A solo traveler and 40+ countries later, Brianne from A Traveling Life tells us about her journeys around Asia and more! Find out about her impromptu trip to Croatia and what’s top of her bucket list.
Why do you love travel?
My love for travel started pretty early. My parents are retired teachers, so we regularly took road trips to visit museums and historical sights throughout the Northeast (well, and the Jersey Shore too!). When I was 13, we all had the opportunity to go to China with my dad and students from his high school.
Out of these experiences, grew a strong desire to always be learning, seeing and doing new things, and to satisfy this need, I’ve tried to incorporate as much travel into my life as possible – from taking weekend road trips with friends here in the U.S. to taking a break from my career to backpack solo around Southeast Asia.
What destination is top of your bucket list?
Like most travelers, my “bucket list” is long and seems to grow by the day. I’ve never been to Africa, so that seems like the natural top choice for continent. To narrow it down to a specific country, I would have to say South Africa. I really would like to learn more about apartheid and its aftermath, as well as experience all of the natural beauty the country has to offer (and visit a vineyard or two!).
Where is your most favourite place you have travelled to?
This past fall, I spent nearly two months in Southeast Asia. For the first several weeks, I was part of a busy and exciting Intrepid tour that started in Bangkok, traveled through Cambodia and ended in Ho Chi Minh City.
When I got to Hoi An, it was the first time I was by myself and could really slow down after the whirlwind of preparing to leave and the intensity of the tour. I stayed at a quiet, out-of-the-way guesthouse – complete with a swimming pool – and spent five blissful days biking through the rice patties and nearby villages, eating local delicacies like cao lầu, getting lost in the narrow streets of the Ancient Town, and reading on the near-empty beach. The only thing I didn’t do, unfortunately, was take the time to get clothing made – Hoi An is known throughout the world for its skilled tailors.
What is your most favourite memory or experience whilst travelling?
A few summers ago, a friend told me I had 24 hours to decide if I wanted to join her for Yacht Week Croatia. I committed not knowing anyone else in the group, despite the fact that we would be sharing the incredibly tight quarters of a sailboat for nine days. Luckily for us all, we quickly formed a strong bond. I don’t think I ever laughed as much as I did that week.
Following the trip, most of us traveled on together to the magnificent Plitvice Lakes National Park to do some hiking and explore the waterfalls before heading back to Zagreb to fly home. It was a warm, sunny day, and we had stopped in a clearing to take a break. Sitting there with my new friends at a picnic table – talking about complete nonsense – I was as happy and content as I had ever been.
What is your favourite photo from your travels?
I spent seven-weeks traveling throughout southern India this winter, working for The Travel Scientists, an adventure travel company which runs the Rickshaw Challenge and India’s Cup. We arrived in Kanyakumari – the southern-most point of mainland India – late one night at the end of the Rickshaw Challenge, and we were scheduled to leave right after breakfast the next morning.
So I decided to wake up early and head to the beach to see the sunrise over the massive (40m+) statue of Thiruvalluvar, a Tamil poet. Given the hour, I thought it would maybe just be me and a few other tourists. Much to my surprise (and dismay, because I was still wearing my pajamas), I was greeted by thousands of worshippers crowded along the waterfront, who all chanted and raised their hands in prayer when the sun appeared over the horizon. It was an incredibly moving and powerful experience.
Inspired by Brianne’s travels in India? Read why Kolkata is a favourite city of ours.