For anyone wanting to know more about me, my travel experience, my travel industry career, what’s in my camera bag and so on, here’s some quickfire answers to all the questions I never thought anyone would give a shit about haha. If you have any other questions, flick me a message on Instagram and I’ll add it to this list.
If you’re looking for the FAQs about my big 52 countries in 52 weeks adventure, click here.
Where are you from?
I’m a Kiwi! Born and raised in Hamilton, a town just south of Auckland in the North Island, but I lived in Auckland for eight years before moving to London in 2017.
How old are you?
I’m 27 years young.
When did you start travelling?
When I was young I did a few short-haul family trips (Australia twice and Fiji once) before visiting London and Paris with my parents and little brother for a few weeks when I was 15. I was too young to really appreciate it properly (in fact I was an absolute little shit, just annoyed that I was taken away from my friends for the holidays. Ugh, teenagers!) but it did sow a seed in my head that it was possible to move overseas when I was older, like my Dad did in his 20s.
My first solo trip was when I was 19, when I moved to San Diego, California for a six month university exchange. It seems crazy now because that seems so young to move to a country where I knew no one at all, and I had no travel experience whatsoever. Six months later I’d managed to travel up and down the California coast, visit Vegas a few times, tick off Coachella, spend an evening in Mexico, Spring Break in British Columbia, and explored the East Coast of the USA too.
How can you afford to travel so much?
This is what I get asked the most, no surprises there! First of all let’s veto some of the classic assumptions: I don’t have a rich boyfriend (or even a poor boyfriend haha), my parents don’t give me money, I don’t have a high-flying job and I don’t travel for free. I wish, for all of the above!
I spent five and a half years working in the travel industry, which isn’t paid well at all but it did teach me how to make my money go further when booking an adventure, and sometimes let me travel for discounted rates. From my monthly salary, aside from rent and basic living expenses, literally all of my money went into my travel fund. I hardly shopped at all, planned my meals to a tight budget, kept entertainment spending to a minimum and tried to put away as much as possible each month for my next trip.
Once I have the money, the next step is to plan a trip where I get the absolute best bang-for-my-buck. I research cheap destinations to fly to, budget accommodation options, the best transport to take, cheap eats and so on. I never budget a trip in detail before I go, but I do gather info around general travel costs and what I can expect to spend while I’m there, to know how careful I need to be with my money.
One of my top tips for making your money go further is to find good value accommodation. I say good value rather than cheap because you might not be on a tight budget, but you still want to make every dollar worth the spend! I wouldn’t go as far to say that I’m an accommodation snob but I definitely enjoy the finer things in life in terms of where to stay: I LOVE a hotel with a bath tub, infinity pools are my dream, and I indulge in a bit of room service every now and then. And I afford hotels like this 10% of the time because I stay in hostels 90% of the time!
I like to split each trip between staying in a funky hostel (always highly-rated, preferably with a full kitchen, central location and curtains on the bed) for three or four nights and then using the money I saved over that time to splurge on a nice boutique hotel for a night or two. I call it Shithouse to Penthouse, but that’s not very fair on the epic hostels I’ve stayed in! To read more about how I afford to stay in nice hotels, check out the full blog I wrote here.
And how do you find such cheap flights?
Since living in London I’ve absolutely fallen in love with Skyscanner’s ‘Everywhere’ search, where you put in your origin, travel dates (or month) and let Skyscanner tell you where the cheapest flights could take you. In fact, I love this tool so much I’ve built an entire year-long round the world trip out of it! Read more about that here.
The Everywhere tool also works if you put in your destination and then choose your month of travel, and it shows you all the cheapest dates to fly. To find cheap flights, flexibility is key. If you’re flexible on where to go, or when to go, or both, you’re guaranteed to get a better deal. Also flying on Tuesdays and Wednesdays are usually cheaper!
How did you get a job in the travel industry?
After my San Diego stint was up, I came home to finish my marketing and psychology degrees, determined to get into a job that was somehow connected to travel. When I was 22, my first graduate internship was at a huge youth travel agency, in their New Zealand head office as a marketing assistant. The role was just on Seek.co.nz (a job site) and I had applied with a cover letter about what I had learnt in my time studying abroad.
