Guests’ Corner: Shoes of a Nomad, Melanie Kitzan

As part of the next instalment in my international version of Guests’ Corner (previously a local South African travel interview section on Tamlyn Amber Wanderlust), I chatted to Melanie Kitzan, travel blogger at Shoes of a Nomad.

Melanie Kitzan grew up in North Dakota, and during her lifetime, she has been a scientist, attorney, mother, writer and vagabond. She lives in the House of She, near Seattle, with her dogs and daughters.

Follow her global travel adventures and stories on her lovely travel blog, Shoes of a Nomad.

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

I had been posting photos and short stories of my travels on my personal Facebook page and my friends encouraged me to start blogging.

Another travel blogger friend of mine invited me to be part of The Travel Writers group, and I agreed to give it a shot. I love to travel and explore, and sharing my travel stories with people is such a connection for me.

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

I would say I’m an explorer and nature lover; I typically spend a lot of time walking around cities or travelling by train. I love to do more local and less touristy types things, and love to find hole-in-the-wall places.

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

1. Spending New Year’s in Costa Rica with my boyfriend at the time, and having our hotel room cancelled for New Year’s Eve a few hours before we arrived (we were driving across the country and were on our way when I got the message). We ended up arguing about where to stay that night, and broke up, even though we still had a few days left in the trip… We eventually became friends.

2. My first solo travel adventure was spending New Year’s in Iceland. I visiting the Elf School, but I was the only person who showed up for class so the instructor and I ended up talking for several hours about elves, history and politics and our lives. I never would have had those conversations if the rest of the class had shown up.
3. I took a train trip to Churchill, Winnipeg, Canada and was lucky enough to see polar bears, Beluga whales, and the Northern Lights all in a few days’ time.

4) What was your most humbling or eye-opening travel experience in your home country and why? (Please provide your home country’s name too.)

(Home country: USA)

On my train trip back to visit my mother for the last time, a man sat in front of me who spent quite a few hours at the bar. When he returned to his seat, he told me he had PTSD and was afraid to fall asleep. He asked me to smack him if he started to sleep. I told him I was sorry, but I couldn’t do that…

It really touched me, the stark realisation that people are each fighting their own battles and have their own struggles. I had been feeling awful for my own trip back to see my mother for the last time, and it reminded me that people right next to me were enduring their own sadness and tragedies of life.

5) Worst local travel experience (and if you are comfortable enough to, please explain why)?

I was visiting Victoria, Vancouver Island, Canada, when my friend and I were walking downtown on a Sunday afternoon and two men ran by us arguing…

One of them turned around and pulled a gun from the waistband of his jeans, as the other guy started taunting him. I ducked behind a concrete pillar, but my friend hadn’t seen the gun and kept walking.

He never fired the gun, and we crossed the street and the two guys ran in the opposite direction. It was completely startling for that to happen in the time and place where we were.

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

I’m looking forward to visit Easter Island, India, and Greenland.

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

 I am part of The Travel Writers consortium, which has many diverse travel bloggers from all over the world.

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

Antarctica… I would love to be at the South Pole.

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

(Seattle, WA, USA)

This (Seattle) is an incredibly diverse city, hiking, beaches, museums, shops, restaurants, art, science, aerospace and high tech industries – everyone can find something to love here. (Bring a rain jacket!)

10) Best travel advice for locals and tourists?

Wear good shoes, and reach outside your comfort zone.

To read about and see all of Melanie’s amazing travel stories and adventures, you can follow her on Instagram.

Thank you very much, Melanie, for appearing in this international guest travel segment. Until the next one… happy writing and reading, everyone!

Author: Tamlyn 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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