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She Roams Solo Ladies – Maria

Work-and-travel-USA
Work-and-Travel-USA

Maria travels with her dog, Abby. She has the possibility to travel and work all around the USA and spends a lot of her time on the road. Maria works as an optometrist and has had the pleasure of working in places from Alaska to Alabama. She talks about the highs and lows of life on the road and what motivates her with her lifestyle.

If you wish to chat to Maria feel free to contact her on our platform, here

Work and Travel USA - She Roams Solo Ladies with Maria

You have a very interesting and different lifestyle, in fact some might say you are living the dream! You get to work and travel with something you enjoy!. How did you manage to get this lifestyle?

Thank you for saying so. I got this lifestyle because I took some time to carefully decide what my goals were for in this portion of my life and I wrote them down. I would not accept anything less than what I wanted. I had offers to work in a regular 9-5 office and I almost had a panic attack each time I considered it. I could not imagine going back to that style of work life. I listened to my gut and it told me that I enjoyed the freedom that this mobile lifestyle allowed. When negotiating my traveling nursing home job, I told them that having Abby with me most of the time was necessary. I am single and do not want to put the responsibility of my dog on anyone else. (Plus, I enjoy her company.) My job has been amazingly flexible and we work it out that I can take her most of the time. It has been amazing!

You also get to travel with your dog. This is something many of us travellers wish we could have. Tell us what it's like traveling with your Abby?

Hahaha. Well, Abby (like all of us) is not perfect. She is a hospitable and thoroughly loving companion for me, but she does not like other dogs. She feels like it is her job to scan, alert and protect me from all canines. Sometimes she causes a bit of a barking scene if we cannot put enough distance between her and other dogs. We have been working on it for her entire 10 years. I am finally learning to completely accept her for who she is. She can be a cuddly one and once we are settled in the place where we are going, she unloads, makes her bed and crashes. She loves to hike, so I always try to find somewhere to explore, wherever we are traveling. She has her own backpack and can travel pretty light. She has the run of the backseat of the car. When we did our road trip together, Airbnb made it super easy to find pet-friendly accommodations. That is our usual accommodation choice!

Work-and-Travel-USA

 How many states have you visited and which outside USA countries have you seen?

I have been to all of the US states except for 5- Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota and Alabama. I am hoping to do a road trip this fall to finish the last ones. I have been to St. Lucia, St. John, the Bahamas, Canada, Italy, France, the UK, and Ireland.

hat has been your favourite destination to visit? 

Actually, I have been most enthralled with the US National Parks. I loved Hawaii Volcanos National Park, Bryce, Zion, the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Yellowstone. Abby and I tried to hit as many as possible on the road trip. 

Work-and-Travel-USA

What has been your favourite state to visit? 

The bush of Alaska is so unusual and amazingly different than anywhere I have ever been, that it has a special place in my heart. I have traveled there to provide eyecare and the experience was like nothing I could have imagined.

How do you juggle your time between work and travel? 

I live very simply and have adapted to living on working 2-3 days a week. It is not to difficult to juggle when you are not working all that much. It also feels great when you love your job and the freedom it offers.

Tell us some of the downsides of living life on the road?

My car is ALWAYS a dirty mess. There is dog hair in the back seat and paw prints in the passenger seat from when she hops up front. There are food spills from eating while driving (carefully) and always stuff on the passenger seat.

When we stay overnight, I always leave the bathroom light on always so that when I wake in the night, I have a small frame of reference as to where I am. It will often still take a few minutes to remember in which state or town that we are staying.

Work-and-Travel-USA-with-dog

 You mentioned that Alaska was the most unusual of all the places you have visited. Could you tell us a little bit more about this experience.

I went there with a company who provides eye care for Alaska natives in the bush. We carry about 300 pounds of equipment with us to set up a mobile clinic. We fly on small bush planes and are picked up at the airstrip by a snow machine that will take us to the school. The optical company plans trips in all months except the summer. We are based out of the schools. We sleep there, eat there, and give eye exams there. In the summer, the schools are closed and there is nowhere to stay or work. I was there in January and it was -60 degrees, the craziest thing I have ever experienced. Any moisture in your mouth, throat, eyes is immediately gone when you step out into that kind of temperature.  I immediately started coughing. Frostbite is a concern after 5 minutes. My glasses immediately froze over. Surprisingly though, you can get used to anything. The natives are quite lovely people and it was fascinating to learn about their culture and lifestyle.

Reading your about me page, you are a very motivated and successful person. You have seen and done a lot and have many skills. What is before your motivation levels to learn more and how do you find traveling helps with this.

Thank you! My motivation is just my love of new knowledge. I love to feel like my mind is expanding. My favorite part of travel is discovering new information or places, and the more offbeat, the better. I like to seek out things that are not the usual attractions. I love to immerse myself in the local culture, and learn from the local people.

Talk to us about travelling the different states of the USA. From someone who has not been, how do you find the culture and people change as you travel.

It always surprises me how each town can feel different and have its own idiosyncrasies and personality. There are millions of towns out there and each one feels different. Blows my mind every time. For example, the food differences can be so extreme- from lobster in Maine to fresh fish off the NY finger lakes, to Indian fry break on a Sioux reservation, to Cajun cuisine in New Orleans, to cheesesteak subs in Philadelphia. The combination of traits of each place makes its personality unique. Even when places are similar, you can still look closely and feel their differences. I love that!!

Work-and-Travel-USA

You spend a lot of time hiking and in the great outdoors. Have you done many solo hikes/camping? What are your thoughts on this, fears, solitude etc

I have done a lot of solo hiking. But by "solo", I usually mean with Abby. I do not know exactly why, but I do get a creepy feeling when I hike completely alone. I have this (not rational) fear of someone attacking me. I do not watch scary movies, but it is that flavor of fear. So, I usually take Abby with me, or I will recruit a friend to go. Then, I can relax more. This is when I am at my most relaxed- hiking in the woods with a friend to offset attackers. 🙂 I have done some epic hikes with my brother, who is always up for an adventure, as well as boyfriends who were game. My two most notable hikes were to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and the top of Half Dome in Yosemite. I have not camped solo for the same reason as my aversion to hiking alone. My ultimate dream was to outfit a van to be a camper and travel the US in that fashion. I ended up trashing the idea in lieu of the safer Airbnb route because of the logistics the van posed. I was worried that people would break into the van with Abby and/or myself inside. Also, I was not sure how to be able to leave Abby in the van in hot (or cold) weather. Women should not let this stop them. Be braver than I!!

You mention that you love working with the nursing homes due to the humor... what are some of the funniest working stories you have?

My favorite story was a tiny, 80-pound, 100-year-old woman wanted me to simply hold her hand for a while. I had a lull in patient flow, so I  pulled a chair close to hers and took her hand. We sat there for about 5 minutes, peacefully holding hands. And then she peed on my foot, which was under her chair. She was so sweet, that I didn't even mind.

Another favorite story involves a woman who was bedridden. Her bed was hospital-style with guard rails. Her arms and legs were plagued with contracture issues. I went to her bedside to give an exam, as it was difficult to move her. Taped to the wall above her bed, directly where she could see them, were two photocopied pictures of oiled, shirtless men with six packs. They made perfect fixation targets for my exam.


How to get in contact with Maria and read more of her adventures on drmariahiggins.com or social media below:

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http://www.instagram.com/cbrondbo  twitter She-Roams-Solo-Icon-Facebook  

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1 Comment

  1. Thank you so much for the interview, Rebecca. Such an amazing thing you are doing with this community! So happy to be a part.

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