Today’s interviewee guest is a Canadian superstar, with her own travel television programme who’s been there, done that. It’s Cailin O’Neil, who has lots of thoughts and travel tips for us today. Welcome, Cailin!
Could you briefly introduce yourself?
I am a 25 year old Canadian from Halifax, Nova Scotia. Growing up I always wanted to be a famous actress and later in life fell in love more with the behind the scenes part of it instead of in front of the camera. This led me to majoring in film in university at NSCAD U and then starting a career in the film industry in various positions from Production Assistant, to locations, Continuity and Assistant Production Coordinator. Also growing up I got to travel a lot as my mother worked for an airline and I had the travel bug at a very early age. A few years removed from university working freelance in the industry I was able to travel more than I ever had, I also began traveling solo which I’ve come to believe is one of the best ways possible to travel. However I also realized that to make myself happier in life why not try to put my two favourite passions together? And that is how “Travel Yourself” was born. In April 2009 I wrote up a summary for my show, had a friend design a logo and started working on my website. While working on a made for TV film as a daily Assistant Director I started chatting with a friend of mine who worked in the camera department who was interested in making a Travel TV show as well, and in August with out any funding or backing aside from my own pocket we went to Spain for La Tomatina among other things and we shot what we hope to be the first episode (or a t least a good pitch video) for the show. Now I find myself furiously editing in my spare time as I work full time (14hr days) at my current job, with hopes of having a trailer for the show online very soon!
You’re Canadian and we’ve talked a lot about things to do in Canada recently. What are your insider secrets for Canada?
An insider secret of mine to Canada? The whole East Coast! Come to the East Coast, way past Toronto! Not enough people do! It’s really quite beautiful here with all of the picturesque ocean scenery, small fishing villages, old lighthouses, amazing hiking trails especially in the fall as the leaves change colors, tons of pubs, great night life, tons of the best beer you could imagine, gorgeous beaches (although not the warmest), you can even surf! great people, great food, all the lobster you can imagine, I could go on and on!
You’ve recently been filming a travel TV show. Want to tell us a bit more about that? What’s it like being on camera and telling travel tales?
I guess I started talking about this to much in my intro! In the past 2 years I have done a lot of travel, I think I have been to about 19 countries and doubled and tripled up on a few of the places visited. Most of these trips were trips that I took by myself, going solo aside from Cuba with a few friends and New York with my family. These solo trips have been some of the best I ever had as clichéd as it might sound, traveling solo is a great way to learn about yourself and other places. Being a filmmaker and having all of these experiences my mind was always racing and I was always having such a great time. It made me think about wanting so many other people to have experiences like myself and I thought about all of the Travel TV shows out there and how many are about the destination or are extremely focused on food or wine or adventure, so I had the idea to make a show about solo travel. Travel Yourself is a show that is more focused on the experiences you have and the relationships you make than just the destination itself. Anything can happen and I hope it encourages all those people out there who want to travel and talk about travel but never do it to do it. Especially the people who don’t go because they say they have no one to go with, all their friends are working and the endless excuses because honestly it is a great way to travel and you can do things on your own schedule, see what you want to see and as selfish as it is you don’t have to worry about anyone else!
So I was determined to make this show, I didn’t look for funding or money in any other way I wanted to do it purely on my own steam (my pocket now slightly regrets this decision). I said to my friend who was a camera man “I have no money to pay you but I will pay for your flight if you come follow me around Spain for a week with a camera.” And he did just that. We started with a full day of travel and ended up in Valencia where we stayed for a few days and traveled to Bunol for La Tomatina (a big tomato fight which happens in the small town outside of Valencia on the last Wednesday of every August) which was ridiculous, we then continued on to Barcelona and finished up in Madrid. You can check out some of the footage that we shot at La Tomatina on Nomadic Matt’s website.
I didn’t really mind being on camera, I quite liked it but the whole thing was so tiring, we pushed ourselves so hard, but we now know how to do it even better for the next time and so far the finished product is starting to look really great, we have a great following on Twitter and Facebook with out even having any footage up yet, however I hope to have a trailer of the show up in the next week or two fingers crossed!
Andy’s Note: Getting a paid flight to walk around with a video camera sounds like a pretty sweet deal! Nice work.
What’s been your most inspirational travel experience?
Cuba was pretty inspirational to me, while there I was on a resort most of the time but did have a chance to have a day trip into the city of Morón. I had just never seen anything like it, the way that they lived and learning about the controls of their government, just something I had never really understood and they were all just the happiest and friendliest of people. It made me really greatful for what I had at home. But also I think that my trip to Spain was quite inspirational. Many people in life say many things that they want to do or wish they could do and this time I just thought about it and did it. I didn’t know what I was doing most of the time and just winged a lot of it but I got it done, did what I wanted to do and am so happy with my finished project right now it really makes me think that I can do anything.
Andy’s Note: Sometimes “winging it” brings the most rich experiences along with it.
What’s at the top of your bucket list?
At the top of my bucket list at the moment is to go to South America. I have this great photograph of my mother when she was my age in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil at the Christ the Redeemer statue with the Farrah Fawcet hair going on and high waisted jeans that I hope to recreate while I’m still the same age. However I’m dying to go to Egypt and Jordan, Asia in general, Antarctica and practically everywhere is the plan!! Oh and of course I hope to be the producer of a travel TV show!
Andy’s Note: Great choice on Brazil – it is a wonderful place, such great food. Though once you’ve hung out with Christ the Redeemer, I suggest you move along to the beaches of Buzios, the place where Brazilians go on holiday!
Where are your next TV shows going to be filmed?
At the moment I am focusing on the first show, since I did it all myself I don’t have any companies behind me yet that want to distribute it or make more episodes. So at the moment I am in the process of editing, as well I am writing one sheets about the show, putting information packages together and trying to contact producers and companies to get them interested in the show. However any of them can feel free to contact me at cailinoneil [at] travelyourself.ca ! Can I do any more shameless plugging? Once I get this episode figured out hopefully fingers crossed someone will be paying for my next trip to film, quite possibly the next show could be in Brazil!
Thanks for being today’s guest, Cailin. It sounds like you are one heck of an amazing journey and I wish you all the best. Folks, be sure to friend Cailin on Twitter so you know when the next Travel Yourself video is out!