Here we go with the first traveller of 2020! Kariss Ainsworth is the mind behind Shy, Strange, Manic – a colourful journey, London and theatre blog where she shares her adventures, finds and fails with the readers. She loves learning something new and discovering the amazing, colourful and bizarre across the world.
Midlands traveller: Talk a bit about yourself
Kariss Ainsworth: When I’m not travelling, I work a 9-5 in book publishing so obviously I adore reading and collecting books. I also volunteer year-round for Pride in London as the Deputy Director of Community Engagement so that certainly keeps me busy.
Outside of that I love exploring London, there’s always more of this city to see and I’m usually at the theatre at least once a week. I also love music and going to gigs.
MT: When did you start to be interested in travelling?
KA: I had been lucky enough to go abroad a lot when I was younger but always within a typical family holiday sense, so the emphasis was more on relaxing than exploring.
After I went to university, I started my first few jobs I never had enough money to go anywhere (or so I thought) so it was only five or so years ago that I took a trip with some friends to Barcelona and completely fell in love! Up until recently, it was much harder to travel cheaply, especially if you were travelling solo, thankfully these days the world is much more open!
MT: What is your first travel-related memory?
KA: I have a vivid memory of being in India as a kid when I was around nine, sadly it wasn’t anything of the country I remember so vividly as much as playing water polo in the pool with the reps!
MT: What is your favourite place (travel destination) in the world? Why?
KA: I want to say the USA just because as a country it’s so varied and there’s so much I want to see! Some of the nature in that country is absolutely stunning and it changes so fast as you drive from place to place.
When we drove from LA to San Francisco recently I was blown away by the stunning nature that surrounded us on our drive.
MT: Have you ever had any bad experiences when travelling?
KA: Luckily, I’ve had nothing two disastrous so far, I’ve taken the train in the wrong direction for 40 minutes just a couple of months ago in Paris and got totally lost on the subway in Tokyo but nothing I haven’t been able to rectify.
MT: Which countries have you travelled to?
KA: In total 29. I’m looking forward to hitting 30! Here is the full list in no particular order: England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Belgium, Cyprus, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, The Netherlands, Turkey, China, Hong Kong, India, Israel, Japan, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Mexico, The Bahamas, USA, Egypt and Gambia.
MT: Do you have any advice or tips for aspiring travellers?
KA: Just give it a try! I was put off for such a long time by getting anxious about travelling or doing it wrong or not knowing where to start but once you do take those initial steps it’s hard to stop.
If you are a nervous traveller, especially if you get travel anxiety, dip your toe in by taking a trip somewhere that’s not too far and that speaks a language you can understand, it will really help build your confidence.
MT: What are the challenges of travelling solo? (if you are a solo traveller)
KA: I’ve not done a lot of solo travel and that’s simply because who then takes the Insta pics haha! One of the hardest parts is that a of cheap travel deals are based on two people sharing costs, Airbnb has been a lifesaver for me with this one.
MT: How have your travels changed you?
KA: It’s totally opened up my world in so many ways and left me with a need to connect with more of it. I want to see, eat and explore everything, I really do think travelling can change your whole mindset. It also leaves me with crazing foods I just can’t recreate!
MT: What country or city is your travel bucket list?
KA: I am going to cheat and say the whole of Asia. I did a two-week trip last year that took me to China, Hong Kong and Japan last year so that I could visit every Asian Disney Park so I could say I’d been to everyone in the world (yes really) and it’s left me desperately craving to see more of that part of the world.
Tibet and Peru, in particular, are currently at the top of my list, they both have such interesting cultures and the scenery looks awe-inspiring. In Europe I really want to see Lake Bled in Slovenia, it looks unbelievably beautiful!
MT: Future travel plans?
KA: The only thing I currently have booked is Lisbon in May. I am currently looking at booking Prague or Budapest with some friends as surprisingly so far, I have visited neither, and also Kiev with different friends as we are all fascinated by my Chornobyl and want to do the tour.
The city itself looks really interesting and I love architecture. I’m always finding deals and trying to talk to people to come somewhere in the world with me!
Kariss on Social Media