I’ve known Hannah Marsala since 6th grade. Give or take fourteen years (smh … where does time go?!). We met playing competitive soccer, and she has been my ride or die, best friend ever since. We both received soccer scholarships to The University of Colorado at Boulder, and we happily moved our lives away from Northern California knowing we would have each other through all the ups and downs of college. Today, Hannah is a professional traveler and expert on all things pertaining to tourism. Her website heelstohikingboots.com is a modern girls travel guide, and casts a spotlight on her experiences and travel tips from several countries. Hannah is one of the most driven, hard working gals I know in life. Hearing her stories, seeing photos of her in beautiful locations, and living the life she’s always wanted, sometimes leaves me speechless, but most of all very proud. Her story and passion for the world is something worth sharing, so without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, Hannah Marsala.
First thing’s first, where are you from and how do you afford to travel all over the world at the age of 25?
I’m originally from the San Francisco Bay Area but have been living in Colorado for the past seven years. That question is the most common question I get asked and my answer is always the same, I’m a master saver. I saved enough money waiting tables in college and that lasted me almost 18 months overseas. Since then, I’ve managed to pick up small gigs here and there like working catering events, doing some modeling on the side with Wilhelmina, helping people plan trips, etc. I always tell people if you really want to travel then just do it, make it work.
When did you start traveling?
I started traveling when I was about six years old. My first memory of traveling was when my parents took me to Thailand. We stayed with a local tribe in the jungles of Chiang Mai. The tribesmen cooked rat for dinner and ants for dessert, then we slept on bamboo shoots over pigs. It was an experience, let me tell you.
How many countries have you been to?
- Costa Rica
- The Netherlands
- Sri Lanka
- America lol
What country do you really want to visit and have yet to experience?
I’m dying to go to Morocco. Everyone says I would love it and it would be right up my alley. That’s definitely on my radar. Maybe sometime in the fall when the weather cools down a little bit.
What country (or countries) did you enjoy food the most?
The food is definitely my favorite part about traveling. This question is tricky because there is so much amazing food all over the world. My answer might be surprising, but I’m going to say India. I went to Mumbai a few months ago and was taken around by a local to all her favorite places and I was a changed woman. I never thought I liked Indian food until I went to Mumbai. Now I crave lentils, the raita, the butter chicken, mmm it’s all just so delicious and tasty and I honestly had no idea!
I know you have traveled alone and with friends. Tell me about that. Do you prefer one or the other?
I travel alone sometimes, but I also find it fun to travel with others. I’ve traveled with numerous girlfriends and I’ve also traveled with my boyfriend. It’s a unique experience every time. I lived in Madrid with two of my best girlfriends in 2010 and we had so much fun. We went out all the time, drank wine, met people … It was a blast. You have to be adaptable when you travel, as far as who you’re with and what you’ll be doing. Things don’t always go your way, people can get annoying after weeks of just being with that one other person (haha), but that’s where you grow and learn to adjust. It makes you a stronger person in the long run.
Traveling alone is something I encourage all people to do at least once. It can be intimidating but when I travel alone I come alive. It’s like I can be whoever I want to be and no one has a clue where I came from or anything about my life, it’s a very liberating experience.
How do you balance traveling, blogging and modeling?
The hardest thing to balance is traveling and blogging. When I’m on the road and enjoying myself it gets pretty old taking pictures of every single thing and taking down notes of where I ate, what I did, how I did it, and all that fun stuff. I always have to remind myself I’m sharing this information to help people travel, that is what keeps me going.
Do you have any travel rituals? Things you say or write before getting on/off a plane?
Haha, I don’t know why I’m laughing but no I don’t. I don’t have time for any rituals, I literally get on a plane, visit a country, get on a plane, visit a country, and it never stops. My only ritual or thing I do before I visit any country is a little bit of research just to get a feel for a place.
Where can I find you on a weekend night in another country? Party? Drinking a bottle of wine with your BF? Writing a blog post?
On a Friday or Saturday night you could either find me drinking a bottle of wine on the beach or going out to the club. I like to mix it up and get a feel of every country’s nightlife. For example, in Istanbul I loved going out to eat all night, drinking some wine, and then going to bed fairly early. In London and Berlin for example, I like to go hard. Those are the stay-up all night weekends where I go to the club. Nightlife is a very big part of some countries, especially in Europe.
If you could collaborate with any other travel blogger/be an influencer for a company while on the go, who or what would that be?
Right now I’m an influencer for Midori Bikinis. I love working with brands but only if I actually believe in the company. The fun thing about traveling is that almost all things relate to it, for example, fashion, health and fitness, technology, they all play a role. I’d love to work with GoPro or some company that helps me share either photos, videos, or information about the places I go.
What’s the latest travel project you’ve been working on?
Right now I’ve been traveling around trying to hit two countries a month. My boyfriend and I are coproducing a travel series where we show the real culture of places, what it’s like to live there, how you can get around, and all that fun travel stuff. We’re making our show modern and of what I think is really cool. We want to represent our generation. Our goal is to have 6-8 episodes done before we release it to the public. It’s pretty exciting; I can’t wait to share it with the world!
What’s your ultimate dream when it comes to travel?
My goal is to have my own travel show one day. That’s been my goal since I was a little girl. A show where I can go to places and experience new things every day and get paid for it! Honestly I just want to travel, it makes me a better person and helps keep me sane.
Be sure to keep up with Hannah and all of her travels here:
Do you have the travel bug? Or a friend globe trotting around the world? VIRTVE would love to hear about it! Send us an email at VIRTVEmag@gmail.com.