We had the good fortune of connecting with Vanessa Shields and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Vanessa, how has your background shaped the person you are today?
I was born and raised in San Diego in the North County area up until I went off to college at Cal Poly SLO on California’s Central Coast. Growing up near the beach and taking yearly camping trips throughout California I was introduced to adventure whether it was hiking, swimming, fishing, or mountain bike riding. When I was 13, I spent three months living on the island of Oahu in Hawaii with family and instantly felt right at home snorkeling, surfing, and exploring the island as a local. The following summer I spent four months living with family in Germany with the opportunity to travel to seven countries that summer. I even traveled to a few alone which my parents weren’t too happy about when they found out. I got lost in Austria and had to call home collect (before internet and cell phones) as I didn’t know my aunt’s number in Germany. I guess you could say I had an early glimpse into the world of travel. After that summer, at the age of 14, I had been transformed and knew that travel would always be my number one passion. It opened my eyes to the cultures, differences, foods, and history that I couldn’t soak up fast enough.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I created Traveling Ness as a tool to inspire others to get out of their comfort zone and travel to places they never imagined or even knew about. I want to break the myths around why people should avoid traveling to certain parts of the world especially as a female solo traveler. The biggest obstacle I think is fear, fear of the unknown when it comes to languages, culture, and foods in other places. If I can share and bring experiences to my audience, then maybe I can help them overcome their fears and increase their confidence to book that trip. It is my goal to make travel more attainable rather than a dream that might be fulfilled one day. I encourage connecting with locals and usually the best way to do that is through food and drinks! It excites me when I hear from people saying that they took action and went on a trip based on my recommendations.

I started Traveling Ness during a very difficult period where I was going through a toxic divorce and dealing with a cancer diagnosis. During that time, I hit rock bottom emotionally and physically causing me to re-evaluate what I wanted out of life going forward. That is when I decided to pursue my love for travel and turn travel writing into a career.

One thing I’ve learned is to not put off your goals or dreams until the “right time”. There is never a perfect time to get started on a new project or business. Getting started is the hardest part of any journey. I am guilty of this and could kick myself for not starting my travel blog earlier as I had been to about 30 countries before I got started.

I’d like people to see Traveling Ness as a trusted source for travel tips, guides, road trip ideas, travel gear, and for pure inspiration. I will provide first-hand experience and the pros and cons on anything travel related with the hope that I dive a little deeper than most.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Food is usually the driver in discovering a city and eating awesome tacos is definitely what San Diego is famous for. The top taco shops I’d take a friend to would be The Taco Stand for fish tacos, El Cuervo Taco Shop for al pastor tacos, and Salud! for any taco on the menu. Starting up in North County I would spend a few days hanging out on the beaches of Carlsbad and Encinitas with opportunities to surf, play beach volleyball, or go for a run. Rent a bike and cruise along the coast or head out onto the water by kayak or SUP at the Carlsbad Lagoon. There are tons of great places to eat and chill bars in Carlsbad Village and in downtown Encinitas that could distract you for days.

Heading south, going for a hike at Torrey Pines State Preserve offers up breathtaking views of the coastline and one of the top hikes in the county as far as views go. La Jolla Cove is awesome for snorkeling and kayaking among the sea caves. One of the coolest ways to experience a sea cave is by entering through the Cave Store, down the steps, and looking out to the sea. Point Loma isn’t one of the first places visitors think of when coming to San Diego, but it has great restaurants at Liberty Station, sailing out of Shelter Island, and a lighthouse and tide pools at Cabrillo National Monument.

If they happen to visit in the fall, a trip out to the adorable small mountain town of Julian is a must for apple picking and indulging in the best apple pie. There are a few places to get apple pie but my favorite hands down is the Julian Pie Company. Just outside of town, the Calico Ranch Cidery is a fun stop for sipping a flight of ciders and Dudley’s Bakery has the largest assortment of freshly baked bread. If there is any time left, I’d recommend a weekend getaway on Catalina Island for some hiking, lounging on the beach, and scuba diving. It is the best place to dive in California for its great visibility, kelp forests, and giant black sea bass. When it comes to wine tasting, I love taking people to Temecula north of San Diego, and Paso Robles in the Central Coast region of California.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I have to give a big shoutout to my parents for igniting the curiosity and desire to explore different cities both local and abroad. Once I started Traveling Ness, I was welcomed in by the travel blogging community and formed great friendships with others all across the world. Primarily on Instagram and Twitter, more experienced bloggers were helpful in answering questions and providing support that only other travel writers could do. I have since met a handful in person with the goal of meeting others in the future. Forming these friendships across various time zones and cultures has been a bonus that I had never anticipated. There is a strong sense of community in helping us all grow, improve, and succeed rather than looking at each other as competition.

A few years, I had multiple surgeries to kick cervical cancer to the curb. Post-surgery, I was cancer free, yet I felt the worst I have ever felt physically. Over a year I could barely sit more than a few minutes with constant pelvic pain and barely got out of bed thinking this was my new life void of running, hiking, scuba diving, and traveling. My doctors said I was fine, yet I was living a shadow of what my life was before the cancer and surgeries. It wasn’t until I met Dr. Lindsay Fader a pelvic floor specialist that I not only found hope but started feeling some relief from living in constant pain. I knew it would be a long and slow journey but knowing there was a path to improving my mobility and my quality of life has meant everything to me. I consider her a friend, mentor in life, and someone who truly cares about her patients going above and beyond for them. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be back to traveling and living an active lifestyle that I love!

Website: https://www.travelingness.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/travelingness8/

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