This role turned permanent and I moved up in the team over three and a half years, managing a lot of their digital marketing campaigns, social media, blog and website, before transferring to the global Head Office in London when I was 25. I was there for two years, first working in the Global Marketing & Partnerships team and then a quick stint as UK Marketing Manager before my visa expired in June 2019.
One thing to remember about the travel industry is that the pay is notoriously low, and the benefits usually don’t make up for it. My internship was the lowest salary of all of my friends, to the point where I didn’t get paid enough to actually benefit from flight and tour discounts because I couldn’t even afford the discounted price! The one exception to this rule would probably be flight attendants, who manage to travel loads without needing to spend any of their own money.
If you’re sales-minded and have decent travel experience then working as a travel agent can be very lucrative, but it takes a long time and a lot of stress to reach a point where you’re making decent money. If you have any business degree of knowledge (like HR, finance, marketing, design etc.) as well as travel experience then travel agencies, tour companies, tourism boards etc. always like hiring people for their head office who have the skills as well as being a traveller themselves.
What do you do for work now?
Nothing, I’m funemployed! Well I guess that’s not technically true haha. I left my full-time job in London back in June 2019 because my visa is up, and now I’m living on the road. My ‘job’ now is to create travel content full-time, for my own blog and social channels as well as doing freelance content for travel companies.
So far the vast majority of my week is doing my own content, which includes scouting for photo locations, researching destinations, travel planning, writing, shooting, editing, managing social media, reaching out to potential brand partners and more. Phew!
I know this seems like a fun job (and it is, mostly!) it is a lot of hard work, early mornings, long days, and literally zero pay. No one pays me for this content (yet), so my hourly rate is zero dollars per hour haha. Wait, why did I decide to do this again? Luckily I LOVE it, and hopefully some income will come down the line (in the form of sponsored blogs, affiliate links, advertising and so on).
I also have a bit of a side hustle of doing freelance content for travel companies, tour suppliers, tourism boards and accommodation. This can include freelance writing for their channels (like this one for Hostelworld and this one for STA Travel) where I’m paid per article, selling photos and video footage for companies to use in their marketing, or a mix of both. Right now I’m not doing too much of this because planning the next year is taking up loads of my time, but this will probably be my main income source over the year.
While I travel, I also reach out to companies to see if they’d be interested in hosting me in return for a content package. This might mean I get a free night at a hotel, a free week at a hostel, a half price tour or a free city tour from a tourism board in return for me giving them social media coverage, photo content for them to use, a blog review on my site and so on. I haven’t been paid for any of this yet either, but freebies and discounted rates obviously keep my travel costs down which is great.
Please note that any time I review a freebie I’ll have it stated in the blog, and I will always share my 100% honest opinion based on my actual experience. I’ll never recommend any place, product, tour or activity that I didn’t actually love myself.
Where have you been so far?
Quite a few places! I’m not too fussed on country-counting personally just because I never want to feel bad about returning to somewhere I’ve already been haha but I have been to 41 countries so far, in five continents. I’ve lived in San Diego, London and New Zealand, and in the next year I will probably be visiting another 20 or so countries that I haven’t visited before.
To see everywhere I’ve been and the blogs I’ve written about each place, click here.
And where are you going next?
In mid-July 2019 I kicked off a huge year-long adventure that’s taking me to a different country every single week, as I mentioned above! As I’m writing this I’m in week 3 in Belgium, and I’ve been to France (Paris) and Spain (San Sebastian, Zaragoza and Bilbao) already. I’ve booked the first six months so far and will be visiting the following cities/countries:
- Warsaw, Poland
- Vienna, Austria with a day trip to Bratislava, Slovakia
- Milan, Italy
- Budapest, Hungary
- Jordan (all over!)
