Next up on our traveller interviews is Brit, a 20 something Canadian, currently in Portugal. Brit has travelled Africa, the Caribbean and India. Today she’s going to tell us about her adventures including nightmare experiences and why they haven’t put her off travelling.
So to start, can you give us a brief outline of your travelling experience – where you have travelled and how long you have been travelling?
I’ve been travelling for the last 6 years. Mostly in Africa, as I was volunteering in Rwanda on and off for the past 6 years. I’ve also travelled to much of the Caribbean, and to India. I’ve been travelling full time since the beginning of September this year. I gave up my apartment in Toronto and decided to just go for it. I was spending so much time traveling that it was hard for me to justify paying rent every month for a place I was at only half of the time.
How and why did you decide to start travelling? How long did it take you to decide to actually do it?
I have always been extremely curious about the world. I started traveling for this reason and have always try to mold my life and employment choice around travel. I worked as a flight attendant in university. I studied international development and worked in that field in Rwanda. About 2 years ago I went back to school to learn how to code and I’ve been freelancing ever since. I started doing short trips, working and traveling and now I am working and traveling full time as a digital nomad.
It can be scary selling all of your things and giving up your apartment. Even if you hardly spend anytime there, having a home to go back to can be very comforting. It took me about 6 years of traveling to finally go all in but I am really happy I made that decision.
So true, I only sold my car rather than apartment, but it is hard giving things up. Can you tell me how much you initially saved up to start your travels?
I really didn’t save up that much money. I had about $2000 in the bank when I left for Europe in September.
Do you fund your travels by working along the way? If so can you tell me about the jobs you have completed?
I do fund my travels by working along the way. I am a software developer so I make websites for clients, mostly wordpress sites for small businesses. I also teach coding workshops and other workshop. Plus I’ve also done social media management and worked with hostels doing photography copyrighting and social media in exchange for free stays and meals.
That’s great, you have so many skills, you can check out Brit’s portfolio and find out how to contact her if you’d to work with her here http://brittanyhemming.com. So, what other methods do you use to fund your travels or assist to keep your travels on the cheaper side?
I exchange work for accommodation and some meals, I don’t eat out very often and cook most of my meals, I’m usually very flexible with dates so I can find pretty cheap flights and I travel slow, by staying in one place for a while you usually tend to save a little more money. I also write a travel and lifestyle blog http://staycuriousdarling.com so sometimes I will get free tours or accommodation in exchange for blog posts and social media posts. When you are invited to a place by the tourism board they usually cover your flights as well which is really nice.
Where was your favourite place(s) to visit?
Africa will always have a special place in my heart. Rwanda is my favourite country to visit. I’ve made friends there that have turned into family and I go back every year. I also really love Capetown. It’s a really cool city with a great vibe.
So you’ve had a few nightmare experiences, would you mind sharing those with us?
I’ve had a few not so pleasant experiences but I’ve learned from them and I am thankful for what they taught me. I once asked 3 American girls to watch my bag for me when I was at a bus stop in Namibia and I had to go and get money to pay my visa at the next border. I was gone for maybe 20 mins and my bag weighed about 25kg so I didn’t want to lug it with me to the bank. When I returned my bag was gone and so were the girls. It was all I owned in the world at that time and I was pretty crushed but after a day of feeling sorry for myself I learned that I really didn’t need material things to be happy and traveled much lighter for the next few weeks.
I think my scariest incident was in Dar es Salaam. I don’t talk about this very much but I was held at gun-point in a taxi cab for four hours by four men. They took my bank card and credit cards, made me give them my pin numbers and held me in the car while they drained my accounts. It wasn’t a nice experience and it’s not something I ever want to relive. I didn’t think they were going to let me go and all I could think about was that my poor mother would never know what happened to me. But they did let me go unharmed after they had drained my accounts. Although it was a terrible experience money can be replaced. I’m much more cautious when I travel now. I’m not saying it won’t happen again but I think I learned from the experience and I am very aware of my surroundings. Besides, usually when something bad happens, something good happens afterwards that will restore your faith in humanity. I had a bus ticket back to Kigali the next day and this really nice Tanzanian man who was studying in Rwanda noticed that I wasn’t getting off the bus to get food every time it stopped. We started chatting and eventually he asked me why. I told him what happened to me the day before and explained that I didn’t have any money and after that without even asking, whenever he got off the bus to buy food he bought me some too. He didn’t have much but he shared what he did have with me and expected nothing in return. He also walked with me once I got back to Kigali and made sure I got to where I was going safely.
That sounds horrendous, but I’m so glad it hasn’t put you off travelling. Looking back now, is there anything you would have done differently?
I am a strong believer that life turns out the way it’s supposed to and that everything happens for a reason. I don’t think I would have done very much differently in my life. I am happy for the lessons I’ve learned and I think I am exactly where I want to be at this point in my life.
Do you ever plan to ‘settle down’?
It depends what you mean by settle down. I would love to meet a partner that I could share my life with. Get married and have kids one day. Will I change my lifestyle when that happens. I hope I never have to settle down completely. I see families that travel the world together and live perfectly stable lives. I find that inspiring. I don’t think you need to live your life the way other people expect you to. At the end of the day you have to go to bed with yourself each night and wake up with yourself each morning. Do what makes you happy and what feels right for you.
What advice would you give to aspiring travellers debating whether to take the plunge?
I would say what are you waiting for? The world is a big, wonderful and inspiring place. There is so much to learn and so much to discover. Do your research and have some money in the bank but there are ways to travel cheaply and if you wait until you have saved “enough” or until you are “ready” you may be waiting forever. Just get out there and find a way to make it work. There are so many resources available now. Traveling doesn’t have to be expensive. You can WOOF, au pair, volunteer at hostels, get a working visa, etc. Just get out there and start.
That’s great, thank so much Brit for taking the time and being an inspiration. If you want to keep up with Brit, you get find out about her adventures at http://staycuriousdarling.com.