The Mad Scientist and her amazing travel tips! My favourite interview

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The Mad Scientist and her amazing travel tips! My favourite interview

Introduce yourself – Where are you from? Where in the world are you currently?

In the blog world I am known as the Mad Scientist. Not only is it a catchy alter ego but I truly have a degree in Biology, but I am working on a boring degree in Business when I’m not fluttering around. Sometimes I dabble in building rockets under a grant from NASA. My most recent paycheck came from a university for my rocket photography. One is also in the vault of National Museum of the American Indian in DC. I am an enrolled Native American who currently lives on the Oneida Indian Reservation in Wisconsin, US.

I have just turned 33 & I’m a single mother of three boys; 13, 11, 9. I am an enrolled Native American who currently lives on the Oneida Indian Reservation in Wisconsin, US. One could also say I am a bibliophile. I read nearly 100 books a year in various genres.

At the moment I am doing laundry for the packing for our 10 weeks in Montana.

Monday, hopefully early in the morning, we (my 3 boys & I) will be driving to Montana from Wisconsin. I picked up a internship working on a satellite due to my rocketry work. We will get to explore the valley near the Salish Kootenai reservation for 10 weeks.

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Tell us about your first trip abroad? What first attracted you to a life abroad?

My first trip abroad happened when I was still young. I was 16 and very upset at my mother for denying me the right to go to boarding school (I applied and was accepted).  After that bout, one day I walked into the classroom where there was a note on the chalk board, “Do you want to travel somewhere new?” Soon I applied for Rotary Exchange. It may have been life altering but for me it was just the next step in travel. I was a army & navy brat who has covered nearly all of the US. At 16 I worked in my father’s insurance agency after school and picked up every babysitting job I could find to save every penny I could. At 17 I stepped foot on Thai soil. I fell in love with the country, the King, and the market!

For me it started off as a struggle between me and my mother but it turned into so much more.


What kind of traveller are you? Backpacker? Long-term traveller? Short term? Other?

I take travel in any form I can take it. I do find that one trip or event leads right into the next one.

I have packed up a van with my three then small boys and everything I could then drove us to South Carolina & found a place for rent. From there I spent time on a house boat off of Key West. It was costly so I came home to go to school. After receiving high honors in biology I was offered a paid course by the CIA via a minorities program, to learn Mandarin… in China. Which came with a shared dorm room. Which landed me a contact for teaching where I then brought my boys to a small two bedroom apartment on the second floor in Guilin, Guangxi, China for 6+ months.

I prefer backpacking and hostels. Markets and stalls. However, I have stayed in a 5 star resort and dined at restaurants that Barack Obama enjoys a few meals while living in DC while working for the Smithsonian. Or brushed knuckles with stars in NYC while waiting for some over priced veal.

While in Bangkok or BeiHai I like to follow the kids. You get a whole different perspective. Otherwise, I just walk and find something of interest & some days I book a tour. Really, travel doesn’t have to be in any one set way. Every time it is different and that makes the adventure so much more mine.

Honestly, If I can go and do, it doesn’t matter how or why to me.

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How do you fund yourself when traveling?

Funding is always the question. SAVE YOUR MONEY! Down size. Stop buying crap you think you need. There is no other way to say it.

Almost all of my travel is because I budget for it. Yes, I wish I could leave and never come back but with three boys that is not reality for me. We as a family make a choice of what we want to do and where we want to go next. The boys get a jar and decorate it with some scrapbook paper and we start a “new” travel jar once we are back from the last trip.


General rules for me to save.

1. No Starbucks. No going to the movies. No fast food. No restaurants. No going to the mall. No soda. If you have to ask yourself if you need it then don’t buy it. – Make sure all the money you would of spent on these items go into the travel jar.

2. No credit cards for purchases.  If I don’t have the cash we cannot have it. Absolutely no exceptions!

3. Once a month break rule 1 with only 20 bucks.


You may think that this is no fun for while you save. Perhaps it can be a drag but this is where you have to get creative. Game nights with a bag of pretzels. Netflix with extra butter popcorn. Local parks with a soccer ball. Budget theater. Local music and concerts are cheap. Geocaching. Create something.

You don’t have to be bored just because you are not spending money.

How do I not spend money? I equal the cost to something over seas. A five dollar coffee = one night hostel in Bangkok. A dollar soda = a meal in and drink in Laos. A late night theater movie for 50 = equals a ride on an elephant in Chiang Mai. If I think in that way it is clear I rather that meal in Laos than that soda.

-One 30 trip to China was paid for via a minority program via the CIA. I only came with 300 USD in my pocket.

-One summer in DC with an internship at the Smithsonian – paid for the summer.

-6 months in China I spent teaching. The apartment came with the contract. All money spent was what I earned, except for a two week get away on a volcanic island which cost me 275. After airfare I showed up with 100 USD in the bank.

-10 weeks in Montana that is about to happen. All money spent while I am there will be from weekly internship paychecks.

-6 months in Thailand. An old friend built an apartment building and I was allowed to stay rent free. Picked up a tutoring job to pay for bus trips.


Your favourite place you have been to? And why?

The hardest question. I have so many good memories.

Lets pick a random story, one time my son just wanted to stay in the hostel and watch movies while we were in Kuala Lumpur. Dragging him out we went in search of a bus that was supposed to take us to a park out side of the city. We found the bus not too far from the hostel. However, the bus really did drop us off in the middle of nowhere. I was sort of shocked and thinking to myself what in the world. Around the corner was a road that led down. I figured it would not hurt, so we thrust up our day packs and headed down. Down ended up leading into a weird parking. Then we started smelling food. We purchased an extra bottle of water as I expected to be hiking for awhile & local snacks. Shortly after we got into the park there were monkeys everywhere. One even ran up to a lady who was not looking and stole a whole bag of bananas. The best part came after the monkey thief and the sweaty hike. We made it to the top of a small water fall where there were no people. None. We got to lounge in the waste deep water surrounded by the Malayan rainforest jungle. One step better. There was a rock where you could sit on the edge of the waterfall as the water rushed by you felt like you were suspended right up in the jungle. It was relaxing and beautiful.

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Your least favourite place you have been to? And why?

I have two least favourite places. First, LA. The smog. Just driving in from the dessert you could see the layers upon layers of smog. I felt like I was killing my lungs just looking at it. My few days were not so bad but really I was happy to leave and breathe better air. Second, Beijing. Same thing. The smog is just so massive. Honestly, I don’t think you ever get to see the sun there. I wanted to wear a diving mask and carry my own tank of oxygen. I did enjoy the Beijing Opera House and the Great Wall. But it was not a place I could manage to survive longer than a few days.


What advice would you give to other people looking to travel?

Carpe the Freaking Diem out of your life. Save some pennies and just go. You will never have enough money. Pick a place or  find a friend with a couch.

The only way you can learn to travel how you want to travel is by doing it. Every time I go somewhere I learn more as to what to take or not. How to act or where to look for the good places.

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What is left on your bucket list for you to accomplish/see?

Everything. I have pages. With all of the things I have done or seen… I have not even scratched a corner of my list.


Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

Working on a masters degree from my patio in Greece as my boys swim and sail.


What is the biggest difference to life overseas compared to life at home?

The American bubble is popped, you can learn truly about other cultures. The people make you smile, the food makes your mouth water, and there is always something to see and do. Life is just great.

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