Helen from The Lite Backpacker is Augusts Travel Blogger Spotlight feature. A positive person who is always looking forward, Helen’s website is filled with tips and tricks on how to eat healthy with limited funds. Find recipes, hacks and travel stories on her blog. Check out her blog here.
I still class myself as a backpacker, even though I am in my early 30s. I just like the style of travel that backpacking inspires. I try and get as minimalist as possible (though this is still a major work in progress for me… and something I often fail at).
I currently live in Sydney, though I am constantly booking adventures so I don’t seem to be here very much. My favourite type of places to visit are ones full of natural adventure, hiking, diving, mountains and beaches. Though, I also love eating… so anywhere with a great food culture is on my list of places to visit.
Why did you start a travel blog? What is the best thing about running a travel blog?
After my first solo adventure around Europe at 18, I discovered the dangers of the “backpackers diet”. Living off pizza and 2-minute noodles weren’t great of my waistline and Jamie Oliver hadn’t started his food revolution back then, so I didn’t know how to eat cheap and healthy.
Over the years, I have developed some fantastic recipes made from local ingredients which I now share on my blog along with my adventures. But if I am honest, I write because I love to keep the adventure alive a little longer. By writing about it and sharing it, I get to stretch out the experience.
Do you have any tips for other travel bloggers?
Pick your niche, but don’t let your niche define you. Make sure you still let your personality come through as that is the whole reason people read blogs. If we want just information we would read Lonely Planet. By reading a travel blog, the reader is looking to see the world through your eyes – so, make it as real as possible.
Why do you love to travel?
This is a very hard question! I can say the obvious things such as – the food, the people, the adventures, the new horizons… etc. But, really, what I love most is the freedom. The freedom to be who you want to be away from expectations and assumptions. And the freedom to choose exactly where and what you will do. Every time I leave for the airport to start a new adventure, I immediately feel my whole body relax.
What have you learned about yourself or the world through travelling?
What I learnt about myself is that I am both stronger than I think I am, but also can be a complete wimp. One of the big things I have learnt is that I don’t function well when I am tired of angry… I am not a nice traveller when the two combine.
What I learnt about the world, is that everyone is genuinely nice and the number of people who are trying to rip you off, murder you, rob you, be a jerk is minuscule compared to the number of amazing people who will help you every single day.
Who/what INSPIRES you?
My two major inspirations. The first is my mother, who took me on my first trip at 18 months old and then struggled and sacrificed so many luxuries throughout my childhood to give me more amazing experiences. Even when we couldn’t go overseas she would organise little local adventures with one major rule “you can’t go the same way back”. Sometimes finding a new route to get home was more of an experience than us kids were in need of.
My second influence was David Attenborough. To this day, his documentaries inspire awe in me. Most of the places I want to visit are places he has shown me.
What is one place you would LOVE to tick off from your bucket list?
Antartica. Ever since I saw David Attenborough’s documentary about the emperor penguins, I have been obsessed with visiting the south pole. At the moment it is a little out of my budget, but it is definitely on the list of things to do ASAP.
Where is the BEST place you have been to?
My favourite country is Mexico – I love the people, the food and the diving. My favourite city is Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam – it is a city full of energy and cultures colliding. The food is next level amazing. My favourite region is Tuscany, Italy – because of FOOD!
Where are you off to next?
New Zealand. I love to ski, but it is quite expensive to ski in Australia. I did some math and worked out that if I booked early and utilised a whole bunch of pre-season sales I could ski in New Zealand cheaper than I can in Australia.
Do you have a story you want to share?
At the age of 25, I taught myself to ski in Australia… I thought I was pretty good. So when I was travelling through Europe in Autumn at the age of 29, I decided to do some skiing in Austria
What I didn’t realise was how different the slopes were in Austria. I knew they would be bigger, but I had thought I would be able to do the green/easy runs. Well, I caught the gondola all the way up to the runs, got off, then froze. There was a small slope from the gondola platform to the base and beginning of the green runs. But this slope was steeper than anything I had ever been on before.
About halfway down, I just couldn’t take the fear anymore so sat down and just sobbed in fear… while I was hysterically crying my eyes out I heard a bell. I looked up and three skiers were coming down the slope in tight formation, the middle skier was wearing a shirt that said “blind skier” and he was being navigated by the bells the other two skiers were ringing. It really put my irrational fear in perspective.
I managed to get down… signed up for some lessons. Two days later I was flying down the whole mountain!
What travel blogs do you follow?
I follow primarily through Instagram as I am a visual person but here are some major ones I love: The wannabe vagabond Meg on the move Brittany Thiessen Mapping Megan Sailing La Vagabond Girls Vs Globe
I also have a tag set up in WordPress reader for thru-hiking blogs… I am obsessed with reading long distance hiking blogs for some reasons.
Add some final words of wisdom
Around the age of 29, I started to freak out about turning 30… I didn’t have a car, a house, a baby, my body clock was running out, I don’t have any investments. The best thing that someone said to me at that point was “calm down, it’s only life”.
It was like a slap in the face, because life goes on and does what it does, but it is you who defines what you get out of it.
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