I got to know Cindy Scott of Cinders Travels because she contacted me to be on her podcast, the Locals Know Best podcast, several years ago and to feature Brooklyn as a destination.

I was honored! And I’m more honored today to bring you this interview with Cindy, as her experience as an expert traveler in RV-ing and long-distance hiking are inspiring.

Cindy has done some amazing things in her travel life that are far cries from the type of travel I tend to engage in, so it’s fascinating for me to see how she came to be someone who traveled in an RV with her cats and dog, as well as an Appalachian Trail thru-hiker, completing 2200 miles of forest and wilderness from Georgia to Maine (WOW).

In this interview, learn all about the areas of Cindy’s expertise, as well as how she started her podcast while traveling across the US.

Let’s learn all about Cindy Scott!

Tell us about your travel journey. When were your first travel experiences?

I’ve been traveling as far back as I can remember.

As a kid, I grew up in the Metro Detroit area of Michigan. Back then, I had a strong “anywhere but here” mentality and was always ready for a new adventure.

My childhood summers consisted of car camping trips with my mom and brother, “Up North” or out west, once even all the way to Colorado and Oregon. And then, my dad despised the cold and snow, so we’d always also find a way to escape to Florida sometime during the winter.

Another set of fantastic travel influence I had at a young age was that of my grandparents. One pair lived as Michigan-to-Florida snowbirds. The other loved to travel the nation in a Roadtrek.

Seeing my grandparents on the move and enjoying all that our country had to offer while I was so young inspired me to make travel and adventure part of my life, only I didn’t want to wait until I was retired: I wanted to live that way as much and as soon as possible.

Lastly, when I was 11, a family friend recommended I apply for a trip with a group called People to People, which would take me to Australia with approximately 40 other 11-year-olds and a few chaperones. I fundraised for that trip, and my hustle, along with the generosity of others, helped make that travel opportunity a reality for me. That was the event that really leveled up my wanderlust.

Tell us about RV Life: Is it all it’s hyped up to be?

Yes! RV Life lives up to the hype.

Anyone curious about where we went and what it was like can find all my RV life travel journals! It was a blast to make a few loops of the U.S. and constantly explore new places during each destination’s ideal time of year for a visit. I miss it all the time!

That said, believe it or not, three years of moving and adventuring eventually catches up to you, and after a while, taking shorter trips from a home base starts to look awfully enticing.

I have always craved exploring to the point of not always knowing when to stop. Looking back, RV life was the epitome of that. But, the lesson learned at the end of RV life was that travel doesn’t have to be non-stop. It can be draining to not pump the brakes every now and again.

So, could I have lived in the RV forever? Yes, I’m convinced 100%, yes. Also, “budgetarily,” it was the most affordable way to save money during travel and live life simultaneously.

But is it nice to have a home base now? Also, yes!

We just had our first child in March, and we are currently hunting for our next rig that will work best for going on a few planned adventures throughout the year with her!

What were some of your RV travel highlights?

Here are a few highlights from traveling in an RV:

  • I loved the Dakotas! In my opinion, those states (and the National Parks within them) don’t get the level of love they deserve!
  • We spent a month in Utah with my mom, exploring Utah’s five national parks, also known as the Mighty Five. That was a really special time on the road. We had a blast!
  • Accomplishing it with my cats. Sometimes, people let pets keep them from taking off and exploring, but that doesn’t have to be the case! Our years of RVing with our cats and dog prove you can bring them along!
  • Being able to follow the good weather for years! Having perfect exploring weather everywhere we went was a massive highlight for me.

How did you get the idea to start a podcast while on the road? What were the original goals?

I love planning travel (almost more than taking the actual trip)!

I’m constantly scanning guidebooks, travel blogs and websites to plan an ideal trip to every new place I visit.

But, what I found while living on the road was that sometimes the information being divulged to potential visitors didn’t match up with what I would want to do while in town, which is be outdoors, adventuring as much as possible!

Travel guides only sometimes cater to the outdoorsy types; however, there are tons of us out there!

So, the podcast idea came to me while living and traveling in the RV. As we traveled from place to place, we realized that all of the best advice on what to do in the great outdoors in each new area we visited almost always came from the conversations we would have with locals, the people we would meet at a gear store, bike shop, restaurant, or a brewery.

Those conversations are how we often found each destination’s true hidden gems.

