Caitlin Evans from WanderEverywhere.com is a traveler — she acquires the resources that she needs to live and travel while on the road. She does not have to go home, her trip does not have an undisputed end date, she does not have to go back to living a real life again once her vacation is over. No, she has woven the art of traveling into her daily existence, it has become her way of life.
I admire Caitlin because she has discovered ways of living a full, productive life while traveling almost continuously. She works on the road, learns to speak foreign languages, forms bonds and relationships with the communities that she travels through which go far beyond sliding money over a store counter top. It is my impression that Caitlin has her hand on the keys of perpetual travel — she can go virtually anywhere in the world, make a living and make herself happy — she does not need to go home.
Traveling forever is not only a matter of obtaining the monetary resources to do so, but also of feeding the creative, emotional, and productive yearnings of the human animal. It is my impression that perpetual travel means little if you are a perpetual slouch on a never ending voyage of sight seeing and idle leisure. It makes me happy to read WanderEverywhere.com and see that Caitlin has bitten into the meat of long term travel, she has found ways to live a complete life full of work, study, projects, and inquiry while traveling the world.
Here’s how Caitlin does it.
Interview with Caitlin Evans
1. Was the concept of traveling long term something that you always planned on doing, dreamed about, aspired for? Or was it more something that just
Not really, actually. I mean, I travelled a bit as a child and teenager, but I didn’t seem to enjoy it that much. I remember when I was on a cross-USA road trip with my parents (at the age of eight or so) I told my mom: “you know what? I think I just don’t like traveling. I just like it better to stay at home.” Later, at 17, I went on exchange to France for a semester and was miserable almost the entire time. So no, I didn’t really daydream about travelling. It wasn’t really until I went to Burkina Faso for three months in 2006 – which, looking back, I decided to do just for the hell of it – that travel suddenly became my passion.
2. What is your modus-operandi of traveling? How do you come up with your bean money? Do you work as you travel or save up before?
It’s always worked out for one reason or another because I make travel my priority. A couple trips – my first one to Burkina Faso and my upcoming move to Bolivia – were with NGOs and were basically paid for by someone else. For other trips (to Jordan and Panama) I saved up ahead of time. Both my times in Guatemala were paid for by scholarship money that I set aside to live abroad.
3. How have you prepared yourself for traveling and working on the Road? What university degrees do you have? Certificates? Special
Well, I have a Bachelor’s degree in History and a Master’s in Public Administration and International Development, and the latter I suppose helps find work abroad. At the very least, my MA probably helped me get my upcoming internship. I think my language training is much more important though. I took French growing up and loads of Spanish lessons in Guatemala. Finally, I took the CELTA course in teaching English so I can always have a way to make money abroad.
4. You often work for humanitarian or aid organizations as you travel, could you explain where you have worked and what you do?
Up until this internship in Bolivia my work in development has always been unpaid. I think that’s why my aunt bought me a change purse for Christmas that says “stop me before I volunteer again.” Ha.
Anyways, I’ve worked (er, volunteered) in Burkina Faso and Guatemala. In Burkina Faso, I did computer work for a rural jack-of-all-trades type NGO. It’s exciting doing computer work for which I’m mostly unqualified in a village with no electricity except for solar panels during the rainy season. Ah, development. In Guatemala, I was the volunteer and business coordinator for a women’s weaving cooperative called Trama Textiles. That meant I spent half my time trying to make other volunteers useful and the other half up to my ears in scarves trying to get exports ready for shipping.
Next up, I’m going to be the “Youth Entrepreneurship Support Officer” for Street Kids International in Bolivia. Like almost everything in development, I probably won’t know entirely what that entails until I get down there. At least this time I’m getting paid!
5. Is there a region of the world that you feel most drawn to? Do you have any tastes/ preferences for places? What is your criteria for
deciding where to go next?
Well, for the longest time I was a complete Africa nut and wanted nothing more than to spend most of my time there. And while a part of my heart is still over there, things have worked out differently. I originally decided to go to Guatemala the first time to learn Spanish so I could be more marketable for development jobs. I fell in love with Quetzaltenango and ended up going back for 7 months. Now it might seem that I’m focused on Latin America entirely, but that’s only partially true. I’m really into discovering more of Central and South America, I love living down there (huge generalization but true for me so far) and I absolutely adore speaking Spanish. But I was partly hoping that Street Kids International would pick me for one of their African internships… but as it turned out they really need someone who spoke Spanish for the Bolivia position!
I don’t have many criterions… I’ll go anywhere. However, I’m really more into living abroad that simply traveling around, so I usually go somewhere where there’s something for me to do (a job, school, etc.) Then I take trips on the side.
6. What made you choose this life? What is it about the traveling lifestyle that has hooked you?
You know, I’m really not sure. Some days I think it’s because I love adventure. Some days I think it’s so I can learn more about the rest of the world. Some days I wonder whether it’s because I’m restless, commitment-phobic and refuse to settle down. Some days I think it’s because travel makes me feel alive. And some days it’s just because of the hot dudes. (Kidding… mostly.)
7. Can you go home? I don’t mean this literally, but more theoretically: Does life in Canada feel different now that you have
been traveling internationally for a number of years? Can you put
yourself pack into the role that you filled before you began traveling
and carry on as before? What happens when you try to stop traveling and return to Edmonton? Do you think the traveling has fully penetrated your outer shell and is now a full fledge part of you, your character, your lifestyle?
Ha. I wonder this myself.
Well, I haven’t really been traveling non-stop for a few years. Over the last 4 years I would say I’ve spent 16 months abroad. But my trips are getting long and longer and my times home shorter and shorter, and it is getting to the point where I’m “away” more than “home.” I got back to Canada on March 1st, and I’m leaving again on May 8th. There you go.
But you know, Edmonton (where my parents live and where I went to high school) isn’t really home to me because I’ve moved around so much. I’ve lived in 5 different cities in Canada since I graduated from high school. When people ask my hometown I usually say “Ottawa” because I was born there and lived there most recently.
I’m not really answering your question, maybe because it’s tough to consider. Sometimes I feel like I can never go home because I’m a permanent black sheep who can only relate to other lost souls like myself. But then I spend time back in Canada with friends and remember how wonderful the people in my life here are. I wonder: “should I come back here and make a place for myself?”
8. Where are you going? What are your next moves?
As I’ve mentioned, I’m heading to Bolivia on May 8th. I’ll be there for just over 10 months.
9. What is Wandereverywhere.com all about? What are the motives behind blogging, why do you do it? What are the main topics of the site, what do you try to show of the world through your writing and photos?
Originally (like way back in 2007) the site was more going to be about my writing in general. My friend Magda kept pestering me to write more, and having a blog seemed like a good way to keep myself disciplined. It sort of morphed into a travel blog just as a reflection of my life. I still feel like it’s pretty unfocused though… which is also a reflection of me! I tend to focus particularly on the culture of the “travel lifestyle” more than anything, but it’s all over the place.
10. You come from a writing background, your parents are journalists, what impact do you feel this has had on your online writing? Have your parents taught you any tricks of the trade that you have turned around and applied to blogging?
My parents only told me one thing: never go into journalism. Seriously.
Still, I think (hope) I inherited from them an ability to write. I’m trying particularly to pick up one of my mother’s strengths: the ability to pare down writing so it is concise and more powerful. Makes for better reading. It’s a struggle, though, because I am prone to verbal diarrhea!