- Crete, Greece
- Sofia, Bulgaria
- Hamburg, Germany
- Porto, Portugal
- Zurich, Switzerland plus hopefully the lakes and mountains
- Amsterdam and Rotterdam, Netherlands
- Ireland (all over)
- Bucharest and Transylvania, Romania
- Tel Aviv, Israel
- Turkey (all over)
- Baku, Azerbaijan
- Dubai and Abu Dhabi
- Delhi and the Golden Triangle, India
- Bangkok, Khao Sok and Krabi, Thailand
- Penang, Langkawi, Georgetown and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
- Bali, Indonesia
The second six months will probably take me to Australia, the Pacific Islands, North America, Central America and then back over to Europe.
Why did you move to London?
I actually planned the big move after a break up, which is always a great time to take a leap outside of your comfort zone haha. London is somewhat of a rite of passage for Kiwis because we have an excellent youth mobility visa that’s reasonably easy to attain.
The move itself is by no means easy (it’s a damn long way from home, very expensive, hard to set yourself up when you get there) but probably on the easier end of the spectrum as far as countries to move to go. Obviously there’s no language barrier, the culture is really similar and chances are you know someone over there or someone has already done the move.
Living in London is by far the greatest thing I’ve ever done, and it opened up an entire continent that I couldn’t access living back in NZ. I’ve been to a crazy amount of places, some which I had never heard of before I got to the UK, and I fell in love with the weekend warrior fast-paced London lifestyle of making every second count. I’m about to publish my Ultimate Guide to Moving to London so I’ll link that here as soon as it’s live!
What’s in your camera bag?
Then the phone I use is a Google Pixel 3XL which has an AMAZING camera (loads of my photos are from my phone!) and I take it to the next level with Moment lenses, which you clip onto your phone for different lens effects. I have the Moment Wide lens which is hands down my favourite and comes with me everywhere, the fish eye lens, and I had the Tele lens until it got run over by a bus haha.
I also have a GoPro Hero 7 Black which I use mainly for any adventure activities or beach time, and then my trusty DJI Mavic Pro 2 which I take everywhere but can only use in select places because of legal restrictions etc.
My newest photography purchase which I am IN LOVE with is my DJI Osmo Pocket, the same company that makes my drone. It’s a tiny, super lightweight 4k video camera that you can use by itself or plugged into your phone for extra control, and it is incredible. The camera is fully stabilised, there are smart-tracking modes and you can get really high quality photos too, and it is 120g and basically fits in your pocket. I reckon this is a real game changer, especially for travellers who don’t want to lug around heavy cameras!
How do you edit your photos?
I use Adobe Lightroom to edit my photos on my laptop. I don’t really do mobile edits but if I need to edit anything without my laptop I generally use Snapseed.
What are your favourite destinations?
Impossible to answer because each trip is special, but some of my faves have been our tour around Turkey, our Croatia island hopping yacht trip, seeing the Northern Lights in the Arctic Circle on the night of my 27th birthday, and a quick solo adventure to the Komodo National Park in Indonesia.
Who takes all your photos?
It depends on who I’m travelling with. I’m lucky to have some travel buddies who are fantastic behind the lens – my mate Jack took loads of the Iceland photos I’ve shared (check out his other stuff at @levickphotography), and my BTFF (best travel friend forever) Bex is a legend who takes all my photos when we travel together. My Mum is great at shooting too!
When I travel solo (like the next year haha) I always take a trusty tripod with me and use self-timer. Using a tripod takes a while to get used to and you can’t really whip out a full-sized one in the middle of the day at a busy spot, so I always do tripod shoots early in the morning. My full-size tripod is this Manfrotto travel tripod (who needs a man when you have a Manfrotto, am I right?), then I’ve got a phone tripod adapter, and this Xiaomi mini phone tripod for when I’m travelling light on a day trip or something.
I don’t give my camera to strangers, but if I want someone to take a photo for me then I’ll find other young female travellers or a family, offer to take a photo for them first, then ask them to take one for me. Other tourists, especially ones with prams, are unlikely to steal your phone… I think!
How do you deal with travelling solo?
While I do think travelling solo is something everyone should try at least once in their life, long-term solo travel is not for everyone. I’m four weeks in so far so this answer will probably change as the year goes on, but so far I have really enjoyed being by myself.
