Who are you?
I’m from Christchurch, New Zealand.Where have you been?
I’m up to 39 countries now, which is quite a lot once you account for how I usually aim to spend over a month in each place. I’ve explored plenty of Europe, The Americas, Asia & the Pacific, but have yet to set foot on Antarctica or any of Africa outside of Morocco.
Where are you now?
Right now, I’ve landed, by chance, back in my hometown of Christchurch. Despite being away from New Zealand for 6 years, I was back visiting for my brother’s wedding (and introducing my American boyfriend to New Zealand for the first time) in March when covid hit and we went into lockdown here. So, his first visit turned into a much longer stay and we are riding out the storm that is 2020 from NZ until we can hit the road again!
What are the top 3 places you’ve visited?
That’s a tough call, but I’m going to go with Japan, Martinique & Oaxaca (Mexico).
I’m a huge foodie, and a big fan of warmer climates. Japan knocked my socks off on the food & culture front – overwhelming in the best possible way. Martinique (in the French Caribbean) is pretty wonderful, there are limited places on earth you can combine excellent French food with the tropics, and practice French at the same time. And finally, Oaxaca Mexico holds a special place in my heart – I go back most years and spend extended periods of time there, everything about Oaxaca is pretty amazing.
What is the best travel experience you’ve had?
Living my childhood dream and getting to visit the Amazon rainforest, sleep in a traditional treehouse there & explore the jungle on all sorts of cool wildlife guided walks & canoe trips. I didn’t get to spot an anaconda though, so I suppose I will need to go back again!
What is the worst travel experience you’ve had?
Contracting severe food poisoning in New Delhi, just as I boarded a 36-hour upright bus trip to Kathmandu was one of the worst travel experiences of my life. I spent most of this stunning scenic trip through the Himalayas in a crowded bus, vomiting out the window relentlessly and having the bus drivers and passengers mad at me because the air conditioning wouldn’t work with the windows down. I kept wanting to get off, but I didn’t like my chances of finding a hospital out in the very small villages in the Himalayas, so I held on until the end. Thankfully this is also the trip where I learned Kathmandu has one of the best diplomat hospitals in Asia, and I got excellent treatment through the few nights I spent there following my bus adventure.
What is the funniest travel experience you’ve had?
I was staying in the most beautiful AirBnB in Costa Rica, it had a huge balcony backing right into a National Park and so sitting out there felt like you were out in the middle of the jungle, far away from everything. All kinds of amazing wildlife passed by each day, and there was a small table where I would often sit and work at.
One time, a gang of mischievous monkeys descended upon me in my little outdoor ‘office’, acting rather threatening (and I know all too well to get away from threatening monkeys) so I got out of their way as quickly as possible, shutting myself inside the apartment just in time to shut the doors and realise In my rush, I’d left my company issued laptop out on the table!
The monkeys were besotted with the shiny looking thing and headed straight towards it. There I was, helplessly afraid of the gang of monkeys, watching through the window as they were about to certainly destroy it.
All I could do was switch on my phone camera and record the whole event, so that I would have evidence to provide to my company who would certainly question the ‘monkeys stole my laptop’ report I would have to write.
Thankfully, the house owner lived upstairs and came out just at the right moment to chase them away with a lot of noise and waving arms, and I was able to retrieve my laptop unharmed.
Being able to tell my colleagues about that time I almost had to claim a new computer on the grounds of Monkey theft has gotten me some great mileage though!
What is the scariest travel experience you’ve had?
I spent three months volunteering in refugee camps in Greece, a combination of working on the beach rescue team pulling in people from the ocean as well as coordinating medical clinics in the larger camps themselves. There were a lot of scary moments in there ( a lot of incredible, emotional and wonderful ones too) but one of the scariest experiences was getting caught up (truly by accident) in some illegal border crossing, and being held by armed military in a field then stayed in a holding cell overnight with some other volunteers.
What is the most random job you have had on your travels?
Nothing too extremely odd, but I’ve renovated Bulgarian farmhouses, horse (and house sat) for a heard of rescue horses on the Azores and learned about permaculture while working in the garden on a remote Portuguese yoga retreat in exchange for meals & accommodation.
How do you fund your travels?
I first got the ‘travel bug’ when I was working as an international flight attendant – for 5 years my job paid me to go and see different countries! But the layovers were never long enough and so I eventually set myself up as a freelance writer & web designer so I could go fully nomad and spend longer in places.
That lasted for the first few years, then for the last 3 years I’ve been working full time (fully remote) in technical support helping people with their WordPress.com websites.
What 3 tips would you give a new traveller before they set off on their adventure?
1) Be brave. Most of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had from travel have come from stepping outside my comfort zone, taking risks, and saying yes to opportunities that come my way!
2) Do the research. I love spontaneity, and more often than not my plans evolve as I go – but no matter how ‘spontaneous’ it looks, it’s all made possible by tons of research, spreadsheets, and Evernote lists in the background. Being able to research locations, flights, accommodation quickly and efficiently totally ups your travel game.
3) Be present, meet people, experience the culture. Tourist sites are great, but there’s so much richness to be found in every destination by getting to know the local people – learn some of the language, eat the food, make a friend – these are the memories that will stick with you long after those hours you spent queuing to climb the Eiffel tour fade.
What are your future travel plans?
Staying put in New Zealand right now, things are really well managed here and despite living in New Zealand not being the plan at all, it’s a safe and great place to be stuck a while.
As soon as it’s safe to travel again, I’ll head back out ASAP. I am planning on exploring more of Mexico and visiting Peru along with the trip to Europe I was supposed to be on now & some time in North America visiting my partner’s family.
Anna is a Kiwi travel blogger, and former chef, volunteer ambulance officer, and flight attendant (to name a few) from the South Island of New Zealand, who’s spent 6 years living as a digital nomad & never stopped writing about it. She sold up her belongings in 2014, bought a one-way ticket to Bangkok and never looked back.
Since setting off on her grand adventure, Anna’s lived in a Buddhist Sanctuary in Malaysia, a permaculture project in Portugal, caught trains solo across Northern India, Couchsurfed her way across Bulgaria, cooked for a retreat community in England, volunteered her life (and heart) to refugee camps in Greece, met Sloths in Costa Rica, Caught trains most of the way from New Zealand to France, horse-sat a herd of lovely rescues on the Azores and turned 32 in an Amazonian Treehouse.
Nowadays Anna keeps busy working writing a memoir, remote working full time, and completing an undergraduate Computer Science & French degree – all the while keeping up a life of travel and blogging about it.
Thanks to Anna for being the latest in my series of World Travellers! If you travel the world and run a travel blog or are a travel writer, please get in touch, you can be featured, either e-mail jonny (at) dontstopliving (dot) net or head to my contacts page and get connected! You can also subscribe to Don’t Stop Living by filling in the form below! Safe travels!