Ashleigh Bandimere grew up enjoying the sunshine and beaches of San Diego, California but her love of adventure led her to live in both Costa Rica and Spain before she returned to her hometown. Ashleigh’s passions include wildlife conservation, sustainability, seeing the world’s natural beauty, and sharing these interests with others.
🎓 Education: Clara University (Biology, 2015), Universidad Internacional Menendez Pelayo (MSc in Biodiversity and Conservation, 2019)
✔️ Fun Facts: I’m a conservation biologist, I lived in Costa Rica and Spain, I’m fluent in Spanish
📚 What was Your Favorite Travel Experience or Story?
When I was in Costa Rica I had a list of all the animals that I wanted to see. The list included things like a Baird’s tapir, a river otter, all four species of monkeys found there, and tons of different birds, including the enormous, white king vulture.
Well after years of living in the country, I had managed to cross off almost all of the animals on my list, and all that was left was the king vulture. On my last visit to Costa Rica, which was a short, two-week stay, I kept my eyes trained on the sky, searching amongst the typical turkey and black vultures for a larger, white bird. No luck.
The trip was nearing its end and I was losing hope, especially when we were loaded in the van and departing the region where these birds live. I was leaning my head against the window looking at the scenery as we crested a hill with sweeping views, when, all of a sudden, a huge white bird soared across my field of view. I started screaming and made the bus stop and we all piled out to watch the king vulture glide and swoop and glide on the air currents right at eye level.
It was one of the best wildlife experiences I’ve ever had!
🗺️ What’s Your #1 Expert Travel Tip?
Don’t overplan your trip.
Make a list of the non-negotiable experiences and sites you want to see and plan those out, but leave time and space for spontaneity.
Some of the most magical and memorable travel moments are ones that weren’t planned or on an itinerary. Feel free to stroll into a restaurant that looks good, or go check out an interesting building that catches your eye.
And most importantly, if a local recommends something, check it out! Ask your waiters or Uber/taxi drivers about their favorite spots.
🧳 Backpack or Suitcase?
Backpack! I’m usually traveling off the beaten path and quite literally on dirt roads so rollers aren’t ideal.
✈️ Window or Aisle Seat?
Window! I love to get a sneak peek of wherever I’m going.