Traveling with Attitude

Traveling with Attitude

Warning: today’s guest has plenty of spunk and attitude. She’s making a name for herself as she travels the world, and tells it like it is. Let’s see what she has to say about my questions on her travels.
Jenny Leonard

Can you introduce yourself?

Hi. I’m Jenny and I’m a travel addict. I took my first trip overseas in 2006 to volunteer in Vanuatu with Project MARC. When I came back I started to plan my 3-year trip around the world, but life happened. I ended up taking a 5-month backpacking trip through South America, but it wasn’t enough. So last summer I decided to break-up with my boyfriend of 4-years, sell everything I own, and travel indefinitely with my location independent freelance business. I’m at the end of that journey as I’m departing for my parents house in less than 2-weeks. I’ll spend the holidays there, transition my dogs to their new home, and head out sometime in January 2011.

You spent quite a few months down in South America. Any highlights you care to share?

One of the best adventures of my life was when I went on the Ciudad Perdida trek. It was the worst downfall in the history of the trek (30-some odd years). It rained relentlessly for days. We couldn’t get dry, we trekked in knee deep mud, crossed chest-high river crossings, took alternate dangerous routes (rock climbing without harnesses in the rain on algae covered rocks hundreds of feet up), waded in 6-inches of water on the trails, and trekked 45-degree inclines for hours on end. I remember sitting down on a log, in the pouring rain, crying. I just wanted it to be over. But I was in the middle of the Colombian jungle and there was no way out. I had no choice, but to continue on. It is that moment that I learned that I always had a choice when faced with adversity. A choice to dig deep and find what I’m really made of. That was a defining moment in South America for me.

The second big moment for me was when I was in Iguazu Falls on the border of Argentina and Brazil. I was about 4 months in on my 5-month adventure. I had learned about Iguazu Falls from a blogger I somehow found on the internet when I was 22 years old (I’m 29 now and 27 at the time of the trip). I was following his 16-month around the world journey and read about his tales at Iguazu. I pulled out my bucket list and added it. It was beautiful. I wanted to see that waterfall someday. When I finally got to Iguazu I had a moment with myself. I realized I had come full circle from the time I wrote that bucket list years ago. I realized that when I think I’ve done so little, I’ve done so much. There I was enjoying this larger than life waterfall… knowing that I was living the life I wanted to live. I knew that this was what I was supposed to do. It’s what made me come alive.

Andy: Mmmhmmm. That is what we call travel more! Incredible. I love it when travel teaches you what kind of person you are and asks you tough questions about who you want to be.

You’re quite the expert behind the lens. Tell me the story about the volcano picture. Have you done anything else crazy to get the perfect shot?


The volcano picture is Mt. Yasur on Tanna Island in Vanuatu. It’s the most accessible active volcano in the world. They allow you, when the conditions are right, to sit on the rim of the outer crater and watch the volcano erupt into the night sky. I remember sitting there and looking above my head and feeling as if the molten lava was going to land on me. But my guide didn’t move. If he ran, I would follow. If he stayed, I would too. The lava ended up landing between the inner and outer crater… about a football field away from where we were. It was the most powerful experience I’ve ever had. You’d feel the ground shake, your hands on the ground could feel the warmth, then you’d hear a large boom, then 2 seconds later lava filled the sky. This happened about every 5-minutes.

As far as crazy shots… I’ve gotten in a lot of hairy positions to get some photos. I’m a little ‘off’ like that. 🙂

Andy – Yeah, I’ve found that sometimes if you just try something a little whacko, you can often get a good shot. 🙂

I’d like to say your travel style is fairly adventurous. Would you agree and what types of adventures would you suggest that might suit a couple or a family where there’s a lot of different personal preferences at play?

I don’t know that I could travel with anyone else. I like to do what I want to do… I don’t want to look back and regret not doing something because of a compromise. I always imagine that if I traveled with someone else we’d do things together that we both had common interest on and separate for those we didn’t. That way, you both get the adventure (or not) that you’d like.

What’s been your most inspirational travel experience?

I think my time in Vanuatu was my most inspirational travel experience. It was my first time overseas and I learned so much. I was able to live with a tribe for over a month and really learn a completely different way of life. That changed me. I loved it more than you could imagine. After a lifetime of turmoil up to that point… I had found true happiness for the first time ever.

Where are you headed next?

I’m headed on a skateboard road trip to all the best skateparks in America (well at least the West Coast). From there we’ll see where the road takes me. 🙂

Thanks Jenny for all your interesting insights (and beautiful pictures!). Folks to stay in touch with Jenny, visit her snazzy website, Where Is Jenny. And ok, one more volcano shot. 🙂

Traveling with Attitude

Andy Hayes

Andy Hayes is the founder and creator of Plum Deluxe. He authors our award-winning weekly email newsletter, The Blend and curates our popular organic tea of the month club.

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