TM Travel Blog Spotlight: Tara Severyn
Tara Severyn is a board member at Traveling Mercy and currently works as a compliance assistant at Arabella Advisors.
Tell us a bit about yourself? Who are you and why do you like to travel?
My name is Tara, and I’m proud to be a board member with Travelling Mercy and help facilitate eye-opening and horizon-broadening travel experiences to marginalized communities. I love to travel because it allows me to experience something out of the ordinary, learn about the life, culture, and history of a new place, and because it allows me to connect to people from all over the world.
Where was the last place you traveled?
My last trip was to Cartagena, Colombia. I travelled there to join a group of more than 150 people celebrating the 70th birthday of my friend Ana’s father. This coastal city was truly magical: filled with buildings painted in bright yellows, reds, and blues, fragrant flowers hanging off every balcony, and music playing from every open window.
How many countries have you been to?
I’ve been to 13 countries where I’ve stepped outside of the airport
Where do you want to visit that you haven’t been to?
I’m dying to explore countries in East Asia. It’s a place I’ve never been to before and I would love the opportunity to experience something completely new and unexpected.
Which place/adventure was your favorite?
Oh, how to choose...each place is a favorite work trip, favorite cuisine, favorite language, favorite hostel...I remember my trip to South Africa the most fondly. I went with my aunt, who is from South Africa, and was able to see the country with a local perspective. The trip included going on a safari, which is truly the adventure of a lifetime. It also included spending time in one of my favorite cities in the world, Cape Town.
Why would you recommend this place/adventure to a fellow traveler?
I would highly recommend it to travellers that are craving adventure; there’s so much to see, hike, climb, swim, and trek through. I also recognize the city of Cape Town holds great significance in the history of apartheid in the country. I would recommend making time to visit Robben Island to see the place where Nelson Mandela was held as political prisoner. Here, a traveller is able to gain more understanding about the struggles and victories of the anti-apartheid movement.
What is your best advice for travel? Do you have any interesting tips/tricks?
It sounds so simple, but pack light! You never use everything you pack anyway, so make it as light as possible so that your baggage never gets in the way of your adventures. I use a set of packing cubes that allows me to keep everything organized and also best utilize the space in my backpack or suitcase. I would also recommend meeting people that live in the place you are traveling. My best travel memories have been enjoying an experience with new people; having a braai in South Africa, going to an Israeli wedding in Israel, attending a Colombian birthday party in Colombia. Connecting with people make the experiences all the more richer.
Favorite activity while traveling?
Eating food! I know I’m not alone with this thought- we’re all out here trying to eat pasta in Italy and arepas in Colombia and dim sum in Hong Kong. But seriously, what better way is there to travel than to eat your way through a city? You learn about the culture, the history, the geography, and connect with more people when you experience a city through its cuisine.
Where are you planning to go next?
I’m super psyched to be attending a yoga retreat in Belize next spring! I’m travelling with a group of friends from my yoga community and am so excited to carve out space and time to relax and soak in the beautiful natural environment of Belize.
What do you believe most about the power of travel? How does travel benefit you as a member of marginalized community and/or why is travel important for marginalized groups?
I grew up in a single parent home and didn’t have the financial resources to travel abroad until my freshman year at college. During my first international trip I remember feeling uncomfortable and out of place the entire time, which actually gave me the space to expand what I thought to be true about myself and the world I live in. Travel is transformative to the mind and spirit, and it’s so important that we all have the opportunity to engage in that transformation.