How to get 'Sidetracked': travel like a woman
I'm delighted by the generosity of travel bloggers who share their thoughts with me and Planepack readers. I adore stumbling across talented travellers and writers - Elisabeth Beyer is one of these. I hope you enjoy what Elisabeth has to say when you read our interview below.
Elisabeth is a Canadian travel writer, photographer, and culture blogger. I was struck by her beautiful images as well as the variety of places she has visited. She writes about food, venues and experiences as a woman travelling alone.
When I saw a photo of Elisabeth wearing a Tradlands t-shirt, I had to ask her more. Tradlands, by the way, is an American shirt manufacturer - recommended to me by Helen, my niece. I've bought a couple of their quality shirts - and on Elisabeth's recommendation have also ordered a few t-shirts (for my forthcoming trip to Japan).
This is what Elisabeth says about travel, writing and being a woman:
Q: Your travel destinations range widely, from Faroe Islands to Mexico. Can you tell us how you choose where you'll go next?
A: Usually my travel destinations aren’t necessarily where I’ve been dying to go, but rather the decision is most often dictated by personal reasons. For example, last year my boyfriend (now husband) was in Quebec City for a few days for work, so I flew there for a long weekend to spend time with him. Basically, it was a great excuse to go on a mini-vacation and explore somewhere new!
I really enjoy these almost random travel choices because oftentimes destinations pop up that I would never have considered before. That being said, I do have a growing list of places I still want to visit . . .
Q: Your gorgeous and luminous images inform your whole blog. I see you travel with quite an impressive set of cameras and tools. How did this all come about? Are you a professional photographer?
A: I am a completely self-taught photographer (although my film school education probably helped!) and I started out taking pictures for my own creative fulfillment. I began with a small Nikon point-and-shoot and have since worked my way up to using a basic Nikon DSLR with a couple of different lenses. Although I feel my skills and equipment have grown over the years, I never want to be the type of traveler caught lugging around super expensive or large, burdensome equipment. I’m quite happy with what I use now – the quality is perfect for my
Q: I love how you blog advice for women travellers: menstruation, sex, makeup and most recently fashion. How and why do you tackle these fairly unconventional issues?
A: I think it’s important to speak about natural and everyday things that all women experience, whether that’s while we’re traveling or not. I find the best way to approach these topics is with complete honesty and an open mind, plus many of the subjects I’ve written about (such as using a Diva Cup) come from personal experience.
Q: In one of your posts about kayaking, you state that you were not an adenturous child. But you have become an adventurous traveller. How do you reconcile your former physical fears with the chellenges of modern day travel?
A: Am I adventurous? I’m still not so sure! I do however find myself enjoying the physical aspect that goes with some forms of travel like backpacking and hiking trips, but I don’t think you’ll ever find me doing any extreme activities like skydiving or bungee jumping. I’m still working on my fears.
Q: It's great to read your travel guides; I especially liked the Vancouver ones as I recognise places I've been to! Tell us a little about how you plan, write and publish these guide s.
A: Whether it’s where to eat the best grilled cheese sandwich or which off-the-beaten-path attractions you absolutely have to see, I try to include as much local knowledge into any guides published on Sidetracked. Composing the Vancouver guide was especially enjoyable for me as the city was my home for six years up until a few months ago.
Q: Your work has been featured in many other publications. What's that been like for you as a travel blogger?
A: Several years ago, I started Sidetracked as a way to escape from the mundane job I was working at the time. Since then, I have constantly been striving to improve the site, both in the quality of the articles (if you dig back far enough I’m sure you’ll see what I mean!), my photography skills, and the website itself. I have worked incredibly hard to bring Sidetracked to where it is now and feel completely grateful that other travel publications have taken notice and published my work.
Q: Let's talk travel practicalities: are you a light traveler? And if so, what's in your bag?
A: Only recently have I started traveling lighter. Actually, I used to be one of the worst packers you can imagine. I would take along huge suitcases and pack for every type of weather and scenario imaginable – even for simple beach vacations. I remember one time I packed nine pairs of shoes yet always ended up wearing the same three pairs throughout the trip. It really wasn’t a sustainable travel practice at all!
Last year I finally started restricting myself to a 40L travel backpack and 10L daypack which I’ve found is all I really need to travel comfortably and lightly.
A few of the items I always bring with me no matter where I’m going is my Nikon D3300 camera, my laptop, Diva Cup (depending on the length of the trip), one pair of jeans I wear all the time, and some simple but comfortable cotton t-shirts.
Q: You've travelled in many different climates - from hot to cold weather. What's your advice when packing for a range of temperatures? What are the essentials?
A: It certainly is no easy feat packing for a trip that includes both hot and cold climates. My best advice is to stick to the basics: one pair of dark wash jeans that can be worn from day to night, a couple cotton t-shirts in neutral colors (the Patagonia V-neck ones are great), one fancy shirt for going out (Tradlands makes some of my favourites), a warm fleece to layer over t-shirts on colder days (again, I’ve found Patagonia makes really good ones), one pair of shorts or capris, a dress that doesn’t wrinkle (Prana has some nice options), and no more than two pairs of shoes depending on your planned activities.
If you’re going somewhere really cold, you’ll definitely want to also pack an appropriate winter jacket, toque, gloves, scarf, and substitute the t-shirts for long-sleeve shirts.
Q: I see you travel with a partner - occasionally. What are the pitfalls or demands on a woman travelling alone?
A: From safety on the road to periods to birth control to street harassment, travel can be a difficult experience when you have to face everything alone. But I’ve found with proper preparation and common sense, many things that could pose a risk to solo female travelers can easily be avoided.
However, one thing that is always on my mind as a woman traveling alone is loneliness. It’s easy to feel detached and lonely when you’re traveling by yourself. I’ve found that by forcing myself to speak with other people and making those connections, even if just for a few minutes, usually alleviates the feeling.
Q: And finally, what advice do you have for others who may wish to try something like you do?
A: If you have the longing to travel – just do it. Throughout my life I’ve been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to see different parts of the world and I’ve never regretted it for a minute. It might be cliché, but traveling truly does change you.