Meet #OurStoryteller, Janette Aracely, from Los Angeles, Califorinia. Having travelled to 23 different countries, Janette really understands the power of travel. Travelling around the world allows us to meet new people, see new sights, have amazing experiences but just as importantly, allows us to broaden our minds and have a better understanding of the world around us.
Outside of the classroom, Janette believes that travel has been one of her best teachers and has helped her grow to become the person she is today.
Get ready to share an inspirational journey of travel with sights, food, lions (yes!) and hear about how leaving your comfort zone can be the start of a beautiful journey allowing you to overcome any obstacle life may throw at you!
This is going to be a special one- let’s get to it!
Name: Janette Aracely
Follow her travels on Instagram: @janettearacely
1.Everybody has a moment, which inspires them to start travelling, where and what was yours?
It all began with a trip to visit my family in Sweden. (A question I get asked often is, “are you Swedish”? The answer is no, but I have family that has lived there for 2 generations now. They seem to love it!)
When I was turning 15 years old, my parents gave me the most special present I’ve ever received, this plane ticket to Sweden and with that, my addiction to travel. After that trip, I did everything I could to save up and pursue my not-so-inexpensive travel habit.
2. Do you have any particular memories from your travels that stand out and how do you collect and remember them?
My most memorable travel experience was going on a night safari in South Africa. The rangers let me “test drive” the vehicle since it was only my sister and I that had gone. I was hesitant to do it at first, but when in Rome…I ended up driving the car into a pack of lions! We had to run out of the car and climb to the top of a tower and wait for them to leave before we are able to head back to the lodge! It’s a great story now, but at the time erm… ha!
I usually collect all of my memories through photos. Ever since I could remember, I have been trying to document every special moment I can so I can go back and revisit it, which I tend to do several times per year.
But, now I can’t wait to collect all of my special travel memories on my personal Storyteller FlagMate which I can always have by my side!
3. What is your favourite city/country that you have visited and why?
South Africa! My general rule is to never repeat countries until I’ve visited all the ones on my list, but I HAD to make an exception for South Africa. I went there for the first time during the Football World Cup and loved it so much, I booked a flight back the day I arrived. The reason it was such an amazing place to me was the wildlife. I don’t think there are many places in the world where I can go for morning walks with cheetahs, watch a pride of lions roam from such a close distance, and hear animal sounds surround me while gazing at a starlit sky. It was surreal.
4. Favourite food and place for food!
I can’t say that I have a favourite food – I love it all!
As for my favourite place for food, I would say Mexico. I like all types of food, but Mexico is the country where I typically love everything on the menu – tacos, burritos, quesadillas, enchiladas, every bit of it is SO delicious.
5. Aside from the basics (i.e. money/passport and a backpack), what three items are the must-have items that you take on every trip?
a) A Travel Journal to record all of the awesome memories
b) Cultural facts about the country I’m visiting so I make sure to be respectful of their traditions
c) An app on my phone that helps me with translations in whatever country I am visiting.
6. Adventure Sports, Beach or Mountain?
Adventure for sure. Beach is sometimes too relaxing (sounds crazy I know), sports and mountains can be too breathtaking (literally) for me, but I feel like adventure can include all of the above and more.
7. Event or festival that you would highly recommend everybody attends at least once!
The only festival I’ve ever been to is Coachella actually and that was amazing! To be at a festival to actually experience the atmosphere is surreal. A big event that I attended was the Football World Cup in South Africa, that was magical and like nothing else, I had experienced. People from around the world gathering for the love of Football, whether you were inside or outside of the stadium the atmosphere, it was amazing!
8. What key life skills do you feel you have learnt whilst travelling and how has it helped shape your life?
I’ve learnt that taking risks and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone isn’t as scary as I had once imaged. I used to be a timid introvert that had trouble speaking to strangers, but exploring new countries often pushed me to adapt quickly to all kind of situations. This has really helped get me out of my shell not only when I travel, but in my everyday life. I now feel confident in my ability to talk to any individual or groups of individuals, no matter what their age or where in the world they are from.
9. Everybody talks about the limelights of travel, but have you been in any difficult situations, and how did you overcome this?
Yes! When I was living in Australia I got deported because of a mistake caused by my immigration lawyer. So I was asked to leave the country while a new visa application was filed. I unexpectedly had to pack my life into a suitcase (again) and find a new home.
Usually, this is something that previously would have made me really panic, but instead, I turned the deportation into a new adventure! Immigration suggested I go back to LA while I wait, but I asked myself, why spend over $1,000 going back home and another thousand to come back when I can buy a $350.00 ticket to Thailand and sip 50 cent coconuts on a beach instead?
So I did just that!
I spent the majority of my time in Phi Phi Islands where I worked from my laptop during the day and explored the islands by night. It turned out to be an amazing and unforgettable experience. Everything happens for a reason huh?
10. While travelling shows us so many positives, it also gives us a first-hand perspective on the world’s problems, such as millions around the world in less privileged areas are unable to get a quality education. How do you think we can work together in resolving this issue?
Travelling does show us the beautiful sights of the world, but unfortunately, it also shows us a side of the world that has so many problems. From an educational perspective, given the resources we now have, it is difficult to believe that there are still some places in the world where people are unable to access any form of education.
What can we do? I think together we can do a lot, especially with this thing called social media which can use to bring awareness of these problems and also the different organisations that are helping to solve this problem so we can get involved.
The internet is filled with celebrity news, memes, friend’s photos, etc., so it’s easy to get caught up in everyday life and forget what is happening in other parts of the world. The more people that become aware of the issues, the more that can share the message and together, we can take action to do really make a difference.
11. What are your future travel plans?
Antarctica! My amazing boyfriend gave me the most amazing Christmas gift I’ll ever receive and told me that he got us a cruise to my 7th continent. Ironically enough, I HATE the cold, but I need to knock all 7 off my list. It’s yet another trip that’ll push me outside my comfort zone. I can’t wait!
12. What is the title of your future biography?
13.Right, this is our favourite, it’s called the three philosophies. If there were a major disaster and everything you had written, posted and shared got destroyed, what three pieces of advice would you share with the world?
If you truly want to, you can change the course of your life at any given point. It’s important to pursue what you love and leverage all the resources available to you to live the life you want. If you don’t have many resources, seek ways to create them. I believe there is always a way.
You learn more through interactions and first-hand experiences than you do at school or through reading. Reading can inspire some great thoughts, but nothing compares to actually taking action and doing something with them.
The more uncomfortable you are, the more you grow. Being uncomfortable is, well, uncomfortable, but I’ve found it to be an incredible tool to build your confidence. There are many things that scare me, but each time I overcome a challenging situation, I feel stronger for having done it and more importantly, I’m ready to face the next.