Interview With Gray Cargill of SoloFriendly
Please give my readers a background about yourself. What made you want to start solofriendly.com?
I desperately needed a creative writing outlet, because my job is very analytical, and blogging appealed to me. I like the idea of writing directly for readers, rather than trying to go through a middleman via the traditional publishing route. But I knew if I was going to blog, I'd need to blog about something I felt passionately about, and that was travel. I'd been traveling solo for awhile and friends and family kept telling me how “brave” I was and how they “could never” do that. I kept thinking “You're wrong,” and that compelled me to start a blog about solo travel—to let people know you don't have to be particularly brave to travel solo (I'm certainly not!) and that more people are capable of it than think they are.
In all of your travels, in your opinion what country has the best food? and the worst food?
I can't really say, I haven't visited them all yet. :-) Honestly, the best meals I've ever had have been right here in the US. Sorry to disappoint you. I don't think I've visited a single country where all the food was superior to any other. It's usually a mixed bag.
Did you always have a love of travel or did you develop your passion for traveling as you got older?
I've always loved to travel. I grew up in a very small town in rural Vermont, but we had relatives who lived out of state that we would go visit every year and I just loved those road trips. I loved being in cities, in suburbs, visiting big shopping malls--everything was so different from home. They had ice cream trucks in the cities that went around neighborhoods! I'm sure that seems so commonplace to most people, but we didn't have that where I grew up. It seemed because everything was so different, that anything could happen. Travel was all about possibilities. It still is.
What impact has solofriendly.com had on your life?
Well, I have a lot less “free” time than I used to! Seriously, though, I've been able to connect with so many wonderful people because of the website and being part of the blogging universe. Mostly other bloggers, but also just everyday average people who share my passion for travel. The people who surround us by geography or blood don't always share our passions; so it's been a real gift to be able to “meet” other people (sometimes in person, sometimes just virtually) who do. When I hear from readers who tell me that I've inspired them to give solo travel a try....it makes my day. There's no better feeling than knowing you've made a difference in someone else's life.
Other ways it's impacted my life:
•I've learned a lot about the technical aspect of blogging, I've learned to be a better photographer, I've learned to create videos and podcasts (though I'm still just a beginner at those). I feel like I'm constantly learning new things, which is exactly how I like my life to be. It keeps things interesting.
•I'm now terrified of blind dates, because they'll know so much about me ahead of time, and I probably won't know anything about them, and that puts me at a disadvantage.
What has been the least exciting destination you've traveled to?
I really hate to say this, because the people I met there were really sweet, but....Hopkinsville, Kentucky was the least interesting place I've been to. I was there with my ex-boyfriend, who had a business convention to attend. There was just not much going on there. I prefer cities for a reason.
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.
London. Before I went, I was an avowed Anglophile. I thought the English were so superior to everyone else on the planet. I'm sure I got this impression from all the classic English literature I'd read my whole life. What I learned was that they are just as ordinary and flawed as the rest of us. It kind of took the wind out of my sails. LOL.
If you had to decide which destination has been the most influential in your life, which destination would you chose?
Also London, interestingly. Prior to that trip, I was pretty timid. I'd had the mindset that I wouldn't be able to travel until I found a travel companion. But the opportunity to go to London presented itself, and it was too much temptation to pass up, so I just said “I'm going for it”. After I went, I realized I didn't need a travel companion to travel and enjoy it. I met people, I made friends, I did some things with them, I did other things on my own, and I had a great time! That opened up the whole world to me.
If you could travel with any celebrity for one week, who would you chose and why?
This was a very hard question. My first thought was “God, I would hate that! All the paparazzi, and people asking for autographs all the time, and would I ever get any time to myself?” I hate being in the spotlight. So I guess if I had to choose, I'd choose a celebrity who flies under the radar a bit more, someone less likely to attract that kind of attention. If you're traveling with someone for a week, you want it to be someone you can have intelligent conversations with, because otherwise, that would be a very long week. And it would help if they spoke a foreign language that I do not. Ultimately, I came up with Jodie Foster. Or Alan Rickman (especially if he read guidebooks to me; I love his voice). They both speak French, which I don't, so I'd tour around France with either one.
What advice would you give to a newbie traveler?
Do your research before you travel so that you know what to expect, how to be safe, and how to maximize your time in a destination.
In 10 years, do you see yourself still traveling or slowing down?
I'm not exactly traveling at a breakneck pace now, so I don't see any need to slow down in the future. I feel like I'm just getting started with travel. There are some places that are hard for me to get to in the limited time I have off from work, so I hope that once I retire, I'll be able to go further afield and see the other side of the world. But I'm too pragmatic to chuck my job to do it now.
Thanks Gray for the interview. Please visit Gray's blog @ SoloFriendly