This week’s interviewee is Katie Bell, from The World on My Necklace. Check out her tips for locales for first-time travelers, what epic hikes are on her bucket list and more in this week’s Girls That Go!
GGG: Hello! Welcome to Girls That Go! Can you start us out with your name, where you’re from and how you got started traveling?
My name is Katie Bell and I’m a Kiwi (New Zealander). Travelling is in my blood with both of my parents being avid travellers in their younger years. We didn’t travel much as a family when I was a kid but I was always inspired by their stories. It is almost a Kiwi right of passage to live abroad for a year or two, we call this our OE (Overseas Experience), and it was something I always knew I wanted to do, I just didn’t realize I would end up being away for over 10 years and counting! I have lived in Sydney, London and Vancouver since I left New Zealand.
GGG: We like the title of your blog. Can you share a bit of the backstory to the name?
Thanks! I actually named it after a necklace that I own and I get a lot of comments on, a chain with a small globe and binoculars on it. I got it at Camden Markets in London. The title on my website is a picture of it. Also the name is kind of a homage to Lonely Planet’s ‘On a shoestring’ budget tour guides as I also mainly focus on budget travel. The World on my necklace instead of on a shoestring.
GGG: Since your big trip, you’ve settled down a bit and are balancing work with life and travel. Any tips for ladies trying to accomplish the same?
- Explore the city you live in on weekends and after work. Look at your hometown through your traveller’s eyes.
- If possible, take on contract (or temping) work instead of committing to a permanent job. This would totally depend on what you do for work and where you live as it isn’t always easy to find contracts. Fixed term contracts such as maternity cover are the best as you get all the benefits of a permanent employee but you can leave (and go travelling!) when the contract is up without it reflecting badly on your CV. Not sure if this would work in the US but I did it in Canada, UK, New Zealand and Australia.
- Explore nearby towns/beaches/cities on weekends to get your travel fix between holidays
- Stay in the traveller community even when you aren’t travelling by attending events such as Couchsurfing meetups. Hosting couchsurfers and renting out your spare room on Air BnB is also a great way to be around fellow travellers and show off your city to them
GGG: Great tips! You write a lot on your blog about hiking in the places where you travel. What about hiking do you find so fulfilling while you are in new places?
I think that walking and hiking is absolutely the best way to explore a new place as you are immersing yourself in your surroundings and doing it at a slow pace so you can actually absorb it. Biking is great too but I think the slower the better so walking is best in my opinion. I love being surrounded by nature and you feel more connected to the natural world when you spend a significant amount of time in it. City walks are also great as you can discover different neighbourhoods and just observe life as you wander by. It gives you a better feel for a place when you take your time exploring it.
GGG: Along those lines, do you have a hike you haven’t done yet but is on your bucket list?
I have so many hikes on my bucket list! I am dying to do the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal and I’m planning to do it when I am in Nepal in about 2 years time. I would also love to do parts of the Appalachian Trail in Eastern USA, the Stampede trail to the bus where Christopher McCandless died in Alaska (Into the Wild is one of my favourite movies) and the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage trail in France/Spain (The Way is also a favourite movie).
GGG: Lots of exciting trails to get to! So, you’ve traveled to almost 50 countries–out of the places you’ve been, where would you suggest for first-time travelers to check out?
I would highly recommend starting in Europe as it is so easy to get around, the landscapes and cultures are so diverse and it is a relatively small area geographically. The tourism infrastructure is also excellent.
GGG: As someone who has traveled solo and with a partner, what was your favorite thing about adventuring by yourself? With others?
I love travelling with my boyfriend and have done a significant amount of my travels with him. It is great to be able to share your experiences with someone else, they understand the adventure you have been on and you have someone to talk to/reminisce about it. He’s my best friend so I love being able to share experiences with him.
The longest I have travelled by myself has only been two weeks so far but I loved how easy it was to meet other people, do exactly what I wanted to do and I felt like I was more in the moment and was absorbing more – especially when hiking. I love hiking by myself as there are no distractions.
GGG: What was one place that really surprised you as being very different from what you imagined? Would you go there again?
I had a two week stopover in Hawaii during a round the world trip in 2009 and I just thought it would be touristy resorts and beaches. I was blown away but how beautiful and wild most of Hawaii still is. As soon as you get away from the resort areas it is unspoilt with incredible waterfalls and swimming holes, deserted beaches, active volcanoes, sleepy villages and amazing hiking. We went back for 10 days only 5 months later and it is somewhere that is very special to me now. I am planning to go back again, hopefully next year, and visit the islands we haven’t been to yet: Molokai and Kauai.
GGG: Nice. Lastly, what’s up for you next? Any exciting adventures planned?
In 2 weeks I will be heading to the Australian Outback for a week! My brother is a tour guide based out of Alice Springs so I will have a few days with him there, then will be taking his 3 day tour to Kings Canyon and Uluru (Ayers Rock). We will be camping in the desert and there will be lots of hiking so I am very excited! In September my boyfriend and I will be island hopping the Yasawa Islands in Fiji for 9 days then we are heading back to his home, South Africa, for a month over Christmas with side trips to Vic Falls and Lesotho. We will also be doing some weekend trips to the Blue Mountains and up to see friends in Bellingen, Northern NSW.
Those all sound like pretty amazing adventures! Thanks so much for chatting with us, Katie! To follow Katie and her travels, check out her blog, tweet with her or follow her on Facebook!
All photos in this post courtesy of Katie Bell.