Interview With Elizabeth Seward of The Anti Tourist
•Please tell my readers about yourself. What made you want to start theantitourist.com?
I'm a musician and I spent four years touring. I was fortunate enough to see the U.S.A. while traveling from show to show and I fell in love with travel. During the days, I had a lot of downtime to explore parks, beaches, thrift stores, coffee shops, restaurants, bars, and anything off-the-beaten-path that I could find. Once touring settled down a bit, I started theantitourist.com initially as a way for me to document some of the memorable places I had discovered while traveling. I soon expanded the site so that it included contributions from an ever-increasing roster of writers, many of them being traveling musicians or artists.
•In all of your travels, in your opinion what country has the best food? and the worst food?
My favorite food so far was at a place that happens to be my favorite place in the world so far: Playa Nicuesa in Costa Rica. This is less of a statement about Costa Rican food at large and more of a statement about Playa Nicuesa's food. The eco-lodge is located in the middle of a rainforest only accessible by boat. They embrace and all-natural, organic, eco-friendly approach in every aspect of their lodge and this includes the food. When you order a Mojito at their bar, the bartender goes out to the herb garden to grab ingredients for your drink. When you eat a piece of fish, you can relish in the fact that it was caught that morning. I have never had such fresh and healthy food--and it says something about the food native to Costa Rica when it can be sourced organically, fussed very little with, and still come out tasting so delicious.
•When you first started traveling, did your family support your decision?
My family supported me in the sense that they seemed excited for me, but they were worried about me, and that was understandable. At first, I was a young, single woman, traveling in a rock band, sleeping on the floors strangers offered to me, sometimes the floors of the venues I played shows in... any parent would have been worried. After I stopped touring with my band, I started traveling from city to city alone and spent a lot of time abroad alone--I think this was even more worrisome for my family. But when my car engine died in the Appalachian hills, my father came and drove me back to New York. He did the same thing when my transmission died in the Pennsylvania ghost town, Centralia. And even though my parents have been known to call a hotel in Mexico to make sure I have checked in, at the end of the day, they support me. In fact, I think they need their own set of TAT business cards at this point.
•If you had to choose one favorite destination, which one would you chose?
Playa Nicuesa, Costa Rica, as mentioned above.
•What has been the least exciting destination you've traveled to?
I don't think I've ever been bored anywhere--boredom is an illusion, a consequence of an underdeveloped relationship with one's self. With that said, there have been places I was eager to leave, but not having an interesting time in a place is usually a matter of circumstance, not destination.
•Did you always have a love of travel or did you develop your passion for traveling as you got older?
My family took a lot of road trips growing up and I loved them. I loved preparing my books, notebooks, art supplies, and music for a long trip wherein I could meditatively keep my hands busy while letting my mind and eyes wander out the car window. When I was high school, the choir I sang in traveled a lot and my love for travel grew deeper. I left high school immediately after graduating and moved to New York City, which piqued my interest in the rest of the world.
•What impact has theantitourist.com had on your life?
I can't even begin to explain how owning and developing theantitourist.com has changed my life. It has provided me an outlet for my writing and my photography. It has allotted me the ability to read through stories, watch videos, and view photos that I genuinely enjoy from our contributors (they wouldn't be our contributors if I didn't like how they share their travel stories). It has taught me about web development, marketing, and, most importantly, given me a professional excuse to travel.
•What has been the most surprising destination you've been to? Meaning, you had a specific mindset about a certain destination but it was totally a different experience than you had imagined.
Grenada surprised me. What I expected was (another) touristy Caribbean island. What I found when I got there was an incredibly lush island teeming with its own culture, hardly outwardly influenced by tourism at all. I have photographs from Grenada on my walls at home. The scenery is still vivid in my mind from that trip, but having the visual reminders around takes me back to Grenada and all of its pleasant surprises.
•If you had to decide which destination has been the most influential in your life, which destination would you chose?
I have to say the U.S.A. The U.S.A. highways took me from city to city while touring at a young age. The varying states and their landscapes are what taught me to love travel. To this day, I am continually inspired by the vast differences I find in the U.S.A. from state to state. Although they're all a part of this one giant country, the states feel like individual, smaller countries to me.
•What advice would you give to a newbie traveler?
My advice would be to go for it! Don't worry about anything. Plan as best as you can, but be flexible enough to allow plans to change last minute (that's the only way to have fun!). Follow your gut instincts. Dangerous situations arise when you're not paying attention. Always be present and aware of your surroundings. At the same time, trust the general good nature of people everywhere. If you have a car, put a bed in it and drive. Use Airbnb.com and CouchSurfing.com. Meet people. Try everything once.
Thanks Elizabeth for the interview. Please visit her blog @ The Anti Tourist