Name: Sinead Gaffney
What city do you call home?
Burlington, Ontario …for now
What was a defining moment that made you decide to travel?
I feel as if I was born with the desire to travel. I can’t say I recall the specific moment when it all began. I wasn’t able to travel growing up, being the youngest of 5 kids and growing up in a small town in Northern British Columbia. My mother used to tell me stories of locales she was able to visit and the cultures associated. Her father was a Colonel in the US army so they were stationed all over the world…Japan, China, Colombia, to name a few. From as early as I can remember I had a desire to go everywhere, see, and experience everything I possibly could. I felt if I didn’t I wouldn’t be living a full life. It was my dream to venture to all the places where her stories originated. Instead, I found my own stories. As cliche as it sounds, I would travel to escape, only to end up finding myself. It’s almost like therapy for me. Whenever I return home from an adventure, my purpose seems a little more clear.
Where have you been?
I just checked off my 31st country! Peru. But I have been to New Zealand, Jamaica, Mexico, multiple countries in Europe, including countries in
Scandinavian Europe and the Mediterranean, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Namibia, and South Africa. There’s something about Africa that keeps calling me back. The combination of vast landscapes, culture, and diverse wildlife makes for one of the most
Can you share a funny travel story?
Most of my funny stories involve wildlife. On my most recent trip, I was trekking through the Amazon and we were sitting in the same spot for hours waiting for hundreds of parrots and macaws to fly down to the salt stone to sharpen their beaks (worth the wait, it was amazing). In this particular spot, there were wasps absolutely everywhere. Everyone else seemed ok, but they were swarming me. I was stung twice! I had no idea why they picked me, and the guides had no idea why. When I got back to the jungle lodge later that day I found a sun kist wrapper in my pocket which must have been what was attracting them. My friend and I just looked at each other an started laughing. I think it was a “you had to be there” moment.
What has traveling taught you?
Travelling has taught me to think outside the box and to open my mind. Things are done differently, and people are raised differently all over the world, so to think one person’s way or religion is better than the other, seems quite naive to me. I have realized I have so much to be grateful for. I’ve seen so many hardships, starving children, and oppression in some of the places I have been. To be a woman born in Canada makes me feel very lucky. Another important lesson I have learned is not to get too wrapped up in material things. Some of the happiest people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting are farmers in South America who only have enough food and money to feed their family and sustain their farms. But that’s all they need in life.
Health and Happiness. They take what they need from the earth and give what they don’t need, which is so beautiful.
How do you balance travel with work/relationships/family?
I feel like if I never had children, I would never be in one place. So I’m thankful to have them as a tether to keep me grounded. That being said, traveling definitely became a lot trickier when they came along. When possible I try to take them with me, especially if I am going anywhere in North America or Europe. Often times I travel to places where it’s not necessarily safe to bring little ones (though I have seen many little ones in these places and they are totally fine, to each their own) and in those cases, I’m lucky to have those close to me to help with childcare when I am gone.
As for work, I have always been fortunate to work for employers who are fairly flexible and encourage me to balance what I do with what I love. As long as all my responsibilities are covered while I’m gone and no one is being inconvenienced, I am usually ok going on a couple of trips a year.
Balance is the key.
If I go away for a few weeks, I try to be more present with my daughters when I’m home.
What advice do you have to encourage people who want to travel?
Depending on how much it means to you and how much you want to travel and what your budget is, you may have to cut other things out of your life. When I was in my early twenties I worked three jobs, never went out for dinner other than special occasions, rarely bought new clothes and that’s how I supported my travel dreams. That being said my social life was also put on the back burner. It’s also handy to get used to drinking your coffee black 🙂
Where can people learn more about your adventures?
Check out my Instagram @sineadgaff, but be prepared for a lot of pictures of my little ones as well:)