1. Tell us about yourself!
My name is Tracy Mayflower Sayre and I was born in New York. I'm the creator of The HeSo Project. HeSo is short for heart and soul, and it's a blog dedicated to following dreams and encouraging others to live a heso-filled life.
2. Where do you currently live and what is your occupation?
I live in Long Island City, Queens and my current job title is Director of Public Relations at The Wellness Center of NY.
3. What is the first country you traveled to internationally? What were your impressions?
When I was young, we traveled a lot internationally, but the first place that had a huge impact on me was Nicaragua. I started going there when I was twelve with an organization called Bridges to Community. We went there to help build houses and schools, but we always spent a few days touring Managua, the capital, and other tourist sights. I was amazed by the lush rain forests and pristine beaches. I was touched by the welcoming people who would give you their only shirt if you complimented it. I was humbled by how rich their lives seemed in the face of poverty; the people I met truly valued family, community and friendship. This was the first I realized that my life wasn't normal. I went back ten times because I loved this country so much, and it was inspiring to watch it develop through the years.
4. When did you first realize you were bitten by the travel bug?
When I was backpacking through Europe with my friend, Molly. It was an incredibly liberating feeling to have everything you need on your back. We could take a two hour train ride and be in a new country, with a new language and culture. There was so much to take in, and since I studied art history, it was great to see in-person paintings, sculptures and buildings that I had studied back in Baltimore. Also, when you're backpacking you meet so many people. Just staying in a hostel, you're surrounded by travelers who are just as interested and passionate about seeing the world. Strangers hear your exotic American accent and strike up conversations with you. In Vienna, a Hasidic Jewish family invited us over for dinner. They had nine children. We stayed up until the wee hours of the night eating and singing songs. It was one of my most memorable dinners.
5. Do you have a travel mantra?
Get out of your comfort zone. If you see a great discount for a flight, buy it now, and question it later. Eat the foods you don't recognize. If you meet someone on the beach, and they offer to take you on a boat ride, go! One of the things I notice when I travel is that there is a huge sense of fear and skepticism of strangers that exists in the States. I've had people run after me to return the purse I left behind. I'm still friends with people I met when I was hitchhiking in Mozambique. A man walked with us for an hour to help us find our hotel in Morocco. I've learned that strangers are more often than not, trustworthy. So just say yes whenever you're given an opportunity.
6. If you could spontaneously pack up tomorrow and head anywhere in the world, where would you go and what would you do?
I was mesmerized by the cinematography of Motorcycle Diaries. That's the movie of Che Guevera's motorcycle ride around South America. I would love to recreate that trip.
One thing I would like to add: There seems to be two types of travelers: people who want to take America with them, and people who embrace culture shock. It's important to determine which type you are because it will save you a lot of expensive grief. I love the confusion of a crowded market place where I don't understand the language and everything is mysterious and a little scary. This is some people's idea of a nightmare. If this is not your thing, then you'll waste your money visiting Turkey. There is so much to see in America that if you prefer comfort and convenience, travel domestically. International cruises are also a good way of being able to see the world, but still maintaining a comfortable and familiar lifestyle.