My love of travel started young. I was lucky enough to have parents that loved to travel and wanted my brother and myself to see as much of the world as possible. Jetting off on a long-haul flight to new and exciting destinations every year was a normal part of life for me.
Before I even turned 18 I was fortunate enough to have already visited over 25 different countries, including the likes of Australia, Singapore, Japan, Mauritius, Dubai, St Lucia and the US. I had been snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef, husky sledging in the Canadian Rockies, on a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon and surfing on Hawaiian beaches. And I loved every second of it. I would come back to school and go on and on about my trips until the point I finally started to notice the boredom on my friends’ faces.
It was around my 18th birthday that I started my travel journal (yes, on real paper) in which I designated a section for every country on the planet and swore I would fill every page with memories before I died. Ambitious I know!
Going at it Alone (Almost)
It wasn’t until the summer after university that I went off my first big trip without my parents; a month interrailing Europe with my boyfriend followed by a month in South East Asia with friends.
Having spent many childhood holidays outside of Europe, interrailing was my first proper experience visiting many central European countries. Starting in Paris, we made our way across Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Serbia then finally on to Italy.
We wandered unknown cities, visited museums, took selfies next to famous landmarks, ate too much, drank too much, spent hours sitting on trains, and even got stranded at the Hungary-Croatia border after leaving our passports in a hotel in Budapest (but that’s a story for another time). This trip was truly the start of my love affair with European cities.
Next, I headed to South East Asia where 3 old school friends and I took the classic route across Thailand, Vietnam and Laos, partially on our own and partially with a group of other young travellers on a G Adventures Tour.
The experience of lugging around a backpack, staying in cheap off-the-beaten-path hotels and one too many sleeper trains was definitely a different experience to how I had travelled in the past, but I still loved every second of it.
I loved constantly being on the move, seeing new things, trying new foods, meeting new people, and most importantly being immersed in different cultures. I also loved the freedom to choose where I wanted to go next and what I wanted to experience in each destination.
When Reality Hit
After returning from my travels, reality hit. I quickly moved into my first London flat, completed a one year masters degree at UCL then got a full-time job at the advertising firm I am still at to this day.
I was disappointed that I hadn’t taken more time out to travel, however, I quickly grew to love my life as a busy Londoner, commuting to work every day and embracing everything this amazing city had to offer (especially now that I had money).
But as much as I loved living in London, I knew I still wanted to travel as much as I could too. I started to use all of my annual leave to go on holiday, and would constantly be bugging my boyfriend, friends and family to come away with me.
Then I Started Blogging
If you’re a regular reader of my travel posts, you may have noticed that the majority of places I mentioned above I have never actually written about.
That’s because it was only in April 2016 that I made the decision to start this blog. Primarily it was to share stories of my life in London, but straight away I made sure that it included a travel section so I could also write about my journies around the world.
The funny thing is, since I’ve started documenting my travels in the form of a blog, my travelling style has changed pretty dramatically. Due to a busy work and social schedule, limited funds thanks to London living prices, and the realisation that I’m falling a little behind on my goal of visiting every country in the world, I have swapped the long-haul adventures for more long weekenders to different European cities.
But the type of trip isn’t the only thing that has changed about my travelling style since I started blogging.
How Blogging Changed the Way I Travel
Since I’ve started writing about each destination I visit, I have definitely noticed changes in the way in which I travel.
I’m Always Connected
In the past, holidays were a time for switching off from the outside world and taking a break from things like social media for a couple of weeks.
Now, I am more switched on than ever when travelling, making sure I record everywhere we visit, sharing regular updates with my followers on Instagram stories, and drafting blog posts whenever I have some spare time.
My Photography Has Evolved
Spontaneous phone selfies have been swapped for carefully posed DSLR photos.
My interest in photography, as well as my need for beautiful photos for both my Instagram and blog, means that I now travel everywhere with a backpack containing a camera, lenses and tripod. This also means that I probably take a lot longer to take photos than your average traveller.
I also take very different photos from most. As well as the well-known tourist hotspots, I make sure I get snap almost everything I see and do; the food, the hotel, pretty doorways, hidden backstreets. I never know what I might need when it comes to writing up.
I Try Different Foods
Growing up I was a rather a fussy eater, and when I went away with my family my parents would often just find the nearest place serving basic Western dishes such as burgers, steak or pizza to avoid the childish tantrums when I would refuse to eat anything on a menu.
Now I make sure to try as many different ‘local foods’ in as many different restaurants as possible. I love trying unusual flavours and traditional dishes, and I can now reliably recommend a cities best food in my blog posts.
I Verge Off The Beaten Path
I do still love to see the iconic landmarks and touristy hot-spots, but unlike my previous travels, I now also make sure to explore the lesser-known areas and places without another tourist in site. I often do this by asking locals where their favourite place to see, eat or drink is, or simply wander off the beaten path and see what I find.
I’m a More Responsible Traveller
Being part of a large travel community, and having been lucky enough to attend several travel conferences over the last couple of years, I find myself more aware of the impact tourism has on our planet and how to travel responsibly. Yes, in the past I rode elephants in Thailand and swam with dolphins in Florida, but now thanks to amazing responsible travel bloggers such as Margarita and Sabina (girl vs. globe) I realise the negative impact these activities can have on the animals.
My aim going forward is to ensure I leave a positive footprint on this planet during my travels, whether that’s opting for local city guides rather than big international companies, or choosing to visit animals that are looked after ethically.
Good or Bad Changes?
I know that some of the points mentioned above may be viewed in both a positive and negative light depending on your personal view and style of travel. Sometimes I do think that I should put the camera down for a while and switch off Instagram so I can truly embrace a new place, but then I realise that photography is what I love and that I do really enjoy taking photos of the countries I visit and sharing them online.
I also love that I’m now a more adventurous traveller. I visit more diverse and interesting places and have become more eager to experience everything. Plus, when I come back I get to re-live the trip over and over again as I put together posts and edit my photos. The memories are recorded permanently for me to come back to and read whenever I get the holiday blues.
Do I Regret That I Didn’t Start Blogging Earlier?
Sometimes I do look back on the trips I took when I was younger and wish I could remember more of what I did or that I had taken more photos. I also sometimes simply wish I that I had more travel content on my blog. But at the same time, I loved my holidays and I loved experiencing so many countries as a naive tourist.
Plus, now I can look forward to re-visiting many of the same countries as a blogger and seeing them in a different light. I can use my past experiences to guide what I do and write about the next time around, and answer any questions I may have had as a tourist.
How Has Blogging Changed The Way You Travel?