A huge part of travel for me is the people I meet and the friends I make in the places I get to experience. Some of, well most of my best friends are people I have met while living overseas & the number one thing we have in common is that we get it. Get what? This whole travel life. The coming & going frequently, the moving towns often & regularly. The fact that we will rarely live in the same place for long. And the feeling of saying goodbye/reuniting with each other. So when I meet people who share this same passion I immediately want to know more about them and where their adventures have taken them.
For me, as a Canadian living abroad there seems to be a batman style beacon that shines from me as I meet more Canadians on the road than another other nationality (Australians are a close second though) and that was the case with the wickedly hilarious Natalie behind the Instagram account Travel With A Side of Banter (TWASB). Thanks to the amazing online community that is Team Kaptain Kenny (seriously check it out here) we were able to connect, over I'm not even sure what initially anymore, but we did and she's been a great sounding board for ideas, job advice and just all over a source of laughter in my life. Originally from a small town in New Brunswick she visited Germany in her early 20's and 6 year later she now calls the city of Frankfurt home base crushing her job as a Social Media Manager when she isn't giving karaoke style performances with her cat that is. She is unapologetically herself, sharing her travel tips and wicked photos from her adventures around the World, in a day and age where some many accounts share "pretty words" with matching photos, Natalie shares beautiful images and hilarious/honest/realistic words to go with them. Take this for example (one of my favourite captions) "10 days into the new year and I’m sure there’s already tons of abandoned gym passes laying around all those middle class homes lol I don’t believe in making resolutions but I do believe in not being a dick face and being a good person and taking criticism constructively and recycling and treating others as you wanna be treated and adopt don’t shop and hip hop is the new music of the people and R. Kelly is guilty AF and the truth is out there 👽" With that I think you get the gist of why she is someone I'm grateful t o have around (even though we've never met in person, yet!) and why she is this month's WanderWoman!
Alright girl, tell all these wanderers about yourself…
My name is Natalie, I’m 29 years old. I’m Canadian, and from New Brunswick. I moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia when I was 20 for university, and 6 years later, I moved to Frankfurt, Germany. I’ve been a pescatarian for nearly 15 years and I absolutely hate onions. Every single type. And it doesn’t matter how they’re prepared either. They taste horrible and they make you cry.
What is something people might be surprised to learn about you?
Hmm, let’s try this one: I worked in a funeral home for 6 years back in university. And I actually liked it! It was quiet (lol), but I liked being able to help people through one of the most difficult times of their lives. It made me feel good! Funny story: the first time I drove a hearse alone, the first song that came on the radio was Alive by Pearl Jam lol
Did you always want to travel/what made you start?
I’ve always been curious, and was obsessed with maps when I was a kid. My family did some local traveling, but my real travels started after my first year of high school in 2004. I went to Toronto with my younger sister for a summer and stayed with my aunt and her family, just for the experience. Life is really different in the Maritimes compared to Toronto, so being in a place that was literally just a melting pot of culture was SO exciting! That summer really kick started my desire to jet set.
How do you decide where to travel to?
I’m big on budget travel, so I usually just pick the cheapest flight. I try to visit a few new countries every year, and while I used to care about not repeating places, it’s not so much a priority anymore. I also prefer less busier places than the main tourist cities so I feel like I can get a more authentic feeling for the culture.
What is your travel style?
My travel style is usually laid back, and 95% of the time I travel alone. I always stay in hostels, too, and always in a private room cuz nobody needs to see me hungover. It’s downright horrible. Hostels are also a great way to meet people, and that’s a perk if you’re on the road alone. I also do social media for a hostel here in Frankfurt, so they’re a very special place for me.
Best advice for Canadian ex-pats living in Europe
When you talk about our delicacy Poutine, most Europeans will think you’re talking about Vladimir Putin. The only way they’ll know what you’re talking about is if they’ve been to Canada, or are obsessed with Canada. So do yourself a favour and clear that confusion up before they start thinking you’re in love with a Russian dictator.
But I don’t consider myself an ex-pat. I really want to stay in Germany, so I’m an immigrant to Germany, and an emigrant from Canada.
Top 3 bucket list places you’d love to visit?
This is a REALLY tough question, but I’d have to say:
1-Maldives, because they’re sinking
2-Japan, but only during the Cherry Blossom season
3-Any Arctic or remote northern community in Canada.
5 things you miss about Canada - and go!
1-Nature. Holy shit did I EVER take advantage of that.
2-Bagels and donuts from Tim Hortons.
3-Greasy ass hangover breakfast
4-SNOW DAYS! Just ONCE I want to wake up in Frankfurt to so much snow nobody can go to work.
5-Canadian niceties. I really miss the friendly smiles from strangers, and our accent.
What is something you wish you could share with your pre-travel life self?
I don’t miss living where I’m from, but I definitely didn’t fully appreciate it when I lived there. I wish I could tell my pre-travel self to be appreciative of the environment around you. It literally took me until 2013 when I travelled to Iceland to realize the allure of the Canadian wilderness.
Best & worst travel moment?
I feel like all my moments have been my best, simply because I feel so lucky to get to travel anywhere at all! But if I had to pick one, it’s definitely a moment from a recent trip. I went to Corfu, Greece with my best friend of over 25 years back in September. She’s very comfortable with the water, and I’m the total opposite, but hate that I am and wanted to try to get over my fear. I bought snorkel gear at one of those beachside shops, and about 2,5 hours later, I finally got comfortable enough to swim out and try snorkelling. I still can’t get over the beauty of the world underwater. I remember just swimming around, looking at literally everything and thinking how utterly lucky I felt to have that experience. And in Greece with my best friend no less. Unreal experience.
And in total contrast, my worst travel moment was just a few months after I moved to Germany. I was terribly sick with strep throat, and was on strong antibiotics. And German drugs are strong. Anyway, I trusted a fart and I shouldn’t have. Yup…I shit my pants. Wasn’t even drunk. Just hopped up on German antibiotics.
FYI, I’ve only ever told a few close friends this story. So this interview better get me some appreciation…
Famous Last words for all the wanderers out there...
Be open to everything, and trust your gut.
But never a fart…
If you fancy seeing more from Natalie, like how shes a bad ass boss babe in Frankfurt, her travels through Europe or just need a dose of reality from her captions then give her a follow on her Instagram & twitter (handles are below)