La Viajera: Spanish for “the female traveler”.

My name is Ellen Keith. I’m 27 years old and originally hail from Alberta, Canada. In 2012, I traded in my office cubicle and apartment for a camera and a backpack and set off on a solo, 10-month trip across Europe and South America. I’ve been travelling almost continuously ever since, while working as a freelance writer, editor, and translator. La Viajera is my way of documenting my journeys and sharing advice for other travellers.  

Why Travel? The old saying is that home is where the heart is. My heart is a wanderer and has found a home in various cities across the globe. My passion for travel began when I was ten. I was born in the bedroom community of St. Albert, Alberta. Despite being a very pleasant place to grow up, it’s a poor reflection of broader society. My

That's me in the middle, living out my other huge passion -- salsa dancing!
That’s me in the middle, living out my other huge passion — salsa dancing!

parents were determined to expose my brother and me to the world outside our white, middle-class bubble. In the year 2000, they pulled us out of school, rented a Volkswagen Westfalia, and took us on a six-month tour of Europe. Since then, travel has become one of the key aspects of my life. I count the days between trips before I’ve even returned home, and I’ve shaped my lifestyle around a desire to travel. (Living without a car can be tough during a Canadian winter—thank goodness for friends and buses!) The past seventeen years have taken me to 45 countries on five continents.  But, more important than the numbers are the incredible friendships I’ve made and the experiences I’ve had. Some of the most memorable moments:

  • Taking a helicopter ride over Iguazu Waterfalls in Brazil
  • A near-death experience on a 30-hour Bolivian bus ride
  • Hiking to Machu Picchu not once, but twice (and suffering through 64 km of food poisoning during one of those treks)
  • Surviving multiple days of partying in the Netherlands: Queen’s Day and Carnaval
  • Sleeping in four layers of clothing in -25 Celsius in a Bolivian salt hotel
  • Celebrating Christmas at the Cali Feria, a huge Colombian salsa carnival

    Enjoying the view in Guatape, Colombia
    Enjoying the view in Guatape, Colombia
  • Riding a camel and camping in the Sahara
  • Snorkeling off the coast of Bali, diving in Curaçao
  • Dressing in orange and celebrating the Dutch’s (almost) 2010 World Cup win in the streets of Amsterdam
  • Catching piranhas in the Bolivian pampas
  • Admiring the Amazon rainforest from a canopy bridge
  • Getting a little too tipsy on a biking tour of the Argentine wine district
  • Having a huge, naked woman scrub me raw in a Moroccan hammam
  • Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day at the Temple Bar in Dublin
  • Visiting Petra and Wadi Rum desert in Jordan, eating a fire-cooked dinner at a Bedouin tent
  • Not to mention salsa dancing in every city, in every country I visit!
At the Keukenhof, Leiden, the Netherlands

As Mark Twain once wrote,

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

It’s time to make the most of every second, of every day.