1.)Where was the first place that you traveled that made you think WOW—travel is amazing (think history book come to life or …..)
I mean where hasn’t taken my breath away? It’s hard to narrow it down to a single moment or place that made me fall in love with travel, it’s more a series of moments that have added up to make me who I am today. However, if I was really pressed for one it would be the first time I went snorkelling in a tropical paradise. I was seriously lucky growing up with parents that saved like crazy to take me and my sister to some incredible destinations, and this included the tropical island paradise that is the Maldives. Just seeing the pristine white sands, the huge manta rays and fish along with that delicious morning tropical breeze made me fall truly in love with the idea of exploring new places.
2.)If you had unlimited resources, where would you go and what would you do?
If I had completely unlimited resources, I think I would just throw everything I have into MillieGoes. I adore writing and exploring, but in today’s world unfortunately it doesn’t pay much. If I relied on the MillieGoes brand entirely, I would unfortunately be very disappointed when I could no longer afford to travel anywhere! The idea that what I do and write inspires other people to do the same means a huge amount, even if it makes a difference to just one other woman like me. With unlimited resources, I guess I’d also want to highlight two things I feel very strongly about, marine conservation and protection of women who have suffered from severe domestic and sexual abuse. Fairly different topics, but both close to my heart that are drastically affecting people and oceans worldwide.
3.)What were you afraid to do and how did you find the courage to overcome it?
I was seriously afraid of flying, which is hilarious considering how often I now travel; so far this year I’ve been on almost 50 flights worldwide! I refused to get on a plane for about 4 years, and had a major panic attack on board one, to the point where they almost has to ask me to get off (beyond embarrassing I can tell you). It got to the point where I had explored everywhere I realistically could without hopping onto a plane so just had to grit my teeth, have a little cry and deal with it all the way to New Zealand from England (26 hours of true pain with every muscle in my body tensed up beyond belief). However, on this trip I managed to narrow it down not to a fear of flying, but a fear of falling. So to get over it that hurdle, I jumped out of a plane. Yes, the first few seconds were awful and I screamed like a child, but in that minute free fall I had as part of my skydive, I realised that actually it’s kinda fun! On that same trip to New Zealand ,I got over my fear of small and dark places (caving in Waitomo) and a fear of being out of control (white water rafting on grade 5 rapids, you don’t have much control in those situations I can tell you). The courage to do it has to come from a place deep within, however I’ve made it a bit of a mantra in life that if you can survive your young teenage years in todays world, you can make it through pretty much anything.
4.)What apps do you use regularly that make your life easier? Travelling into todays world is 10 x easier than 25 years ago – technology has seriously upped the travel game in terms of safety. While I do agree with the die hard explorers of the world who believe that it has taken some of the adventure out of the experience, as a female solo traveller, I cannot thank my phone enough for helping me find where I’m going, book transport & accommodation or keep in touch with that really attractive skydive instructor ;). It has truly revolutionized the travel game.
My favourite apps would have to be Whatsapp, Hostelworld, Skyscanner, Uber and Google Maps though. I know they’re fairly standard for everything, but there is a reason for that! Google drive is also really handy for storing my snaps along the way.
5.)What place do you wish more people have seen?
I hate to say this, but I think the beauty of the places that are rarely seen is the fact that you find them when no-one else has. The magic of stumbling onto a true hidden gem is just amazing, a place that takes your breath away but is your own, personal little secret. You and the people you find it with share that moment, that sunset, that skinny dip or just that picnic and take it away with you to keep forever. The world is so big that you’ll always find them somewhere; just hop on a train, close your eyes and see where it takes you.
6.)Best advice you have been given and by whom?
I was 18 and about to head off on my first adventure, solo backpacking through Europe. I was unbelievably excited, but understandably nervous since I had agreed to travel with someone I’d never met in only a few weeks time. I was driving back from town having picked up some of the essentials for the trip and as I parked up noticed our neighbour walking past so pulled over. We chatted for a few minutes and she clearly had her mum radar on, so seeing that I was apprehensive just told me, “You can always come home”. It’s weird but it was the most comforting thing. In my head, I’d signed up for a trip and my biggest fear was that I wouldn’t like it and would be stuck with it for 6 weeks. Being reminded that actually, if it wasn’t what I wanted it to be I could just hop back home was just the little boost I needed to get out there and start this incredible whirlwind of adventure my life has become.
7.)When were you surprised by the kindness of strangers on a trip?
I’m genuinely always surprised at how kind people are when travelling. I’m fairly sure on every trip I meet people, both locals and other travellers, who have blown me away with their kindness. In a world where we’ve been convinced by the media that everyone is out to get us, it’s nice to be reminded that most people aren’t.
Most recently, I was in Bosnia & Herzegovina and had dinner with a local family in their home. The city they live in, Sarajevo, was home to a 4-year siege that left them living in a war-zone. Despite this, the people are so generous and I had such a lovely evening drinking wine, eating a delicious meal & learning about local life in this stunning city (now my absolute favourite in Europe).
8.)What inspired you to travel for extended periods of time or live in a new country?
The first time I did a long trip, it was to see as much as possible in the 6 weeks I had off work. However, once you’ve explored once for an extended period of time you just fall in love with the adventure of it. For me, it’s the people you meet and the hidden things you see. On a short trip, you only get a chance to see the highlights in each place you go. However, if you have longer, you have time to linger. You talk to the locals; you find that hidden waterfall & the secret bars, you make new friends and really get to know them. After doing it once, I was sold on adventure for life.
9.)I travel because….
There are so many reasons I travel it’s hard to even attempt to list them all. I love that I’lll never be finished because the world is just so big with so many places to see – it’s comforting to know that I’ll never be bored or run out. I’m pretty sure that will always piss off the ‘list tickers’ among us who are desperate to see it all, but I’ve quietly accepted that it’s highly unlikely that I ever will. I’d rather see as much as possible but still take my time to explore each place.
10.) My favorite travel or business book is… Secret Life of Walter Mitty. It inspired me to travel, to stop daydreaming about the experiences I could have but just go and do it myself.
11.) How about hotels? What’s your favorite or one you’d recommend?
Ah there are so many gorgeous hotels in the world it’s always hard to narrow it down to the greatest. I generally fall in love with a place not a hotel, however one does stand out a little – Lily Beach in the Maldives. I am truly a beach bum at heart, even though the mountains do always have me crawling back to them, so the idea of being on a private tropical island is always a glorious one. Along with that, what kind of girl doesn’t sometimes love a little luxury? So having a stunning resort on a tropical island ticks every box for me, even if I try to steer away from too much luxury at a time!