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Featured Traveler: Natalie Taylor

I feel it an obligation to formally introduce our readers to Natalie Taylor, creator of Near Afar, though I’m sure you’re familiar with her Highlights if you’ve spent any time on AFAR.com. As the name of her blog would suggest, Natalie covers local, domestic, and international travel with personal tales, inspiring goals, and informative lists & guides. She does so with a quick wit, overflowing enthusiasm, a romantic outlook, and an endless appetite for more. As both a local expert for Toronto and an AFAR ambassador, Natalie does an incredible job showcasing her city and all things near on AFAR while taking us on her journeys all over the globe.

If you enjoy getting to know a place through its cuisine, Natalie is the perfect guide. Warning: following her blog and Wanderlists may increase appetite. For her latest bites, check out her Chicago Eats.

The Bean, Chicago

See all of Natalie’s Wanderlists.

Right now I’m in Toronto, Canada.
Though I would much prefer to be in Tulum, Mexico eating fish tacos.
Occupation: Freelance travel writer, blogger and social media specialist
My next trip is to New York City.
My last trip took me to Chicago.
My postcards and photos are my most treasured travel souvenirs.
Favorite hotel: Brody House in Budapest.
Favorite restaurant: I can’t just choose one. It’s usually the hole-in-the-wall restaurants that you have to find in destination that are my favorites, like Scotchie’s in Jamaica.
If you’re  in Quebec City, don’t miss Carnaval. Canadian winter festivals really are a great way to get acquainted with winter and forget that you’re freezing!
Preparation: guidebook, online research, or seat of your pants? I’m a research junkie and back up all twitter/blog recommendations through travel magazines and guidebooks. I also look outside of the travel realm to fashion and food magazines. I do try to leave a little bit up to the forces of serendipity, though, because surprise is the best part of the travel experience.
Talking to the bartenders and waitstaff is the best way/place to connect with locals.
Where do you always take out-of-town friends? Kensington Market.
Favorite travel book: The Longest Way Home, by Andrew McCarthy; Smile When You’re Lying, by Chuck Thompson; The Geography of Bliss, by Eric Weiner.
Biggest travel mistake? I don’t think there’s really a mistake in travel. I think mistakes make you stronger and provide character and growth.
If I had a whole year to travel, I would go from Bolivia to Chile and then fly over to Northern Africa and the Middle East including Morocco and Oman. Then I would cap off the year in Nepal and Bhutan.
Favorite foreign word or phrase: Arrivederci! It’s never goodbye, but see you again.
Favorite foreign tradition: how people toast in other countries. I’m fascinated by the phrases and the different drinking and dining traditions that locals have abroad.
Travel has taught me to be my best self.

Photo courtesy of Natalie Taylor