It’s time once again for Miss Maps’s Featured Female Traveler. This girl’s taken things into her own hands and here by introducing her story to you and sending some loving pointers your way. In her own words:
My name is Bianca and I am a 29-year-old travel and community blogger from Sydney Australia. I say community blogger because I like to focus a lot of my writing on community development through responsible tourism initiatives. Right now I’m writing those stories via my blog, The Altruistic Traveller, from various locations throughout Asia as I left home (Australia) to spend the year traveling. Writing about this fascinating continent that has more stories to tell than you could ever imagine. I also write for responsible travel organization Backpacker Bible, and freelance for the World Fair Trade Organization Asia.
What is your favorite destination? What makes it special to you?
When you’ve travelled to 35 countries it really is hard to pick a favourite but I would say that my favourite kinds of destinations are the ones where you can easily get off the beaten track and delve into another culture, but then also have a tiny bit of western familiarity to combat the nostalgia when you need it. Siem Reap Cambodia is great for this because it has so much culture but also a small dose of cute café’s and social enterprises that give you a taste of home. Ubud and Luang Prabang are also some of my favourite cities because of this.
My other kind of favourite destination is a place where I can see wildlife in their natural habitat. This year I travelled to Sumatra to see the Orangutans and it was one of the most incredible places I have ever been.
What destination would you recommend for other females to visit? Sell it to us!
I’d have to recommend taking on Myanmar. It is such a fascinating place, very safe for tourists and solo female travellers. It is still quite unspoiled and untouched and the local communities are really benefiting from increased tourism. The people there are some of the friendliest I have ever met. It’s the type of place where everyone is willing to help you and everyone greets you with a smile. I’ve had people ask me if it is safe to go there and if it is easy to travel around and my answer is always ‘absolutely’. Get there before the rest of the world does.
What advice would you like to share with other female travelers?
“Live a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear.”
This Elizabeth Gilbert quote is a favourite of mine (and yes, I loved every part of Eat Pray Love). Don’t be afraid to go to the places you want to go to. Don’t let your excuses get in the way of seeing the world and doing what you love. I have only ever been rewarded by the universe when I truly follow my heart and don’t let fear get in the way. While it can be tough, rest assured that your instincts will guide you in the right direction.
What destination is on your radar? What about it attracts you?
After I tackle the magical continent that is Asia I would love to go to South America. It might take me a while to get there because I think I would need a good six months (at least) to cover the whole region. But I will get there, if it’s the last thing I do. I’m fascinated by what it South America has to offer, all the culture, all the wildlife, all the food, all the opportunity. I’d like to write about the responsible tourism and community development going on in that area because, like Asia, they are moving forward and things are changing for the better.
Advice on traveling alone?
I have travelled alone many times, but as the saying goes – you’re never alone when you travel. My first solo experience was to Bali, since then I’ve done the US, Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia on my own. All those experiences were great. I met so many people, made so many new friends. It’s never hard to meet people because it’s rare to find a road less travelled. More than likely someone is taking the same route as you. That has been my experience in Asia at least. I would say it’s a good start for solo female travel as most places are safe, hostels are plentiful, it’s very easy to get from A to B and it really boosts your confidence as a traveller. The only downside I’d say about solo travel is the occasional loneliness that creeps up, which tends to happen when you’re doing long term travel. Despite meeting people you have times where you miss the familiar things and you are stuck dealing with it on your own but you always get through these times, and sometimes look back and think ‘what was I thinking’. It’s a phase that passes.
What type of traveler are you?
Definitely budget. I’m the girl who eats street food, takes overnight buses and sleeps in 10-bed dorms. I find those experiences all such a wonderful part of the traveling practice. Despite what people think, the caliber of hostels and overall budget travel is fantastic around the world, so it’s not the grubby stereotype people perceive it to be (in most cases). I just prefer to make my money last and not spend $200 on a room for a night when that money could last me days, or even up to a week. If I want to spoil myself I sometimes get a private room with air con or go and stay somewhere by the beach, but these can also be done on relatively cheap budgets. I actually put together an article titled 50 ways to travel for less than $50 a day to show other travellers how they can travel on a small budget.
Any thoughts about relationships and travel?
I’m just going to put it out there and say (romantic) relationships are tough when you’re an avid traveller. Your life goal of visiting 100 countries is more important to you than getting married and having children, which then makes you the minority in many circumstances. While you’re friends are busy settling down you’re planning your next adventure and when it comes to relationships ‘settling down’ is usually what is expected. Unless you’re lucky enough to find someone who’s sense of adventure matches your own, somebody always ends up having to make a sacrifice, and sometimes that sacrifice becomes the relationship itself.
What is your most memorable travel moment?
Oh I have so many I can’t really put it down to one. Climbing the Great Wall of China; seeing sunrise at the Angkor Wat temples; exploring street art in Penang; sleeping on a lake in Khao Sok National Park; visiting remote villages in southern Laos; witnessing the beauty of the Taj Mahal; climbing ancient Mayan pyramids in Mexico.
Then there are the simple things like drinking French wine with friends on the banks of the river Siene in Paris, or visiting ancient castles in Ireland with my sister; or even travelling up the east coast of my home country of Australia in a car with friends. It seems travelling is where I create some of my most special memories.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I couldn’t leave without leaving my piece about being a responsible traveller. I believe, as travellers, we have the chance to really change the world. I’ve seen how community based tourism can turn poor communities into thriving ones; I’ve seen how animal activism has put a dark light on animal exploitation in the tourism industry and has helped to close unethical attractions and stop Elephant rides; I’ve seen how eco tourism has saved places from becoming destroyed and educated people about the importance of conservation. As the saying goes, ‘take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints’. Be an educated traveller and help to make the world a better place.
Thanks for sharing your stories with us – we’re looking forward to many more!