Solo travel means you don’t need to rely on anyone else, you have no responsibility to stick to plans, you can spend however much or little money you want on food, accommodation and activities, and generally have more freedom on the road. Because this trip involves a lot of planning and work, it would be unfair for me to have anyone travelling with me because I have to spend so many hours glued to my laptop and my phone in between adventures.
I’ve always considered myself an extrovert but this trip has definitely brought out my introverted tendencies, and I’m thriving being alone which is quite surprising! In saying that though I do talk to my mum and friends most days, constantly reply to Instagram messages, meet people in hostels and have some friends coming out at least once a month to meet me somewhere for a few days so I do still have some social connections.
I think the hardest thing about solo travel is not being able to share the experiences with people, but I do get a small bit of this by sharing the things I get up to on Instagram, as lame as that sounds. If you ever watch my Stories and love something I’ve posted, please message me and tell me! It means a lot to hear that other travellers are enjoying my adventures (and misadventures of course).
Travelling as a solo female comes with its own set of difficulties and safety concerns, which I’ve talked about loads more here.
Do you get homesick?
Not really homesick for a particular place because I’ve moved around so much in the past ten years (five houses in Auckland, San Diego, London etc.) but I do miss home comforts, like my favourite burger back home (Bacon Backfire from Burgerfuel, obviously) or my Friday treat of Tesco chocolate brownie milk in London.
Food is one of the things that make me miss NZ the most for sure, because there’s nothing like walking through a supermarket and not recognising any of the brands to make you feel thousands of kms away from home!
I miss my family and friends too obviously but I’m lucky enough to have been able to visit NZ for a month both years I was in London, and will be going home for a family wedding half-way through this big trip. I’ve also had friends and family come over to London to visit while I was there, and lots of my favourite people are planning to meet me somewhere exciting on my trip this year!
How do you stay healthy on the road?
This one is something I’m still working on. It’s really tough because there’s so many factors at play – time zones, different cuisine, different weather, hostel dorm rooms, computer use for my work and so on. I’m sure I’ll learn loads throughout the year but right now I’m trying to focus on three key routines: diet, sleeping, and exercise.
I have some weird dietary restrictions after having my gallbladder removed when I was younger, which means there are some things I can’t eat, but unfortunately it’s kind of random stuff and not an easy intolerance to explain (like gluten-free or lactose-intolerant). One thing that can make me ill is pre-made meals (I think it’s the preservatives in them maybe that affect me?) so I have to avoid those at all costs, which is tough!
This means that I have to be super careful when eating abroad, and try and use fresh ingredients as much as possible. I try and stay at hostels with kitchens when I can and then do a supermarket shop at the start of the week to get stuff for basic meals, like wraps or pesto pasta or something.
I also travel with Huel, which is a nutritionally-complete powder which you add water to to make a shake, and it’s a full meal. Looks and sounds like a protein shake haha but it tastes better (in my opinion!) and gives you everything you need for one whole meal, the perfect make up of carbs/proteins/vitamins/minerals etc. I have this for breakfast most days (unless there’s a free hostel breakfast) and sometimes lunch too, and it brings a bit of routine to my diet which my body thanks me for!
I’m no nutritionist so you can see all the details here (and get £10 off your order!) and I can honestly say it has made SUCH a difference to my diet and overall wellbeing. It’s also ridiculously cheap (evens out to less than £0.90 per meal for me), vegan, sustainably-sourced and there’s a gluten-free option too. This is something I travel with everywhere I go, and it’s worth the extra weight in my suitcase for sure.
For sleep, I try and choose hostels with curtains on the beds which makes all the difference, plus I use silicon earplugs which are a thousand times better than foam ones, and have a cheap Amazon eye mask that sits off the eyes which is super comfortable.
For exercise, I walk a lot and lug a suitcase around at least once a week which is a decent work out! Aside from that I’m really keen to start trying out Les Mills On Demand, which is an app and online platform with hundreds of Les Mills exercise classes to choose from. I am still sorting out my daily routines so haven’t tried this just yet but I’ll update this as soon as I have!
Phew, that’s probably enough for now! Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to follow me on Instagram too.