Solo female traveler, aspiring travel guide, writer and world explorer, Afton now makes her home in Denver (go team!) and authors Fish Out of Water, a meandering and fun exploration of the best things to do and explore here in Denver and around Colorado.
Like most people who randomly meet and instantly find a connection, I ran into Afton at a French-speaking group in Denver and we clicked while talking overseas travel and adventures. Here’s Afton, in her own words:
When did you start traveling?
My parents got my sister and I started traveling from a very young age. I was only five when our family went on our first trip to Europe! Since then, I’ve been fortunate to be able to continue traveling abroad regularly.
What’s your favorite place to travel?
Being fluent in French, and having visited a lot as a kid, I’m most naturally inclined to traveling throughout Europe. I spent time living in France and Switzerland in my twenties, and I absolutely loved exploring both countries in depth and visiting a dozen others on the continent. I start to feel too cooped up here in the U.S. if I don’t get over to Europe every year or two at least. These days, I’m enjoying traveling with my fiancé and introducing him to my favorite European cities.
“Keep a close eye on personal items, leave unnecessary valuables locked up at the hotel or hostel, and carry cash - but not enough that I’d be too sad to lose it.”~Afton
What’s your what worst travel story? What happened, how did you deal with it?
I have to say, I’ve been really lucky in my travels and have managed to avoid any major issues (aside from being late for a train or flight on occasion!). I’ve only been pick-pocketed once, and it was in Paris, one of the cities I know best in the world. I was out to dinner with a friend, who is French, and I was sitting near the door and had slung my purse over the back of my chair. Neither my friend nor I left the table the entire meal, and he was sitting right across from me, but somehow, when I went to grab my wallet to pay for my portion of the meal, the cash I had just taken out of an ATM before dinner was gone! The cash was the only thing missing, and fortunately, I hadn’t brought any other high-value items with me, like my camera or passport. Even though I was frustrated that someone randomly nabbed about $100 of my hard-earned money, I almost wasn’t mad at the thief for the sheer mystery of the theft! Neither my friend nor I could figure out how it possibly happened with both of us sitting right there, and he has lived in Paris for years and has seen and heard it all when it comes to small-time thieving in that city. It was alternately funny and exasperating, but in the end, it was only cash, so it could have been a lot worse. It was a great reminder to keep a close eye on my personal items, leave unnecessary valuables locked up at the hotel or hostel, and carry cash, but not enough that I’d be too sad to lose it.
Where did you get the idea for Fish Out of Water?
The concept of Fish Out of Water came primarily from my low-tech, low-budget life. I’m nearly thirty and have never owned a car, a TV, or a smartphone, the only social media account I have is Instagram, and I’m really good at living within my means and saving money, even when money is tight. On top of that, I’ve always loved adventure and exploring new places, whether that means hiking and camping trips, weekend jaunts to a new city in the U.S., or planning yearly trips abroad. My challenge is combining travel and adventure with a low-tech, low-budget lifestyle. Loads of family and friends have told me over the years that I need to be a tour guide or travel writer, so Fish Out of Water is me taking them up on it, using my planning and budgeting savvy to share my favorite or new and out-of-the-ordinary places to travel, explore, or eat and drink in Colorado, the U.S., and abroad.
What’s your number one piece of travel advice?
Expect the unexpected! From all of my experiences traveling with family, friends, and alone, I’ve concluded that the best part of travel is when things don’t quite go according to plan. Over the years, I’ve learned to be more flexible, open-minded, and relaxed when traveling and to take in every experience as part of the adventure. One can and should do their best to prepare for a trip by researching and learning about the culture, people, language, social norms, and any safety concerns, but also be ready for anything! No trip is ever perfect, but more often than not, it’s the times that challenge you or take you out of your comfort zone that are the most memorable and rewarding. In this regard, I enjoy being a Fish Out of Water. It’s amazing the unexpected opportunities that travel can open up!
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