Greetings, and thank you for visiting The Traveler’s Toast About page by Crystal Mae Leturno (me).
I have been obsessed with travel and seeing new faraway lands since becoming an adolescent. When I was 13 years old in a small town Pennsylvanian middle school I somehow got obsessed with the idea of moving to California and becoming a tattoo artist. Well things didn’t really pan out that way, and thank goodness. Around that same time I became involved with community theater and was drawn to it like a magnet. I became a designer and builder of sets, props, and costumes and loved the creative outlet as well as the offbeat theatrical crowd.
This growing passion for the theater led me to believe I wanted to pursue a career in it. One day at the age of 16 I went to a college fair at the neighboring high school and talked to the people from Columbia College Chicago. This is not to be confused with the prestigious Columbia University in New York, although if people make the mistake I’m not so quick to correct them. Columbia College Chicago is an art school of sorts, focusing on applied arts such as film, photography, and as you may have guessed theater.
I again became obsessed with a faraway place and a dream and not a year later was on an Amtrak train with my parents and younger brother to the Windy City to visit this same school. Instant love. It was the only school I applied to and on Christmas Day 2005 I received my acceptance letter. Eight months after that I was living in downtown Chicago, as green as grass. I had no idea how “country” I was. And while I fell into step with urban life quickly, I had no idea what course I had set myself on.
I’ll save you from the boring details of the uncertainty and anxiety that came over me as college life moved forward, but it was undoubtedly a contributing factor to what happened next. That anxiety mixed with something else I had discovered Courchsurfing.org. If you are unfamiliar with the website it is more or less what it sounds like. A network of hosts providing travelers a free place to rest their heads, usually but not always in the form of a couch. This intrigued me. I became a host, and I also suddenly became aware of the fact that alternative traveling lifestyles were possible for the average person. My “surfers” somehow opened this portal between my heart and brain, and the idea of living on the road suddenly seemed very real and attainable.
So I took a “semester off,” of college and traveled the US for three months, most of it by the side of my best friend who made the leap with me. We Couchsurfed, we found rides on Craigslist and through people we met, we dumpster dived for food, and as my older wiser self looking back at this I am shocked at how little money we had or spent. Now I would never recommend somebody traveling on the little money that we had, but somehow it happened. Surely it was hard at times, but it was also incredible. My life could never go back.
After an attempt at returning to college, I realized that it just wasn’t for me. I had the taste for the travel life. The rest is history. After I left college I worked three jobs simultaneously to save money. My next big trip was India, Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji. That was followed by a summer season of work in Alaska. This coming summer of 2015 I will be starting my fifth summer season in Alaska, and my second one as Tour Director. I have now traveled the US, Canada, Europe, Northern Africa, Oceania, and Central America yet I feel as though I am only at the beginning of my exploration.
The traveling life is not for everyone. It took a lot of sacrifice to have what I have such as a steady job or time I have lost with friends and family. For this reason I don’t want to push this lifestyle onto people, but rather urge those who are already seeking it.
No matter if you are longing for a six month adventure across South America or a week at a secluded exotic beach, I believe in people fulfilling these desires. Just see my article 3 Reasons Why I Travel And You Should Too. That’s why I feel that the next phase in my life is using the knowledge and expertise I have accrued in helping people reach these places that they so desire to see first hand.
That’s where The Traveler’s Toast comes in. The Toast is a portal for me to spread travel inspiration and show the steps necessary to reach your travel goals! If you are searching for travel advice, don’t hesitate to send me an email at this address:
Or fill out this contact form:
If you want more information on how I can help you plan your travels please visit this page:
Until then, happy travels.