1. How frequently do you travel solo?
I've traveled to France alone for the weekend but other than that, this has been my only experience with traveling alone.
2. When did you start backpacking? Did you give yourself an end date?
I started backpacking June 2015, Bali and that was also my first experience of Asia. That year I was working full time so 2.5 weeks was the maximum I could get off. Some wouldn't call 2.5 weeks backpacking as such but if your traveling up and down the country, living in hostels and living out a backpack then your at least experiencing the backpacker lifestyle. Throughout the next 2 years I went on as many trips as I could within my holiday allowance but still managed to visit over 10 countries, some of which I backpacked around such as Sri Lanka, Thailand and Norway.
This trip however which I started on valentines date this year, indeed has an end date, on the 24th October my trip will cease to an end.
3. How are you able to backpack frequently?
When I was working, I would always ensure I left on a friday evening for a weekend trip. I took advantage of weekends and bank holidays also to stretch out my time giving me more days to use on another trip. It was a method which had all my colleagues asking for advice haha!
4. How do you make money on the go while backpacking ?
I don't earn anything while I travel, everything I spend comes from what was saved up.
5. How much did you save up for backpacking before leaving ? How long did it take you to save this amount?
I saved up about £13,000 and throughout the trip. I had early birthday and Christmas money which brought it all to roughly £16,000 or more. This took about a year to save!
6. Did you book your destinations in advance or do you just go with the flow ?
Heres the funny thing, traditionally it seems backpackers just go with the flow, wherever the wind takes them. However to have some peace in my mind as well as my entire family, I pre booked most of my accommodation and all of my flights. As I did want to experience this though, I left Vietnam and Cambodia completely free for me to go with the flow which wasn't bad at all. I personally think going with the flow and traveling alone is better than if I was to have been with a friend the whole time.
7. What are some life lessons your learned while traveling ?
Grab a drink because this may take a while. I'll keep it to 3 like Dua Lipa.
1 - Dont pick up the phone. No i'm playing, the biggest lesson for me was understanding self love. The concept in case of a crash on a plane where you put your oxygen mask on before helping anyone is how self love should be applied to life. I am far from affectionate when it comes to family and I realised on this trip it's because I felt a disconnect due to feeling a disconnect with myself out of lack of self love. I had to love and understand myself before being able to be who I need to be for my family.
2- Gratitude. Not just the I'm thankful for my health' routine, I mean understanding that every problem you have has a silver lining. Even at the most darkest of times, there's a silver lining. If my mother passed away tomorrow, at least I had a mother as some never had the opportunity to meet their mum due to death during pregnancy for example or dying of cancer before hearing their first words. Homeless ? At least you have eyesight to the the sunrise and sunset, some are born blind. The last few months have literally involved blood, sweat and tears but who am I to moan, at the end of the day i'm traveling the world alone and at 26 i've achieved my biggest goal in life. There is always room for gratitude.
3- Growth comes from being out of your comfort zone. I had a full on break down in Hong Kong and I didn't know why until I spoke to my mum. After having a conversation with my mum, I realized what the problem was. I am an only child when it comes to my upbringing, I never lived with my half sister and I barely saw her. What i'm used to is living with my parents, just us. There are often times I come down from my bedroom and my dad is surprised to see me because he didn't know I was at home, that's how much I seclude myself and shut away from everyone. Being that person growing up to living in dorm rooms with 4 to 10 people every night and day was taking its toll without me knowing until I suddenly broke down. However, understanding it was due to being out of my comfort zone was already a weight off my shoulder. I spoke to friends also and they reminded me I can always come home if it gets too tough, but I stuck with it and decided to balance it out. I'd live in dorm rooms mostly but now and again i'd get a private room. Sometimes you just want to prance around in your underwear, not have to worry about the time your in the shower, watch a movie without headphones, listen to your music out loud and eat in bed with no judgement or worry about the food smells. Not to mention getting decent sleep in dorm rooms is hard because someone will always come in late and someone will always get up early. I'm at the point now where i sleep through a lot but you'll always experience drunk and loud room mates who wake the whole room up at 3am. With all that being said, now i'm looking forward to spending more time out of my room once i'm back home and spending time with my parents.
8. Do you have encouraging word for people that want to backpacking for longer than 3 months?
Firstly, you can do anything you set your mind to. But, if your planning on doing this alone I would advice experiencing the lifestyle for a few weeks first to see how long you think you can do it for and if the lifestyle really is for you. If your going with a friend, ensure you've traveled together before. Being with one person 24\7 for over 3 months is a lot and i've seen so often the best of friends don't always get on in a traveling setting. What I did was perfect, multiple friends came out to meet me throughout my trip for 2 weeks or so at a time and that was great. Also all the things you may roll your eyes at when your mums nagging you like vaccines, insurance ect just get it done because you really never know what can happen.
