Faith Walls is a writer at trekbible and social media manager residing in Virginia Beach, Virginia (U.S). Having a passion for people, she is currently attending university to complete her degree in Clinical Psychology and Counselling. A nomad by nature, she is the happiest when trekking around the globe with a backpack on her back and a new book in her hand. She loves everything about the great outdoors, and regularly enjoys mountain climbing and camping. As a bookworm and avid coffee drinker, her happy place can easily be described as a café with comfortable seating and locally roasted coffee. She loves poetry and political fiction and she is always open to good book suggestions.
Faith regularly contributes to trekbible, a relevant and engaging travel platform with the latest travel intel or destination inspiration. The girls from trekbible built the platform on a passion for travel. They consider that the world has so many beautiful things to offer that they want to discover and experience every single corner, and then share it with their readers through traveling tips, guides, culture highlights, travel accommodations and deals, and more.
Let’s hear what Faith has to say about life, travel, and authentic travels.
What’s your concept of life? Do you have a life motto? How do you integrate it into your present life?
I wholeheartedly believe that life is a gift from God and strive to wake up each day with a spirit of gratitude (coffee helps me with this). Life is certainly not perfect and you cannot control the things that happen to you, but you are responsible for how you respond to the cards you’ve been dealt. I practice living intentionally and strive to find joy in the little things (because really, life is just a compilation of small moments). Things as small as someone buying you a coffee or a meaningful conversation with a stranger can make all the difference sometimes. Tomorrow is not guaranteed and all we have is the present moment, so stressing about the future is superfluous. If you treat every day like it’s your last, you’ll be amazed at the newfound appreciation you find for everything.
When did you begin traveling or start traveling seriously? Is traveling a constant part of your life?
In a way, I grew up with nomadic tendencies due to my family’s gypsy lifestyle. I was born in Thunder Bay, Ontario and moved to the United States when I was five years old. My family moved every six months or so in search of better job opportunities. We moved 12 times before I was 13, living in various places across Ontario, Minnesota, and finally Pennsylvania. But I made travel truly my own when I was 16 when participating in a service trip to Grenada. This was my first international trip, and the opportunity to dive into a new culture was something that truly inspired me. From there, it snowballed and travel has become an essential part of who I am. I make it a point to do one international trip every year or two, and try and take one smaller scale (typically domestic) trip every couple months. About six weeks after returning from a trip is when I start feeling restless again, so I begin brainstorming the next adventure.
Why are you traveling? What does traveling bring to your life?
Travel keeps me on my toes in a way that I have not experienced with anything else. When adventuring, you never quite know what to expect next, and I live for the thrill of the unknown. I travel first to experience new destinations and expand my worldview, but a close second is to battle complacency. If we are not careful, it is easy to get caught up in the monotony of life, and forget that a little spontaneity is important now and then.
On a deeper note, some of my biggest fears are being controlled or stuck in one place. I’ve had people ask me before if I think my frequent travelling is my way of running from these fears, but I perceive it more as a means to combat them. Every time I embark on a journey to a foreign place, I exchange my fear of complacency with the thrill of the unknown and this way I manage to get over my old fears.
Did you travel when you were a child with your parents? Did you like it? Has this affected you somehow?
Growing up, my family moved over ten times. We were new to the United States, having relocated there from Canada for better job opportunities. I’ve lived in Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and now currently reside in Virginia. I was homeschooled from day one, as it made the transitions easier. My family also travelled frequently on my dad’s work trips. Growing up, I was able to visit big cities like Boston, Chicago, and Atlanta. Being homeschooled, I quickly learned that the world is truly your classroom, and you can discover so much more exploring what is around you than within the walls of a school. I am proud of the way I was raised, as I taught from a young age that travel should be an important part of life, and the only limitations that exist are the ones that you create for yourself.
My parents often joke about my free spirited travel tendencies and ask, “Where did we go wrong with you?” I guess me doing things like sleeping in a car next to the Golden Gate Bridge tends to invoke their anxiety just a bit.
