Friday, May 16, 2014

Hippie In Heels: Living and Traveling Abroad with Rachel Jones

hippie in heels camel ride

Recently I asked to interview Rachel from Hippie In Heels, whose blog I've been following for about a year, I think. I enjoy her posts very much--they're a lot of fun, with plenty of tips on traveling and adjusting to a new place, spoken from personal experience. She lives in India at present, and a lot of what she's been sharing has been really interesting. Especially the issue about the public bathrooms...and the cows. And other women snatching vegetables from her cart at the market. Good grief! To say nothing of this....

hippie in heels indian guesthouse
Cow poo being burned to keep the mosquitos away. GUESS that was kind...of him.... ;)

  But there are many that are just really honest, personal, and real--and this, so far--is my favorite post of hers. It is about her time in Uganda, where she learned about what it means to live among people living in a more dangerous time, with harder circumstances. It was very deep, at least for me. Here's the post: My Daily Life in Uganda: Terrorism, Corruption, and lots of LOVE.

hippie in heels uganda
This has to be one of my favorite photos of hers.
  So here's the interview, and I hope you have as much fun as I did!

What turns in life made you choose living abroad? What inspired you?
hippie in heels uganda
This was taken during her visit to Uganda.

  My inspiration to travel was based on not wanting to be part of the "rat race" so to speak. I always had a desire to see the world and was prepared to work as a travel nurse 3 month at a job I was pretty indifferent about so that I could travel the other 9 months. But plans never get to work the way you want and I met Ben while traveling in India which changed my whole life- now I'm living with him in Goa. It was the catalyst I needed to let go of nursing and instead of 9 months of international happiness, have all 12. I started my website Hippie in Heels and started using my certification as a Thai Masseuse, which I never thought I'd use. I think everyone needs that "push" and Ben was mine. It's very hard to give it all up and go off on your own. The truth is your new career, soul mate, best friend, or unknown dream may be waiting in some village on the other side of the world. If you keep sitting behind a desk and not taking those risks you'll never find out.

hippie in heels india
What was it like once you made the choice to travel/live solo, and what ways did it make you adapt? What have you learned most?
  The hardest obstacle is getting family to approve. Mine still doesn't. It's hard to "live for yourself" when you feel or are told you are selfish for doing so. How can I sit around playing on a website on a beach, when I should be near my family working as a nurse? It's hard to justify sometimes. There's the question of "what if you get pregnant... will I see my grandkids?" I have to constantly reassure family that you can't PLAN everything. Shit happens. You have to just go with the flow and let me enjoy my life, because if you stop me from living in India, where I'm happy, with the guy I love, isn't that selfish of you? 

The second hardest part for me was letting go of material things. I was a shopper! Ok, I still am. I had so much stuff, that after a year, I went back to Ohio and was sick looking at the things I'd bought over the years. I only took 2 suitcases when I moved abroad and I missed my home comforts. I've finally gotten used to not having them and learning slowly to live more simply. 

I was also hard to let go of stability. Obviously starting a blog isn't going to bring in the big bucks unless you're some kind of techy genius, and as you can tell writing isn't my strongest skill. I have to work so hard to make ends meet and really have to put myself out there to get massage clients. THAT is so different that a 9-5.

What I've learned is that you can change your life, a total 180, if you want. You have to WANT it so badly. Because it's hard... and it will challenge you in every way. You'll be afraid to leave, to fail, or to come back with your tail between your legs. You have to forget what people think about you and do what you want!

In what ways do you continue to challenge yourself?
This was taken during her camel ride in

  I have to keep my independence while having a boyfriend who spoils me, a maid, a driver... India is easy on those with a little extra money in their pockets. It's easy to just get lazy and let life happen. I have worked since I was 15 and now that I have my website and no one watching to see if I'm working or on Facebook, I could easily sit back and do nothing. I have to push myself to make something of my goals. That's why I was saying you have to really want it. If I never made another penny, my boyfriend would support me. I don't think that's right so every day I work hard so I can feel successful and like I deserve to be living in Goa having such a fun life. No one is keeping tabs on me except myself so I have to be a little hard on myself.

