A teacher by training and blogger by choice, 34 year-old Lottie Reeves proves it’s possible to do not one, not two but three things at once and excel in each of them; Because outside the classroom and beyond her Princess in a Caravan blog, she is also founder of Global Handprints, a social enterprise offering grass roots level volunteer placements in South Africa.
As with many travelers, Lottie finds that calling just one place ‘Home’ is a difficult task. Instead, she divides her homes into categories. Currently, South Africa is home; previously, Canada and Australia earned the title; and meanwhile she’s certain London will always be considered Home. Lottie learned to fly soon after she learned to walk, traveling to Spain at the age of two! Since then she hasn’t stopped, jetting from place to place, and by the looks of it, she won’t stop any time soon!
MM: Where is your favorite place in the world (so far!)?
LR: Uganda has been my favourite destination for several reasons. It was the first place I traveled to totally alone; the first time I went I spent a month teaching in a remote town where I was the only outsider. I lived with the school’s head teacher and was immersed in traditional Uganda life from the word go! It was also the first place I volunteered and my time there led to the founding of Global Handprints, as well as several trips back there. In addition to all of that, the country is beautiful, the landscapes are stunning, the people are friendly and the cultures are fascinating.
MM: Who is your favorite travel companion?
LR: My boyfriend – he’s a problem solver and fixer (always great when you’re road tripping in a bettered Land Rover and caravan! He’s also great at encouraging me to just travel and not to over plan or over think but to see where we end up.
MM: Where would you encourage other females to visit?
LR: Vietnam! I just got back from 6 weeks there and had an amazing time. I traveled with my boyfriend but we met lots of solo female travelers who all said they felt safe traveling alone. Vietnam is a well-traveled country with a great transport system for foreigners, from local buses (which are comfortable and safe) to organized tours.
There is so much to see despite the fact the country is relatively small. This means you don’t need to get from one end to the other to see and experience something great! You can just visit the north or the south…or the middle for that matter and avoid long bus and train journeys. Or you can do the whole thing! From ancient temples, to underground towns, mountains, beaches, vast lakes, tiny villages and bustling cities; there’s something for everyone.
We traveled by motorbike and again met several girls who were riding solo and seeing the whole country (I was glad to have my boyfriend there as I am not a confident bike rider neither am I mechanically minded!)
The country is beautiful, out of the cities it is relatively unspoiled with lush green rice fields stretching for miles and miles. The cities are hustling and chaotic but it is all part of the experience. I was surprised at the diversity of the country as well as it’s history. Ancient towns like Hoi An are filled with fascinating architecture, winding alleys and beautiful lanterns. Small, more modern cities like Dalat are filled with offices, government buildings and schools. In between the towns, roads stretch for miles up and miles, over mountains, through rice paddies, over rivers and through ‘one street’ villages.
MM: Any advice on traveling alone?
LR: Each of the 3 times I have gone to Uganda I traveled there alone. The first time I went I had absolutely no idea what to expect. I purposefully hadn’t let myself think too much about what life there would be like as I didn’t want to talk myself out of going for the experience! Coming from a life filled with creature comforts, I was faced with hole in the ground toilets, stark living conditions, a new language and very different traditions. The first few days I was there I was miserable and felt like I wouldn’t be able to cope, I even looked into changing my flights and going home. Three days after my arrival I had fallen in love with Uganda and it’s people and couldn’t imagine myself leaving!
Of course, solo travel, especially for girls can be more dangerous, so preparing yourself safety wise is a must. However, other than that my advice would be not to overthink where you are going, read about it and prepare yourself for some differences but don’t dwell on them. Get somewhere, absorb the culture and surroundings and go with it.
MM: What type of traveler are you?
LR: As much as I love a little bit of luxury I would definitely say I am a budget conscious traveller. I don’t go out of my way to travel as cheaply as possible, I believe in comfort and if there’s a few dollar difference between a double room and 2 beds in a dorm I will go for the double.
I would rather spend less and travel for longer! I like to think I am an adventurous traveler, I like to try new things, experience the culture, get off the beaten track away from tourists and really see and feel a new country. But, I am not a bungee jumper type of adventurer
MM: Any thoughts about relationships and travel?
LR: I prefer traveling with someone, whether that someone is a friend, boyfriend or my Mum! I love having someone there to share the moments with, help you through the difficult times and celebrate the accomplishments travel can bring. I also love meeting people when I travel, meeting an awesome ‘Travel Family‘ can totally make a trip!
MM: Lottie, you’ve left us with so much to look into. Vietnam, Uganda, and of course – Global Handprints. I’ve already had the chance to look at the site and absolutely adore what you’re doing. Congratulations, and thank you!
Make sure to check out Global Handprints HERE as well as Lottie’s blog, Princess in a Caravan HERE and subscribe to her Facebook page HERE!
Thanks again, Lottie for everything you do all around the world!