Twipper of the Week: Sharon Mendelaoui from Dream Travel Magazine

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Current city: Toronto

Age: 45

Total countries visited: I have to count these?

What makes you interesting: I guess I’m a goofy girl at heart. I love life and want to focus on the fun and good in life. Definitely a glass half full girl!

What brands do you love: I love my Heys luggage. I travel with it everywhere. I’m also a fan of Lug bags. They are super organized with all these awesome pockets inside!  

What’s your Travanality: I would say I am a culturist. When I visit a place I like to take it all in. The food, the art, history, music, the people – I just want to try it all!

What are your travel pet peeves: On Airplanes I don’t like people who don’t follow the carry-on restrictions, people who wear perfume (it’s stinky, especially on a plane), people who bring smelly food on the plane, and loud talkers. Travel in general I can’t deal with people who don’t respect the culture or people they meet during their vacations. Sometimes I shake my head at tourists who think they are entitled when they visit another country. They are ignorant to the laws, cultural practices and just have a general disregard for the place they are visiting. Respect!

What is your favorite mode of transportation when you travel: I used to love that feeling on the plane when you take off. Lately I dread airline travel. They have just made it so complicated with luggage restrictions, overbooking flights and all their rules about carry-on luggage. Now I love road trips in the car. Turning up the tunes and just driving and stopping when you see something interesting just because you can. There is less of a strict timeline with road trip travel.

What does “Travel” mean to you: Travel has changed my life. When I started Dream Travel Magazine, I was just a girl sitting in front of her computer dreaming about all the places I wanted to go. When I took a trip I would share my photos and do some writing and my friends would read it. But then things started to change. I was asked to go on my first press trip and I had a moment on a tree-top trekking experience where I couldn’t complete the activity. I was very overweight and it was just too strenuous. It was a humbling, humiliating and invigorating experience all at once. I realized as I was being repelled down a tree that this was what I was meant to be doing. I had a unique story about getting rescued out of a tree! On one side I was devastated but on the other I was never happier than in that very moment!

In the month’s after this trip I realized I didn’t want to be restricted by my weight again. I dedicated myself to building Dream Travel Magazine into a site that inspired women to get out there and travel and I started a more clean and healthy lifestyle. I find ways to travel all the time. Travel is not just big vacations! It’s getting on the subway and walking around in Downtown Toronto, or getting in a car with a bunch of girlfriends and driving to a dot on a map for a day. For me Travel is discovering cultures, art, food, music well it’s all around us.

Describe your most unique or funniest travel experience: That would have to be staying at the Tent Hostel in Munich when I did my Backpacking through Europe university trip. It was a huge circus tent in the middle of nowhere and we were all given a foam pad and a blanket and just told to find a spot under the tent. I remember the hard floor, the line up the shower and hearing people screech in different languages while in line. Then when it was finally my turn – the water was ice cold but that is not what people were screeching about, there were frogs in the shower! The amazing thing about it was they had a campfire at night just outside the tent and I remember all these people from all over the world that spoke different languages suddenly start to sing beatles songs around the campfire. Music was one language and I never felt more connected to a group of people I couldn’t communicate with than in that moment.

If you were given a free trip tomorrow, where would you go: Australia. It has been on my dream list since I was in my 20s I’ve wanted to go on school exchange programs and I’m always dreaming up ways to get there. It’s only a matter of time before I make this trip happen.

Next travel destination: Currently I’m planning a trip to Croatia. Also always driving around the province of Ontario and have some plans to head out to Quebec before year’s end too.