Updated: Jun 24, 2020
If you’ve seen my YouTube videos or follow me on Instagram, you may know a fair bit about me and my travel life. You may know how I react to certain travel situations but I’ve never really taken the time to properly introduce myself...
To help me structure this blog post, I’m going to be answering questions I have received on Instagram, as well with a bunch of others I have found on Google!
So perhaps it makes sense to start with... Why did you choose to become a travel VLOGGER (as opposed to a travel blogger)?
I must admit, it does feel weird conversing with you via a blog post right now! Writing has never been my strongest skill. Probably a result of the fact that I find reading very difficult. If I am reading a piece of text, I have to read it several times over, before my brain even thinks about comprehending it.
So for that reason, even though the idea of writing about my travels seemed like an attractive way to document them, it really didn't suit my skill set.
When I first wanted to start documenting my travels (2013), travel vlogging wasn’t really a thing BUT there were plenty of beauty and lifestyle YouTubers whom I would watch religiously and I was massively inspired by their videos.
I’d also always quite fancied myself as a presenter. The travel vlogs started off very much as trial and error but I adored the process of filming and editing travel videos as a way of documenting my trips.
WORK + TRAVEL
How did you come up with the name Backpacking Bananas?
I wish I had a more fun story for this... In 2013, when I went on my first backpacking trip along with friends Grace and Sheryl, we came up with a name for the YouTube channel together. We knew we wanted ’backpacking’ in the name, given the nature of the videos. And we knew we wanted an alliteration. The first word that came into our heads was ‘bananas’ and the rest, is history. Fun fact, I didn’t even like bananas until about 2017.
What inspired you to want to travel in the first place?
When I was a teen, Instagram wasn’t around yet and blogging was only just becoming a thing. So my main source of inspiration was TV shows and movies. I remember watching a documentary in 2009 about a group of celebrities climbing Mount Kilimanjaro for Comic Relief and I had never felt wanderlust so strongly. I then researched as much as possible about how I could make such a trip feasible. Low and behold, an opportunity came up in my Sixth Form to go on a World Challenge expedition in 2012 to Tanzania. Of course, I absolutely jumped at the chance and saved every penny I could during my Sixth Form years to pay for it. And that was my first time outside Europe - climbing Mount Kilimanjaro at age 18.
Favourite country you’ve visited?
I don’t know many people who can actually answer this question. I always say New Zealand because it pleases people to give a definitive answer. But truthfully, I just have 5 Top Favourites in no particular order - New Zealand, Australia, Mexico, Philippines, Colombia.
Is there anywhere you don’t feel the need to travel to?
I’d be lying if I told you I was itching to travel every country in the world. But I think the reason there are some countries that don’t interest me so much is because I know absolutely nothing about them. Let’s take Cameroon in Africa for example. I’ve never specifically said I want to go there and right now I know nothing about it, so I have no interest in travelling there... But who knows what the future holds!
Do you prefer travelling alone or with friends?
If I’m going on a short trip (2 weeks or less), I prefer to go with friends. But if I’m going on a trip longer than that, I prefer to go by myself.
How did you save to travel when you were younger?
Quite simply by working temp jobs and saving as much as possible! You have to make sacrifices when it comes to saving for travel, but it’s always worth it!
Have your parents paid for any of your trips?
No. I’m very privileged to be able to live with my parents whilst saving up money which helped me out a lot. I wouldn’t have been able to travel as much as I have if it wasn’t for that! But they have never paid for my travels directly.
If you weren’t a travel vlogger now, what would you like to be?
Before travelling for the first time, I used to want to be a TV Presenter. So, I would probably be trying to pursue that!
Would you ever write a book about travelling, tips and tricks etc?
Funny you should ask as I am currently in the process of writing an ebook! It’s all about helping you plan for a trip from start to finish and all my advice along the way. I am so excited to share it with you all and I hope to publish it before the end of 2020.
HISTORY + EDUCATION
Where are you from and where are you based now?
I was born in Chertsey in Surrey (England) and have grown up in Woking my whole life. Now, I am usually travelling/nomadic for around 6-8 months of the year and in between I live with my family in Woking for the rest. My formal address is Woking, so I guess I am based here!
What did you want to be when you were younger?
