1.    Name: Amy Chan Hardison 

2.    Age: 38 

3.    Occupation: Entrepreneur, Small Business Consultant, and Project Manager 

4.    Location: Stoneville, North Carolina  

5.    What was your last trip, how long was it, where did you go, and what did you do?

Traveled to Norway for five days to attend a trade show. Last domestic trip was to Asheville for a weekend. Hit up our favorite places to eat, walked around downtown, and my husband Brandon performed a gig at a brewery.

Last sightseeing/tourism trip was Denver, Colorado for six days. I went to Red Rocks, hiked, walked around town, checked out the dispensaries, and dined at unique restaurants.

6.    How far in advance do you start researching your trip?

Been researching Norway for about a month, but since it is a business trip, there’s not much sightseeing time. Asheville didn’t require any research, which is why I added Denver. I started researching about three months before the trip.   

7.    What kind of content helps you? Stories and interviews about individuals’ personal experiences, how-tos, itinerary suggestions, etc.

Trip Advisor is a starting point to see the main touristy attractions to check out, along with the reviews and recommendations for these. There’s not a lot of content available, though. I often contact friends or acquaintances to get recommendations, as well. I looked on Denver’s city website, and they had a book and map that you could sign up to receive. This was nice to have.  

8.    Where do you look for the information? Blogs, magazines, books, tourism boards, etc.When I travel for longer periods, such as a month in Europe, backpacking, I did use more tourism books. I would have liked to see more blogs, but good ones are few and far between. Before my Peace Corps service, I looked at several blogs about where I would be spending 27 month. Given the living situation and primitive places, it was helpful to learn from insiders who experienced it.  

9.    Do you have favorites that you go to? Or does it vary?

 It varies. I used to go to a book store and look at the travel books there…get reviews and ranking of those books. Now, it’s easier to go online and search for reviews, recommendations, etc.

10. What problems do you run into with research? For example, is it hard to get answers to your questions, are websites insufficient or inaccurate in their information, etc. What would you like to see?

I’m tired of just experiencing the traditional landmarks and tours. There’s gotta be more unique avenues to see and do, but it’s hard to know how to find these. Also, the best excursions I have been on are not the ones that the brochures and websites recommend. It’s talking to locals there and finding someone who wants to share their secret spots. Also, it’s great to be able to talk to locals and truly get a feel for the place.

11. Would be inclined to go with a vendor if they had more information on their website. Say about what else to do in the area, like mountain biking and where to go, more about the instructors , etc.?

Absolutely! There should be more ways to access these sites and know where to find them. 

12. What do you do on vacation? What is your aim?

I like to feel the life of the place and not just the posed tourist view. This is why I always go with AirBnB, so that I can live with the people and not just be a tourist. I enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, rafting, and am up for more extreme activities like bungee. I got to bungee on the first place that it was first introduced, off a bridge in New Zealand. I also went canyoning in Switzerland which was quite dangerous, but exhilarating!  

13. Why do you travel? What is important for you to experience from your trip?

I travel to experience and see new things. A bucket list of sorts…it’s such a big world and so many things to do, see, people to meet, and foods to eat. I always research the best food, often going to the dive/hole in the wall restaurants, because they are almost always the best food and experience. It’s important to experience something original…something that isn’t on TripAdvisor, something special, a hidden gem that I’ve discovered. 

14. What has been your favorite trip and why?/What is a memorable experience that has really stuck with you?

So hard to say…soaking in the history is China and Egypt. Enjoying the outdoors was New Zealand, because I got to bungee! and drive all throughout the south island. It was breathtaking on every turn.  

15. Any other info you want to add about traveling that you want tourism boards and location vendors to know that will make your and other adventure travelers travel experiences better?

I want to know about the hidden gems and out of the way activities. I also want to know the stores/restaurants where the people there like to share their culture. 

16. How many countries have you been to?

Gosh…I’ve never counted! Much of Europe/Scandinavia, so at least 20 there, Morocco and Egypt, China, Mongolia, Russia, Iceland…at least 25, close to 30 countries?  

17. How often do you travel?

I travel about every other month. I have grown up traveling to China every year since I was four years old. My mom would plan a trip every year for a week during Spring break or Winter break while I was in school. I am very proud of my expired passports and the stamps collected. 🙂

Being an ABC…American Born Chinese :), international travel is a part of my life. I crave other cultures, because I grew up and now live in a homogeneous community. I want to hear other languages, smell different air, meet other people/cultures, and see architecture and plants that I don’t see everyday. It makes me feel alive…that I am a small part of this huge universe. I also crave a “shock” to my system by traveling. Working and going through the hectic days/weeks/months can be all consuming. It’s when I travel that I can release that pressure and rejuvenate my soul.