Wayfarer: Elise Newman

eliseIt’s time for another co-worker! Within the company that I work for there’s a work abroad program that helps students and youth obtain international work visas and provides support once they’re abroad. Elise works for this arm of the company, and this is how I became lucky enough to have this quirky chick in my life.

Elise, the adventurer that she is, recently returned from a round-the-world trip. After her one-year work contract was over, she decided to leave Toronto behind and explore the world. In fact, she is the reason why I felt so compelled to take VIA Rail’s The Canadian from Toronto to Vancouver — I was actually following in her footsteps as this is how she started her incredible journey in 2012. Now, she’s back with us and is once again my co-worker.

On top of her love of travel, Elise is also passionate about writing and the theatre. Check out her blog Around the World in 80 Plays to follow her in her pursuit of global wanderings and dark theatres.

What countries have you visited? In alphabetical order, according to my employee profile at work — Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bermuda, Bosnia And Herzegovina, Cambodia, Canada, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Serbia, Singapore, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, St. Pierre And Miquelon, Tanzania, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States.

What is your favourite place to visit? London. I visit any chance I get. I love it for its amazing and accessible theatre, beautiful walks, diversity, overwhelming chaos and quiet parks, and all the friends I have there. It’s a city that encourages spontaneity. And you can get anywhere from London.

What’s one thing you’ve learned from your travels? I’ve learned to be more relaxed about life in general. I tend to over think and stress out about things like schedules or where to eat out. But I’ve found that you meet the most interesting people and live the most memorable experiences when your plans fall apart and you have to deal with unexpected events. So travelling has taught me to slow down and go with the flow. Although I still try to get to airports stupidly early, because missing a flight is really annoying and there are great people-watching opportunities at the airport.

What’s one thing you must always bring with you on a trip? Other than the essentials (passport, credit card, earplugs), I always bring a journal with me to document my trip.

What are the top three destinations on your travel bucket list? During my latest trip around the world, I managed to see so many places that were on my bucket list (not that I actually have a bucket list…maybe I should make a bucket list?). But if I had to pick, I’d say Iceland (to go for a dip in the thermal pools), South Africa (I spent two years of my life there when I was a baby and feel a very strong connection to it, though I can’t remember it), and Louisiana (have you seen Highway 61? That’s why I want to go).

What’s the craziest thing to have happened to you while on a trip? So many strange things have happened, but I guess recently, it was probably getting bitten by a monkey in Bali. It was a thoroughly unprovoked attack and forced me to face my own mortality (I found out that I don’t want to die from rabies). I also got to navigate the public and private healthcare systems of various countries as I got my round of vaccines. The experience taught me that my fear of monkeys (other than of bush babies) is well founded and that I should always trust my instincts: I didn’t want to go into that monkey temple! Why did I go into that monkey temple? I never go to any tourist “must-see” sights anymore, unless I truly want to see it.

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