When I was really young I wanted to be a cleaner... I’m not even joking. It's because I used to see my Mum pay our cleaner a tenner every week and little me thought that was RICHES. It certainly was compared to the 20p pocket money I used to get, (which went on a packet of Chewits, every week, no excuses). My mother never fails to remind me of this early ambition whenever my bedroom is anything less than spotless.
Did you go to uni? What did you study? Did it help you in your job now?
I did not go to university. I certainly entertained the idea when I was in Sixth Form though. I went with my Mum to a few university open days to see if anything/anywhere sparked my interest. And for sure, the idea of ‘uni life’ appealed to me massively. But when it came to actually picking a subject to study, there was literally nothing I wanted to do.
The closest I got to considering going, was looking at Bournemouth University and their Video Production course. I was really interested in video creation but looking at the breakdown of the course... there was so much theory and that side of things I honestly just couldn’t care less about. The thought of spending £9k a year to study a subject I wasn’t fully invested in seemed like a rather terrible idea to me.
To this day, not once have I ever regretted my decision to not go to university. In fact, I think for me, it was actually one of the best decisions I ever made. I self-taught myself all the practicals skills I need to make videos (through YouTube tutorials and trial and error).
I also discovered that you can be offered graduate jobs without the degree which really opened my eyes. I realised this in an interview I had for a temporary administration role. After they interviewed me, they offered my a full-time graduate job! I didn’t take it as it wasn’t what I was after, but it really made me think wow... getting a degree really isn’t half as necessary as many people think (for some jobs).
My advice to anyone who is unsure about whether or not to go to university is first of all consider if you can learn the skills you want elsewhere and secondly look into getting work experience or an apprenticeship. Experience in an industry is much more valuable to an employer than your 70 page dissertation on something completely unrelated...
What is your formal education level?
My highest qualifications are A Levels. I took Maths (A), Sociology (B) and Media (B).
Did you always want to be a travel vlogger?
If travel vloggers actually existed when I was younger (they didn’t), I’m sure the answer to this question would have been yes. But I had no idea this job would even be a possibility, even when I started creating videos.
When did you realise you could make vlogging a career?
The turning point for me was in 2017, when I attented my first Traverse conference. It was here that I learnt for the first time how to turn having an online presence into a profitable business. I had 25k subscribers at the time. I never went back to a ‘normal’ job after that. It was massively eye-opening.
What ‘normal’ jobs did you do before you travelled full-time?
Absolutely all sorts! Between the ages 16 of 18, I worked a paper-round, I was a gymnastics coach and I worked in a cafe and a restaurant.
I quickly realised hospitality work was not for me and signed up to all the office temp agencies in town. My first office job was for a counselling service - I had to call up all the referred patients and book them in for an appointment with the therapists. This is where I learnt to be comfortable on the telephone
I have done temp-work as a concierge in many car dealerships (Porsche, Land Rover, Jaguar, Subaru) where I honed by abilities to blag and stall.
I worked as a logistics co-ordinator for a small chemicals trading company for a year where I really got to live the office 9-5 life and learnt about all sides of a business through having to liaise with everyone.
I have worked as a receptionist in many offices which I actually really enjoy! I love being able to interact with everyone in a workplace.
I’ve also done promo work outside Wisley Gardens, worked in the betting booths at Ascot Racecourse, burnt thousands of CDs onto a computer for an audio production company, I could go on...
The final ‘normal’ job I had was as a receptionist/concierge for a 5* hotel in Queenstown, New Zealand while on my working holiday visa and although the hours were long, that was probably my favourite job of all. I loved pretending I was fancy and being able to do activities for free in order to up-sell them to guests! But most of all, I loved my colleagues in that job. That for me is always the most important thing when it comes to enjoying your work!
If you could pick uni subjects for yourself now, what would they be?
I might pick business (as being self-employed right now, I am trying to teach myself all things business which is kinda complicated, so having studied it would’ve probably helped). Then perhaps Geography as I love learning about that now. And then finally maybe Spanish? I am loving learning Spanish at the moment and think it’s a really useful language to know, so learning it at uni would have been very beneficial!
What sports have you done? How are you so bendy?
I certainly don’t feel half as bendy as I used to be! Sport was my life when I was younger. I was a keen swimmer up to age 11 and then moved to athletics competing all through my teens (until I broke my back age 17 which ended it all). I have practised gymnastics my whole life but never competitively. I was also obsessed with trampolining in the garden (and when I say obsessed, I really mean obsessed, my mother could never get me inside). I come from a sporty family so I guess it’s in my blood!
