Interview With A Travel Expert: Carrie Visintainer

There are plenty of ways to explore the world – from flying solo to traveling with your family. For someone who has mastered all different types of travel, check out the Free Your Wild blog from Carrie Visintainer. This travel expert took the time to answer our questions about her favorite ways to book cheap accommodations, where she’d like to travel to next, and what it’s like to go on adventures with her kids.

Your blog, Free Your Wild, follows your many travel adventures. What made you decide to start the site?

When I started traveling a lot, I decided to begin writing about my experiences. The site has been a great way to start a conversation with others. By sharing my adventures, it encourages people to write to me, saying that something resonated, or maybe they feel inspired or challenged. I’ve connected with lots of interesting people, and I love to both share and learn.

Your background includes a BS in Zoology and a MS in Genetics. How did your education lead you to becoming a blogger?

Well, it didn’t, exactly. After finishing my degree, I felt a compelling need to write, and over time, I decided to follow that path and eventually became a professional writer.

Why would you say you travel? What motivates you to plan a new trip?

I think wanderlust is in my genes. I love exploring the world. When an adventure is presented to me, I can almost never turn it down! I enjoy experiences that push me out of my comfort zone, encouraging me to trust my intuition, grow, connect, and learn. I’m almost always in some phase of traveling – whether planning a trip, on a trip, or reflecting on a recent adventure.

Your travels have also included doing service projects, like developing health programs for low income youth. These types of service-oriented trips are becoming more and more popular with travelers. How can others incorporate giving back into their own travel plans?

NOTE: My service project was part of AmeriCorps, which wasn’t exactly a travel adventure. Just want to make sure that’s clear.

That said, various organizations focus on creating travel experiences that incorporate service learning and volunteerism. A quick search of the internet will show lots of options.

Your writing has been published on many sites, including Huffington Post, Outside Online, and Backpacker. Are there other travel sites or specific bloggers that you like reading? And why do you like following these ones?

I follow various adventurers on Twitter, and I love reading through the National Geographic Intelligent Travel blog. Anything that inspires me to broaden my horizons...

You’ve also written a book called “Wild Mama” (which is coming out in September). How does the process of writing a book differ from writing blog posts?

The book actually began as a series of personal essays, some of which had been published. One day, I sat down and put all of my nonfiction essays that focused on motherhood and travel into one Word document. I found that I had the backbone of a book. From there, I started to fill in gaps, and I established a narrative arc. Over time, I finished the completed travel memoir. I then queried literary agents, signed on with one, and she sold my book to a publisher. (None of this happened overnight.)

The book follows your travel adventures after you became a mother. How have you come to terms with balancing your passion for travel with having a family?

The balance of domesticity and wanderlust is an ongoing match in my life. However, I manage to make it work.

I love being at home with my kids, embracing the wonders of our backyard. And I still take solo trips into the wilderness and abroad, and recently I spent a couple of weeks in Guatemala. It’s also been absolutely delightful to introduce my kids to the art of travel. We started this from a young age, and I believe our adventures near and far are shaping them as humans, teaching them to be flexible and adaptable, and fostering compassion. (They’re also learning Spanish!) I’ve found that kids open doors when traveling, because children are well-loved, and this helps establish common ground with people around the world.

You’ve traveled all over the world. What other locations are on your must-visit list?

My list is long. Places on the shortlist are Spain, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Iceland, and British Columbia.

Many people would love to travel more, but fear the costs of leaving home. What are 2 or 3 of your favorite ways to save money on flights and lodging?

I use various sites, including Kayak.com to track and find affordable airfares. For lodging, I love Airbnb. We often rent out our house when we travel, which offsets the costs. Also, we visit places that are known to be affordable, yet rich in experience.

You have a fantastic Twitter fanbase with over 10,000 (!) followers. Have you ever received any unique travel tips from readers that you’ve ended up using?

I get lots of location ideas from people on Twitter. For example, right now I’m following a Puerto Rico travel blogger to get ideas. I also read a lot about traveling families, because they share interesting tips, like how to deal with jet lag.

Like this interview? Check out the rest of our Interview with an Expert series. Have a question for an expert or someone you want to see interviewed? Tweet your suggestions with #Experts to @CouponPal!

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