This week’s guest post comes from Ellie, travel blogger behind Grad Gone Global. She explains ‘I initially created a travel blog to reassure my mum that I was still alive and well as I backpacked my way alone around South America. I was 19. She was worried. After that, it just sort of stuck. I would go somewhere, and then write about it. Throughout my year out, and then beyond. My mum read it, and a few of my friends. My grandpa was my biggest fan. (He probably still is. Shout out to the Devon G!). I didn’t do it for page views or popularity. I didn’t know what ‘traffic’ was or why ‘clicks’ mattered. I did it because I loved it. I still do. I love writing, and I especially love writing about travel. I want to have a written record of the places I’ve been and the ridiculous situations I’ve got myself into. And I think this is the best way to do it! But the blog has grown and changed since back then. It’s been through a few different iterations, and finally landed here, at Grad Gone Global. And now it’s become more than just a glorified online diary.’
1. What is your name and where do you come from?
My name is Ellie and I come from a small village near Cambridge in the UK.
2. What sort of traveller are you? Full time / part time / business / backpacker etc.
At the time of writing I’m a full-time traveller, of the budget backpacker variety: think sweaty long-distance buses and not washing my clothes often enough in order to save money!
3. How do you fund your travelling?
It varies, but most of my trips have just been funded through long-term saving (boring but necessary!). I’ve wanted to travel full time since about the age of 18, so for almost my entire adult life, I’ve had a savings fund, which most of my wages have gone into.
I’ve learned to be very good at budgeting – because I know it’s worth it!I’ve also had a lot of experience either working or volunteering in other countries, which is cheap or free or earns money in itself! And then more recently I’ve dipped into freelance writing, which I hope to develop more in the future.
4. Where is the best place you have ever been and why?
There are a lot of contenders for this but all for different reasons – people, climate, scenery, wildlife. Highlights for me have included WWOOFing on a farm in the Ecuadorian cloud forest and seeing the incredible natural beauty of places like Lake Maninjau and Harau Valley in Sumatra, but I have to say that overall my favourite destination thus far has probably been New Zealand.
New Zealand is just beautiful in every way – the people are friendly, its natural beauty is unrivalled, and it’s clean and easy to travel around as an English speaker.
I love other parts of Asia and South America too but there is no denying that it isn’t as easy (by which I really mean I as comfortable and simple) to travel there, especially where difficult language barriers exist.
5. Where is the worst place you have ever been and why?
I can’t think of a place that I outright hated as a whole, but a few have been “not that nice,” in my opinion. Chiclayo in Peru, Cairns in Australia, some parts of Kathmandu, Nepal… For me, it’s usually only one or two aspects of a place that I don’t like, though.
For example, if there’s loads of rubbish everywhere or the infrastructure is terrible, or if it has a bad vibe, then I might not love it. But I don’t think any of the places I’ve been didn’t have some side to them that was good.
6. Do you have a Bucket List? If so where are the 3 top places on it?
My ultimate goal is to visit every country so it would be a very long bucket list!
However, there are some things that are a lifetime dream but are way beyond my current budget range – so if we’re talking ridiculously lofty goals then let’s go with Antarctica, the trans-Mongolian railway and the Galapagos islands…
Not too much to ask, right?
7. What 3 things (apart from the essentials – food/water etc) do you always travel with?
– a dual SIM smartphone, loaded up with podcasts – so I can have my English SIM card plus a SIM card from the country I’m currently in, and all the entertainment/inspiration/career advice I could want for long bus journeys and airport visits.
– a sarong – the most multi-functional item out there: picnic blanket, cover-up for temples, beach wear, towel… The list goes on.
– a pair of Birkenstocks, the real kind – because they are fashionable and practical, you can wear them on a night out or on a day hike, and they go with everything. And they last forever (although pro tip: any kind of sandal will get ruined if you wear them in monsoon for too long).
8. What makes you happy and why?
Crafting the perfect sentence is a joy beyond all else.
There is nothing I like more than taking a break from dirty, sweaty budget travel, treating myself to a coffee in a cafe and sitting down for an entire morning to write. That’s my main luxury while I’m on the road.
9. How long have you been blogging and why did you start?
I’ve been blogging for about four years, since my first solo backpacking trip.
Back then it was to reassure my mum that I hadn’t been kidnapped by Colombian drug lords in South America, but now I use it to practice writing, inform and inspire other people, and keep a record of all of the incredible experiences I’ve had over the years – to remind me of how lucky I am.
My website and new blog, Grad Gone Global, has only been up since July though, and I’m very pleased at how well it’s doing!
10. What makes your blog unique and why should people read it?
I don’t know if any travel blog can exactly be unique these days, but there are three main reasons people should read it:
– I aim to make people laugh at least once an article – even if it’s on a boring or serious topic
– I really cover the nitty gritty of travel, so if it’s practical travel advice you need, then my blog is the place to be. I’m talking taxes, visas, all the boring but necessary stuff.
– I publish a huge variety of stuff, from inspirational articles on the value of travel, to down-and-dirty tips on how to visit places for free or cheap, and you won’t ever be bored by seeing the same kind of stuff over and over.
From ESLT – thank you, Ellie, for taking the time to answer our questions. Safe Travels 🙂