Interviews with other travellers: Brit

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.

 

Interviews with other travellers: Emily

Today is the first in my series of interviews with other travellers, I wanted to include these in my blog to pay homage to travellers before me whose blogs I devoured and gave me the aspirations and inspiration to book my one way flight. By sharing these interviews I want to inspire my readers to take that trip they’ve always been meaning to do and show how other travellers are already taking that path.

Today’s interview is with Emily of www.seehertravel.com, a 31 year old currently in Jamaica and we’re going to hear all about her adventures. Emily, 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 on and off since I was 15. My first experience being abroad was a 3-month exchange to France in high school and after that I was hooked. Heading to Australia after high school at the age of 17 when I should have been going to university wasn’t completely what my parents had in mind for me, but it really shaped how I considered travel to be an integral part of life for my adult life. Since those 7 months in driving around Australia in an unsafe car, I have travelled through Southeast Asia for 6 months, lived in the Cook Islands for an internship, done a semester abroad in New Zealand, worked for the UN in Fiji, backpacked through Central America for 3 months, hiked all over Peru, and lived in Kyrgyzstan for 18 months with the Peace Corps. Now I’m living in Jamaica for a year working for a non-profit, exploring this beautiful country as well as many other Caribbean islands (St. Lucia last week, Curacao next week!)

 

Sounds amazing, can you tell us how and why did you decided to start travelling?

My first big trip abroad was at 17 with a girl from high school, Kristen. We weren’t actually close friends, but we sat together in senior math, and one day she leaned over and said she was thinking of going to Australia instead of straight to university and did I want to go. I thought about it for about 5 seconds and said “Sure!”

 

Wow, that’s an early age! How did you initially save up to start your travels?

I have always made travelling a priority: in high school I did menial chores, paper routes, babysitting, house-sitting, and neighborhood labor to make cash, 90% of which I ferociously saved for first my trip to France and then my trip to Australia. Some of my trips have been funded through the work I’m doing, like my time in the Cook Islands and Kyrgyzstan and now Jamaica. My backpacking style is always budget, my philosophy has been to spend less to travel more. I have never had a new car, a big tv, fancy clothes, or the newest iPhone, I prefer to spend my cash on travel.

 

 

Do you fund your travels by working along the way?

Depending on the trip, like Jamaica, the Cook Islands, and Kyrgyzstan I have worked in development through internship/volunteering programs. In Australia, I worked behind a bar in the Outback and picked grapes. When I backpacked Central America and Southeast Asia, I was purely backpacking off of savings, though I did volunteer for a month in Thailand with a children’s centre, which was a great experience and saved me some cash.

 

What other methods do you use to fund your travels or assist to keep your travels on the cheaper side?

I have written travel blogs for my family and friends for years, but in the last 6 months I have begun considering it a business that can help me travel. I have also begun freelance writing and submitting travel writing to magazines to help pay for fun times. I am very budget conscious, probably to a fault. It is a habit that was formed very young and even 14 years later, I have a hard time breaking my go to budget level mentality (I still end up staying in truly horrid places for no reason at all).

Where was your favourite place(s) to visit?

This is a hard one! I was just in St. Lucia and it was absolutely beautiful. I loved bathing in the mineral pools and taking in the gorgeous scenery. I adored my time in Myanmar, a country I had been obsessed with for years. New Zealand is like my home in Canada but smaller and with meat pies, so it is very high on my list. My time spent in El Salvador was also incredible, so many neat things to do and the people were wonderfully friendly, I unexpectedly hitch hiked more in El Salvador than I have anywhere else, save New Zealand of course!

 

Did you have any nightmare experiences along the way?

Several. I have travelled alone a lot, especially in the last few years, so security as a solo female is always a priority. I’ve has some classic creepy taxi experiences, along with the general catcalling on the street that has gotten too close for comfort. I was in a terrible guesthouse on the Nicaraguan border that was attached to a bar and men were pounding on my door all night. Recently, I was attacked by two dogs here in Jamaica and thought I was going to be maimed for life. I do have some scars, but none incredibly prominent. A monkey jumped on me in Nepal, which to me is an absolute nightmare as a) I despise monkeys (never trust anything with opposable thumbs you can’t reason with) and b) I’m deathly scared of dying from rabies. I did not die from rabies, though I spent an entire night thinking I was going to.

 

Ah! Luckily I’ve managed to avoid animal attacks so far! Is there anything you would have done differently?

I would have started properly blogging earlier and using my writing talents for my advantage.

 

Do you ever plan to ‘settle down’?

I’m in the middle of a existential crisis right now actually, do I keep going with the line of work I’m in Jamaica doing or do I follow through with the travel writing/blogging and see where that takes me? Very tough call, but I can’t ever imagine a day where I say “I’m done” when it comes to travelling and exploring this world.

 

Difficult decision, and there’s still so many more places to explore! What advice would you give to aspiring travellers debating whether to take the plunge?

Just do it! You can make excuses for years, I have heard them all: I have a cat, I can’t save money, I ‘need’ a new car, I don’t have anybody to go with, I’m scared etc. All bullshit in my opinion if travel is really something you want to have in your life. I encourage anybody to just get out there and start. Begin with a short 10 trip somewhere relatively simple where your language is spoken. Stay in one place and do day trips. Work your way up to longer trips and more adventurous destinations. And if you’re a solo, and if you are always waiting for someone to go with you, you will never go anywhere, so make a plan, stay in guesthouses with a community feeling, and do what makes you happy!

 

Well thank you Emily for your insights! If you want to follow more on Emily’s adventures, head over to www.seehertravel.com.