Another installment of Traveler’s Spotlight on Jay Travels. This spotlight features Gray from the SoloFriendly travel blog. Gray enjoys traveling, writing, photography, and hanging out with friends. A lifelong Vermonter, she tends to hibernate in the winter and thrives in warm, sunny weather. Her ultimate goal is to make a living working remotely so she can become a snowbird.
Quick Info on Gray
How Often Do I Travel
3-5 times a year
Where to Next?
Paris in November and Las Vegas for Christmas.
Favorite Travel Gadget
My DSLR camera
Go to Outer Space if You Could?
Yes! I’m a total sci-fi geek. How could I pass up that opportunity?
Writing, traveling, photography, trying new foods
Where have you traveled Internationally?
- Montreal, Canada – Joie de vivre (Joy of Life)
- Mayan Riviera, Mexico – Rich Man, Poor Man
- Germany/Austria – Old World Charm
- England – It’s like stepping into the pages of your favorite English novel.
What are the Top 3 destinations on your Bucket List?
Has any trip changed the way you think or act – whether politically, socially or otherwise?Before I went to England, I was a bit of an Anglophile. I had a reverse prejudice in that I thought everything English was superior to anything American. That trip helped me to realize that England is not perfect, and that the US does some things much better. It taught me an appreciation of my home country.
Have you ever experienced a problem when traveling (passport, victim of crime, etc.)?Thankfully, no. The closest I came was when I got "Longhauled" (when a taxi driver purposefully drives a longer route to a destination in order to increase the fare) on my last trip to Vegas. I knew I had been longhauled and I made no secret of the fact I knew it, and instead of dropping me off at the Flamingo valet, my cab driver dropped me off at the tour lobby entrance, which is basically in a dark alley. (I am sure he did this to avoid having me report him to the valet.) I had a choice: I could stay in the cab and insist he bring me to the valet, or just pay him and go ahead inside. I chose not to fight him on it, because I didn’t want to start my vacation with an altercation, but in retrospect, I should have used my cell phone to call the Taxicab Authority and report him.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve eaten when traveling?When I was in Germany, I tried frogs legs (I know, wrong country for it, but that’s where I was). Yes, it tastes like chicken, but I probably wouldn’t eat it again, just because I know it’s the legs of a frog. Yuck.
What was your least favorite travel experience and why?Sadly, my trip to Mexico for so many reasons. I was with my boyfriend at the time. He and I had very different travel styles. Plus he was blatantly flirting with another woman at the resort. I also found it very disturbing that all the luxury resorts had gates and armed guards and if you went outside them and saw how people actually lived, there was an extreme poverty there. It made me uncomfortable to be participating in that kind of conspicuous consumption in the face of such need. And to top it all off, I got food poisoning, which cut short my trip to see the ruins at Tulum which was the one thing I most wanted to do in Mexico. Someday, I’ll give Mexico another chance, but I need to wait for the negative association to fade.
What kind of vacation do you prefer, adventure, nature, backpacking, luxury getaways, shopping, relaxing, other?I like my vacations to be diverse in terms of activities. I like some down time, but mostly, I like to keep active with a variety of things to do, mostly sightseeing, since I’m an avid photographer. Since I live in a pretty rural state, I prefer going to cities and well-populated places for vacation. I do love luxury getaways when I can afford them, which isn’t very often.
What’s the best thing about traveling? What’s the Worst?
- Best – Seeing new places, having new experiences, meeting new people. I think it’s really important for us to see that not everyone lives the way we do, that not everyone thinks the way we do.
- Worst – Not being able to do it more often..
When you’ve traveled internationally, did you prefer to do things that are familiar (American food/activities) or go outside of the tourists areas and see how the natives live?A mix of both, depending on where I was. In Germany and Austria , I stayed with relatives who lived there, so I saw how the locals lived, though of course we also did some sightseeing. I didn’t spend much or any time with locals in England or Mexico. I have friends who live in Montreal, so when I go up I spend some time with them in their neighborhood. I definitely try to eat the local cuisine as much as possible – that’s one of the joys of traveling! I think it defeats the point of traveling to just stick with American food and familiar chains, like the ubiquitous Hard Rock Cafes or McDonalds.
Do you look for Americans when you travel? Also, do you try to ‘blend in’ or don’t think about it.Certainly, I try to blend in to the degree that I don’t want to attract too much attention to myself (and either fly under the radar of thieves or convince them I’m not the easiest target in town), but I don’t try to pretend I’m anything but American (because the locals would probably see through any such attempt anyway). I look for anyone who is friendly who speaks at least some English so I can communicate with them. I don’t care where they’re from.
Do you have any travel tips to share?Yes, don’t be afraid to travel alone. If there’s a place you want to see, go see it, whether or not you have someone to go with. Life is too short not to!
Any parting shots or Shout outs?Shout out to you, Jay! I love this concept of the Traveler Spotlight, and really appreciate being featured in it. Thanks.