Cheryl Howard is a determined explorer of the Americas and the Europe. The courageous solo traveller continues to be an inspiration to the world to live a full and exciting life.
Her expeditions so far have been to 28 nations which she has shared through her travel blog and photography. She believes in rejoicing life like a local at every place she visits and her writings clearly generate a sense of how much she’s enjoyed every single bit of her tours.
Cherylâ€™s hard work and contribution to travel blogging over the years have earned her numerous awards and accolades as well as international acclaim, with her writings, photographs and interviews featuring across various magazines and other social channels including radio. Access Cherylâ€™s interesting content about travel and know where all she has been to on her travel blog!
The ending of a bad marriage and the death of my father within a relatively short period of time, was my impetus to brave that first trip outside of North American borders. I’ve been on the go ever since and don’t plan on ever slowing down.
How have you grown as a traveller; from your maiden trip to South America until now when you have mapped 26 countries on the world map?
My first trip to South America included hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. That hike changed my life and humbled me completely.
It’s embarrassing to admit but I cried myself to sleep every night, praying I’d make it through the next day. I was in pain as I wasn’t physically prepared for the hike, moving up and down the mountains for several kilometres per day. The altitude took its toll, as well. I lamented being alone when my entire group was filled with couples.
On the last day of hiking, the day before we reached Machu Picchu, I took a fall and injured my knee. Bandaged and high on painkillers, I ended up falling about three hours behind my group and limped into camp that night. They’d been waiting on me the whole time just so we could eat dinner. I felt terrible!
Despite my difficulties, I learned a lot about myself. I completed that hike, perhaps poorly, but I still finished.
Being surrounded by the Andes, catching the sunset over the mountains, visiting ruin sites and seeing the sunrise over Machu Picchu made it all worthwhile.
I knew if I could do that hike alone, I could do anything or go anywhere. That trip set the tone for a new life of international travel.
You moved to Berlin leaving everything back in Canada, including your job. What initial challenges did you face as a person who decided to live there as an expat?
By far, my greatest challenge was the language barrier. Although one can get by in Berlin without ever learning German, I still found myself challenged by the most ordinary of situations.
I remember signing up for a Vodafone contract and using Google Translate to have an entire conversation with the sales rep.
The first time I bought household supplies, I stared at the products for the longest time as I pondered the difference between liquid fabric softener and detergent. For all I know, I could have been washing my clothes with only fabric softener for weeks or even months.
Then it was QWERTY vs. QWERZ. I started working for a German company and was challenged by having to use a German keyboard with its different characters and placement of keys. It suddenly took me forever to type!
Although you can easily get by in Berlin without ever learning German, I’d highly encourage anyone who plans on moving to Berlin to make this a top priority. I’m now enrolled in German classes in Toronto, as I plan for an eventual move back to my “other home”.
You have covered Europe as well as the Americas quite extensively. Do you plan to travel eastwards to the Middle East, Indian Ocean or the Far East?
Yes, I want to spend my life exploring every corner of the earth! I even feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of places I’ve been to already, like South America and Europe. I figure I’ll get to all those places eventually.
A great holiday for you has to include what?
Happiness for me is Europe. My dream holiday is being alone in a European capital, walking down cobblestoned streets, searching out residential neighbourhoods, eating at restaurants frequented by locals, meeting random people along the way, wandering without a specific purpose and taking photos of anything that appears inspiring.
What money tips would you like to offer to money conscious travellers looking forward to Europe or the Americas?
Stay in hostels and not fancy hotels. Take public transit instead of taxis. Eat street food. Buy food at a grocery store and have a picnic outside. Look for free events to attend. Wander aimlessly.
Not only will you save money but you’ll have an authentic experience!
Have you ever experienced culture shock? What has been the most culturally shocking experience you have faced?
Yes, I’ve definitely experienced culture shock. Seeing extreme poverty in South America was pretty shocking as it was my first time seeing it firsthand.
For example, in Quito, I exited the airport only to have a woman thrust a tiny infant in my arms. The café close to our hotel, a hangout for bohemian backpackers, was guarded by men wielding machine guns.
Which destination, apart from Berlin, would you like to spend a long time visiting?
Hungary! I’ve already spent a lot of time in Budapest, but want to get to know the rest of the country. I could easily see myself spending a summer there.
This interview with Cheryl Howard is a part of Travel Trolley's ongoing 'Best of the Travel Bloggers' series. We are interviewing and showcasing popular travel bloggers who encourage and inspire people to travel. Check out all the bloggers we have interviewed and showcased and learn about their interesting experiences, adventures, travel stories as well as useful holiday tips.