How do you feel when you’re traveling? What’s different when you are traveling than when you’re staying at home?
When I am travelling, I feel the most present in the moment at hand. Sitting in a café in a foreign country, while mulling over a new book, with people speaking in melodic accents all around me, awakens my senses in such a refreshing way. I also love the risk factor as well. Not always knowing what to expect also keeps me focused on the present. The excitement of the uncertainty is what keeps me coming back for more.
I remember when I was in Belgium with my backpacking group and we ate dinner at a Chicken and Rib Restaurant. We had planned on sleeping outside that night, and during our exciting conversation with the restaurant’s chef, we asked him if he thought it would be safer for us to sleep in the local park or train station. He thought for a moment, and then said, “I’ve never done this before, but why don’t you spend the night here in my restaurant.” And we did.
I do deeply love my home and my community as well, so for me, another great part about travelling is that feeling of returning home at the end of the journey. At home in Virginia Beach, I have my routines, such as going to my rock climbing gym, hanging out with friends, and visiting my go to coffee shops, where I feel at ease and comfortable. I like where I live to serve as a “home base,” where I can always come back and known I’m home. Home to me is a place where you can find needed love and support.
Where have you been traveling in the world so far?
I was born in Canada and moved to the United States when I was young. Trips back to Canada were normal for me growing up. Over the past few years, I have participated in service trips to Grenada and Honduras, where we constructed homes and offered community aid. There is something so rewarding about diving into a foreign culture with the intent of using your talents to benefit the community.
I spent a summer backpacking in Europe a couple years ago with a group of people. We were able to visit Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Luxembourg, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, The Netherlands, and Belgium. There was never a dull moment during our time there. We slept in a German castle, on a Venice train station platform, and even in a Luxembourg Turkish kabob restaurant. As a regular coffee connoisseur (snob), I made it a goal to try coffee in every European country we went to. Honestly, the owner of that Luxembourg Turkish kabob restaurant made my favorite cup overall.
One of my most recent adventures was road tripping up the West Coast of the U.S. this past summer. My best friend and I spent two weeks sleeping in our car and living off rice cakes and peanut butter as we trekked up the West Coast. Our primary goals were to visit all the National Parks along the way, but we took the time to check out the urban life too. We visited Yosemite, Sequoia, Crater Lake, and Olympia National Parks. Some highlights included getting soaked by a waterfall in Yosemite, eating macaroons by the Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, being left speechless by the size of the Redwood Trees, and exploring Powell’s Bookstore in Portland.
I just returned from my spring break in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where I stayed in a cute Airbnb right by the ocean. The island’s devastating hurricane from September left noticeable scars on the people and their cities. However, tourism remains a critical part of Puerto Rico’s economy, and I would encourage anyone to take a trip there to aid their industries. It was certainly enlightening to interact with the locals post hurricane Maria and hear their personal stories and learn more about Puerto Rico’s rich culture.
What’s your traveling style or your traveling pace? How often do you travel and for how long?
My travel style can be summed up as “hippie on a budget.” Personally, I like to get the best bang for my buck when I visit a new place. Because of this, I often utilize Airbnb or local hostels for cheap accommodation. I also regularly keep my eye on budget airline deals to catch the latest offerings. I balk at the phrase “all inclusive luxury resort,” but if you are looking to car camp in a National Park for a few days, I’m your girl.
I strongly advocate backpacking as the best way to explore anywhere. Getting right into the local culture makes for a truly authentic travel experience. I love the backpacking pace as well; you can take your time and just soak up the environment and culture around you.
My trip length varies from a weekend to several weeks. I take shorter trips at least once a month, whereas my lengthier jaunts occur during school breaks and in the summer. As a student, I try to take advantage of my time off school and fill it with as much travel as possible. I like to say I’m “travelling the world, one college break at a time.”
Which places do you choose to go? How do you select the destinations?
