This week’s going girl is one of our favorite traveling nerds. Read on to hear about why Segway tours are worth a shot, which are the funkiest festivals in the continental US and more!
GGG: Hi! Welcome to Girls that Go! Can you start us off by telling us who you are, where you’re from and how you got started traveling?
Greetings! My name is Steph and I’m from Ontario, Canada. I can’t really explain how I got started travelling. I’ve always had the innate, intense desire to travel, even when I was a toddler. We didn’t travel a great deal in my childhood, but a pivotal moment that probably sealed my fate as a chronic wanderlust sufferer was a trip we took to Vancouver for Expo 86 when I was 10. It was my first time on an airplane and the world’s fair really captured my imagination. There were pavilions showcasing countries and cultures from every corner of the Earth and I was given a passport that was stamped at every exhibit. It rocked my world!
GGG: As a self-proclaimed nerd, what makes the way you travel unique?
I think that what makes geek travel different from the way other people travel is that it is very interest-based. Nerds are more likely to organize a trip around an event or a destination that ties into their individual interests or hobbies.
My particular nerdoms are literary travel, historic travel, science-related travel, and anything to do with innovation or making things.
GGG: Are there any must-sees that you find yourself seeking out for every place you visit (i.e. you must see all the art museums in a town, or all the fountains, or what have you)?
I always try to find out from the locals where the best bookstores and interesting libraries are, and I’m a total museum freak. Historical markers, and especially roadside attractions must be stopped for. I also need to visit most chocolate shops and bakeries in the name of “research.”
GGG: You’ve said that wanderlust struck you at the age of 3–what kind of adventure were you planning then and did you ever try making it to that dreamed-of destination again? If not, would you?
I have no idea where I intended to go. There’s a photo of me attempting to leave home at that age, and I’ve got my dad’s lunch pail in my hand and a pair of shades on my head. I’m looking back over my shoulder with a mischievous smirk on my face. I don’t think I had a destination in mind, just that I wanted to explore and experience what was beyond the borders of our family farm. That spirit and drive has never left me.
GGG: Okay, I have to ask–did you love/hate/meh your first Segway tour? Would you recommend going on one as a solo traveler?
I absolutely loved my first Segway tour. It was in Toronto’s Distillery District and a guided Segway tour is terrific way to take in the historical information of a sprawling site like that in a relatively short amount of time. I really took to it as a mode of transport. Now, my THIRD Segway tour was a different story. Let’s just say that I have a healthier respect for their destructive power as a result.
GGG: We know you love quirky stuff, particularly odd museums and strangely named places. Do you have any favorites that you’d like to share with us?
There is so much cool stuff out there. One of my favourite road trips was to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania for the Groundhog Day celebrations. Not only does the town have an unusual name with an X in it, they also have a majorly quirky rodent-based festival so it’s a twofer. The festivities were a blast. All of the town’s hotel rooms get booked up over a year in advance, and we didn’t plan that far ahead, so we just stayed up all night and enjoyed the fun.
GGG: As you reflect on the year since you’ve quit your job to travel and be location independent, what is something that has most surprised you about your new(ish) lifestyle?
What has surprised me most is that, once you realize that there is a whole world of choices available to you it is a lot of work to constantly decide where to go and what to see next, and take all the steps necessary to make it happen. It is exhausting and exhilarating at the same time to constantly have so many decisions to make.
GGG: You’ve just gone on a badass Euro-trip. What’s next for your nerdtastic travels?
I don’t have any firm plans at the moment, but I set a goal of visiting all seven continents by my 40th birthday in 2015 and I’m quite determined accomplish that. I have Asia and Australia left to go, so I imagine I will be headed in that direction fairly soon if I can find a way to make it happen.
All photos in this post are courtesy of Steph Spencer.