Meet Miss Maps’s Featured Female Traveler of the week: a 31 year old public relations professional based in Detroit, Michigan.In addition to her 9-5, Erica Hobbs is busy running her own travel blog, Erica in Wonderland. Complete with videos and stories from Asia, South Africa, and beyond, Erica in Wonderland also brings it back home with local stories from her native Michigan.
Her first trip abroad was to the Mediterranean Island of Malta, from which she traveled slightly north to Italy where she had the chance to study abroad Since then, she’s been able to place Thailand, India, and the UK on the top of her ‘favorites’ list.
E: One of my favorite destinations is India, because it is like visiting another world. It is a complete bombardment to the senses, often to the point of overstimulation. The smells, the sounds, the colors, the buildings and the people are so different than what I’ve experienced elsewhere, and the contrast between the overstimulation of the senses and the overarching spirituality is particularly fascinating. Since India is so large, it offers a variety of different experiences to explore, ranging from food to religion to natural wonders to palaces and more. India is tough. But if you can get through the difficult parts, the rewards are truly incredible.
In addition to the wonders India offers from within, it also offers friendships that withstand the test of time.
E: My favorite travel companion is my friend Gloria. We met while traveling India together and went on to meet again in Myanmar and then back home in the United States. She’s the most well-traveled person I’ve ever met. Very energetic and up for anything. We’re both very motivated to take in as much as we can, and it’s fun to be with someone who shares that enthusiasm.
Finding the perfect travel partner is an incredibly important part of a successful journey. And sometimes for Erica, that also means traveling alone.
E: Traveling alone is one of the best things I’ve ever done. There’s such a freedom to it, the ability to go anywhere you want and do whatever you want to do without having to compromise. It also gives you the opportunity to really focus on what you’re doing, which can sometimes get lost when you’re with other people.
Traveling alone can get lonely sometimes, and it is nice to have someone with whom to share a special experience. The good news is that it is generally pretty easy to find travel companions, especially if you’re staying in hostels. This was the best combination for me, as it gave me the freedom to do what I wanted with the option of joining others when I wanted to.
E: When traveling alone, the two best resources I recommend are a solid guidebook (like Lonely Planet) and Couchsurfing. Guidebooks, whether or not you choose to follow their recommendations, are a great resource for getting a deeper understanding of a country. In addition to recommendations on where to stay and what to see, a good guidebook will also provide information regarding culture, history and politics, to give more context on what you’re experiencing. It should also provide perspectives on how to interact with locals respectfully and how to protect yourself as well. Especially if you’re traveling alone, the guidebook will have maps if you get lost, as well as a language glossary and phone numbers to contact in case of emergency.
Couchsurfing is a great travelers network, which is especially useful when traveling alone. Just by joining the organization, you have an instant support group wherever you go, regardless of whether or not you’re actually surfing. My policy was to join the local Couchsurfing group in every city I traveled to. It was an effective way to meet people through local events, and the forums were a great resource for finding travel buddies or information on what to see locally. I made three of my best friends by joining a Couchsurfing trip in India, and we remain close to this day.
So after visiting Europe, Asia and Africa, what’s next for this American? South America, of course.
Que te vaya bien, Erica! We are looking forward to your upcoming stories and videos, wherever they may be from!