I love to explore brand new places and eventually hope to visit all seven continents. Of course, I’m always down to go somewhere with good coffee, so the local gastronomy is a very important location attribute for me. I enjoyed my time in Italy, because their food is phenomenal (Carbs are life). I ate an entire pizza one night while I was there, and regret nothing. Within the United States, my travels focus primarily on rock climbing and camping destinations. Because of this, I tend to frequent National Parks, where some of my favorite rock climbing spots are Garden of the Gods and Shenandoah National Park.
What’s the difference between ‘authentic travels’ and ‘simple travels’ in your opinion?
I would say that authentic travel is achieving a genuine experience of the culture around you. Backpacking to me is an ideal method for authentic travels, as it allows you to truly dive into the local community. This style of travel takes intentionality and the willingness to get up close and personal with everyday life in a foreign place. When I was in Honduras on a service trip, we spent most of our time in a local village. During that time, I got to climb mango trees looking for the best fruit with the locals and play with the kids. In fact, I even ended up getting lice while I was there, because it is such a common problem throughout those villages (not my favorite souvenir, though). Being able to interact with the locals on such an intimate level was truly a memorable experience.
Simple travels are more of a minimalistic approach to travelling. I perceive this more as a short-term endeavour, such as a weekend camping trip or a quick getaway to the city. Here there is less focus on engaging the local culture and more concentration on having a fun trip. I enjoy these trips too, because they add a bit of excitement to the monotony of everyday life.
Do you travel in your own authentic way or not at this moment?
As an aspiring counsellor, my focus is often on people and their stories. My authentic way of travelling tends to centre on engaging with the people around me, and learning a little something about their culture as well as themselves. Some of my favorite travel memories include discussing literature with a lady on a train in Germany and analyzing politics with a jeweller in Puerto Rico. These experiences help me to continually remember that when I travel, I am simply visiting someone else’s everyday life.
Do you give up your dreams of traveling in a certain way for the sake of something or somebody else?
When travelling with a group, it helps to collaborate with like-minded adventurers. Otherwise, your trip may result in confusion or disappointment if expectations are not met. Collaborate is the operative term here of course. I certainly have my own preferred methods of travel, and am grateful that my go to travel buddies have the same style. Of course, in this, it is important to remember that each member of your travel passé has their own travel dreams as well.
The perfect trip in my mind is one where nobody has to “give up” their dreams, but rather blend them to create a travel experience everyone can enjoy equally. One particular instance where I had to set aside my own travel aspirations was when I was backpacking with a group of people in Europe. Obviously 11 people cannot all do what they want if they are going to travel effectively, and I knew that in this case, our teamwork was more important than my own itinerary.
One thing I consider of high importance is having respect for the local culture. As a traveller, it is essential to remember that you are merely a visitor in someone else’s everyday world. Because of this, if a local offered you food that was outside of your personal dietary preference, I would encourage you to take the risk and try it. Breaking the “ignorant tourist” stereotype begins with having a deep awareness of the culture around you and intentionally stepping outside of your comfort zone. Reflecting back to my time in Honduras, we chose to eat our meals with the village community, despite the fact that their food choices were different than what we were used to.
Are you planning to travel the same way from now on or you want to change something? You wish you’d travel in a different way?
I would have to say I’m entirely satisfied with my current style of travel. Eventually, I’d like to procure a van or mini travel trailer to make long-term camping and rock climbing trips more feasible, but for the time being, what I’m doing seems to work.
What plans do you have in the future?
This summer will hopefully include copious amounts of spontaneous camping and rock climbing trips to various national parks across the United States and Canada. I particularly have my eye on Banff and Jasper National Parks in Alberta. In the fall, I am planning a trip to Iceland to catch the Northern Lights – a definite bucket list istem of mine.
My next big backpacking goal is to travel through Asia, ideally trekking through Thailand. I’ve got some plans in the works for Spring 2019, following me completing my Bachelor’s degree in December (I’m counting down the minutes for that). With Asia on my mind, I would also love to travel to China soon and volunteer in a local orphanage while helping with international adoption advocacy.