Travel, Theology, and Education – Travel Chat With Dany Kelly
At Travefy, we like to throw the spotlight on travel pros and bloggers that we’re falling in love with. Meet Dany Kelly, a travel blogger who wants to enhance community relations through her passion for education, traveling and spirituality.
We sat down to chat with Dany about her involvement with communities around the world and her work as a travel blogger.
Photos Courtesy of LoveandLondon.com
T: Where are you from?
DK: I’m from the beautiful town of Darwin at the top of Australia. It’s known for it’s remote and tropical lifestyle. It has only two seasons: wet and dry season.
The beauty of this area is unparalleled. In the afternoons (during the wet season) the rains will start coming, as well as the thunder and lightening.
It’s such a joy to experience the diversity of life and weather in Darwin. I would recommend anyone to travel there – but only in the dry season. The wet season can be unforgiving for those who haven’t experienced it.
T: And how long have you been travel blogging?
DK: I have been travel blogging for about a year. It feeds my soul. I first started thinking about travel blogging in 2011, when I had traveled extensively.
I captured everything that I experienced on a video camera and was going to upload it. However, school and work got in the way, but when I started my Master’s in Spirituality on the other side of the world I wanted to combine my education with my travel and see if people enjoyed my ramblings — so far so good!
T: So how do you mix travel and blogging with Theology?
DK: Wow — that’s a really insightful question. I got offered a scholarship to study Theology/Spirituality in America at Santa Clara University. Through my studies I’ve had the pleasure of meeting people from all over the globe, for example, my best friend is from Lebanon, and I have friends from India, Russia, Austria, Sweden, Spain, plus many more places.
I realized after being invited to visit these places with my friends that there was more to traveling than just the most exclusive hotel or the swankiest bar. It’s about the people that you meet and the connections you make; this ties in beautifully with Spirituality and Theology.
Once people see the connection you want to create and the wonder that you have for their individual countries, people open up, from there I start to see how their personal spiritual practice or theology is reflected through the stimuli of their culture. I kind of do a compare and contrast thing, I love it!
T: What has been your most eye-opening travel experiences ever?
DK: Hooo hoo ho, there have been quite a few: from the good, such as seeing the Taj Mahal in India, to the bad, for example almost getting kidnapped in Panama; I feel I have experienced the whole gamut. Honestly, it is really hard to put my finger on one particular encounter.
One that was most moving for me spiritually was going to the Grand Canyon and experiencing a dawn mass whilst the sun rose over the stunning Grand Canyon scenery. It’s hard not to imagine a higher being when all around you is this stunning landscape whilst listening to the word of God.
T: On the flip side, what has been the most frustrating travel experiences you’ve had?
DK: A few things have been pretty frustrating and they generally surround visas. I am amazed by people who have a lot less freedom than I with their visas and how they are able to overcome it so easily.
Visas take a long time to get, sometimes they don’t come on time or you are denied. This can be very frustrating. I would recommend that everybody familiarize themselves with visa processes far before booking any flight.
T: What is the biggest challenge you face through your travels?
DK: The other insatiable desire that I have is to visit countries where they are vastly different to my cultural heritage. For example, some of my favorite countries to travel are India, Panama, Lebanon and Indonesia.
I love the experience of different colors and cultures, however, this can make me stand out a little and be a target for increased prices and even be compared to a lady of the night…. That can be pretty tricky to handle and not a great situation to be in.
T: What was the most challenging part of moving to the US? How did you cope with it?
DK: The most challenging part emotionally is being away from my family. I miss them dearly. Skype and WhatsApp groups help, but it doesn’t compare to a hug or seeing your niece and nephews grow and develop. Overall, it’s pretty difficult, and, to be honest, it can be especially hard when going through tough times. My faith and having a trip planned home keeps me sane in the tumultuous times.
T: What are your best tricks for planning a trip to a place you don’t know? How can others implement it?
DK: Volunteer! St. Vincent de Paul is an international society that needs people to help with those suffering, forgotten or deprived. There are also many other places that will accept volunteers, just google the names and contacts in the different destinations you’re planning to visit. Reach out to them and they will be grateful to take you on as a volunteer. Through this, you will meet the locals and they will be able to provide hints and tips on the best places to go.
Also, depending on the type of traveler you are, Couchsurfing is a great way to meet locals and get a bed for free. I’ve hosted people and it’s been great. Those that Couchsurf whilst traveling usually want to return the favor (many in fear of *karma*) and provide you with all the essentials. These hosts are pretty knowledgeable and often like to share a bottle of wine and tell you all about their adventures.
T: Do you have any special trip planning tools or tricks you’d like to share?
DK: As a planning tool, I often use Pinterest to save ideas for a country that somebody may tell me about. For example I was at the hairdresser the other day and a woman told me about some places to travel in Bali and I pinned them on my Bali Pinterest board so that I can visit them when I return. It’s quick and easy, I can save them straight away with a smartphone and see the picture too!
I’ve also just started to use Travefy, for a big trip coming up (*stay tuned*) and I’m really enjoying the sharing capability. It’s the best online planning tool I’ve found so far. A good app is TripCase. This app is particularly good with flights, it tells you the gate, whether it’s been delayed etc. I’m really anxious for Travefy to add an app as well – I’m sure it’s in the works 🙂
T: What’s the next trip you’re going on?
DK: Oh…. That’s easy — it’s in about 4 days, eeeeeeeeeeeeekkkkkkk!! I have the itinerary planned out on Travefy. Follow my blog and my social media accounts to see how it goes.
Here is an outline of what it looks like: LA / Santa Monica, Solvang (wine!!), road trip on Highway 1, Monterey, Silicon Valley, SF, Vegas, and so much in between.
I will be posting a blog piece about this in July – so keep an eye out, you’re welcome to follow my blog or subscribe to my updates here.
T: What’s your favorite travel gadget, and why?
DK: Definitely an eye mask and earplugs. These are essential for travel. Whether you are sharing a room with someone and they snore (ohhhh noo – this has happened many times), or you’re on a plane and need that extra silence, I always have these handy.
I also carry around a small pocket book of St. Ignatius’ prayers and exercises. I have often found myself in a moment where prayer is necessary, whether it’s relishing over the Gutenberg Bible at the Harvard College library or at St. Charbel’s shrine in Lebanon, I find it comforting to have the works of this Saint who saw God in all things (as I do whilst traveling) in my back pocket!
About Dany Kelly
Dany Kelly is an Australian, studying and living in the US who wants to enhance community and relations throughout the world. When Dany’s not traveling, you’ll find her helping others, whether it’s teaching or working for a non-profit.
Follow all her crazy adventures on her blog or for quick updates check out her Twitter page @danykelly. Dany is also on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
For more about her, check out her About.me, and Medium pages.