Cara Hansen has adventure in her heart and an unstoppable spirit. Her whole life revolves around the joy and freedom she gets from travel and if she isn’t on the road exploring a new place she’s pawing through guide books, researching and daydreaming of her next big adventure. Originally from Sydney, she spent 8 years living on the Gold Coast before moving to Brisbane. Now she’s taking on the trip of a lifetime, journeying through incredible South America to places like Patagonia, Bolivia and Peru.
Today, Cara shares with us how travel has changed her life, the experience of travelling through South America and her favourite destinations. It’s a glimpse into the life of an inspiring woman who chose to follow her heart around the world and is loving every moment of it.
What made you decide to travel and live a life like you have?
I think I got the travel gene from my Mum. She loves to travel. But we never went on an overseas holiday as a family, so I think it was ultimately curiosity that drove my desire to see the world. I did a South Pacific cruise when I finished school. My next trip was 3 weeks backpacking around Thailand with a couple of girlfriends when I was 20, and I haven’t looked back since!
How long do you spend planning for your adventures?
It really depends… I planned my trip to Europe for a couple of years, but last year I went to Bali and Malaysia, and only booked it about 3 weeks before I went! The bigger the trip, the longer I spend planning and researching – I really enjoy that part of the process.
Where are you now and what are your travel plans?
I’ve been on the road for almost 2 months. I went through Patagonia (Argentina and Chile). It was absolutely stunning. I did some great treks and saw some truly incredible scenery. I finished in Ushuaia (the southern-most city in the world). I went to Bolivia, and now I’m currently in Peru – a little town called Huacachina. It’s a desert oasis. I’m about to go on a dune buggy and try sandboarding. I have another 4 nights here in Peru, then onto Brazil and Uruguay, and back to Argentina to fly home. I’m stopping off in Dubai for a few nights of luxury on the way home.
What inspired you to plan this trip?
I always have a holiday planned. For me, it is something to look forward to, work towards, focus on. I turned 30 last year, and celebrated by going to New Zealand with a couple of girlfriends and doing a Bungy jump! But when I got home, I knew I needed to start planning my next trip. Just before my birthday, I had made a list of things that I wanted to achieve in the next 10 years. A lot of those goals were travel-related, so I looked at the list to get inspiration for my next destination, and South America was the winner!
What has been the toughest moment working toward your travel plans?
I moved out of my apartment to travel so there were a lot of things I had to organise with my personal life before I could take off on this journey. Also, there are a lot of things that I was not able to book in advance (such as bus tickets and day tours)- I just have to do it as I go. I am usually a very organised person, but I feel that I have been forced to be a little more flexible, which has meant that I have had the power to change around my travel plans. It has definitely been a positive!
How do you feel when you travel/what does travel mean to you?
When I travel, I love the freedom. Every day is a new and different experience. I love the thrill of arriving in a new city or country. I love to experience different cultures and try different cuisines. I am quite shy by nature, but I have made some very good friends through my travels. I feel that is because I am associating with like-minded people and we are sharing amazing experiences together.
Where have you been and what have you seen that stands out most?
I went to Nepal in 2013 and did a trek to Everest Base Camp. I can’t even begin to describe how beautiful it was in the Himalayas. It’s such a peaceful place. The people are genuine, very polite and softly spoken. There are people living up in those mountains who have never seen a car! And on the other end of the scale, there’s Kathmandu, the capital, where the roads are shared by cars, trucks, motorcycles, bicycles, rickshaws, cows, chickens and pedestrians. It’s so chaotic!
I love also New Zealand for its scenery and adventure activities. What a beautiful country – and it’s so close to home! But I think that Peru could be my new favourite by the end of this trip. It is so diverse with the landscape and climate and the people are so kind.
How has travel changed you, what impact has it had on you and your life?
Travel has become my life. I studied tourism and currently work in the travel industry. I spend all day at work talking about travel. My house is full of travel pictures, brochures and Lonely Planet books. My head is full memories from past trips, and ideas about the dozens of future trips that I have started planning.
What would you say to someone thinking about doing something like what you’ve done, but maybe is too scared to do it?
I would have to use a saying that really rings true with me. “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got” – Henry Ford.
It’s all about priorities. People often tell me that I am ‘so lucky’ that I have been where I have… But it’s not luck. It is about the choices that I have made. I choose to spend my time and money on travel. And I wouldn’t have it any other way!
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