Kyler Martin, 22
UW Seattle, Communications + Spanish
I’m from Acme, WA – otherwise known as the Looney Tunes themed pseudo-town, betwixt Whatcom and Skagit County in Nooksack/Upper Skagit territory.
Art, cooking, foraging, biking, yoga, hiking, dancing, laughing, sunset chasing
What is your relation to the Pacific Northwest?
I'm a born and raised PNWian who spent my childhood foraging for wild mushrooms in the rainforests of Washington, my summers swimming in the Nooksack River, my overall adolescence working on my parents' organic farm, my free time hiking in the Mount Baker wilderness, and my sunset hours on buildings overlooking Bellingham Bay or the Olympic Mountain range. My connection runs deep and growing up in this environment has formed my worldview and lifestyle choices through and through.
Why is travel important to you?
I travel to be uncomfortable. Being humbled by a new, unnavigable environment and metro system or thrown into a stressful exchange of pointing at a menu and smiling as your server tries to accommodate your limited motherland language skills is uncomfy as all getup. I like to compare the frustration to that of a wee babe taking in the world through fresh eyes and hollering for attention in the face of all of the newness. I travel to experience bug bites and homesickness and food poisoning.
Through these discomforts, I learn a lot about my ability/inability to adapt and how others express kindness in my times of frustration. Through utmost discomfort, I've fostered a brand new sense of home, community, and coziness. And that's really powerful.
What is your most memorable travel experience? How has it impacted your life and future travels?
My most pivotal travel experience as a whole had to be my first study abroad trip to Quito, Ecuador, where I lived for 3ish months. Those months were full of new, long-lasting friendships, dangerous "taxi" rides, deeply learning a language, being hosted by the kindest family, exploring insanely lush rainforests, experiencing personal growth and health complications, eating guinea pig, and getting my first tattoo are all memories that only scratch the surface of my takeaway from that experience.
How would you describe your travel style? Are you a meticulous planner or a go-with-the-flow kind of traveler? What are some best practices you have learned to help you travel as best you can in your own way?
While I've had structure created in my travel plans through study abroad or family trips, I would categorize myself as a go with the flower. That being said, I have had serious issues with unfamiliar foods that create a lot of discipline and reservation that conflict with my flowy, adventurous side. I've learned not to take anything too seriously, including health complications, during traveling or you're going to miss out on some golden experiences. But also listen to your instinct and your body to keep you out of dangerous situations
How does coming “home” (wherever or whatever that may be) feel after you travel?
Coming "home" takes just as much work as being abroad takes – reflection, patience, honesty, connection, discomfort, and extra hours of sleep are all very key in re-assimilating to being "home".
What are your future travel plans?
I'm planning on going back to my homes in Ecuador and Spain as well as taking time to live or work in other Spanish speaking countries. I also have my eyes set on Thailand, Turkey, and the Philippines just to name a few!
How has the PNW helped shape who you are?
The PNW is at the foundation of my lifestyle choices, ideology, my values, and my love for green things. I certainly find myself taking it and its incredible natural beauty for granted, which is why perspective from traveling is so important to me!
If you were to describe the PNW in three words, what would they be and why?
Grounded, aired, and connectivity. The PNW as a geographical space and ecosystem encompasses a gorgeously lush wonderland of mountains, forests, rivers, ocean, clouds, precipitation, and ~sometimes~ even the sun. That connectivity and cyclicality in the natural world is reflected in a culture of grounded, caring folks with big dreams and a big drive to make the natural world a better place for humans. It's all connected, man. And I love it.
Anything you would like to mention about you and your traveling values/stories that you would like to mention?
Keep an open mind and an even more open heart amidst the discomfort! It always pays off.