Hi, I’m Shelley!
Twelve years ago, I officially retired from cubicle life in Canada, to live life on my own terms. I planned to NEVER work in such a limiting way again. It just wasn’t for me.
Since the happiest day of my life (you know, the one where I stopped working in any traditional sense), I moved halfway around the world to Seoul, South Korea, married an itchy footed European on a Thai beach, survived the ensuing all-out brawl during the reception (no lie), and welcomed an adorable little half Korean, half-Albanian baby globetrotter into my life at the ripe, old age of 42.
Along the way, I saw a cheetah kill in Tanzania, trekked the 42km Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, fearfully tried ayahuasca in Bogota, released baby turtles into the sea in Borneo, gawked at the fairytale landscapes of Cappadocia from high up in a hot air balloon, and yelled MUSH at a team of huskies in Norway.
I’ve stayed in a favela in Rio, floating raft houses in Thailand, completely off the grid at a coconut plantation by the sea in Colombia, camped under the stars in the Thar Desert, slept in a capsule hotel, and in a tent surrounded by the sound of elephants, lions and zebra all around me in the Serengeti.
I’ve traveled by plane, hydrofoil, camel, 4×4 jeep, in a motorcade surrounded by armed drivers, taxi, classic Royal Enfield motorcycle, longtail boat, tuk tuk, high speed train, low speed sleeper bus, Arabian horse, and of course, by foot … usually accompanied by just a carry-on.
Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable…
But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you.
It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body.
You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.
~ Anthony Bourdain
Why is the blog called Travel-Stained?
I called the blog “Travel-Stained” because I believe there’s a big difference between traveling and being on vacation.
Being on vacation usually involves a comfortable bubble that’s not so different from home. It often includes chain hotels where service is very familiar, ‘safe’ dining experiences, guided tours to the most well-known tourist destinations and very little contact with locals outside of a service environment.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with this, and I’ve very giddily taken all-inclusive vacation packages to Cuba and Ibiza myself, and been very, very happy about it… but, at it’s best, I believe travel has the capacity to mark you, to change the way you look at the world, and to question your place in it.
It’s when you stray from the well-known tourist trail, risk eating at street side food stands that don’t necessarily look ‘clean,’ and throw yourself into the local experience as much as possible, that travel truly becomes magical.
This is what we strive for most in our travels – to allow our lives and perceptions
to be touched, marked and stained by the world.
This blog is about (mostly) independent travel to 61 countries around the world. You’ll find stories, no-nonsense destination guides, down to earth travel advice, and practical tips you can actually use to plan a trip.
I’ve been lucky enough to visit multiple countries, multiple times, so you’ll find more in-depth knowledge about places like Albania, Italy, Greece, Japan, Canada, Korea, and Thailand on this blog. You can check out the Destinations page for guides and related articles about specific countries.
Wherever possible, I’ve tried to impart as much local knowledge as possible – especially for places like Albania or Korea – where language can cause difficulties in accessing the very best travel experiences, and getting around. Be sure to get in touch if you have questions.
A very incomplete history of travel
1982: Hawaii & Korea
1st International Trip
1987: USSR (Communist Russia)
Grade 9 School Trip
2007: Month of Travels
Italy, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, UK
2008: Quit the cubicle
2009: Moved to Seoul, Korea
Expat life begins
2012: Round the World Trip
25 Countries in 1 Year
2014: Winter in Scandinavia
Sweden, Norway, Finland, Estonia
2015: Southeast Asia Babymoon
Maldives, Thailand & Malaysia
Baby Globetrotter Born
First Family Trip
2017: 3 Months in Europe
Greece, Italy, Albania & France
Summer at ``Home``
Naia's 13th country
Italy & Albania