We have read your backstory and it sounds amazing. Tell us, what was a trigger to quit 9 – 17 job and start travelling?
I guess I was just looking for something else from life, a new experience and to learn a bit more about the world. I was working funky hours as a restaurant manager, very long hours and was exhausted, so I just planned to take a sabbatical year to travel as I wasn’t really sure what I wanted with my life – that turned into a much longer journey than planned as I realised travelling and learning about places first hand was a passion I hadn’t even been aware I had.
Almost anyone will tell that travel is an amazing thing, but only a few will hit the number of visited places like you. How did travel enriched you as a person?
Travel completely changed my outlook of the world, and my understanding of what a small bubble we can live in at home. Meeting different people from countries and culture you only read about in certain perspectives in the news gave me a much better insight and understanding into the world, and the realisation that the human race is very similar no matter where you are. It’s personally made me a lot calmer, level headed, critical of things I see as unjust and a lot more politically aware too.
We read that one of the destinations you visited is your home now.
We are of course speaking of Portugal. How is life going for you there? Life in Portugal is wonderful, it ticks all of the boxes for me. The weather is, of course, fantastic, but the soul of the country, the people, the government, the caring nature and spirit of the people are what truly made me fall in love with this land. I’m due to move to Lisboa, once lockdown lifts, and am very excited to use that as a base to take side-trips across the country. There are so many lesser known places in Portugal still that tourism surprisingly hasn’t touched as much, and I can’t wait to explore them.
You used to be a restaurant manager, and now you are doing creative work, photography and writing. I guess this came together with travel, but how it was doing these new things at the beginning of your new career?
At first they were very much hobbies, and passion projects, and to be honest, I wasn’t very good at them! It never struck me that something I loved so much could turn into a career so for that I am beyond grateful. I dedicated a lot of time to learning new skills, and with so much education available online now, often for free, it’s quite incredible what you can learn from your laptop.
In which destination you ate the best food?
This is a very hard question, but I guess Italy is an obvious choice, the range of cuisine from top to bottom varies greatly by region, and the dishes are so fresh, simple and made with love. I also adore Asian cuisine, whether it’s Indian, Chinese or Indonesian, so I love Singapore as a destination as it offers up all of those flavours from across the continent in a very easy way at the hawker markets, so you can keep sampling different foods throughout the day.
We’ve read that you visited 50 countries so far. Which number is the final target?
I think it’s neared 70 now, but in no way did I ever plan to visit a certain amount of countries, or made a list, I’ve just been very fortunate and privileged to see so many places. I love going back to places I’ve been before that left a special memory with me, so I don’t really have a ’target’ number to visit as I’ll just keep listening to my gut, and wallet, in deciding when and where to travel.
As we are doing this interview in April 2020 and it’s impossible to ignore the reality with Coronavirus outbreak worldwide, tell us in your opinion, how will that affect the future development of tourism?
I think tourism will change massively, especially over the next three years – in some ways for the good of the world, and in a lot of ways badly. Tourism in 2019 couldn’t exactly be called responsible or sustainable, with certain destinations overflowing, and peoples culture become commodities. There will certainly be a shift back to local, domestic travel initially I’m sure, partly due to travel restrictions, but also as people want to stay closer to home and many will be financially struggling. Over time, tourism will pick up, but I’m hoping we will see more awareness to smaller businesses and understand better the need to support those people, and protect our planet a little more!
We noticed that Croatia isn’t on your list of visited destinations. Are we on a bucket list?
Don’t forget that we have goats here, too! Croatia was actually the country that inspired my big trip around the world. I set off on a camping trip through the country in 2013, from Dubrovnik to Ljubljana, calling at Korcula, Hvar, Split, Plitvice, Zadar, Zagreb over two weeks before taking the train on to Slovenia and it’s when I realised I loved travelling in that way, solo, freely and meeting people. Croatia is such an amazingly beautiful country and I had one of the best trips of my life. My only regret is that was before I started photographing and blogging, so I have very few photos or content to write about on my website. I hope one day to return and re-create that trip, with a few more spots, and get to know Croatia even better!
If it was Croatia and you need to choose, would you go for villa accommodation or accommodation on board of sailing yacht?
I think it would be great to do both. It would be the perfect place to explore by yacht, with so many fantastic islands to visit and the freedom of being on the ocean, but also, there are some gorgeous villa options in the country – I stayed in a fab one in Hvar many years ago. The bonus when I return is I won’t be a broke backpacker anymore, so can upgrade from my tent next visit!
Finally, what is the best advice you can give to travellers?
Keep exploring, take the wrong turning, look up, see the world not through a camera viewfinder, and stay curious – the more you experience, the more you takeaway, and the more valuable your precious time in an incredible new place becomes.