Travel blogger Nora Dunn has been just about everywhere, detailing her financially-savvy adventures on The Professional Hobo for the past ten years. One place that deserves a repeat visit: Ecuador. After a six-week house-sitting gig, the Toronto-based writer has returned for a six-month stay at a plant medicine retreat center in the southern city of Cuenca. Hooked on Anatomie since 2012, her travel wardrobe is a perfect fit for the mild days and cool nights in the Andes Mountains. “The Kate Pants are in my opinion, the best pants for travel. They’re comfortable, lightweight, stylish and can be dressed up or down,” says Nora, who recently featured the Kate and Andrea Legging on her blog (“Anatomie Travel Clothing Made Me Throw Out My Jeans”) and highlighted the Merika Windbreaker in her “Giant 2016 Travel Gear Roundup.”
Nora took a break from her adventures to chat with Anatomie.
Tell us how you became a travel blogger...
“I kind of fell into travel blogging before it was even a ‘thing’! In 2006 when I sold everything I owned to travel full-time, I started a blog as a way to journal my travels and allow friends and family to follow along. Shortly into my travels, I realized there was a living to be made on the road with freelance writing, and while I was busy developing my freelance writing portfolio, my own site (and the entire travel blogging industry) developed along with it. Eventually, I learned how to travel full-time in a financially sustainable way, and now I teach other people how to do it on my website, www.theprofessionalhobo.com and through some of the books I’ve written, such as Working on the Road: The Unconventional Guide to Full-Time Freedom.”
What's the craziest place you've ever visited and why?
“I guess that depends on what you call crazy! Staying for a month in the jungles of Peru was an exercise in learning to live in harmony with a ridiculous number of creatures, large and small (the small ones were usually the most annoying). Sailing the Caribbean for three months wasn’t exactly crazy, but I did feel a certain sense of accomplishment in not spending a night on land while living on five different boats spanning three countries. Then there’s always the streets of Bangkok, which are pretty crazy indeed...”
Favorite place you've ever visited and why?
“This is a more difficult question to answer than you might think. Travel is very contextual, and for me, my favorite places are defined more by the people I’m with and by what I’m doing than by the place itself. Having said that, I’ve had some incredible experiences in New Zealand, Peru, Switzerland, the Caribbean and my latest love is Ecuador.”
How did you “discover” Ecuador?
“Prior to Ecuador, I was living in Peru and apprenticing with a shaman who worked with plant medicine. I originally went to Ecuador for a house-sitting gig in Cuenca lasting six weeks. While I was there, I visited a plant medicine retreat center in the Andes Mountains outside of Cuenca, and really liked the vibe. I’ve returned for six months to live and volunteer at the retreat center and to continue my studies with plant medicine.
I love Ecuador for similar reasons as to why I love Peru and other South American countries: the culture and color is vibrant and full of life. I love speaking Spanish (which I’m still learning the finer intricacies of). And in the Andes Mountains especially, I adore the culture, the inherent wisdom of the people and their deep connection to nature.”
What are can't-miss attractions?
“Ecuador has a lot to offer and I haven’t seen much of it yet. I look forward to doing so in my time there now. Cuenca is a beautiful city high up in the mountains that is certainly worth visiting. Cuenca itself is a UNESCO World Heritage site, with a historical center that is a pleasure to stroll through. There are hot springs near by, the Cajas National Park, which is great for hiking and fishing, and beautiful views all around. And Ecuador—Cuenca in particular—is the true home of Panama hats, so you can’t leave without one!”
If you’re spending time in Cuenca, you’ll find lots to do, but if you like spas, then don’t miss Piedra de Agua, where you can enjoy a circuit involving steam rooms, mud pools, hot pools and more. Your skin will thank you.”
Best time of year to visit?
“The best time of year to visit Ecuador depends largely on what area of the country you want to visit, since it has a diverse range of terrain and climate from low humid jungles to high altitude mountains. Generally speaking, the shoulder seasons are the best times to go: March-May, September-November."
Favorite memory from Ecuador?
“I enjoyed getting to know people and becoming a ‘regular’ at local establishments in Cuenca, having conversations with the man who ran the bakery down the street, and asking my fruit lady how her kids are doing. Some of my best travel memories are about simply ‘living’ around the world, and gaining a greater understanding of how other cultures operate, from the inside out.”
“If you’re visiting Cuenca or other high altitude places in Ecuador, layers are key! It will be warm in the sunny afternoons, but cold in the morning and at night. There is a greater temperature difference between day and night there than there is between summer and winter!”
Carry-on or check-in luggage when you travel?
“I travel full-time, and thus, everything I own needs to fit into my bag, which makes traveling light a bit more difficult for me, since I need to have things for multiple climates and scenarios. For a few years in there however, I did manage to travel full-time with only carry-on luggage! However, in recent years I’ve been staying in cooler places (hence the need for more clothes), and I’ve acquired some “shamanic accessories” that I don’t want to be without. So at the moment, I travel full-time with one checked bag. “
Why is Anatomie a great fit for all your travels?
“Anatomie clothing is a great fit for so many scenarios because it’s lightweight (three pairs of Anatomie pants weigh less and take up less space than one pair of jeans!), dries quickly, doesn’t wrinkle and looks incredible. I always feel great when I hit the streets wearing Anatomie. In fact, in the years I travelled full-time with carry-on luggage only, I did so in part thanks to Anatomie’s lightweight travel-friendly clothing!”
Favorite Anatomie pieces?
“The Kate Pants are in my opinion, the best pants for travel. They’re comfortable and lightweight, stylish and can be dressed up or down. I’ve also been enjoying the Merika Windbreaker and a few other older pieces from Anatomie. I like that Anatomie is always coming out with new designs—a new piece from Anatomie always brightens my day!”