This week Meet the Travel Bloggers interviews young and adventurous travel blogger, Melissa Shearer of The Mellyboo Project.
What is The Mellyboo Project?
The Mellyboo Project is my own personal mission to live my life on my own terms. I don’t want to do the typical 9 to 5 and go through the motions of ‘what’s expected’ just because it is the societal norm. I want my life to be nothing less than extraordinary and I want to be able to have incredible adventures and share them with anyone who’s willing to listen. I do this all in hopes of inspiring others to live their life on their own terms — whatever those terms may be.
When and why did you start the blog?
I started The Mellyboo Project initially in 2010 as a means to keep in touch with my friends and family while I went to Australia on a working holiday. I was lazy and wanted to give them a one-stop-shop to read at their convenience – rather than me having to send out a huge number of emails every week or so.
What is the thing that keeps you the most jazzed about blogging?
The thing that keeps me going with the blogging is when I receive messages from people all over the world telling me how I’ve inspired them to go explore the world around them, or to step out of their comfort zone, or simply to put their desires into action.
Are you constantly on the road or are you based somewhere?
Since December 2010 until December 2012 I was constantly on the road – Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Hawaii. Since December, I have been in my hometown, just north of Toronto, Canada.
When on a prolonged adventure, how often do you travel?
When I’m not constantly on the road – I try to get out on a multiple-months-long trip at least once per year, or a handful of shorter trips. I can’t sit still in one place for too long, especially not my hometown.
Do you travel always travel solo?
Not always – but most of the time it’s been solo. I am a huge advocate for tours, so even though I may be a solo traveler when I get there – I walk away with friends from all over the world. Also, during my travels, I have met up with friends who live overseas and have either traveled with them, or have visited their new homes abroad.
What do you like most and least about solo travel?
Most: My favorite thing about solo travel is the freedom to be able to do what you want, when you want, how you want, where you want, for whatever reason you’d like. Basically I feel solo travel allows you to not have to compromise your travel desires. Additionally, I find that I meet more people when I’m traveling solo.
Least: It can get lonely and if you’re just not feeling overly social one day it can be difficult to ‘put yourself out there’. Also, the fact that you’re stuck with so many ‘selfie’ pictures rather than nicely posed photos.
What’s your best tip for solo woman travelers?
Trust your gut and exude confidence. If something feels ‘off’ it probably is – so make sure you’re aware of your surroundings, and put your safety first. Also, make sure you check in with people back home every now and then so they know everything is kosher on your end.
What excites you most about travel?
Being able to get out there and genuinely get to experience the world in all its glory – getting out of my comfort zone, meeting beautiful people, doing extraordinary things and seeing the magnificence of what this big bouncy ball we call Earth has to offer.
On the road, do you seek out some experiences more than others?
I generally have an idea of things I have on my “must do” list – most of these are included on my bucket list. If the opportunity arises and I get to partake in a particular activity or experience then I will definitely go for it. You only live once –and that is something I’ve learned the hard way – I’ve known a number of people who have had their lives cut far too short and because of that want to make sure I experience all that I can while I can.
What kind of traveler are you?
I consider myself to be a budget backpacker, but I am not afraid to spend some money on special treats or activities such as one night in a hotel or private room in a hostel, or something crazy like taking a hot air balloon ride.
You’ve done a lot of wild stuff, bungee jumped, sky dived, walked with lions, swam with sharks. Is there anything you wouldn’t do?
Nah, I’d try anything once – the wilder and more outrageous, the better. I love having a great story to tell. For me, the thing that was most out of my comfort zone was actually learning to surf. My coordination when it comes to popping myself up quickly and balancing on a board is terrible. I was also in a class full of nimble Japanese tourists who had cat-like reflexes. It made me feel quite out of place and very self-conscious.
What wild stuff is still on your bucket list?
In terms of the wild things I still have on my list – mountain gorilla trekking, sailing from one country to another (I don’t know how to sail), and chasing a tornado (something I’ve wanted to do since I was young and saw the movie Twister).
What’s your most memorable travel experience or favorite trip ever and why?
My absolute favorite trip was when I was volunteering hands-on at a lion conservation project in Zimbabwe in 2012. Each and every day I had the opportunity to walk alongside the king of the jungle, feed them, clean up after them, and I played my part in vital conservation efforts. Since returning I’ve put the information I learned about the plight of the lion out there to try to help raise awareness about the declining population and how humans have pushed the species onto the brink of extinction. To be a part of something so much larger than my own personal travels and give back to a cause that is very dear to my heart was definitely the most special thing I’ve ever done in my life.
What’s your favorite place on earth?
Africa. It’s magical. The people are beautiful, the landscapes are second-to-none, and the variety of wildlife on display is extraordinary. It’s seriously the most special place on the planet. A few months ago I even wrote a about my love of the continent.
Where are you off to next?
I am heading back to Africa in July 2013. I will be spending three-months traveling around the continent. I have a partnership with Nomad Africa Adventure Tours and am their blogger in residence – so I will be partaking in their 38-day East Africa and Gorillas tour, which will take me from Nairobi, Kenya to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. After the tour ends, I will spend a week in Victoria Falls catching up on my writing and enjoying the surrounding area before heading further into the middle of the country to Gweru, Zimbabwe where I will be volunteering hands-on at a lion conservation project (once again) for three weeks. The last leg of my African journey will have me going to Cape Town, where I will be meeting up with a good friend and exploring the city and going on a road trip along the Garden Route. Needless to say I am extremely excited for my upcoming adventures.
What’s the biggest fantasy on your bucket list?
The biggest fantasy bucket list item and probably the one that means the most to me is to raise $10,000 (or more) for charity. I would absolutely love to raise money to donate to the lion conservation efforts that are being put forward by amazing organizations of conservationists. To make my dream even bigger – I would love to be able to start my own charity that donated funds to various animal conservation programs around the worlds for many of the world’s endangered and threatened species. The world is a beautiful place, and I want to help to do my part to right the wrongs of our less-environmentally-conscious forefathers and help restore the world’s beauty for future generations.
Melissa Shearer is a full-time travel blogger, dream-chaser, and adventure seeker. She has given up the 9-to-5 in pursuit of living her life on her own terms and has been traveling, working and living abroad since 2010. Originally from Toronto, Canada she has called the likes of Sydney, Australia and New Zealand’s Far North ‘home’ and prefers living her life out of her 80L backpack. When she’s not too busy throwing herself out of airplanes, scuba diving with sharks or volunteering hands-on with lions, she’s sharing her experiences with the world on her blog The Mellyboo Project. Friend her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter. Don’t be afraid to say “hi.”