So, the weather outside is frightful. Does that mean you can’t head somewhere new for the holidays? Even if it’s too late to book a flight, it’s not too late to get outside of your comfort zone this winter. We were excited to talk to Breanna Wilson, a New York City-based writer, foodie, tastemaker and all-around travel badass, about warm and cold weather destinations for winter travel.
Breanna regularly pens guides for MTV Travel, interviews DJs like NERVO, and is a total foodie — she tries new and exciting cuisine all over the world. She basically lives it up with all-around travel badass-ery, you know...casually living the dream.
We got the chance to catch up with Breanna and pick her brain on wardrobe travel essentials, what your next must-see travel destination should be, getting out of our comfort zones while traveling (especially alone), and more.
First off, always pack a scarf.
It’s always helpful to have that go-to wardrobe essential to reach for while packing, especially when you’re traveling somewhere new; and especially when you’re headed to a climate different than your own.
For Breanna, that travel essential is a scarf. She told us, "Even if I’m going to the beach or anywhere, I always pack a scarf. I’m the kind of person who’s always cold on the airplane – and you can use it as a blanket, just a great accessory to always have with you. I always have one on me."
Let other people inspire you.
When we asked Breanna what inspires her the most, either when she’s planning what she’s going to write about next, or what the next destination on her travel itinerary should be, her answer intrigued us. After all, finding inspiration in others’ experiences can be a huge part of what makes a travel writer – or any expert traveler, for that matter – successful.
Breanna told us, "I’m always inspired by other travelers. So I’ll see that someone did something, maybe, totally out of their comfort zone, and I totally love that and I try to do that myself by pushing my limits. Like I’m afraid of heights and I just went parasailing, or I’m afraid of the ocean so I just went surfing. Stuff like that always inspires me to keep pushing myself to experience more, do more. There’s just so many things out there. When people ask me, "What destination do you want to go to next?" It’s always out of the ordinary. It’s always something different.
It’s a good way to live."
Get excited about trying something new.
It’s what you’re there for, right?
"My big thing is to always just do everything," Breanna told us. "Never say no. If something’s put in front of you that’s the local cuisine that kinda scares you, eat it anyways. Just try it. Who knows if you’ll ever have the opportunity again? If there’s anything you’re afraid of, it’s what keeps you alive. What’s weird or uncomfortable for you is normal to someone else. I think that everyone should experience that."
Don’t be afraid to make memories outside of your comfort zone.
Immersing yourself in the local cuisine and lifestyle is such an important part of getting a truly authentic experience while traveling.
"I just went to Nicaragua, and I was so surprised. It was incredible. I knew it would be beautiful, but I didn’t know how welcoming the people would be, how nice everything would be, how comfortable I felt in an area where I didn’t speak the language… I felt totally safe, totally at ease. I went to an all female [surf] retreat in San Juan del Sur. Totally out of my comfort zone, something I’ve never done."
When we asked Breanna to share with us her favorite memory from this place, she didn’t skip a beat: "The first time I stood up on a surfboard. That was a pretty awesome feeling. I was terrified and I had no idea what to expect, but [the] instructors made it so easy. It’s intimidating! But they broke it down, and I really learned how to surf, which I never thought I would do.
[It was also my] first time going to Central America, so that was a big thing for me. I really wanted to explore that part of the world, so that was a big reason for me going. I like to go on adventures and get immersed and see the culture and that was the best way to do it. It was a really authentic experience; it was so empowering for me personally. Now I know how to [surf] and I wouldn’t have that otherwise. I’ll remember that moment forever."
Even if you can’t take part in such an immersive experience (or hey, maybe you aren’t too keen on the whole learning how to surf thing), that doesn’t mean you can’t find something new wherever you are to involve yourself in.
Feed your soul (and travel bug) with new and unique experiences.
Be honest: When was the last time you did something for the first time?
"For winter travel," Breanna shared with us, "I typically go somewhere warm. I went to Capetown [South Africa] a couple Decembers ago, and that was amazing because our winter is their summer. So you know, they were just going through getting the warm weather and everyone was outside and excited about it. Such a lively city, and it was a different experience from anything I’d had up to that point, so that was a great winter destination."
As for cold weather destinations, she told us she would really recommend Toronto, Canada, as a cold weather destination. Even though it’s extreme, you can still feel adventurous even when traveling in the cold.
"I know that’s like extreme cold weather," Breanna said, "but they have a great food scene right now, they have cozy places you can go and not feel trapped inside. And it’s still accessible to get everywhere. [Plus,] the people are friendly. It’s a great destination."
Live and travel in such a way that you can make yourself proud.
When we asked Breanna what living beautifully means to her, she said: "It just means living life to make yourself happy; whether that’s going outside and having a cup of coffee outside in the morning, if that makes you happy, do it. If traveling makes you happy, find a way to do it.
And like I said, live outside of your comfort zone. You’ll be proud of yourself for doing that, for pushing yourself."