What has been your best memory, and which has taught you the most?
My best memory since I've moved abroad was actually a low moment. I had dengue fever and was really sick, tired, alone, and in Varanasi India. I was supposed to get platelet transfusions and fly home after. I couldn't IMAGINE cutting my trip short. I was determined to stay. I eventually started to feel better and two days later I met Ben. I think all the time, what if I'd gone home? I stayed because I'm obsessed with travel. I LOVED India and I didn't want to go home. I didn't want to give up. When I think about that moment it reminds me how every decision you make matters and if you always make the decision to follow your heart then your outcome will lead to more positive things.

hippie in heels camel safari
You're currently living in India, something covered often in your posts and I'm always happy to read. What do you love most, what made you choose it, and how long do you foresee yourself staying?

As I was saying before, following you heart on decisions is so so important. I was going on trips abroad often and I had about 3 months free and thought "India". I didn't know why, I didn't know a thing about it except the Taj Mahal was there. Maybe I'd see a tiger! Little did I know I was going to meet Ben and end up moving to India. It really is magical how things work out. India has a bit of me and I know I"ll always go back whether I live there a long time or not. Ben works there so I foresee us being there at least a few years, maybe longer. I always tell people even if there is a "touristy" place in India, it's not really. It can't be. India has such a strong culture that it cannot be westernized, and who would want to! I love that every day I'm immersed in such a unique culture. It's so complicated that I can't explain India to people. You have to spend a large amount of time in India to understand. Sometimes I hate the whole place when I get frustrated with the differences, and cry because I see such terrible corruption. Other days I cry of happiness when I realized how blessed I am to be around such caring interesting people and such a beautiful country! Life is so great I can't imagine leaving. 

If someone told you they were moving abroad and were looking for tips, what would you find the most importance to share? This is very much an individual question, but surely there are some basics?

I actually just wrote a post "The Complete Checklist for Newbie Expats" when I tell you step by step all the loose ends you need to tie up. I also having packing lists for moving abroad, Part 1 and Part 2. It's important to take those items that will help you when you're homesick. For me that's a cozy blanket, which I didn't bring and regretted a lot!

To you, what does it mean to have a traveler mentality?
hippie in heels jaipur
I think tourists, travelers, expats, whatever- we all have a mentality of curiosity and although some like to say "I'm a traveler, not a tourist", who cares? Labels are silly. You can be a stay at home mom clipping coupons looking at travel photos online every day and wishes you were there. That mom has a traveler mentality! She just can't physically do it. Some will say "anyone can!" but truly, they can't. Some people have disabilities, or 6 kids, or sick parents. Travel isn't always a priority, but maybe they were a traveler at heart. I know a women like this and I think travelers at heart and travelers on the road are all: curious, brave, open-minded, and educated in a worldy way.

What do you hope for most, now and in the future? What are you working towards?

hippie in heels uganda children
If only I knew what I wanted! I want my website to take off and for females to not even think twice about "solo female travel" to India. I want Indian men to knock of the stares and nasty behavior so people can experience their country. I'd love to tour girls around in India and show them how amazing the country is. I think it'd be nice to get more massage clients as well! I hope to see Aus soon, Hawaii, and learn how to surf! I also want to keep learning how to cook; I'm finding that so much fun! One day a LONG way from now I hope to have a bunch of kids and travel with them all over the world.

  Thanks so much for doing this with us Rachel! I loved being able to learn and try to see things through your eyes, your experience. It was a privilege to get to know you more, and I hope to do this again sometime. I'll be looking forward to more of your posts!

  Best of luck, Rachel!!

  *~Every photo used is courtesy of Rachel! Thanks!


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