Temples of Inthein, Myanmar

How old are you and where are you from?

I’m 28 and I’m from the UK, though I’m half-British-half-Indian so people often find me difficult to place (haha!).

What equipment do you use to take photos and make videos? 

I use a Canon EOS 700D for most of my photos and videos; but I do also use my iPhone 6S in a pinch or when a quick snap is needed. For water shots, I use a GoPro Hero LCD+.

For video editing, I use Final Cut Pro, and I get royalty-free music from YouTube (I particularly like Lakey Inspired). For photo editing I use Photoshop CS6, and VSCO on my phone.

What do you do for a living?

I work as a senior strategist/strategy director at an advertising agency. I love my job! I also do brand and marketing design projects on the side, and (very occasionally) sell and show my artwork. You can see more of that here.

You’ve got OCD?

Yep; I’ve had it since I was 14 and was diagnosed around 17. It affects quite a lot – from how I travel to the cost of travel insurance. But I don’t want to let it hold me back, and after a lot of work I (try to) keep it largely under control. If you met me, you’d just think I was a bit of a germaphobe! OCD is more common than you’d think, affecting 1-2% of the population, according to OCD Action – and there are a lot of misconceptions about what it actually means and entails.

For more information about OCD and advice/support if you think you might have it, please have a look at Mind’s website and the NHS for further support.

Where did you learn to scuba dive?

I took my PADI Open Water on the Perhentian Islands with Quiver Dive Team, and I can’t recommend them enough! It cost me about £180, which is about as cheap as you’ll find anywhere in the world (I think Thailand is supposed to be about this price too), the quality of teaching was excellent and learning in a) warm water and b) amidst tropical reefs beats learning in a pool and/or cold British seas any day! Having said that, I’m taking my BSAC Sport Diver qualification (which is sort of the equivalent of PADI’s Advanced Open Water and Rescue Diver together) in Britain at the moment, as I’d like to feel a bit more safe under water.

What’s in your backpack? 

I have a post about that coming! In the meantime, check out my video on what I packed for Mexico:

Update post-Mexico: I brought way, way too many clothes. I underestimated how much more relaxed Mexico was compared to Asia in terms of showing skin! I used basically everything else (other than the Instagram kimono, which I never wear, but always bring in the hopes I’ll turn into a gorgeous Insta model. We all have our white whale.)

Do you travel on a budget?

Sort of. I’d describe myself as a ‘flash packer’ – I have OCD, so hostels are out for me (both for my own peace of mind and for the sake of other guests!) which automatically bumps up my budget. As a (usually) solo female traveller – or travelling with other women – I will spend more on transport to feel safe. Finally, I work full-time, so my trips are more ‘holidays’ than full-time nomadic journeys, which means I’m  willing to splurge a bit on creature comforts and nice meals once in a while.

However – I’m not made of money, so I try to save wherever I can! I’d rather spend on an experience than a fancy hotel. I keep detailed spreadsheets of my costs and try to cut spending where I can. On average, a 2.5 week trip costs me about £1000-1500 all-in, which is flights, accommodation, food, activities, and transport (which is where most of the cost comes from). A long weekend in Europe tends to be between £300 and £400, which again is flights, transport, accommodation, activities, food, etc.. I’m deliberately not including souvenirs in that total, ahahaha…

Sunrise at Angkor Wat, Cambodia

What’s your favourite country? 

This is such a hard question! I can do a top 5? In no particular order: India, Indonesia, Morocco, Laos, Myanmar. Can I add Sri Lanka?!

Why don’t you travel full-time if you love it so much?

I also love my job and am very career-oriented! I don’t want to give up what I do, as I love it. I also love painting, and video-editing, and am passionate about a whole host of other things.

Update, late 2019: Whilst I still haven’t ‘packed in my job to go backpacking full-time’, I have made the decision to work abroad for a while, to try balance my love of travel and my career! Read more about that in my blog post about leaving a job you love for travel and my post about my first month in Australia.

Where next?

I’m lucky enough to have a sudden trip to Vietnam on the horizon with work; then I’m currently weighing up Nepal, the Philippines or Belize for a trip next year. Long-term, I’ve got my eye on Australia and the Pacific Islands, and more of Central America.