An Interview with Alison Karlene Hodgins

Alison HeadshotAlison Karlene Hodgins

Name: Alison Karlene Hodgins
Home Base: Kamloops, British Columbia
Blog: Alison's Adventures

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I’m Alison, and I am a true jack-of-all-trades: I play guitar, make hemp bracelets, speak Australian, text ridiculously fast and make a killer coffee. Despite all of these attractive traits, I have but one true passion in life: travel writing.

Over the past 23 years, I have travelled to 33 different countries. My favourite way to travel is by backpack – to drop everything in life and buy a one-way ticket, pack up the next few years into a couple of bags and take off into the great unknown. It’s a whirl-wind way of living; I love it more than anything.

My blog, Alison’s Adventures, takes readers on a vicarious journey through various forms of travel writing, such as poetry, true stories, top ten lists, advice, photography and videos. From Europe to Asia to my home-roots of Canada, I’ve got your destination covered.

SwitzerlandAlison Karlene Hodgins

When and how did you discover your passion for travel?

When I was 11 years old, my mother took me on my first overseas voyage to Europe. Being born and raised in a tight-knit oilfield community in Northern Alberta, I was completely overwhelmed and excited by the variety of cultures, languages, history and cuisine I experienced on our month abroad—and I knew I’d be back for more.


How has travel changed your life?

Travelling the world alone has made me unbelievably proud and thankful to have been born in Canada. The sheer amount of available opportunities and resources in this country, especially compared with others I’ve explored, helps me to appreciate growing up in such a diverse, beautiful nation. Whenever travellers ask me where I’m from, I’m proud to tell them that I’m Canadian.


What is your biggest pet peeve while travelling?

Dirty showers. I can handle smelly, stained toilets (or complete lack-there-of), messy communal kitchens with molding cheese stuck to the counters and even listening to a bit of “sneaky” dorm room sex, but when I take a shower, I want to get clean. It’s impossible to feel refreshed in a grimy shower.


What is the one thing you absolutely never travel without?

Music. Whether it’s a guitar strapped to my back, seeking out a music festival or a new playlist on my trusty iPhone, I need an assortment of tunes to get me through the days, weeks and months spent traversing a new country. Whatever I’m feeling when I travel, there’s a song for that.


What is the most unique experience you've ever "accidentally stumbled upon" while travelling?

I was travelling through India last May when I got off the train at the wrong station near Udaipur. It was late at night, I was completely alone and hopelessly lost. Despite my panic-inducing situation, I managed to communicate with a friendly family who agreed to drive me to my guesthouse. When I arrived, the hotel owner ushered me into a massive party. “My son just got married!” he exclaimed. “Start dancing!” And so, that’s exactly what I did.

 New Zealand - AlisonAlison Karlene Hodgins

If you were going on a one-week rest and relaxation vacation somewhere you've previously been, where would you go and why?

I would probably head back to Cuba or Mexico. The beaches are stunning, the culture is vibrant, the people are friendly and the drinks are strong. However, I have so many other places to explore first—right now, I’m daydreaming of a Caribbean cruise or soaking in the Seychelles.

 Alison Karlene Hodgins in IndiaAlison Karlene Hodgins

With the Canadian Dollar being a little weaker than it once was, what is something unique you do to stretch your dollars while travelling?

As a student and backpacker, my dollar is always being stretched thin while I travel. I’m quick to make friends and crash at their places, bum rides in exchange for beer, seek out couch surfing or opt to camp. Travelling on a budget is not always luxurious, but the experiences and stories gained will be worth a lot more than what others spend on resorts and 5-star restaurants.


If you could pack only a carry on sized backpack for an extended trip, what would you pack?

Comfortable clothing, a lock for my valuables, ear plugs to attempt to sleep, my Canon camera and a universal adaptor. Whenever I’m packing, I always prepare the things I think I absolutely cannot go without, and then I cut my precious pile in half. For me, a carry-on seems completely realistic for an extended trip—although I may need more luggage to bring back all my souvenirs!


What kind of mistakes did you make when you first started travelling?

All of them! On my first extended trip to Australia, I brought a suitcase, a massive backpack, a day pack, a cooler bag and a guitar. My idea of “backpacking” was more like “lugging my life around.” Since then, I’ve learned how little I need. I’ve learned to call hostels personally, rather than booking them online. I’ve learned to cook in crowded kitchens, rather than eating out. I’ve learned to go with the flow and accept that my plans will probably not unfold according to my schedule. Most importantly, I’ve learned to let go.

Canada- Banff Alison Karlene HodginsAlison Karlene Hodgins

What is your most embarrassing travel story?

One night, in Edinburgh, my Australian friend convinced me it would be a good idea to push me down a set of stairs in a shopping cart. The cart only made it a couple of stairs before it tipped over and I fell down the rest of the way. I had to spend the next day at the hospital in Emergency, x-raying my legs!


What's the craziest thing you've ever eaten while away?

Between haggis, crocodile jerky, black pudding and a duck with every orifice still attached, the craziest thing I’ve ever eaten has to be a cow heart. An Algerian man cooked me a delicious stew with chunks of the “hearty” meat. It was so good, I asked for seconds!


What is the most exciting thing/craziest story that has ever happened to you when travelling?

While doing a season on the French Alps, I took a jump, had a freak fall and broke my back. I was rushed to the hospital in Grenoble for surgery and quickly learned the importance of travel insurance. This injury will affect me for the rest of my life, but it won’t stop me from travelling (or snowboarding—sorry mom!) I’ve now had two back surgeries, and although my first physiotherapist warned me I may never carry a backpack again, I intend to prove her wrong this summer by backpacking through South East Asia.

 Alison Karlene Hodgins - AustraliaAlison Karlene Hodgins

Of all the places you've been, what was your favourite destination and why?

Australia will always have my heart, perhaps because that’s where it was broken. When I was 18 years old, my travel buddy/boyfriend dumped me in Bali. I flew to Cottesloe Beach, just south of Perth, and fell in love with solo travel. Now that I’m seriously perusing it as a career, I can see how life-changing this experience was for me. In all honesty, it was the best thing that could have happened to me, because it’s led me to where I am today.

Want to learn more about Alisons's adventures?

Check out her blog!


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