In today’s Why We Travel, I interview Alison Roberts-Tse. Alison runs the blog Dance Dispatches, where she explores the world and travel through dance. She is also an editor for a well-known holiday company.
Describe your first transformative travel experience.
My first transformative travel experience was in the Riviera Maya, Mexico – surprisingly, at an all-inclusive resort with my parents. I was in high school, and I was absolutely thrilled to walk around and speak to the local staff in Spanish. I had been learning for seven years at that point, but my community at home was so homogenous – I never had the chance to use it!
One morning, on the way to breakfast, I stopped by to chat with a painter, named Hector. He told me that he was trying hard to learn English, and I was resolutely determined to bring back this schoolbook from school for him, called ‘Vocabulary Energizers’. I didn’t return it at the end of the year (don’t call the police), and I brought it to the same resort the following year. I wasn’t able to locate Hector to gift it him, but I suppose he didn’t really need to learn those frivolous words, anyways.
When I said good-bye to him, he asked me to find him if I returned. ‘Tell them you are looking for Hector, the best painter in the world.” I was touched by how much pride he took in his work; and, on that trip, I realized that there are really so many different ways to live and work. I keep that same wonderment whenever I travel now.
Why is travel important to you personally?
I travel because…
* I enjoy learning about new cultures and gaining new perspectives.
* I think it’s important to get out of your daily routine. (When you travel, you learn about your own culture, too.)
* I love to physically connect with the world, marvelling at historical sites and spending time in scenic spots.
How do you prefer to travel?
In general, I tend to be a ‘DIY’ traveller with a focus on dance, food and wellness. I plan my trips in a spreadsheet, blocking out slots for meals, transportation, spa appointments, dance classes and dance shows that I arrange beforehand, if possible. I do make sure to leave plenty of free time, so I can linger near or re-visit places that really call to me.
Other than that, my travel style varies. I travel solo, but I also travel with my husband and larger family (but even then, it’s nice to build in time to explore separately sometimes). The destination will also inform my trip. I have booked simple AirBNBs for their prime locations, but I have also stayed at luxurious hotels a little further out with resplendent spas and facilities.
What tips do you have for travelers to make their experiences more meaningful?
Yes, the famous sites are famous for a reason. However, the arts are a great way to learn about culture. You don’t have to stroll through museums; instead, you may enjoy listening to live music or taking a local dance lesson.
Speak to the locals to learn about their culture. Don’t expect that they’ll want to be your tour guide or translator, but engage in genuine conversations and you’ll come away better understanding their culture.
Finally, get up early. I know you’re on holiday, but when you head out before everyone else, you get to see how the town or city slowly wakes up, which is quite special.
What are your favorite travel-related books, movies, paintings, poems, songs, etc.?
My husband loves to watch food travel shows, such as Rick Stein’s series abroad. I am a terrible cook, but I enjoy learning about the ingredients and cooking traditions – and the host bulks up his shows by providing historical insights and famous literary quotes.
Cheekily, I also love my own Dance Dispatches publication. I don’t think you can put that much creative work (and boring behind the scenes labour) without adoring your vision and your content. I think dance traditions are incredibly important, and it’s really interesting to record so many different dance genres.
I look at travel with a broader definition than packing a suitcase and going somewhere other than where you are. I see travel as experiencing the world as fully as possible – learning about history and cultural traditions along the way.
Travel enriches, whether you fly off to a far-flung destination or read about the world from your home.
Get in touch with Alison Roberts-Tse
Alison Roberts-Tse on Facebook: https://facebook.com/dancedispatches