I am excited to publish this interview with Angie Orth! Angie blogs at ‘Angie Away’ and she always puts a smile on my face when I read her posts and watch her pictures.
Angie, an ex-travel publicist turned world traveler and storyteller, has been traveling full time for two years now. I contacted her about this interview when she was in Hawaii. Two days later I noticed she was in the middle of Morocco…that’s how she travels: when there is an opportunity she hops on a plane and goes.
Now it’s time to get to know her a bit better. Here’s Angie’s story (or at least a part of it).
Easy one to start with! Please tell us something about you and your blog.
Of course! Angie Away is the story of my adventures around the world over the past two years. I quit my PR job in NYC in 2010 and on New Year’s Eve, departed for Fiji. The start of what was meant to be just a year on the road. Ever since, I’ve been gallivanting, going completely off-script, dodging natural disasters and enjoying (almost) every minute.
“A pretty typical Southern girl next door”, that’s how you describe yourself on your blog. You also post lots of family pictures from the past and it’s clear that your (family) roots are very important. How strong are your roots?
Oh, I’m definitely blessed with strong roots and an incredibly close family. My brother and sister are my very best friends, and in a weird way, the kids I never had. I see myself as an extension of our parents in their lives, and I take some responsibility for their wellbeing and of course, their travel experiences.
One of my main concerns while traveling is keeping my family informed of my whereabouts at very frequent intervals. (Like, several times a day. Really.) I know how they worry, so I do my best, no matter how annoyed I get at times, to keep them posted, particularly when there’s a natural disaster or political unrest in the region. It’s crucial for me to alert them to any drama BEFORE they read about it on the news… otherwise, my mom will call the FBI, the CIA, the Navy Seals, Liam Neeson…
This year you spend some time in your hometown Jacksonville. Search for stability and steady diet: you might even go back to Jacksonville to create some kind of home base. What is your advice to people who intend to go on an open-ended RTW (Round-The-World) trip? How do you balance the urge to travel with the urge to return home?
Balance. Oy. I struggle with it more than I care to admit. Just when I think I’m ready to sit still a while and work and rest, I find some reason to escape back to my comfort zone – the airport!
But I am tentatively planning to buy a car and get an apartment this year, just so I have my own space to write my book and live a normal life in between adventures. I reserve the right to change my mind at any moment though =)
My RTW trip wasn’t intended to be open-ended, but it’s turned out that way and I couldn’t be happier with the result. My only advice would be to go with the flow, be open to opportunities and everything will work itself out.
You wrote on your blog: “…even with the unavoidable downsides of long term travel, I have to say quitting my *real* job to travel was the best idea I ever had.” I want to know all about the exact moment you made that decision. How did you feel and with whom did you share that moment?
I remember it so clearly. I was talking through the idea of a RTW trip with my roommate, who also happened to be a coworker. I’d been considering a long-term trip for a long time, but hadn’t figured out how to make it happen, or when. Ultimately while talking it through with her, it hit me. If I didn’t just DO IT, it was never going to happen. So I set a date and started to work through the logistics. That was almost a year before departure… and I never looked back. I just moved ahead knowing I was finally going to make my dream a reality.
And then you took off, into the big world. In Egypt they called you Shakira. For fun of course, but do you feel a different person when traveling?
In a way, sometimes I do feel like a different person when traveling because I’m able to be more selfish. When I’m at home, automatically take everyone else’s needs into account when planning my day. When I’m traveling on my own, I do whatever I want. It’s absolutely a change in how I operate.
There’s a great quote from William Least Heat Moon that sums it up, “What you’ve done becomes the judge of what you’re going to do – especially in other people’s minds. When you’re traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road.”
Beautiful quote Angie! So you do whatever you want and you can be whoever you want to be. Next to Shakira, any more fun names people used to approach you?
Oh wow, in the Middle East I heard it all. Shakira, Britney, J-Lo. My future wife. Cinderella. Princess. Goddess. And the ever-present pickup line, “How many camels?”
Elsewhere, people approach me by saying, “Did anyone ever tell you you look exactly like…” and then they name a celebrity. Emma Stone. Lindsay Lohan. Mila Kunis. Kate Hudson. The list goes on forever – and it’s funny, because none of those people look anything like one another but apparently I resemble them all!
You have encountered very different religions in all parts of the world. When you compare them with your own church, what kind of similarities have you discovered?
In the non-denominational Christian church, there are many similarities from country to country and church to church. I’ve been so warmly welcomed by the community everywhere I’ve visited, from Kenya to South Africa to Bali to New Zealand, and I count the friendships of the folks I met along the way as my dearest souvenirs from two years of journeying.
As you can imagine, for practical and legal reasons, I haven’t spent much time in temples or synagogues or mosques, so I can’t really comment on similarities in that respect. All I can say is what we see on the news – the hate, the extremism, the terrorism – is so far from what I’ve encountered in other places that it seems unreal to me. I know it exists, but having met so many dear people from opposing viewpoints, it doesn’t compute.
One of my favorite parts of visiting the Middle East is the daily call to prayer, which might seem contradictory considering I’m not a Muslim. Once I got over jumping out of my skin every time I heard it (is it ever LOUD in Turkey!), I began to use it as a reminder to praise God for all his blessings as I go through my day.
Stay tuned for part 2 of the interview with Angie, where she will talk about her fundraising, her favorite city and how she managed to deal with two tsunami warnings. Angie: “I’ve learned never to plan too far in advance. Tomorrow the whole world could change…”
Do you want to know more about the travel lifestyle of Angie? She recently did some myth busting which is a great read!