly became bored with the average blog post, and started drawing comics about my experiences, as well as writing words. Thus began my travel comic book… The Wandering Orange! The name came from teaching English in Thailand. I was teaching kindergarten to some cute little Thai babies who couldn’t say my name right! So “Lauren” became “Orange”, and has stuck ever since!

9.  Do you have favorite travel blogs that you read regularly?

There are so many! My favorite, if I had to choose, are We Are Sole Sisters, Journeying James, Just One Way Ticket, OneStep4Ward, and Everything Everywhere!

10.  What sort of challenges, if any, have you faced being a solo female traveler?

As a solo female traveler, I have to be a lot more careful about where I am going and my surroundings than most male backpackers I know. I also have to be careful about going out and drinking. I am cautious, but I don’t let the fact that I am a woman stop me from traveling the world!Wandering-Orange-Int-3-300x225

If I had let the fact that I was a woman keep me from traveling, I would’ve never lived in Thailand for nearly three years or traveled to Australia on my own. I would’ve never backpacked around Europe, taken a 24 hour bus across the border of Vietnam, motorcycled across Italy or trekked the Great Wall of China! If I stopped traveling because I was a woman, I would’ve missed out on the most incredible adventures of my life!

11.  What advice would you give to others who want to travel solo? 

Just buy the ticket! If you wait for the perfect time to travel, you might end up waiting for the rest of your life. Do whatever it is in life that makes you happy, regardless of what others might think. If you want to travel, then just do it! In the end, the people who love you will support you no matter what! Whether it’s traveling solo to Southeast Asia or trekking across New Zealand, this life is your own and only you can make it worth living!

12.  What’s next? Any big trips planned or that you’re hoping to plan?

I am currently saving for a big trip to New Zealand, to ride a pony dressed up as an Elf through Hobbiton (Lord of the Rings nerd alert!) and hike some epic mountains! I am also saving for a big Round the World Trip! 😀

Traveler Toss-ups Wandering-Orange-Int-1-225x300

Backpack or suitcase? Backpack!

Window or aisle? Window

Solo or group? Solo

Tapas or sushi? Sushi!

Beach or mountains? I’m definitely a Beach kinda girl! But I grew up in the mountains, so the beach is more exotic for me

Want to learn more about Lauren and her amazing travel comics?

Visit Lauren’s site: The Wandering Orange
Follow Lauren on Twitter: @Teacher_Orange
“Like” Lauren on Facebook: The Wandering Orange

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