In January 2014 I enrolled on a TEFL course with the TEFL Academy. It was here that I met Kelly, a fellow blogger, writer and world traveller. As our friendship blossomed, so did Kelly’s adventures, travelling far and wide all over the world and using her TEFL qualification along the way. In this interview, we chat about travel, veganism, blogging and her aspirations for the future.
What is your blog called and what is it about?
It’s called Blue Eyed View and I write mostly about budget and solo travel. I travel by myself, and like to share my experiences in hope to inspire people to venture off to new places, and to support that barriers are few if you’re female and skint!
Where are you currently in the world?
At the moment I am in the heart of Australia on a one year working holiday visa. It was my intention to spend one month in the country, but I’m still here 6 months later!
In 2015, you embarked on a solo cycling trip around Iceland. Can you tell us a little more about this?
I’d been thinking of going off on a cycle tour for some time, so when I won a free bike and all the gear, I thought why not go to Iceland for a month! It ended up being a 4 week solo trip, and one of the best experiences of my life. I camped wild, cooked my own food, forgot what a shower was and fell in love with the landscape. My biggest challenge was keeping within a £1000 budget, but it helped me to realise that money really isn’t (and shouldn’t be) a barrier for an incredible adventure. The full story can be read here.
What is your favourite place in the world to travel to? Why?
To be honest it is impossible for me to single out one place. Everywhere I have visited offers a different culture, delicious local cuisine and inspiring people. I’ve learnt that people are what really make it, so these times stand out more for me. In China I remember being invited in to a nunnery to share fruit, in Zimbabwe I danced the night away with locals and in Spain I was offered a free night’s stay by a warm-natured lady. Wherever you go in the world, new friendships are waiting to be had, no matter how fleeting they may be!
How do you fund your travels?
For a lot of people it looks like I just travel for a living. Whilst this is partly true, I do also work my butt off! Before setting off long-term in 2015, I spent 6 months or so living at home and working any job I could find to save the pennies. Nowadays, I tend to work for a few months in the country I am in, travel for a few months until my funds get low and repeat the process. I’ve managed to squeeze my life in to one bag, and restrict my spending on luxury items where possible.
What is the first trip you remember taking? How old were you?
My first big trip was to Botswana when I was just 17! It was part of my college course; to spend time living in the African bush, researching elephant and baboon populations. I look back on that now and wonder how I ever managed to step on to the plane by myself. Whilst I was there I was overcome with serious home-sickness and almost cut the trip short. Thankfully, I managed to overcome this turmoil and turned a 4 week trip in to 6 because in the end I really didn’t want to leave!
Have you visited a place that turned out to be completely different to how you imagined? If so, how?
China, for sure. I sort of just ended up there, without any real desire to go, or with any real knowledge of the country. I took a job as an English teacher, and was overwhelmed with everything – the culture, lifestyle, the job – which meant it took me a good 4 months to settle in properly. Don’t get me wrong, China is a fantastic country, but everything about it is very different to western civilisation. One thing is for sure; China has to be one of the most fascinating places in the world.
What is your favourite travel memory?
This is a tough question. There are of course too many, so I will go with a recent one: visiting Uluru National Park. I think a lot of people still know it as ‘Ayer’s Rock’, but the Aboriginal name is Uluru. Anyway, I went to watch the sunset at Uluru as it is the most iconic thing to do. What I didn’t expect was for a full moon to rise alongside the red-rock shortly after the sun went down! It was made even more special because most of the crowd had already disappeared by this point, so I enjoyed the spectacular view with just a handful of people.
Have you had any bad experiences whilst travelling? If so, how did you overcome these?
Oh yes, travelling isn’t always the perfect life everyone likes to think. A few examples of bad experiences include my bike not arriving with me in Iceland, falling really sick and being in the middle of nowhere by myself, getting ripped off by taxi drivers, being harassed by locals, getting lost… At the time you just find a way of dealing with it, because in the end it has to work out. In my experience the things you imagine going wrong, don’t. It’s all too easy to sit in a comfortable place, conjure up ‘what ifs’ and never step out the front door. In reality; bad things happen, you deal with it, carry on and try to focus on the positives. It’s the only logical way to live, in my opinion.
Do you have a bucket list? If so, what is on it?
I used to, but now I really don’t like ‘ticking off the list’. Of course I have many things I want to do and many places I’d like to visit. But now it has become more about opportunity and people that lead me to the next place. There isn’t really anywhere I wouldn’t go, so I’m happy with wherever I end up. As for personal goals, I do have some that I would like to complete within the next 10 years – writing a book is one of them!
You have recently become interested in living a more cruelty-free and vegan lifestyle. Tell us a little bit more about this.
I stopped eating meat around 2 years ago, but then started again when I moved to China. I can’t remember what exactly sparked it, but I watched a couple of documentaries – Cowspiracy, Earthlings – and became obsessed with the subject. I made it my aim over the next few months to read as many books, and watch as many docs as possible. It was like a light being switched on, and once I had all the facts, there was no turning back. It’s awful really; I used to be that person that said “Where do you get your protein from?” and “But, cheeeeeese!” to vegans. Of course it is a lifestyle choice, and everyone has to do what is right for them. But since I made the changes I have felt so much healthier and happier in myself.
If you weren’t travelling the world, what would you be doing?
I’d be building an eco-friendly house somewhere in the Cornish countryside, most likely.
Do you have any advice for aspiring solo travellers?
Just go for it! The thing is how much of your life do you want to spend on wishing? That old cliché saying “life is short” is so true. At times I’ve wondered if solo travelling is actually at all possible. Even if you set off somewhere on your own, you will no doubt meet other people and make friends within a few days. Like-minded people follow similar routes, so you’ll never be alone as long as you remain open-minded and approachable.
What is next for Kelly & Blue Eyed View?
That is a good question – if anyone has the answer please be sure to let me know! Haha. I’ve no idea where I will go next, but the plan as far as Blue Eyed View is concerned is to start compiling stories that could create an interesting book. At the moment it is important for me to continue growing my audience so that I know whether or not my writing is actually something a larger audience are interested in. I’d also like to start incorporating the vegan side of my life – to show that it is possible whilst travelling, and you don’t need to spend a fortune to eat a healthy, cruelty-free lifestyle.
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