Describe Your Travel Style
While I planned a lot when I was younger, I secretly dreamed of traipsing off into the unknown on my own adventure. There's a quote that says “If you surrender to the wind, then you can ride it” and I finally did this a few years ago, flying solo sans plans. Following a combo of my desires and intuition led me on a journey that changed me, irrevocably, and changed the way I travel. I guess you could label it as dynamic longer-term. Sometimes my travels stretch for periods of years, and I prefer to live in places for a month to several months at a time, because I like to get a feel for a place, immerse myself in it, and meet locals. Dynamism is from my travels being largely unplanned; they can change at any point. Of course, I have ideas of where I'd love to go or things I'd like to learn, but I'm conscious while adventuring to not get too attached to plans (which can be frustrating for some of my friends!). This gives me the freedom to say yes to opportunities that have a funny way of popping up. I love this type of travel because when you surrender your idea of control you more easily experience travel magic, where synchronicities and coincidences are the norm and you're witness to the infinite connectedness of everything.
What are your top three travel bag essentials?
-My laptop – for freelancing and backing up photos while on the road
-My Fujifilm XE-2 – I'm obsessed with photographing the places I go and experiences I have and this is a brilliant camera
-My sarong – I have this particular sarong that I never leave a country without because its size and lightness mean I've used it as a manything, including a beach towel, a plane blanket, a picnic rug, and even a hijab at the Blue Mosque in Istanbul!
Favorite Destination To…
Dance and Party
Mexico, Ibiza, Berlin
Italy goes without saying and I love the food in Mexico, Buenos Aires, Copenhagen and San Francisco. Honestly though, travelling the world makes you realise how incredible both the coffee and food scenes are in Sydney and Melbourne; world-class.
Cartagena (Colombia), France, Italy, Mexico, Portugal, India, Latin America, and parts of the United States like Hawaii and the PNW. There is the caveat that I haven't yet been to Japan, Canada, Iceland or Norway, which all seem like a photographer's dream.
The USA and UK have a lot on offer, especially in terms of High Street brands; Scandinavia and Buenos Aires have beautiful boutiques and local designers; the vintage and antique shopping in France's car boot sales/flea markets (marche aux puces) is fantastic; and I love Australian and Kiwi designers.
India, Mexico, Paris, NYC, Scandinavia.
Relax and Unwind
Tulum/Caribbean, the Hawaiian Islands, South of France (outside of peak season), Orcas Island, Mt Shasta and Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. For me, it's basically anywhere with epic nature, be that beach, forest or mountain.
Top Three Restaurants or Cafes:
Loncheria El Aguacate, Tulum: This cute, unassuming local joint in the backstreets of Tulum pueblo serves up late breakfast and lunch. It has a bunch of happy regulars and you can understand why; once we'd discovered it, my sister and I ate here almost every day while in town. It's so well priced for the quality of food you receive, with everything on the menu from their pozole to their cactus quesadillas delicious. You can even order a fresh orange, pineapple and ginger juice for less than £1. Other Tulum mentionables are Hartwood, Restaurare and Los Aguachiles.
Grød, Copenhagen: For something unusual, tasty and trendy, this is the world's first porridge-only cafe. A friend living in Copenhagen took me here a couple of years ago. I love its unusual concept and that it's not limited to simply breakfast; they get creative with both sweet and savoury offerings for lunch and dinner too. I've been to porridge cafes in other countries inspired by Grød but none of them nail it quite like these guys. Other CPH options are Dyrehavn, Wascator and Manfreds & Vin.
Karaköy Lokantası, Istanbul: Istanbul is a fabulous city that completely enthralled me with its heady mix of cosmopolitanism and strong tradition, multiple religions and fascinating history. There are countless interesting things to eat, like a fish roll and a sour cherry juice from the boys on their boats along the Bosphorous, or great places to eat at, like the colourful street markets. But a particularly great meal was had at a place I remember as 'the restaurant with the blue tiles'. It was another tip from my savvy friend, and the décor was fresh, the service was attentive and the food was delicious.
Sydney and Melbourne also get a special mention, because it's hard to pick just one great cafe or restaurant in either city. Their food game is strong, with a mix of beautiful, healthy, diverse and progressive spaces. Go eat there, immediately.
Top Three Beaches:
Playa Blanca, Colombia. I still remember arriving by boat to this beach on an Island off the Colombian coast near Cartagena... the water was some of the best I've swam in, so clear, so gentle and a wonderful temperature. We ate freshly cooked fish with coconut rice in the shade of palm trees.
Tulum, Mexico. While it has powdered sugar for sand and water that's an aquamarine dream, there are a lot of interesting things going on in this spiritually-minded, eco-chic destination, and wonderful places to explore (like magical cenotes, Mayan ruins and even a biosphere reserve).
Kauai gets a mention for its extreme beauty; on one side you have lush, twisting mountains that lead down to verdant valleys, and the other side has palm-fringed beaches scattered with seals, turtles, dolphins and more. The water was pretty rough at a few beaches, but my favourites were Tunnels beach (which was an incredible place to catch the sunset), Anini beach (shallow and crystal clear with a reef) and Lumahai beach (which felt a little more private).
Top Three Books
- Wild, Cheryl Strayed: for the quintessential travel tale, where the hardest journey you embark on is the one that leads you to yourself.
- Just Kids, Patti Smith: for a poetically written memoir chronicling the relationship between Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe and their artistic journeys in 70s New York City. She is a truly beautiful writer.
-A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson: because travelling brings up questions about our Universe and world and the nature of existence, so you might as well know a little of the science and history behind it.
I'd also add here a travel classic, Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist. Despite it's short length it packs an inspiring punch and I believe this parable has a way of coming to you at exactly the right time.
Ultimate Travel Buddy
I'd actually have to say myself, which I definitely wouldn't have said a few years ago. The growth I've experienced while travelling solo is exponential compared to travelling in a group. With every experience, challenge, joy or despair, I meet myself at every turn. I became more empowered as I realised the extent of my capability and courage. I began trusting my intuition, which led me on all sorts of journeys, meeting all sorts of kindred spirits who I cherish dearly. There is the added bonus that with no one else to worry about, you're able to be selfish (a concept I've constantly struggled with, to my detriment) but this saw me appreciating my solitude and seeking it to feel balanced. It also means you're free – there's no one else to consider or compromise for, you can do exactly whatever you want, however you like. Which brings me to one of the most important parts: being my own travel buddy forced me to ask myself the questions 'What do I want? What's important to me? What do I want to experience?'. That's the beauty and the confrontation of solo travel – you learn hard and you learn fast, because there's no one else to focus on but yourself. And if I had to choose another physical person, it'd be my sister. We're BFFs4evs etc etc
I don't have a favourite because there is so much wisdom and humour floating around, but one that struck me recently was by Emelie-Autumn: '“You,” He said, “are a terribly real thing in a terribly false world, and that, I believe, is why you are in so much pain”'