Alicja Krysiak is a traveler, photographer, and an adventurer. Her travel blog Just Adventures is designed to inspire women travelers of all ages, especially “baby boomers,” to Go-See-Do! At first she traveled with her parents and siblings, although she says her most memorable times traveling were when she explored and photographed destinations on her own. Alicja began solo adventures after her divorce and once her children were adults. She provides some incredible photos and articles as well as insights into solo traveling.
Alicja was kind enough to answer our questions below.
TA: How many years have you been traveling and what got you hooked?
Alicja: How many years HAVEN’T I been travelling is more the answer!! I have been travelling since I was 3 1/2 years old. My solo travels started about 8 years ago to some very remote destinations, such as Vanuatu and Pentacost Island. My parents, especially my dad, have always encouraged me to explore the world not as a tourist but as one that engages with the people and the culture I’m travelling to. Anthony Bourdain’s quote resonates with me to the core – “Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you: it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.”
TA: Do you specialize in a particular type of travel?
Alicja: Solo travel for women – especially baby boomers.
TA: What is the best vacation you’ve ever taken?
Alicja: The best vacation I ever took (to date), was a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. I have always wanted to visit that area of the world, especially being Catholic. I thought the 10 days would be too short! I was transformed by all the wonderful sights we visited, walking in the foot steps of the first Christians, spending quiet reflection in places such as Bethlehem and the Garden of Gethsamane. It was a very powerful and transformational vacation.
TA: What’s one place you’ve always wanted to visit?
Alicja: I’ve always wanted to visit the Galapagos Islands and Easter Island. These two places are so very intriguing from many aspects. Because they are located within the same general area, I am planning to organize a visit to both places in the near future.
TA: What’s one thing you ALWAYS pack when you travel?
Alicja: Besides my passport, I always pack my camera – whether it’s my iPhone or my semi-professional Sony camera. You can’t just pack ONE thing.
TA: If you could only give a traveler one piece of advice, what would it be?
Alicja: Research the places you want to travel to — everything from best time to travel, the places that are “female friendly”, and the local customs. Also check with the Government of Canada website for travelling information – Travel.gc.ca
TA: What are some of your favorite travel blogs and communities?
TA: What would be your #1 recommendation for a place to travel in 2019?
Alicja: South East Asia — especially Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam.
TA: What are the top 3 websites you use for research/inspiration when planning a trip?
TA: Do you have any good airport or flight hacks for people traveling by plane?
Alicja: If you are looking for an upgrade, look, dress, and act the part of a first class traveler — don’t be demanding, sincere compliments to the gate agents!
TA: What is the best piece of travel advice you’ve ever been given?
Alicja: The best piece of travel advice I’ve been given is that travel is the best education you can receive. Open your mind, open your eyes and ears (and keep your mouth shut).
TA: Is there something you think most travelers worry too much about?
Alicja: They worry about seeing everything they can when they travel and end up missing the connections and the people they encounter!
TA: What’s a travel scam travelers should be wary of? And if you’ve ever had someone try to pull a scam on you while traveling, please share the story!
Alicja: Trying to take a ferry anywhere in S.E. Asia. Be sure to research the ferries, the kinds (slow boat, fast boat) and the costs. I was “coerced” into taking a fast boat for a much higher cost when in fact, once I got on, it was the same price as the regular ferry and not much faster.
TA: Which country has surprisingly good food? (And what are some good things to eat there?)
Alicja: Malaysia has some amazing food as does Laos and Cambodia. Some of the great eats are nasi lamak, satays, and dumplings. Be aware though of eggs as they do not refrigerate their eggs. Oh, the fruit is also incredible — purple dragonfruit, mangos the size of footballs and rambutans — oh my !!!
TA: What was the most romantic place you ever visited with a partner?
Alicja: The most romantic place I’ve ever visited is French Polynesia (hard to choose just one romantic place) — all of the archipelagos — from the Tumuatos, to the Marquesas and Society islands — all very different.
TA: What is the most beautiful and affordable city you’ve ever visited? (Any specific locations people need to see there?)
Alicja: Krakow, Poland and Prague, Czech Republic have got to be the most beautiful places that I have been to lately. Krakow’s old market square and Prague’s St. Charles Bridge are just some of the key sights to see.
TA: What’s one way people can get the most out of their cruise experience?
Alicja: Get off the ship!!! I look for excursions that are offered by local companies and usually book through Viator for incredible value and best service.
TA: Have you ever met someone while traveling who changed your life? Who were they?
Alicja: I had the pleasure of meeting Michael Cousteau, the son of the late Jacques Cousteau on board my first cruise on the MS Paul Gauguin. It was an incredible honour to meet him and speak with him regarding his father’s legacy which he is continuing. He spoke with such passion and conviction that we must take care of our oceans and her inhabitants.
TA: What are the best places to travel solo and why?
Alicja: Any country in the world is the best place to travel solo WHEN you research it and are aware of and respect the culture you are travelling to. I have always found it comfortable to travel solo when I was aware of where I was, and why I was there. Remembering that I’m a visitor here and to be aware of where I am and the culture I’m in. Always ensure that people know where you are going to be and have a plan B / C just in case.
TA: What’s something that other tourists do when traveling that drives you crazy and why?
Alicja: Something that is a pet peeve of mine that other tourists do is not to be respectful of the place where they are. YOU are a visitor here in a foreign place — embrace the culture and the place you are. Think of how you’d want visitors to your home city to react. Don’t be brash, rude, or angry — it won’t bode well for you.
TA: Which underrated destination deserves to be more famous? Please explain why.
Alicja: I don’t want to say that any destination is underrated. Bringing fame to small out of the way places or underrated destinations may spoil their beauty and end up being “just another tourist trap.”