Q&A: Bethany Salvon of Beers and Beans


This week’s featured female traveler is not only a brilliant travel photographer who manages to capture those moments that make travel really special, she’s also a valiant and down-to-earth voyager with a taste for beans.

It was a real pleasure interviewing Beth Salvon, of Beers and Beans; read more to find out where some of her photo inspirations derive from, where she feels at home and more!

GGG: Where are you from originally and what got you started traveling?

I am originally from a little town in Massachusetts named Southwic where I grew up with cows at the end of my street. I first started traveling when I was a teenager. My parents loved traveling without an itinerary and they carted us around most of the US on really long car rides to one-donkey towns (I’m serious) or abandoned ghost towns.
Thanks to my parents I’ve seen just about every state and it’s because of my parents and our strange family trips that I got hooked on seeing the world.

GGG: Ah, the power of ghost towns! You named your site Beers and Beans after Randy’s love for beer and your love for beans. Have you had any memorable bean-related meals in your travels?
Hmm…Well, Guatemala has the best black beans EVER and at a small WWOOF farm in Serbia I had the best bean soup of my life. It was a small farmhouse where we all slept in the same room.
The bedroom also happened to be the dining area. We all sat around this little kitchen table in the middle of the room eating the most amazing bean soup for days. I wish I had that recipe!

GGG: Your Somewhere in Time series is one of the most unique and beautifully shot in the world of travel blogging. Can you tell us if a certain image or experience that inspired it, or whether it was something else?

The Somewhere In Time photo series is my little baby so I’m very flattered that you like it as well and think so highly of it! It’s the portfolio I love the most and the one I’m most picky about – only what I consider to be very special photos will make the grade for that series.

That’s what I really love about photography – the ability to capture a moment in time and freeze it. It’s like cheating time and being able to re-witness what happened in a millisecond that was gone as soon as it arrived, and that never gets old to me.

I shot weddings for a long time before I crossed into the travel world. Weddings are full of constant emotion and moments that can’t be recreated. It’s a one time deal, things are moving so fast – if you stop, you miss them.

Traveling to a new place is similar – that first moment you step off the train or the plane, the first time you reach the summit of a mountain or taste a local, incredible dish – what you feel in that moment can never be recreated. I feel alive and connected more to the world during those times.

GGG: So, you guys have written and photographed a lot about your experience WWOOFing. What was one of your favorite days on a farm? One of your least favorite?

I’ve been really lucky – all the farms I’ve WWOOFed at have been pretty awesome. I did get chased by a crazy goat in Italy but in retrospect it was pretty funny. As for good days – there’s been a lot of them. At one of the WWOOF farms in Serbia our host took us to one of his friend’s house where we learned how to make a local liquor called Rakia and it’s really strong stuff!

WWOOFing in Italy was also an incredible experience. Every day was filled with laughter, wine and late night talks – it couldn’t have been better.

I think that one of the best things about WWOOFing in general is meeting other people from around the world who are on the same off-the-beaten path as you. I never knew about WWOOFing when I was single, but ladies, if you want to meet a quality man or woman, a WWOOF farm is a great place to start.

Some of the single girls on the farms were having a great time meeting people – other WWOOFers and local organic farmers.

GGG: Sounds like you’ve had some really special experiences doing that. Challenges arise on the road, whether we’re on our own or traveling with a partner. What’s one challenge you’ve encountered on your journeys, and how did you overcome it?

Illness is the bane of my travel existence. I always get ill when we travel and I don’t have a strong stomach either. I have discovered that traveling fast (moving places every few days) does me in. My body just can’t handle the constant onslaught of new food and bacteria.

To keep my immune system up at home I drink a lot of homemade juice and I can’t really do that easily abroad.

bethany salvon of beers and beans

GGG: Speaking of slow travel, have there been any places abroad where you felt really “at home?”

There are two places that I feel very at home – Paris, France, and Lacedonia, Italy.

My grandparents are from Lacedonia and I felt really at home the minute I arrived. Being there was so familiar and natural. I was lucky enough to meet several family members while I was there.

Lacedonia is the perfect Italian town – a small hilltop village in rural Italy where the kids play soccer in the streets and the old men read the paper in the square. It was better than I had imagined it would be.

I felt so comfortable and at ease there and although I had never been there previously, there was nothing strange or unfamiliar about it. When we arrived I knew it was home and when it came time to leave I cried for a long time in the car.

Paris was a surprise for me. I was never overly curious about it and I never really wanted to go there but it was a convenient stop on the way to Italy so we decided to check it out for a couple days.

The three days stretched into a week and then into a crazy search to find an apartment we could afford. Words can’t really describe Paris – it’s amazing. The light, the food, the history – simply put, there isn’t anywhere else like it in the world.

There is just something indescribable about that city. Once Paris gets under your skin, there is no going back. It haunts you until you can return again. It continually inspires and surprises me and I never feel lost when I am there. I know in my gut I will end up living in Paris, I’m just not sure how or when.

GGG: If you were paid to photograph any event in the world, what would it be and why?

Well, to be honest, if I’m being paid I’ll pretty much shoot anything. 🙂 Of course, it would be fun to shoot any assignment for National Geographic or any of the major travel magazines.

That being said, the best things to photograph usually don’t come with any pay. I’ve always wanted to work with Doctors Without Borders and photograph the refugee camps – that’s been a dream of mine for a long time. I’m pretty sure that if I do that I won’t be getting paid for it and that would be just fine with me.

GGG: Where to next? What can we look forward to reading and seeing at Beers and Beans?

Honestly, we still have so much to cover from last year – we’ve barely scratched the surface. We’ve got Serbia, Turkey, Greece, Vienna, Venice, Paris, Morocco, Spain and Switzerland coming up next on Beers & Beans. I’ve hardly made a dent in the photos yet and there’s a lot of them I just can’t wait to post.

The summer is getting busy though – at the end of June we’re headed to Maui and in July we’re headed to Guatemala for press trips. In the fall it looks like we’ll be returning to Europe to review a river cruise and we’re hoping to try our hand at house sitting for a couple months in France or Spain. Hopefully, we’ll be in Southeast Asia after the start of the new year. I’m really excited for the upcoming months!

Well, we’re really excited to see what’s in store, too!

If you want to follow Beth (and Randy’s!) travels, check their site out at www.beersandbeans.com, follow on twitter @BeersAndBeans, check out their hugely popular boards on Pinterest, or find them on Facebook!

All photos are courtesy of Bethany Salvon of Beers and Beans. 

About Author

Sara learned the value of travel at an early age, on annual family trips in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Not to be relegated to the North American continent, she made her first trip overseas at the age of 13 and has been finding ways to travel ever since. She has explored Etruscan tombs in Italy, made hostel beds in Ireland, and hiked volcanoes in Costa Rica. Follow her travels near and far at www.saramelanie.com


    • Subject: Alexandre Yersin MuseumHil am travelling to Vietnam dunrig Feb and realised it is the Tet Festival. Do you know if the Alexandre Yersin Musuem will be open dunrig this time. Feb Feb 7 2011. Thank youKind RegardsJulie McDonald

  1. What a terrific interview, Sara!
    Like Heather, I loved the photos, too. (And I can totally commiserate with the stomach woes of traveling! 😉 )

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