We interviewed one of our favourite travel bloggers, Brooke Saward, to find out about her travel experiences (the good and the bad!) and get some insider tips on being a smart traveller.
Brooke founded her travel blog World of Wanderlust in 2012, and since then her following has sky rocketed. Her mission is to “inspire, intrigue and inform the world to travel to more places, more often”.
1. How do you fund your travels?
When I first started travel blogging, I was studying at university full time and working part time to save money for travels. Since starting my travel blog, I have constantly been offered more and more exciting opportunities to help fund my travels. Most of the time I work with tourism boards as I could not afford to travel the world full time otherwise. It’s a win-win for bloggers and tourism boards as you are promoting their destination to your readers whilst travelling the world for a living!
2. What was the first trip you took?
My first ever trip was to Hong Kong when I was 13 years old. I was selected for an International Children’s Choir and we had the chance to travel to Hong Kong to sing at a movie premier. We fundraised in every way possible – car washes, selling chocolates and door-knocking for 12 months before the trip. Needless to say, I never looked back after that trip! Travelling has been my passion ever since.
3. What are your top travel hacks?
Packing: Always pack less and buy what you need when you get there!
Jet lag: Mind over matter! Get outside, soak up the sunshine, and get your body clock on that of your new destination as soon as possible. Also drink plenty of water after the long-haul flight as it will have dehydrated you.
Planning: Research and read up on your trip, but don't be afraid to just wing it when you arrive and do what you feel like doing on that day.
4. Have you had any bad experiences whilst travelling?
Of course. I can’t count on my fingers and toes how many times I have forgotten where I put my passport, not realised I needed a visa in advance or missed flight connections. As I travel full time, I have become quite comfortable and somewhat lazy when it comes to travelling!
When you go on your first trip you tend to be extremely cautious – not eat questionable food, arrive at the airport four hours early, or not stay out after dark. However the more you travel, the more comfortable you become… which inevitably leads to mistakes and bad experiences.
Probably the worst of those was when I was rushed to hospital in the USA and accumulated thousands of dollars in hospital fees from a kidney infection. Without travel insurance, I would have been flat broke from this experience!
5. Have you ever got sick from the food on your travels?
Unlucky for me, I have a really weak stomach and some food intolerances. I've been sick many times overseas, the worst of these resulting in hospital admissions... but I have definitely learned from my mistakes! Now I know the foods my body can't tolerate, I avoid these 100% of the time. As for food poisoning, I'm pretty lucky that it happens very rarely having been a vegetarian for ten years! However, if my body ever fails me, I always have medication on hand in case I'm in a country or place where I can't visit a pharmacy easily.
6. What’s the most unusual location you have ever visited?
I love exploring more off the grid locations – but I think I would have to say Bosnia and Herzegovina really surprised me. I’m still baffled that more people don’t travel here as the scenery, culture and people are phenomenal. I can’t wait to go back!
7. Are there any destinations that you would not feel safe travelling to and why?
Tough question! I was told by so many people not to visit South Africa solo as it is unsafe, and never once found myself in an unsafe position on each of the six trips I have made there! I'm about to travel to Israel solo and have again been warned otherwise, but I don't think you know until you go and see for yourself. Locations that have deemed "unsafe" by a few commentators (South Africa, Morocco, Bosnia and Herzegovina), have resulted in some of the best adventures of my life. I'm up for travelling anywhere!
8. What five items do you never board a plane without?
I’m a tech-head, so I always have my iPhone, MacBook Air, Bose noise cancelling headphones, chargers, and often a book (yes, a real book!).
9. With the growing trend in all things digital, how do you think travel has changed over the past few years?
Travel has become so much more accessible – it is now easier and cheaper than ever to travel the world. Absolutely every aspect of travel has changed and now with so much more information available to travellers, they have to become more selective in order to find blogs or magazines that really suit their tastes/niche interests, rather than the traditional notion of just picking up a travel guide. I think blogs have made it easier for travellers to find personalities in the travel industry they trust, as you can follow a particular blog that you can relate to on a personal level.
10. Can you recommend any good travel apps?
I use XE Currency to convert currencies, Uber to book a car quickly on arrival, Weather app for obvious reasons, Google Calendar to keep track of booked activities, and PS Express to edit photos on my phone.
11. Do you have any tips for aspiring travel writers?
You’ve got to start somewhere! The only way to improve is to practice.
Quick fire round
- Favourite airline: Emirates
- Favourite city: New York
- Favourite food: Caramel everything
- Favourite beach: Kata Noi, Thailand
- Favourite book: Currently Z: A novel of Zelda Fitzgerald
- Favourite album: Taylor Swift’s 1989