How would you describe what kind of traveller you are? (I.e. permanently on the road, career break, gap year, grab-it-when-you-can etc.)
I’m usually in the grab-it-when-you-can category but I have just finished a nine-month “grown up gap year”, doing 30 things I’ve always wanted to do around the world before I turn 30.
What do you enjoy most about travelling and why?
I love meeting new people, both fellow travellers and locals who live in the countries I am visiting. My favourite places to hang out are markets as you always get a snapshot of every day life. I’m a big fan of people watching and can while away a whole afternoon just watching the world go by.
What was your motive for travelling when you first began and what did you want to get out of it?
I grew up in a fairly small town in the UK and when I went on my first solo trip at 19 I just wanted to see more of the world. Little did I know how addictive it would become!
Was there a particular moment you can remember that started the travel ball rolling for you?
The first time I ever went abroad was when I was 13 on a French exchange trip. I came back raving about the food, the houses, the clothes people wore… I was even amazed at things like the fact that their road signs were measured in kilometres not miles! Even today it’s the little differences which I love.
What do you find most rewarding about being a traveller?
It’s the moments when you have a connection with someone else, whether it’s just sitting down having a cup of tea with a local in a teashop in Burma or climbing Mount Fuji with two complete strangers. You may only speak to that person for a couple of hours, or even just a few minutes, but the memory of that meeting lasts forever.
What are your feelings about travelling at this stage and have they changed from your initial feelings?
I think it’s definitely different travelling when you’re a bit older than when I started out at the age of 19 but, if anything, the experience is more positive. Having worked for six years before my latest trip I definitely appreciated the freedom more, whereas I probably took it for granted a bit when I first started out. I am also much more confident to go into new situations and talk to different people. It takes a lot to faze me now!
What (if anything) have you learnt from travel and how?
I’ve learnt that nothing is as scary as it seems. I used to spend so much time worrying about something and then when I actually did it, I wondered what all of the fuss was about. Take skydiving for instance, I felt physically sick before doing it and yet it turned out to be one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I’ve also learnt to haggle like a pro and how to pack a backpack in three minutes flat!
Do you think you have changed because of travelling? If so, in what way?
I don’t think travelling has changed who I am fundamentally but it has definitely broadened my horizons; it has made me a bit braver and it has made me realise many, many, times how lucky I am to be able to lead the life that I do.
What is your preferred travel style and why? (I.e. fast paced, city sightseeing, culturally immersive etc.)
I like to travel slowly where possible and enjoy spending at least a week or so in a place. That gives you time to meet the locals and establish little routines and I think having a bit of down time is especially important on a long trip.
Finally, is there a particular story you can share that illustrates a turning point in your travels? (I.e. an especially eye-opening moment, a tricky situation etc.)
It would be difficult to pinpoint a single situation but every so often I have precise moments on my trips where what I’m actually doing hits me and I feel complete happiness. From watching a lightning storm on the beach in Colombia to sitting on the top of Mount Fuji in Japan, I can remember every one of those moments perfectly and that’s what keeps me travelling.
About Emily-Ann: Emily-Ann is a journalist who gave it all up for a life on the road, doing 30 things she had always wanted to do before turning 30.