Hi everyone, my name is Lexi Moore and I’m thrilled to be a new reporter for the AB Club Newsletter. You can learn more about me in this blog post.
For my first article I interviewed Amanda Wick , a fellow Texas State Student and AquaBrew employee. Amanda is a traveling bad ass; for her 2018 summer, she visited over 20 countries such as Bosnia, Macedonia, Croatia, Norway, Sweden, Latvia, Lithuania, Greece, Italy, Albania, Hungary, and more. I thought it would be cool to sit down with her over a glass of Ape-Pricot and get some tips on how to be a better traveler based on the different amazing experiences she has been through. I hope this provides inspiration to all those of you who are now wondering what the heck you are going to do with your life this summer.
Amanda was introduced to traveling at an early age from preschool teachers and mission trips. Her first big trips were missions to Dominican Republic and Cuba. “Cuba was a gorgeous country, just the history and everything about it...I swam in the Bay of Pigs, just sitting there thinking about the battle. I’m really big into history.” said Amanda. She also explained to me there's a difference between locals and the government, which gives that country a very interesting feel. She noticed that there were obvious differences between what the tour guides personally thought and the information they were supposed to give about the country, which was controlled by the government to make the country always look good.
Talking about the Dominican Republic, Amanda told me that she stayed in “landfill” type villages and bathed using buckets. “It’s always been really easy to adjust to where I am,” this ability to easily adapt to any situation has given this Texas State Senior a different perspective on how to travel to different countries.
Amanda explains that having her own itinerary is “10x better.” Meeting her own travel goals, gaining personal knowledge and becoming "cultured" gives her the ability to be independent and avoid restricting herself to have to travel with a group. Amanda’s choice of living locally and meeting real people gives her an advantage that “normal” travelers wouldn't get from a five-star resort. “Travelers are negatively viewed because when they do travel, they wanna see these top places like Rome and Paris but they don't immerse themselves. They look at how different things are, and they don't want to fit in.”
Amanda self funds her travels; to go to Europe last summer she spent the last year saving from her job as a server. The countries she chose were mainly for financial reasons and they weren't the typical tourist spots, “When you go to places that are more inclined for tourism you find out it’s kind of fake almost, because they want to meet the tourists expectations.” She told me one of her favorite locals she ever met while traveling was a Muslim guy from Bosnia. The country isn’t the most popular for tourism, so her new friend was happy to show off all the local spots while Amanda drank local beers and he sipped on coffee.
Once the Spring semester is over, Amanda will head to Vietnam to start her first South-East Asian tour. After Vietnam, she’ll travel to Cambodia and Thailand. When asked about what her first step when she arrives will be, she replied “What I learned from my last trip is to not plan as much, so where I’m staying is unknown.” Her flight lands early in the morning, leaving her time to find a hostel which averages $7 a night. The hostels she stays at are dorm style, about 12 people a room, and lots of bunk beds, “I don't care, I have a bed and a shower.” Her necessities consist of two carry-on sized backpacks, a power pack and her Go-Pro. Amanda explains she’ll probably have to get a sim card or a simple flip phone, which phone plans in Vietnam go for about $10 a month. Her phone is usually only used for practical purposes like maps and emergencies.
The whole phone thing really caught me by surprise, living in America where we’re constantly surrounded by technology, it’s hard to think about what it’d be like to have to spend weeks without a smart phone; how would I even be able to contact my home? Amanda explains: “that's one of my favorite things, It might sounds really bad but I don't feel home-sick,” she likes being disconnected and being able to focus everything on where she is and what's around her. The most impressive thing is that she does this not for Instagram or to boast to friends, but to truly learn from these experiences.
Though most of Amanda’s Asia trip is yet to be planned, while in Cambodia she knows she wants to see Angkor Wat as well as follow suggestions from people that she'll meet in the hostels. In Thailand she plans on eating lots of food and attending the Full Moon Fest. Having never been to an Asian country, she expects to learn and grow from her new adventures.
Amanda grew up fortunate enough to have support from her family but she explains that “I feel pride in the fact that I pay for my own trips.” Ever since she was able to work, she did. There were many sacrifices made to be able to pay for a trip like this but with enough determination it can always be done.
To prospective travelers, Amanda says “Don't be afraid of different cultures, go with a complete open mind, don't have this line up of things you're used to when you go to different countries.”
Talking about her future travels brings a huge smile to Amanda’s face; anyone would be able to tell that this is a true passion of hers. Amanda expects her travels will continue long after graduation, there's no stopping this natural traveler.