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Featured Traveler: Dana Paskiewicz


Avid adventurer Dana Paskiewicz is not afraid of the outdoors—in fact, when asked for her favorite hotel, she answers that it’s a tent. Whether traveling for personal pleasure or for work (though there is surely quite a crossover between the two; she works for adventure tour company The Northwest Passage), Dana makes the most of her trips by throwing herself wholeheartedly into the journey.

Dana hopped out of the kayak long enough to fill out our questionnaire, and you can get to know Dana better through her Highlights and Wanderlists here on AFAR.com, including her guide to Crete—the aptly named, “Magical Minoan Mystery Tour.”
kayaking to Loutro

Right now I’m in Colorado Springs!
Though I would much prefer to be in the Mediterranean somewhere, sea kayaking with good company.
Occupation: Adventure Guide & Marketing Director, The Northwest Passage.
My next trip is to the frigid Boundary Waters Canoe Area, where I will be assisting on our ‘Polar Shakedown’, a program that prepares individuals for Polar travel! We will ski across frozen lakes pulling ‘pulks’ loaded with our gear, then camp out on the ice!
My last personal trip took me to the mountains of Colorado, where I snowboarded and enjoyed local brews. My last work trip took me to the pristine Libyan Sea of Crete, Greece, where I led an inn-to-inn sea kayaking program with The Northwest Passage!
First international trip—when and where? 1998, a tour of London and its surrounding countryside, including stops in Oxford, Stratford-upon-Avon, and Warwick.
A handmade ring given to me by a local taverna owner from a tiny village in Crete is my most treasured travel souvenir. Nikos gifted the hand-tooled ring (which is made from the metal of a recycled street sign) after playing his lyra for our group. He wouldn’t accept money for it, just a smile and a thank you in Greek!
Favorite hotel: A nice Hilleberg tent suits me just fine! I am most content sleeping on the ground in the woods.
Favorite restaurant: Marmara Taverna on the south coast of Crete, accessible by only boat or the E4 trail (a 10,000 km trail that runs through Europe). Ask for the ancient salad, and tell them the girl with the tattoos and dreadlocks sent you (…and you may get a free Alpha beer or two)!
Favorite shopping destination: REI, where you can find me drooling over gear for use on future trips.
Favorite local style/most stylish place: I’m really not into fashion/style, so let’s go with the ‘clothing optional’ beaches of Europe!
iPhone or DSLR? iPod touch in a waterproof bag.
Backpack, wheelie, or trunk? Backpack. No easier way to travel!
Plugged-in or unplugged? Unplugged as much as humanly possible – I have a rule for the backcountry: No electronics!
Public transportation, cab, or bike? Walk or bike.
If you’re in Matala, Crete in the spring, don’t miss The Matala Beach Fest, a gathering of art, music, and of course, hippies!
Preparation: guidebook, online research, or seat of your pants? Word of mouth (and a little flying by the seat of my pants); the best way to find the true gems and ‘must-sees’ of a region are by asking the locals.
Hanging out at the beach, around the bonfire, or at the bar is the best way/place to connect with locals.
Five things you can’t travel without: Raingear, a good pair of shoes/boots, a few backup Starbucks Via packets, a Nalgene, and a well-stocked first-aid kit.
Jet lag: Nap, power through, pills, or herbal remedies? Perhaps a cup of coffee or two, but my excitement for travel generally overrides any sensation of jetlag! I get off the plane and GO GO GO!
Favorite airport and why? Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam. It has an amazing indoor park, uses sustainable applications (you can even charge your phone/device by pedaling a bike!), and of course, a great selection of places to grab a bite to eat and something to drink before heading on the plane.
Three travel apps you can’t live without: Communilator, a good currency converter, and Google Maps.
What’s the one hometown place you miss most while traveling? I wouldn’t say that I miss one place in particular. When I am traveling, I am focused on absorbing as much around me as possible.
First thing you do when you get home: Plan my next trip!
Where do you always take out-of-town friends? When I’m in Illinois, down to Lake Michigan to kayak or watch the waves and stars at night. The Great Lakes are a magical place.
Favorite travel book: One Life At a Time Please, by Edward Abbey (or any travel writing by Abbey, really)
Fly solo or travel with family/friends/tour group? Travel with friends! Although I love sharing my passion for the outdoors and local culture with others when I am guiding.
Best memory of a trip with kids—either from your own childhood or with your own kids: Cruising down I-80 headed west to Colorado in the family minivan. I rolled down the window and the atlas flew out of the car like a caged bird. My parents still bring this up on occasion.
Most out-of-character travel experience? Something that you would never have done at home. I plead the fifth.
Biggest travel mistake? Stumbling upon a full-grown grizzly bear eating a cow when I took the wrong road (although it was neat to watch).
If I had a whole month to travel, I would go to Glacier National Park and hide out in the backcountry.
If I had a whole year to travel, I would travel the world.
Favorite foreign word or phrase: Yamas! (‘Cheers!’ in Greek)
Favorite foreign tradition: Complimentary Raki at nearly every dinner in Crete. You can’t say no!
Travel has taught me that the world is a beautiful, amazing place, and all you have to do is have a good attitude and a way to get there.

Photo courtesy of Dana Paskiewicz