This week TravelInsurance.org spoke with Anne Ditmeyer, traveler extraordinaire and owner of Prêt à Voyager, a blog with a wealth of information related to international travel, including a series of interviews with fellow globetrotters.
Ms. Ditmeyer is a graphic designer currently based in Paris, France. She describes herself as having a “visual mind, love of travel and desire to explore the everyday world.”
TravelInsurance.org: What’s your favorite place you’ve visited?
Anne Ditmeyer: I have different favorites for different reasons. Going to my friend’s “big fat Greek wedding” in Cyprus is high on the list for the sheer experience, but I also loved Iceland for its design sensibility, and India for taking me completely out of my element and into sensory overload.
TI.org: What place do you most want to see?
AD: Buenos Aires has been on the top of my priority list for a long time, but these days Istanbul, Portugal and Croatia are also pretty high.
TI.org: Where do you live permanently? Why?
AD: I am currently based in Paris where I’m in grad school. I’ve lived here two other times and have always had a love affair with the city. If I’m lucky, maybe I’ll never leave. (Paris also has the added perk that the French give 4-9 weeks of vacation a year, meaning more opportunities to travel!).
TI.org: Best and worst thing you’ve eaten on a trip?
AD: On my first trip to Cyprus my friend’s mother (who didn’t speak any English) insisted on having me try every possible traditional Cypriot dish. It was amazing – I definitely ate very well that trip. I think I’ve been pretty luck in terms of eating on trips and I’m not a picky eater (or maybe I’m not adventuresome enough), but nothing horrible stands out as a “worst eat.”
TI.org: What’s the scariest situation you’ve been in while traveling?
AD: I have a complex about taking taxis. When I was first a student in Paris my friend and I were getting out of a taxi when the driver grabbed my arm for no apparent reason. I stayed calm and then he left (but it felt like he was trying to hit me). It was just one of those bizarre flukey situations we’ll never understand. Then in South Africa I was traveling with another friend when our driver stopped for gas (we weren’t going far) and then started driving backwards on a major street. It’s probably a good thing I prefer public transportation!
TI.org: What was your first travel experience? How was it?
AD: I am very thankful that I grew up in a household that encouraged travel. I was on my first plane at 6 months, far too early for me to ever remember. Travel was a normal thing – every spring break we’d travel to a new place, and every summer we’d go visit relatives in Boston. My dad traveled a lot for work – sometimes to mundane places, but other times to Swaziland or Malawi (I always liked that he would bring back souvenirs for me and my brother).
TI.org: How do you finance your travels?
AD: I’m an extremely frugal traveler. I tend to travel where I know people, so that means I have a free place to stay. After my car died a few years back, instead of getting a new one, I decided to use public transportation and use the money I would have spent on gas and repairs to travel instead. I like to have a “local” experience, so that doesn’t involve a lot of extra expenses.
TI.org: Do you have a favorite way to travel?
AD: Despite what most people feel about flying, I actually love it. I particularly enjoy the time in airports because I can unplug and read my magazine or book. Thanks to my dad, I also love trains. The ones in Europe are amazing – so fast and smooth. But once in a place, I love to walk – the best is that you avoid traffic and one-way streets magically become two-way for the pedestrian.
TI.org: Any advice to would-be travelers?
AD: Often I think people go see things because they feel like they are “supposed to.” I recommend putting down the guidebook and doing what you enjoy. You can never go wrong visiting a local market or sitting in a cafe and observing how the locals live.
TI.org: What drives you to see new places around the world?
AD: Every time I travel I not only learn something new about a new place, but I learn something new about myself. Travel can have its ups and downs, but I like to see it as an adventure. I try to keep an open mind about everything and not have too many expectations – more often than not, I find myself pleasantly surprised with the outcome.