You all obviously know (because I haven’t stopped going on about it) that I’m off to Florida in 4 days for a 10 day holiday and road trip. I’ve got some posts ready to be published while I’m away, but if you want to follow me and my boyfriend on our adventures then please add me on Snapchat: SuzannahSylvian!
This week, to say that my feature Katie is well travelled is an understatement, she has done a LOT of exploring. But she’s also a foodie and gin obsessed Londoner who embraces life in a way most would only dream of.
Tell us a little bit about yourself…
I’m Katie and I’m from London, UK. I’ve been lucky enough to have been travelling since a child with my family and then independently from my late teens. I’m currently up to country 55, with a lot of help from a year off that I did in 2013/2014, where I visited Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, South East Asia, South America and the US.
Outside of travel I adore trying new foods – in fact I ate my way through Vietnam for a month! I also am passionate about gin, something you won’t miss from my social media or blog posts! The day job is currently working as a financial consultant (I’m an accountant by training) and I try to make the most of my days off to visit new places as well as catch up with friends and family and try new things in London and my own country.
What inspired you to travel?
My parents were always very well travelled – my Dad had a job that involved travelling all over the world and sometimes we got to go with him (we had a trip in Australia after he had a work trip in Melbourne). I did a brief month travelling around South East Asia when I finished university and then my holidays were focused on enjoyment rather than experiencing the new.
After a few years at my previous job I decided that an early 30’s gap year was in order and took that time off to visit 20 countries and tick off some of my bucket list items, such as Petra in Jordan. Since then I’ve kept up with using my holiday time to good effect, visiting Kenya and Tanzania for safari, Iceland for the Northern Lights and Cuba!
What’s on your bucket list?
I still have a few ‘I’s to tick off my bucket list – I’ve never been to Ireland or India for example. I also want to return to Italy as I’ve never been to Rome or Florence. I also want to see more of Central America, Southern Africa, the Philippines, Indonesia, there is just so much to see! I’d love to visit some luxury destinations with a significant other (applications open!)
Favourite country so far and why?
I think Bolivia is my favourite country – mainly because it holds its own Andean identity. Argentina and Uruguay felt more like an extension of Europe to me and coming to Bolivia it felt very different, with the indigenous people proud of their culture and lots of Cholita’s in their traditional dress.
Best experience and why?
Seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland. I booked the trip in February with a friend, specifically to see the aurora and the first 2 nights there were no lights. But on our last night we got very cold waiting around and were rewarded by seeing the lights dance in front of us. It’s tricky to explain, but an amazing experience that I would definitely recommend.
Worst experience and why?
Having to bribe my way out of Vietnam having overstayed a visa by 24 hours. It was very stressful, especially with the language barrier, I wish I could speak more languages in order to explain/negotiate better…
What’s on your travel playlist?
I watched lots of different films on long bus rides in South America and downloaded some TV episodes from iTunes too. However my main thing was my Kindle app on the iPad – I read the entire Game of Thrones series whilst travelling, plus some seriously hefty books that there was no way I could carry with me (thank goodness for kindles!)
I did also read books relevant to where I was travelling, including Mark Twain whilst in the US, and some real life autobiographies which were really touching. Music was inspired by what we heard around us – from other travellers and also what was popular in the country at the time (Marc Anthony I’m looking at you for South America!)
Tell us about some of your favourite dishes/restaurants from places you’ve visited?
I eat everything, but I don’t try random ‘tourist’ grub. Some of the best food I’ve eaten has been at street markets – from Bangkok, to Marrakesh, to Laung Prabang in Laos. I always eat seafood when I’m by the sea, but I’ve also had the best stuffed squid in a tiny restaurant in the centre of Siem Reap.
Are there any things you miss when you’re not at home?
I miss my friends and family the most. Constantly moving does also take its toll, so my top tip is to spend some time in one place every so often, not only does this let your body recover from the travelling, but it lets you get used to a place and the people.
Did you overcome any fears before beginning your journey?
I’m not too fearful, I would say that I’m cautious though. I like to plan and be in control and the being out of control aspect when you are somewhere and you can’t speak the language is what worried me. I survived though, and I even picked up some Spanish!
Have you got any tips for people who want to travel but are perhaps scared or unsure where to start?
A few key things help me – always know how you are getting from the airport/station to your accommodation, especially if you get there at night. Always book that first night’s accommodation, if it’s no good you can always move, but it gives you somewhere to aim for and stops you being taken advantage of when you get off that bus/boat/plane and are tired or jetlagged.
A map is great, even better if you learn how to read them! Don’t wave expensive iPhones around in the street and expect not to get mugged. Never walk around with your money on you or in one place e.g. a pocket – spread it around your luggage and only keep a little with immediate access.
Don’t worry about travelling alone, I’ve met people at bars, in hostels and even had drinks bought for me at the airport for telling my travel story! You will always meet people to hang out with and some will become your friends for life.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this week’s feature. Don’t forget to follow her on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook and give her blog a good read, you won’t regret it!