Nowadays, I don’t do athletics and don’t have a trampoline anymore (*sigh*). But I still love moving my body in unusual ways and regularly stretch and walk around on my hands at home. You are much more likely to find me upside-down than the right way up.
FAMILY + PERSONAL
What‘s the age difference between you and your siblings?
I have 2 older sisters. Natasha is 4 years older than me and she lives in Perth, Australia. Maria is 5 years older than me and she lives in London.
Where do you find your amazing confidence?
First of all, thank you! My confidence is something I’m constantly working on. I have my amazing Mother to thank, for always pushing me to step outside of my comfort zone - it’s never been easy!! I used to absolutely hate talking on the phone to people, going places by myself, talking in front of audiences. Okay.. I still find that last one scary. But I’m such a strong believer that you need to put yourself in situations that you find uncomfortable in order to grow. From doing this repetitively, your confidence will naturally grow.
How many boyfriends have you had?
Just 1 ‘official’ one.. I’m absolutely not someone who just seems to jump from one relationship to another! How do those people do that??
How common are travel romances? Do you sleep with most people in your vlogs?
Travel romances are pretty common. But certainly not as common as one every travel vlog Haha! At least not for me but I’m absolutely not one to judge. I do find it much easier to meet people that I click with when I’m backpacking because we often share similar interests. I also find backpackers generally more laid-back, adventurous and spontaneous people, which is very much me!
But looking at my travel romance history, I normally have an average of 1 per trip... Sometimes they feature in vlogs and sometimes they don’t! It would feel weird to disclose that kind of information in a vlog so I’m happy for people to just speculate.
Are you on any dating sites?
No. The only time I had a Tinder account was a short period in 2014. I absolutely hated it. I really don’t enjoy trying to determine how much I fancy someone by their picture and texting abilities. And the same the other way around, I‘m a terrible texter! I never feel like I can convey myself and my humour properly over text, unless the person already knows me (which obviously in this instance, they don’t).
I often surprise myself with the people I end up fancying as they don’t fit what I thought was my ’type’. But it’s massively about the energy of the person and how we bounce off each other. You just can’t gauge that online.
Do you ever stress about getting older and not having a partner or house? (Not following the ‘usual‘ path)
Not yet. I’m 26 and still think of myself as young. The biggest regret that older people tell me is that they didn’t travel and really experience life when they were younger. Naturally I listen to those people! I would love to have kids and settle down with a partner one day but I’m not in a hurry. I hope to have purchased my first property independently before 2022. I guess I operate on the basis of not having to rely on anybody. And having that mentality, relaxes me a lot because I’m not stressing about needing to meet someone to live my life the way I want it.
How much do you make in a month in your job?
Anything between £1k-6k. Being a content creator means you have multiple revenue streams which all fluctuate depending on a lot of factors!
Do you struggle with mental illness at all?
I have struggled with anxiety at some points. It was usually when I’d been on the road for a long period of time and had lost structure and stability, and/or when I’ve been involved in toxic friendships/relationships. I have come a long way now in recognising these situations early on and switching things up to avoid anxiety.
Are you religious?
I was brought up Catholic but now I identify as agnostic. I would never judge someone based on their religion but committing to one myself is not for me at this stage in my life.
What music/playlists are you listening to while travelling?
Indie folk music is my favourite! I particularly like Australian artists like Vance Joy and Ziggy Alberts. I enjoy a lot of music from the 70s as well such as Queen, ABBA, The Beatles (but who doesn’t??)
Would you ever shave your head?
Never say never, but there would have to be a very good reason/cause.
Pasta. Any day of the week. If you want me to be more specific.. linguini.. with a creamy tomato sauce... something jazzy to bulk it out... and then cheese. I literally smile any time I’m eating it. It makes me that happy.
What 3 things make you excited about life?
1. The thought of having kids one day.
2. The thought of all the fun, new and exciting people to meet in the world.
3. Nature and the thought of discovering new places that hardly anyone knows.
4. The thought of learning and mastering completely new skills.
5. My friends and family and supporting their achievements and life goals
Thanks so much for reading and making it this far! It’s felt quite liberating for me to be honest, sharing information I’ve never talked about online before!
Want to know anything else? Leave it as a comment and I may add it in!
Hope you all have a wonderful day wherever you are in the world.