Christina Wieand: Livin’ Pura Vida

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Christina is a 20-something travel addict with a passion for outdoor adventures. After graduating college and working full-time for a couple of years, she dropped everything to move to Australia. After a year working down under she continued on a solo round-the-world trip, backpacking through 37 countries across five continents. Since her round-the-world trip, she’s settled down in sunny San Diego for a bit where she continues to seek out weekend adventures in her own country. When not working, studying, or blogging, you can generally find her chasing sunsets, catching waves, or taking shameless GoPro selfies on mountaintops.

What inspired you to start a life of travel and adventure? 

I’ve loved travel and adventure since I was a kid, but it was really other travelers who inspired me to turn it into a lifestyle. I’d graduated college and was working full-time in Los Angeles. I was on a 12-day trip down to Peru and Brazil (back then I only got 10 vacation days per year – terrible, I know!) and I was staying in hostels along the way. Naturally, I met tons of other travelers this way. But what shocked me was how many people I met who’d been traveling for months or even years at a time! While I’d been quite proud of saving up enough vacation days to take a “long” 12-day trip, this was actually pretty short in the backpacking world. I met an English guy who was doing a full year through Central and South America, an Australian couple who was spending two years around the world, and heaps of others who’d been on the road for months and simply planned to head home whenever they grew tired of traveling. At the time, the idea that travel could be more than just a vacation was foreign to me. These other backpackers weren’t just traveling to escape their lives back home. They were traveling to live. It was truly inspiring to hear others’ stories and see their passion for travel and adventure and life in general. I returned from that 12-day trip so inspired that I immediately quit my job, applied for a working holiday visa, and booked a one-way flight to Australia. From there, my passion for exploring the world kept on growing, and now, whether I’m working full-time or not, travel and adventure remain an integral part of my lifestyle.

How many countries have you been to so far, and what have been your favorite destinations so far and why?

I’ve been to 48 countries so far (soon to be 49)! Off the top of my head, I’ll say some of my favorites are Norway, Australia, Switzerland, Nicaragua, and Indonesia. But picking favorites is always hard because I enjoy certain countries for different reasons. I loved hiking Norway’s dramatic cliffs and majestic fjords just as much as loved surfing the beautiful beaches of Nicaragua, though you really can’t compare the two because they’re so different. It’s hard to select individual countries, because it depends on the specific experience I had in each place. Other favorite experiences include camping in the Alps of Switzerland, scuba diving the Red Sea in Egypt, immersing myself in the local culture in Indonesia, attending Oktoberfest in Germany, and exploring the national parks in my own country, the USA.

What inspired you to begin your travel blog Livin Pura Vida?

Livin’ Pura Vida began basically as an online diary to keep family and friends up to date on my life when I first studied abroad in Australia in 2011. Once back in the US, I didn’t write a single post for a few years, but decided to start writing again when I moved to Australia in 2014. When I started receiving messages from people other than my family saying that my blog was inspiring them to travel more, I realized other people were actually reading it and decided to make my blog more geared towards the public.

What do the words “Pura Vida” mean to you, and how you incorporate these words into your lifestyle? 

“Pura vida” literally translates to “pure life” but means something closer to “take it easy” or “life is good.” But it isn’t really just a saying; it’s a way of life. To me, “livin’ pura vida” stands for a lifestyle in which one is always grateful and seeks to enjoy life regardless of the circumstances. When traveling, I saw this lifestyle exemplified time and time again. One of the poorest favelas of Rio that I visited had stacks of houses literally in shambles, with no running water, windows secured with thick black bars, and piles of rotting trash all over the streets. Yet, there in the streets, teenage boys beat on old buckets as drums and tapped sticks together, while smaller children happily danced around to the beat. Others played soccer in the alleys, while older men sat on piles of rubble playing poker. It was truly eye-opening to see how the people created their own happiness by choosing to be grateful and making use of what they had in order to do the things that they loved. I incorporate this into my lifestyle by constantly chasing my passions whenever possible. Whether that be traveling to a new country or hiking a new mountain or just sitting and enjoying the sunset in my backyard, livin’ pura vida is something I strive to do every day. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor; you always have something to be grateful for, and you always have a passion you can chase to help you appreciate life a little bit more.

How do you believe travel makes a positive impact on our lives?