9. Who is your travel inspiration? Could be an Instagram person/page you follow.
Funny enough i've never had one, what inspired me to actually stop working and go traveling was the film Moana. Disney made me do itttt!!!!
10. How is it traveling the world as a black female ?
I am of mixed race. I'm Austrian, my mother's austrian and my father is from the west indies. I say this because it had such an effect on me in China. The Chinese worship white people and because at the time I was quite dark with my tan, I was ignored and my friend and I were even refused cabs because of our skin colour. Beijing is still very old school which was a huge culture shock to me, I had been warned but to experience it was something else. The moment I will never forget was walking past a group of chinese people who were having lunch and being completely ignored and right behind me 3 white men walked past and you'd think they were one direction with the reaction they got. It hurt me because they only saw me as half of what i am, thats when it hit home that racism is still alive because that was my first conscious personal experience of it. I received a lot of stares and laughter in most parts of Vietnam and China, Beijing which made me very uncomfortable. What was amazing was in the pacific islands they said they love seeing people their colour as opposed to all the white tourists, that made me feel very welcomed.
11. Where is home ?
Home is london, East to be exact
12. Favorite country and why?
Ooooo this is a hard one. See it's more about favorite experience and I say this because its the experience that gives you the opinion of the country. I can't answer this simply. In regards to nicest people I would have to go for Samoa, hands down. Best experience would be Australia because I got to be around so many animals and it was just unbelievable. Visually Maldives was a winner. I've still got 5 countries to go so this could very much change but as of now these are the winners for me.
13. Recommendations for travel gear ?
My under armor project rock duffle bag 100%. Man I love that bag. Duffle bag and also a rucksack, smaller than the typical travel backpack but still holds a lot and i've gotten away with it as hand luggage on all of my flights but 1 so saved me a lot of money. Little tip; always check in online.
14. Craziest experience while traveling ?
My moterbike accident 2 weeks ago and skydiving. Still recovering from the injuries of the accident but i'm lucky and grateful I didn't break anything. Skydiving speaks for itself, I jumped out a plane at 15,000 feet. MADNESS
15. What are the best places to travel alone?
Asia because it's so cheap and you meet so many travelers while backpacking
16. What are the best places to travel as a group?
The pacific islands because it's pricey so splitting cab fair or airbnb works out to your benefit in a group. Also its a very laid back vibe and not heaps to do so having a friend makes a huge difference, plus I saw hardly any tourists in the islands I went.
17. What is your travel pack like? Do you only carry-on or do you check luggage? What is the main things that fill your travel pack ?
I aim to only have carry-on because on most airlines it saves me money to not check in anything. I'm very sneaky, so ill always check in online but a handful of the time they still want to see your passport so you have to line up anyway. When this happens I leave my bag somewhere close where theres lots of people sitting waiting to check in, just make sure the check in que isnt too long so you don't leave your bag for too long. Once i'm passed check in I never get quesstioned on the size of my bag, plus i always put a hoodie over it to make it more difficult to judge the size. Another tip is carry the bag as a handbag not backpack because they wouldnt assume it's that heavy if your carrying it on your forearm. Trust me it's heavy, 17kg last time it was weighed at air new zealand were you can check in 23kg yay!
18. Tip(s) for first time travelers?
Personally i'd advice to bring your laptop and a good camera. Laptop for days you just want to relax and watch movies, catch up with netflix. I'm literally on my laptop everyday, I wish I had put movies on it before I left for countries with next to no wifi but I managed to transfer 2 seasons of US shameless so I watch those when there's no wifi or things to do. Camera because you will see the most beautiful skies in your life and a phone can't capture it well enough, especially at night. A lot of people I speak to that want to travel are scared to go alone, as long as your street smart its not any different to exploring your own country in regards to safety. However I hear some places in South America can be pretty bad so I wouldnt travel there alone personally but Asia and the pacific have been great.
19. Anything shock you while traveling?
The way dogs are treated mostly in Cambodia and Vietnam I saw horrific things. The good part is I rescued 2 puppies whose mother never returned and where being thrown around and dragged by the kids. I took them to my home stay for 2 nights and managed to find them a home.
20. Most interesting person you met on a plane you had to sit next to?
I don't think i've ever conversated with anyone on a plane sitting next to me. I remember going to Mexico 5 years ago and my partner at the time introduced himself to the man sitting next to him and I was thinking ''what on earth are you doing" but I can appreciate that now, not something i'd do though.