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Guests’ Corner: Adventures with Ashley

As part of the next instalment in my international version of Guests’ Corner, I chatted to Ashley Barlow, talented travel blogger and inspirational runner for hope.

Ashley Barlow, who hails from Virginia, USA, is not just an inspirational blogger (although she is certainly that, too). Rather, she’s a woman of incredible strength, agility and determination… In addition to being a wonderful travel blogger, Ashley is also a dedicated distance runner, triathlete, hiker, cyclist and nature-loving explorer.

Through time, Ashley’s passion for running has also helped to spur a love for new places, nature and photography – and in 2015, after exploring Iceland, she began chasing adventure (and waterfalls), near and far!

Her incredible blog, Adventures with Ashley, was originally something she began for her personal use, as a means of organisation, but it quickly grew into something far greater. Which is why, today, Ashley inspires countless others with her photos, thoughts and blog posts.

She has a severe case of wanderlust, which is why, more often than not, you will find her chasing waterfalls, hiking in the great outdoors and seeking new and beautiful adventures in the US and beyond.

And through her beautiful blog, Ashley warmly invites you to join her on the next great adventure, as she explores, hopes and inspires!

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1) Who or what inspired you to go into travel blogging?

Honestly, it all really started with running. I began blogging about my races to keep better track of my running journey. My passion for running helped spur me to see new places and discover how much I enjoy nature and photography.

My treks across Virginia led me to discover that I really wanted to see everything our world has to offer… Then it all took off from there; I wanted to see it all!

2) What kind of traveller are you: thrill seeker, culture vulture, adrenaline junkie, nature lover or some of everything?

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I am definitely something of everything. I do call myself ‘Adventures with Ashley’ and this definitely caters to thrill seeking, culture, being an adrenaline junkie… and nature lover, of course! And also a runner and athlete.

3) Which are your top three most memorable travel experiences and why? Please list each one with a brief explanation.

1. My first one would most definitely have to be my most recent trip to Indonesia. An adventure of a lifetime like I have never before experienced. This trip truly opened up my eyes to visiting a Third World country, and seeing and experiencing the different cultures and living conditions.

It was so intriguing how friendly everyone was over in Indonesia and how fascinated the locals were with the tourists. Many of the locals asked to take my picture or stopped me just to help practice their English.

Conditions over there are not even comparable to what we have here in America – but I was surprised to see that, despite not having much, the people over there are still very happy.

Some of my favorite adventures over there include: hiking Mount Sinabung, which is an active volcano that is high in geothermal activity to include steam vents and hot springs. I also visited the largest volcano lake in the world!

On this island, I met many children who were very open to speaking to tourists to help practice their English. They were the sweetest kids ever – and it made my heart melt just talking with them and inspiring them to do well in life and school.

2. For my second choice I spent the holidays in Europe and visited a good nine countries! To include: England, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Italy, Vatican City, Switzerland and France! I spent Christmas Day in Germany and New Years in Switzerland! It was definitely a great start to the New Year! I saw and checked off so many bucket list places; it was quite the European adventure.

3. For my third choice it is definitely a tie between Costa Rica and Iceland because I travelled to both countries just to chase waterfalls! Yep, you heard me right! I am quite the avid waterfall chaser! Both countries definitely had their differences and Costa Rica was an amazing rain forest adventure to include Toucans and monkeys, while Iceland included a magnificent glacier lagoon, caves, black sand beaches, epic landscapes and more!

4) What was your most humbling or eye-opening travel experience in your home country and why?

I would have to say my backpacking trip to Havasupai was one of the most humbling and eye-opening travel experiences in my home country of America. I could not believe a place as beautiful as this existed in America.

The Havasupai people live on one of the most remote Native American Reservations in America. The Supai Village is located 8 miles deep into the Grand Canyon located in Supai, Arizona, but the campground is located 10 miles deep. This location can only be accessed by foot or helicopter.

The waterfalls of Havasupai are by far the most beautiful waterfalls I have ever seen and are known for their gorgeous bright blue water color!

I went for my 25th birthday last May and camped out for four days – and it was by far the best birthday ever! I could not believe that this heavenly oasis existed deep into the desert of the Grand Canyon of America!

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5) Worst (local) travel experience?

I did recently have a horrible travel experience in Paris, France just this past January. It was a busy afternoon and I was sitting on a bench by the Arc de Triomphe looking at my phone when all of a sudden a man snatches my phone right out of my hands and tries to run away. I quickly reacted, grabbed him and tackled him to the ground.

Thankfully, police were nearby and they jumped on the guy after they saw what was happening and arrested him. My adrenaline was rushing so much that I couldn’t believe something like this had just happened to me.

The next morning I woke up in excruciating pain and could hardly breathe. I went to the ER to find out that my ribs were fractured. I was travelling alone at the time,so it was a pretty surreal experience for me.

I don’t regret standing up for myself and the situation could have definitely been worse… I am very thankful to have survived and want to remind everyone out there that situations like these unfortunately still happen today, so please be careful out there with your belongings!

6) Your top three travel destinations across the globe – either that you have personally experienced or would love to visit?

Indonesia, Costa Rica and Iceland are by far my top three places that I have visited. (You can read more about my experiences in question 3!)

7) Any useful travel sites/blogs that you can recommend for following?

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I am more of an Instagrammer, and just starting to get more into travel blogging, so no one in particular comes to mind yet!

8) If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would it be and why?

I would really like to visit Africa. Mount Kilimanjaro is on my bucket list – and I would love to climb it one day!

9) Do you have any handy tips for planning a trip/day out in your city (and please state which city it is)?

An ideal day trip in my area of Northern Virginia would be a day trip to Shenandoah National Park. It is just a couple hours away and includes so many amazing hikes and waterfalls to see!

10) Best travel advice for locals and tourists?

Definitely to be careful with your belongings and be aware of your surroundings, especially after my attempted robbery incident in Paris.

Also, when travelling to Third World countries, be prepared for contaminated food and water. Make sure to take extra caution just in case you get sick. Sometimes it’s unavoidable.

I actually did get a horrible salmonella infection while I was in Indonesia with a fever of 104 and severe diarrhea… So be prepared, because I definitely could have been more prepared than I was.

To read about and see all of Ashley’s travel stories and experiences, you can visit her awesome blog. Or follow her on FacebookTwitter or Instagram.

Thank you very much, Ashley, for appearing in this guest travel segment.

Author: Tamlyn Amber Ryan

Content writer by day and blogger by night, Tamlyn Ryan passionately runs her own travel blog, called Tamlyn Amber Wanderlust, from her home base of Cape Town, South Africa. And, despite a national diploma in Journalism, in her free time, Tamlyn’s preferred niche remains travel writing.

Tamlyn is a hopeless wanderer, equipped with an endless passion for road trips, carefully planned, holiday itineraries and, above all else, an innate love for the great outdoors.

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