So, so, SO many ways! First off, travel opens your mind and teaches things you don’t learn in school. Knowledge from a book is one thing, but experiences stay with you forever. Plus, it’s such a positive experience to step outside your own little bubble into the world and gain a fresh perspective that completely changes your outlook on life. You truly start to care for things that are bigger than yourself.

Second, it’s always good to push your comfort zone and test your limits. The challenges that go hand-in-hand with travel will help you develop so many skills that will benefit you for the rest of your life. You’ll learn to be independent and figure things out on your own. You’ll learn to adapt to new settings, people, and unplanned changes. You’ll learn to solve problems when things go wrong and persevere throughout difficult situations. You’ll learn to communicate despite barriers, even though it may test your patience. And you’ll learn to manage your time wisely as you prioritize goals and organize a schedule to fulfill them.

Third, travel makes a positive impact on our lives because it mixes things up and helps to escape the daily grind. You’re constantly meeting people from different cultures, exploring new places, and trying new foods. Even though it’s far from being just a relaxing vacation, travel keeps you on your toes and adds excitement to life. Plus, (most of the time) it’s fun!

Where do you currently live? What are some of your favorite local spots for adventure?

I currently live in San Diego (one of very few places in the USA that I could actually see myself living for more than a year)! My favorite local adventures are surfing in Pacific Beach, hiking out near Mount Laguna, roadtripping and camping all over California including our incredible national parks, and driving down for the occasional weekend in Mexico. I guess you could say my favorite “local spots” aren’t all that local!

What are some of the most memorable stories or achievements from your travels and adventures?

Let’s go with one of the first stories from my round-the-world trip. I started out by traveling to a tiny village in East Java, Indonesia. I was volunteering by visiting schools to speak English with the kids, and in exchange I received accommodation and food from a local host family for three weeks. As a fairly new traveler who had never been anywhere “third world,” I was in for quite a surprise! My bed was just wood with a thin mat over it, and after a few nights of no sleep I ended up laying all my clothes and towels out on the bed for a little bit of cushion. There was no running water, so I got used to cold “bucket” showers, and I learned how to handwash clothes, much to the amusement of my host family. I had to coexist with many animals in the house, and by animals I mean everything from cats and dogs to rats, cockroaches, geckos, and spiders. But above all that, the bathrooms are what took the most getting used to. There was no shower, no sink, no soap, and no toilet paper… just a basin of water with a little bucket and basically a hole in the ground. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to go to the bathroom or flush the toilet, and I actually had to ask! I eventually got used to it, and though using the bathroom never became an enjoyable experience, I did build up some legs of steel. Needless to say, after starting my trip off with three weeks in a pretty third world village, nothing could phase me. I was ready for anything my adventures would throw my way!

We at This Adventure Life want our readers to live life fearlessly in the pursuit of living their ideal life. What would your advice be for someone who wants to live fearlessly and pursue their wildest dreams? 

Actually I’ve written an entire post about this, but in a nutshell, my best advice for someone who wants to live fearlessly and pursue their wildest dreams is to make those dreams a priority. Life isn’t just handed to you – it’s something you create. When you’re not living your ideal life, you need to make a change to create the life you want to live. If your dream really means a lot to you, it should become your number one priority. And once it’s your priority, figure out what barriers are holding you back, and break them down. You don’t have enough time? Yes you do. You have 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. If your dream is a priority, take something out of your “busy” schedule and make time for it. You don’t have enough money saved? Pick up another job. Sell things. Stop buying $4 coffees every morning. Think creatively and figure out how to reach your dream for less money. You don’t know how to reach your dream? Network. Research. Ask questions. Instead of focusing on excuses why you can’t achieve your dream, figure out ways to overcome your own barriers and focus on how to achieve your dream. Living your ideal life essentially comes down to mindset. All you really need is a passion for something and the motivation to get up and do something about it.

Where is your next big adventure?

My next big adventure is off to Iceland and Norway! I’ll be renting a car in both places so that I can roadtrip and camp – my absolute favorite way to travel. I haven’t been to Iceland yet, so I’m hoping to do and see as much as possible. I definitely want to visit lots of waterfalls and hot springs while I’m there, and even though the Blue Lagoon is touristy I’ll have to cross it off the bucket list. This will be my second time in Norway, but I’m going to do an entirely different route this time, probably focusing on the western fjords and hiking a lot as usual. I generally try to visit new countries when I travel, but I loved Norway so much last time I just couldn’t stay away!

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