Sister Story - Lily

Name: Lily

Age: 20

About: Keep an open mind! To everything - not only the culture and people, but to your own trip as well. Planning is fantastic, but don't be so rigid you miss out on great opportunities that pop up along the way!

Why did you decide to travel? I attended one year of college/uni, at a good school with a large scholarship, before realizing how deeply unhappy I was. Leaving school was a huge decision, that most of my family didn't immediately support - and I can't blame them. Luckily, my parents encouraged me to travel and explore the world and myself, and within a year I was living in Spain. I think there is so much more to life and existence than what is right in front of us, probably more than we can ever comprehend, but I believe exploring our world and the peoples and cultures within it can help people see life as an adventure, and not just the daily grind with happy bits thrown in.

Where do you come from? New England

Where do you want to go next? New Zealand

What is your number one tip for travelling? Keep an open mind! To everything - not only the culture and people, but to your own trip as well. Planning is fantastic, but don't be so rigid you miss out on great opportunities that pop up along the way!

What has been your biggest challenge to overcome? People's reactions when they hear I'm a female, solo traveler. Yes, it has its dangers, but walking home from work in NYC can be every bit as dangerous for women as getting a flat white in Wellington, and it's hard to get some people to understand that the risks are worth it to me.

What do you miss about home? My pets. I really do mean this - I miss my pets more than my parents (I went straight from living at home to traveling, no moving out first). I can talk to my parents over the phone or skype, but I can't pet my dog through a screen! My pets were a huge part of my childhood, and it's especially hard now that they're getting older and I'm not around.

What have you learnt about yourself? It's hard for me to meet new people, and I need time alone after a lot of social interaction, but if I open my mind to it instead of dwelling on how awkward I feel, I enjoy myself and come away with new friends and a great new experience! I've also discovered quite a bit about my sexuality and how it relates to my life while traveling, since different countries have such different attitudes towards sexuality. Religion is another biggie - I've always been tolerant, of all religions, but traveling has helped me understand why some people believe what they do, and what their religion means to them in terms of spirituality, not just dogma.

Favourite Quote? And now, let us step out into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure. (J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter)

Favourite new thing? (i.e. food you have tried, skill, tradition, place) Kinder Bueno!!!

What advice would you give to other girls wanting to travel?Don't let people scare you off it. Be prepared, take safety precautions, etc., but don't spend your whole time traveling being terrified that you're going to be taken like in that Liam Neeson movie. Life is going to happen, and if you don't enjoy your time, then what's the point?