The Locals Know Best podcast aimed to have adventurous locals take listeners through their neighborhood as if they were their best friend! Guests would share their best outdoor adventure travel tips, favorite places to stay, tips on where to eat, hidden gems and overrated spots.

The podcast has been on a hiatus, but I still create outdoor guides, often with the help of locals, which can be found on the Cinders Travels website.

I’ve been toying around with the idea of bringing the podcast back to life in the future! ;-) But for now, listeners can still enjoy all the past episodes, which hold up and reveal fantastic outdoor adventure spots!

After so many podcast episodes, what were some of the most unique conversations you had?

I discovered something new during every recording, which was always very exciting. Every episode inspired wanderlust!

Undoubtedly, if I had been to the location already, I wanted to return after talking to my guest. And if I hadn’t been there, I wanted to go!

But, the episodes that stand out most are the ones that inspired me to add a new hidden gem destination to my bucket list.

Examples include:

How did you first decide to hike the Appalachian Trail?

The seed of a thru-hike was planted way back when I worked in television and commercials on the West Coast. While living out there, I became enthralled with the idea of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). I had heard of people accomplishing thru-hikes and wondered if that was something I could do.

Then, once I met my husband, he had also always wanted to do a thru-hike, but of the Appalachian Trail (AT).

Many years later, as a bit of a recovering workaholic, I was eager to get away from the hustle and bustle of life. I was also keen to prove to myself that I was capable of something as challenging as a thru-hike.

After a bit of back-and-forth discussion, we decided to attempt a thru-hike of the AT.

Our choice of going for the AT over the PCT basically boiled down to three reasons:

  1. In RV life (and even life before RVing), we had already seen much of the scenery along and close to the PCT.
  2. The elevation and terrain on the AT are considered physically more demanding than the PCT because it’s not graded for animals like the PCT, but the AT’s logistics are easier. Towns and resources (such as water) appear more frequently along the AT. We figured having access to resources more often was a good idea for our first venture into a thru-hike.
  3. Also, my husband was more attached to the AT. For me, I simply wanted to find out if I could do it!

As for the PCT, we’re still determining if we’ll ever go for that thru-hike. What’s more likely is us hiking it in sections at a time.

How did you prepare to hike the Appalachian Trail?

Preparation for my thru-hike entailed:

  • A TON of research (especially for gear).
  • Weekly practice hikes with weight.
  • Three times a week strength training sessions.
  • A three-day/two-night shakedown trip.

After completing the hike, I put together some resources to help make research easier for future hikers:

  • I created a free gear packing list that prospective thru-hikers can download and use as they research gear and make sure they have everything they need while thru-hiking. However, because everyone hikes with slightly different gear, hikers don’t need every item on the list, so this corresponding gear list details why each item on the packing list is worth considering and what to think about when deciding if they need to bring the item along.
  • I also wrote an article detailing the key elements that impact a thru-hike, including tips on preparing for and accomplishing the hike.

What were some of the awe-inspiring moments of the AT? (Any overall learnings?)

  • Honestly, every day I was shocked I was accomplishing it.

The thru-hike made me keenly aware of what my body can (and cannot) do. I’ve never been more proud of myself physically.

  • I’m very analytical and a chronic over-scheduler, meaning I’m in my head, overwhelmed, and “busy” a lot. The lack of daunting responsibilities during trail, and the mental clarity that came with that, gave me the most freeing time of my life. It was a very important lesson for me to learn that I now keep with me moving forward in my life and career.
  • The Whites in New Hampshire are, hands down, visually, the best part of the AT! If you hike that area, you’ll see the best the Appalachian Trail has to offer, and I’ll stand on that soapbox until the end.

(My husband believes it’s the 100-Mile Wilderness in Maine.)

What are your wisest recommendations for anyone interested in hiking the Appalachian Trail?

Here’s a bit of my advice:

  • Devote time to training and research before you leave. You’ll be grateful you did.
  • Get an REI membership. You have a year to test out all your gear with free returns on anything that doesn’t work out for you.
  • Believe you can do it!

What are your best recommendations for anyone interested in traveling in an RV?

  • Go to an RV show or a Camping World. Step inside a ton of RVs, and while doing so, think about how you will travel and live in them.
  • Consider renting an RV before purchasing. This will give you a feel for what’s important to you regarding layout and space.
  • Anyone looking for more information about making RV life a reality for themselves can also check out this article with 51 answers to the questions we’ve been most commonly asked about living on the road.
  • Just do it! We are never promised tomorrow.

How to follow Cindy