There is no mountain too high, and no feat too extreme for Megan Jerrard, the owner of the award-winning travel blog Mapping Megan. She and her husband Mike are active travelers who’ve been all around the world and aim to bring out the adventure traveler in all of you. Take some inspiration from what Megan shared with us:
Who is Meg and what does she dream of? I am a 29-year-old travel addict, an outdoor adventure enthusiast and adrenaline junkie with an incurable disease called “the travel bug”. I am from Australia and have a degree in both journalism and law. My passion for traveling and writing overtook my desire to sit in a corner office, and instead, I am now a professional travel blogger, my office ranging from villas in the Galapagos Islands, to beaches on the Great Barrier Reef, bungalows overlooking volcanoes in Costa Rica, and everywhere in between!
Pros and cons of solo travelling are… A definite pro of solo travel is the freedom – you can make your own decisions, travel to your own timetable and schedule, and don’t have to compromise or follow anyone else’s rules. It also opens the door to making new friends, as when you’re traveling alone you’re forced to put yourself out there, while having a travel companion may mean there’s no incentive to meet new people along the road. Cons might include not having someone special to share incredible moments with, that it can be scary and intimidating heading out on your own, and you might not be pushed to do things which are outside your comfort zone.
Pros and cons of travelling with my spouse are… The pros and cons of traveling with my spouse are essentially the opposite of the pros and cons of traveling alone! Pros include having that special person to share moments with, it’s often cheaper sharing the costs between two people, as with sharing the planning, and you’re often able to see things from a fresh perspective having a second pair of eyes. On the flip side, you do have to compromise as it’s unlikely you’ll both love everything the other does, and traveling with a partner may mean you don’t feel the need to meet new people and make new friends.
Volunteering abroad taught me… I’ve long since been an advocate that volunteering abroad is one of the best ways to travel – not only are there a large number of placement opportunities which enable volunteers to travel and live overseas for free, but it genuinely does shape you as a person. And it’s not a cliché to say so. It broadens your worldview, it humbles you, and it forces you to put the needs of others before your own.
The one thing travelling and law have in common is… They both facilitate intellectual stimulation. I found that a career in law is one of the most mentally challenging and rewarding pursuits available. But then I found that travel was the same. Thrust into entirely new environments, immersed in entirely new cultures, translating new languages; I found that travel was just as much of an intellectual challenge as law, if not more so.
I never travel without… а spare change of clothes in my carry on – my father is a frequent flier, and taught me this hack on my very first trip in 2003. For 14 years I did this without fail, and the one time I opted to save the space, the airline lost my bag! Not cool wearing your husband’s clothes for 48 hours until they relocate it!
Before setting off I always… change my voicemail to let people know I’m away – I always switch off roaming when I’m overseas so I don’t rack up a crazy phone bill, so if you’re trying to reach me while I’m away, best not try the mobile phone!
The first thing I do when I arrive at a new destination is… hit up the local grocery store – we always book accommodation with kitchen facilities so we can self cater. It saves an incredible chunk of money if you can cook vs eating out for every meal, and is always a fun adventure trying to read food labels in Icelandic!
The strangest thing that ever happened to me on the road was… kissing a Giraffe while in Africa… well, actually she kissed me! We visited the Giraffe Sanctuary while in Kenya, and part of the experience was being able to feed the Giraffes. Pellets were provided and the normal way to go about feeding them was to let them eat from your hand. I, on the other hand, thought it would be fantastically funny to place a pellet in-between my teeth, not realizing that a Giraffe’s tongue is about as big as my face itself! (Slight exaggeration but that’s what it felt like!) I was wiping saliva off my face for what felt like a week!
The trip that changed me… I don’t think I can pinpoint one specific trip which had a transformative effect. I think I have changed as a person from my travel experience overall. Because of traveling I like to think I am a very grounded, well-rounded person, able to accept and listen to all points of view, appreciative of all world cultures. Travel taught me how to survive by myself – taught me to become street smart. It taught me that kindness exists in the world, and that strange cultures should be explored and not judged. It continually teaches me new skills, and has opened my mind to new perspectives on history and politics. Because of travel, I will forever be curious, and forever be intrigued by different cultural norms, and forever have a thirst for world knowledge and new experiences.
The most helpful thing I’ve learned on the road that could be used in everyday life… to be thankful. Thankful for having never gone hungry. Thankful for the comforts of the Western World we generally take for granted. The amazing opportunity to travel through poverty-stricken lands really gives you perspective as to what is truly important in life, and reminds you to be thankful every day for the life you were given.
The place that surprised me the most… Bolivia. It is like no other place on the planet. There are the breathtaking Andes, the daunting altitude, the lush rainforest, the too-small bowler hats worn by the indigenous women, the vast salt flat, the decorated llamas, the pink flamingos, and that famous harrowing mountain bike ride. Bolivia wasn’t even on my radar, though we decided to visit the Amazon here instead of Peru as it was more authentic and cheaper. We spend 2 weeks in the country outside of the Amazon and our hearts were captured by the diverse and perplexing nation.
The place I would come back again and again is… Italy. Because between the culture, the history, the stunning countryside, and the friendly, hospitable nature of the Italian people, who doesn’t love an excuse to eat pizza and gelato every day of the week?
The most friendly people are in… One thing travel will teach you is that friendly people exist all over the world. In every country and culture I have visited, the local people have always been warm and friendly to foreigners.
The most challenging trip I’ve been to… climbing to the top of Mt Kilimanjaro. I’m so proud that I managed to make it to the top and prove everyone wrong, as there were a large number of people who told me I wouldn’t make it. It was one of the most challenging experiences I have faced in my life – the first 6 days of the climb were difficult, but relatively easy in that it was straight walking with a little bit of dangerous rock climbing thrown in there. The final day, the summit climb, was what it came down to for me. We rose at midnight for 6 hours of straight uphill climbing, and when I say uphill I mean at very close to a 90-degree angle kind of uphill. It very was physically draining, and we were suffering from the altitude (19,000 ft above sea level will do that to you!), however, it was more draining mentally. You truly have to push yourself and stay focused and determined to get to the top. You have to keep putting one foot in front of the other when your body is screaming for you to stop. I cried when I finally made it to the top. Collapsed in a heap and couldn’t stop bawling, because it was truly one of the hardest things I’ve worked for in my life, and that overwhelming sense of incredible achievement is something I’ll never forget.
If I have to share something inspiring with you, it would be… It is possible. I started my travel blog with the intention of inspiring others to embark on their own adventure. Everyone has what it takes to travel – you just need to act on it, and you need to truly want to do it. There’s no point in waiting for an opportunity to arise… MAKE one arise! Otherwise one day you will wake up and there won’ be enough time to do the things you’ve always wanted. So do it now. You would be surprised at how easy it is once you decide to let yourself do it. I think fear is what prevents a lot of people traveling, but once you push past that fear you realize that the possibilities are endless – and to hell with anyone who tells you you can’t achieve something or live your dream!!
One travel challenge for everyone reading this… Do something today that will make tomorrow jealous!