Here’s Tara, our newest Celebrity Travel Addicts interviewee. She’s the face behind the popular Where is Tara travel blog, which features all her adventures from Brazil, to Israel, and everything in between. See how she survived leeches on her butt in Sri Lanka (ouch!), why her mom is one of her favorite travel buddies, and where you can find the friendliest people.
How did your passion for travel get started?
I took my first long haul flight from New Zealand to America when I was barely able to walk. My mother told me stories of when she lived in Paris, England and New Zealand. I always knew that when I grew up I wanted to have stories like that. That’s really where my love of travel came from.
How many days/weeks are you traveling in any given year? What are the types of places do you like to visit?
Hmm, last year I was travelling for more than 6 months of the year. This year I’m planning to reduce that slightly so that I have more time to focus on several other exciting projects (how mysterious). I find it hard to work and travel. I usually like to visit places that have great natural beauty where there are plenty of adventure activities for me to try. I seem to visit a lot of islands actually. Last year I visited Aruba, Sri Lanka, Hawaii, The Philippines and The Maldives.
What is it that you want audiences to gain/ learn from your website?
I want people to read my website and find the courage to take that trip, to go on an adventure, to face a fear. I want to inspire people to be bold and brave and to remind them that they only get one life. The world is a big, bright, beautiful place and I want to show it to my readers. I want to remind them that talking to that stranger on the plane, in the hotel, or on the tour could lead to a million different possibilities/opportunities.
Name your top three destinations you’ve traveled?
I really find it so hard to choose! But I have to say Finland, Canada and The Philippines.
Give us your ‘Top 5’ list for one of these destinations, like a mini-guide or to-do list of sorts
Ok, so I’m going to go with Canada for this one. I spent a month in Edmonton near Banff and Jasper national park, here’s my top tips for the area.
1) Make sure you visit Lake Peyto just before sunset. This is usually after all the tour buses have cleared off. It will be less crowded and there will still be enough light for photos. I did this in June and was the only person up there. It was perfection.
2) You don’t need to book accommodation in advance when on a road trip through Banff and Jasper. Inns and hotels along the road and in the towns always keep a few rooms for walk-ins each night. Though the cheapest option is camping.
3) If you’re in the area in July make sure to check out the Calgary Stampede. It’s known as “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth”. The best event is the kids pony-wrangling competition. It will have you in stitches. The entire city of Calgary goes Stampede crazy with events, cowboys and decorations everywhere.
4) West Edmonton Mall is the largest mall in North America, even bigger than Mall of America. It has a theme park, cinema, mini-golf, ice rink, waterpark and more. You could literally spend days here. But the highlight is definitely the waterpark. It’s a great spot during the frozen Canadian winter because the temperature is constantly around 31 Celsius.
5) Banff Mountain Film Festival is a MUST SEE for any adventurer. And what better place to see it than in Banff?! Check out the Lux Cinema and hope that there’s a showing. You will leave the showing feeling completely inspired.
How many countries have you visited so far?
43, though I’m not big on country counting. I prefer to spend time in a country and really get to know it.
Your top three favorite cuisines?
Mexican, Italian and Indian. Those are kind of generic I guess but they’re all great for vegetarians like me. God, I’m hungry just thinking about them, haha.
Favorite restaurant in the world?
Ooooo tough question. There’s an incredible lunch spot in Miraflores in Lima, Peru called La Lucha. Their sandwiches are amazing. There’s always a queue so you know the food is good.
Your favorite travel movie?
Honestly, I am absolutely OBSESSED with Lara Croft. She is basically one of the only strong female fictional characters that explores, tries crazy things and doesn’t just end up falling in love and living happily ever after. I was crazy about the computer games and hence I will choose the Tomb Raider movies because of Lara Croft being one of the very few kick-ass female explorer role models in film. Though, on the flipside, I love Eat, Pray, Love too because I really identify with how Elizabeth Gilbert started her journey.
Favorite international airport?
Bristol Airport. I know, you’re like, WHERE?! It’s a small airport in the UK and I love it. It is international but it’s generally super quiet and I can breeze through security. It also has great links to Bristol city so it’s super convenient.
City with the friendliest people?
Dublin! Sorry, I had to give a shout out to my home town. But honestly, we are just a friendly bunch. Many a time I have struck up a conversation with a stranger on the street or walked them to a place they couldn’t seem to find. Even when they Irish are drunk they are still incredibly friendly and good natured. Runner-up goes to the Canadians, New Zealanders and Filipinos!
Your favorite traveling companion?
My passport? haha. I do love to travel solo! BUT there are definitely some trips that are better with a companion. I love travelling with my boyfriend for a million reasons. My mother is also one of my favourite travel companions. She’s crazy but we always have a great time. I’m not going to choose between them because they might read this, haha.
Best way you kill time while traveling?
Reading, drawing or editing videos. Or just good old fashioned sleep. Having said that, on planes I tend to binge on movies and forego the sleep. Editing videos is something I’ve started doing on my phone in airports while I’m waiting to board the plane.
What is the most exotic place your career has taken you?
Hmmm, exotic really depends on who you’re talking to. To my European friends Aruba seemed very exotic to them. Probably not so much to Americans. For me, abseiling down a waterfall in Sri Lanka and ending up with leeches on my ass was probably one of the most exotic situations/locations I’ve found myself in thanks to travel blogging. I was going to say I’m very lucky, but it’s also a lot of hard work as you know! Either way I’m super thankful for all the wonderful experiences and opportunities that have come my way since I started travel blogging.
Your best bit of travel advice for someone who is about to embark on a life of travel?
Trust in the journey. Some days you might be tired, too hot, too cold, irritated and stressed. But remember that you chose to do this for a reason, no matter what it was, and that every step you take on this journey is one step closer to what you wanted to achieve. I’ve had to remind myself of this so many times along the road. Trust that travel will give you back so much more than it takes.
What are 4 things you could never travel without?
Passport, phone, money, hair tie. Those are quite boring and practical aren’t they?! haha.
What is your ultimate dream destination?
Oh I’ve been DYING to visit Samoa, Tahiti, Jordan and Nepal for years. I don’t know how I haven’t gotten around to them yet. If I had to pick one it would be Samoa, purely because it’s been on my list for so long. It just looks incredible. Everyone I know that has been loved it.
Your favorite travel quote?
Yogi Bhajan — ‘Travel light, live light, spread the light, be the light.’
I always say that but it’s just so important. I think of it as a life motto as well as a travel quote.
Where to next?
I have a short trip to London for a couple of days and then hopefully somewhere exotic at the end of March. I’m thinking maybe Madeira or perhaps somewhere further a field. All my travel plans are usually super last minute. I never know where I’m going to be until a week or two in advance. Then London again at the end of April, to speak at Traverse17.
Where Is Tara? is a luxury, wellness and adventure travel website. Tara is one of Ireland’s top professional travel bloggers. Born in New Zealand and raised in Ireland, she’s a dual citizen. From ninja training in Japan to ice-climbing in Finland, Tara loves a good adventure. Self-confessed chatterbox and iced-coffee addict, Tara and her website will take you on a stylish, colourful adventure around the world. A keen travel photographer, Tara has had her photos featured by Lonely Planet, Fodors and Canon. Her Instagram is a representation of how she sees the world; a bright and colourful wonderland. Follow Tara on Facebook, Pinterest, Youtube, Instagram, Twitter and Where is Tara!