Author Interview – Keri FoleyLearn more the author
Keri accidentally fell in love with the Middle East and has been trying to show the regions true colors ever since. Unfortunately, the area is not known as much for its amazing history and culture as it is for turmoil. Her travels have let her see the beautiful side and her writings share them. She has a diverse professional background that seems to always have some underlying current of travel or helping people. Her interview brings to light how much travel and life can surprise you!
"I have met lots of wonderful people during my travels, but Jordanians are the most hospitable people I have had the pleasure of meeting."
1. Your first trip out of the country was to Oman, a location that is off the usual tourist path. What made you take the leap from growing up and studying in Nova Scotia to boarding a more than 24 hour long flight to Oman?
After university, my friend Jolani decided to make a drastic change and move to the Middle East to teach English. I remember when she told me she was going to Oman – I had no clue where it was. I thought I was somewhat good with geography, but sadly I had to go to a map and look it up.
After her first year she decided to stay in Oman, and convinced me to visit. I accepted, and flew over with her brother. It was the first international experience for both of us. I never would have thought I would have ever traveled to the Middle East, but the opportunity came, so I jumped on it. I will always be grateful to Jolani for introducing me to one of the most beautiful parts of the world.
2. You seem to find a way to put creativity into all of your professional endeavors. Whether it is writing articles for the brokers insurance association you work for, or motivating staff as an event manager for the Canadian Red Cross. Do you hope to one day become a full time travel writer?
Yes! I would love to be able to write as a full time position; that would be the ideal job for me. I can’t imagine anything better than travelling the world, and writing my experiences. There are lots of people who can’t travel due to various reasons, so I would love to be able to share my experiences with them. To make them feel like they were along with you on your adventure is the sign of a good travel writer in my opinion. I also love hearing other people’s travels as well.
3. You have a wide range of educational experience including business, tourism, hospitality, and insurance. How does your background in business help you financially support travel (the biggest obstacle for most people)?
My best advice would be to continually save for your next trip. I never travel beyond my means, so when I come home from a trip, I am not in debt because of that trip. Anytime I have some extra money, I put it towards my next trip. That way, if a travel opportunity comes up, I have some money already saved. Also, when I travel I do not necessarily stay in expensive hotels, or eat at the best restaurants. I try to save my money for attractions and experiences. That being said, when I was in Dubai, I did visit the Burj Al Arab, the world’s only 7 star hotel! I couldn’t afford to stay, but did treat myself to a visit to the Sky View Bar at the very top of the hotel. It was one of the best experiences I had in Dubai.
4. So far your international travels have focused completely on the Middle East: United Arab Emirates, Oman, Jordan, and Israel. Is there another region of the world that really attracts you?
Other than the United States, all of my international travel has been to the Middle East; however there are so many parts of the world I would love to see; like Europe, for example. I would also love to go back to the Middle East as there are so many more countries that I have not seen.
5. You worked as a Tour Guide and Cruise Ship Coordinator for a couple of years. How did you make the tours interesting for your groups?
I loved welcoming visitors from all over the world to my homeland. It was such a joy to see their faces when they saw the rustic beauty of Atlantic Canada, and got to experience some east coast culture and hospitality. I guess to make it interesting I kept it very authentic. I didn’t memorize every important date in history, nor did I repeat stories that anyone could find online. I told them the things I learned simply from growing up and living here, like various traditions, or personal stories the locations we planned to visit. I wanted them to get a true, organic feel what it is like to be Nova Scotian.
6. What are five items you absolutely cannot travel without?
1. Passport -lame answer, but necessary
2. Hand sanitizer – I’ll admit it, I am a bit of a germaphobe
3. Music – This is a MUST. Music can always enhance any experience.
4. Journal – I need to capture each experience and feeling on paper
5. Currency converter – I found an app that instantly converts Canadian ( or US ) dollars into the currency of the country I am visiting, which is so helpful to judge prices.
7. The Middle East often receives negative press coverage that has lead to strong stereotypes and a lot of anxiety regarding this region as a travel destination. As someone who has come to love it, what would you tell a traveler to convince them to give the Middle East a second look?
Unfortunately, the Middle East does not get the attention it deserves as a top travel destination. Crime and violence are everywhere in the world, so people could say that it is not safe to travel anywhere, but we don’t let that stop us. There is a lot of unrest in some of the areas of the Middle East, but you just need to take extra caution. I was not going to let my fear of the unknown stop me from travelling to one of the most historic areas of the world. The people I met were all so gracious and kind and I wouldn’t change my experiences in the Middle East for anything. I would strongly encourage anyone to go and judge the area for themselves, not base it on others perceptions.
8. What is something you wish you could have put in your suitcase from your travels in Jordan?
The people! Well, maybe not in my suitcase, but I wish I could have bottled their amazing outlook on life. I have met lots of wonderful people during my travels, but Jordanians are the most hospitable people I have had the pleasure of meeting. They are very welcoming and so eager to hear you and your background. They have a special way of making you feel at home.
9. What is your next travel endeavor?
I am currently saving for a trip to the United Kingdom and Ireland, which I hope to take in 2014.