Vagabonding Case Study: Alisha Robertson

Alisha Robertson

Age: 30

Hometown: Nocona, Texas

Quote: “At the beginning of my trip, I was definitely much more of a planner. As my travels progressed, I started going more with the flow and less with plans. I quickly learned that too much planning = stress but not enough planning can also be challenging, I had to find balance.

How did you find out about Vagabonding, and how did you find it useful before and during the trip?

I heard about Vagabonding when I starting doing an excessive amount research and thinking about my second trip – which I left for in April. I started reading tons of travel blogs, writings from Lavinia Spalding, and basically indulging myself in all things travel. At this time is when I found Vagabonding. I used and still use it as a travel resource and for motivation.

How long were you on the road?

My first experience abroad was to Thailand after college. My first long term (more than 6 months) travel journey was for a year in 2008 when I taught ESL in the northern part of Chile. I left again on April 13th for an around the world volunteer trip where I plan to be gone for at least a year, possibly longer.

Where all did you go?

In 2008, I traveled mainly through Peru, Boliva, and Chile. Upcoming is Colombia, Ecuador, East Africa, Morocco, Central/Eastern Europe, India, Nepal, Southeast Asia, Indonesia, and New Zealand.

What was your job or source of travel funding for this journey?

For both trips, I started planning and saving at least one year in advance. In 2008, I worked therefore I made it a point to immerse myself in the culture by also living like a local, and only predominantly spending what I made while working in Chile. For the current trip, I have been saving for quite some time, as I will be focusing on volunteer opportunities so all of the funding has come from saving.

Did you work or volunteer on the road?

Both, I taught ESL as a source of income, and now I will be volunteering. Hopefully, in many places I will be able to volunteer in return for reduced or free room and board saving on accommodations.

Of all the places you visited, which was your favorite?

I’m not sure I can really name a favorite, but I really liked Valparaíso, Chile (Paradise Valley). The town is built on tons and tons of hills and thousands of stairs along the coast. It is so vibrant with creative energy oozing around every corner. From atop of any of the hills you have a view of endless color and the ocean. It also has a very unique characteristic in its outdoor open air museum along the sidewalk in the hills. Think of tons of artistic graffiti. It was created some years ago to support the artistic expression of children in  the city. The city actually made me think it could be the San Francisco of South America.

Was there a place that was your least favorite, or most disappointing, or most challenging?

I don’t really feel anywhere I have traveled I would consider a disappointment. But, I do remember how intimidating it was arriving in Bangkok. A city so large and a language so different than my own, if I didn’t have a group of people with me on the trip, I may have panicked. We will see how it goes when I arrive alone this year.

Did any of your pre-trip worries or concerns come true?  Did you run into any problems or obstacles that you hadn’t anticipated?

My biggest pre-trip worry of course is always running out of money. That hasn’t happened yet. But, I have definitely run across my fair share of obstacles, and I anticipate mishaps along the way as I leave again. When I was living in Chile, I didn’t anticipate not being able to converse fluently being so frustrating. I thought it wouldn’t be that big of a deal. But, you yearn to have normal conversations and to be able to express yourself like an adult and not like a child. I studied all the time to improve my Spanish! That’s one thing about travel though, it makes you so much more flexible and laid back but you also learn to be aware and have your guard up when necessary. So many life skills you walk away with just by taking yourself out of your comfort zone.

Which travel gear proved most useful?  Least useful?

I am hoping the new packing cubes I bought for this trip will be super handy. I used travel compression bags for my last trip and they really helped save space!

What are the rewards of the vagabonding lifestyle?

I would say hands down experiences and a broader view of the world. Your own view of the world. I have also met some of the most amazing people, and learned a different way of life and being, just by being open to new experiences.

What are the challenges and sacrifices of the vagabonding lifestyle?

Sometimes not being able to stay in one place long enough to build close friendships, loneliness, not being able to relate as well to other people when you return home, the list could go on. But, overall I think the rewards always outweigh the sacrifices. And for the challenges, it’s so amazing when you make it past them!

What lessons did you learn on the road?

Not to carry all of my money in one place, how to say I’m hot (as in the temperature) in Spanish the correct way, that I actually communicate with my family more when I am on the road, to never try and lug a backpack ten times bigger than me around all the time- for this trip, I’m packing much lighter! And, most of all, I learned that I had created what I am sure is going to be a never ending love affair with travel.

How did your personal definition of “vagabonding” develop over the course of the trip?

At the beginning of my trip, I was definitely much more of a planner. As my travels progressed, I started going more with the flow and less with plans. I quickly learned that too much planning = stress but not enough planning can also be challenging, I had to find balance.

If there was one thing you could have told yourself before the trip, what would it be?

Leave half the stuff I packed at home. Oh, and get a credit card with no foreign transaction or ATM fees. Completely forgot about that my first time around.

Any advice or tips for someone hoping to embark on a similar adventure?

Find a group of motivators and supporters to help you along the way so you have a support system for your trip. Also make the initial planning and saving process part of the fun – get a cool roommate, have house parties instead of going out, or maybe shift your social calendar and start reading and learning more about the locations you are going to visit. Don’t look at making adjustments as a negative thing, but rather as a new experience to embrace.

When and where do you think you’ll take your next long-term journey?

I left again on April 13th, and will be traveling around the world.

Twitter: alishaamr Website:

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Posted by | Comments (2)  | June 22, 2011
Category: Vagabonding Case Studies

2 Responses to “Vagabonding Case Study: Alisha Robertson”

  1. Vagabonding Case Study: Alisha Robertson | Travel Guide And Holiday Says:

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  2. Alisha Says:

    Thanks John for your encouragement! I did get the chance to visit CHaing Mai…loved it! It was the beginning of my addiction to Thai food!