WanderWomanWednesday; Emily Luxton

A huge part of travel for me is the people I meet and the friends I make in the places I get to experience. Some of, well most of my best friends are people I have met while living overseas or travelling and the number one thing we have in common is that we get it. Get what? The whole travel life. The coming and going frequently, the moving towns often and regularly. The face that we will rarely if ever live in the same place for long. And the feeling of saying goodbye/reuniting with each other. Soo when I meet people who share this passion and understanding I immediately want to know more about them and where their adventures have taken them. I find myself drawn to these sorts of people even if I've never even met them in real life, enter Instagram, Facebook & Twitter. The whole wide World of blogging has given me the opportunity to (virtually) meet people I would never have if it wasn't for this passion project I have.

Emily Luxton Hailing from a small seaside town in England, has a ton of accolades to her name and her blog. This girl has won Travel blogger of the year 3/4 years in a row and has turned her passion for travel into a full time job. I honestly cant remember what drew me to Emily's Instagram and thus her blog but I've been following her travels for a few years now and stick around because of what she shares. Her honest and true accounts of her adventures paired with the amazing photos she shares really are such a welcome find in a day and age where not everything you see is real. While travel at the moment is on hold for a lot of people this doesn't mean we can't use the time to find new and exciting places to explore once travel is back on the table. From Mexico to South East Asia and Englands very own Dorset, find out more on Emily and her passions as May's WanderWomanWednesday!

Alright, tell all these wanderers about yourself…

Hi! I’m a full-time travel blogger from the UK, with a focus on solo female travel, adventure, and “deep travel”. I grew up in Dorset on the south coast of England, and spent my childhoods at the beach or hiking on the Jurassic Coast. It definitely instilled a sense of adventure in me from a young age – as well as a deep love of the sea.

What is something people might be surprised to learn about you?

That I’m painfully shy and awkward. A lot of people seem to assume travellers – and especially bloggers – are really outgoing and brave, but that’s so far from the truth for me!

Before I started travelling, I could barely function on my own. I remember making my ex order for me in restaurants, and I couldn’t speak to salespeople in shops. Going to uni and getting jobs helped a lot, but in the end, it was travelling that got me over it. I’m still badly shy, and I feel awkward in new social situations. As cheesy as it sounds, travel really taught me that bravery is simply about feeling afraid and doing things anyway. And that things are rarely as bad as you think they will be. Over the years, I’ve become so much more confident, and I’ve learned to manage my shyness and anxieties so that they don’t get in the way of anything I want to do.

Did you always want to travel/what made you start?

I’ve always wanted to travel. I was a massive dork growing up (alright – I’m still a massive dork) and I used to lose myself in books about adventures. I’d watch movies and play video games, and I just grew up dreaming of adventure. When I was old enough to figure out that I probably wasn’t going to become a tomb raider a la Lara Croft, I discovered travel books – and suddenly realized that the idea of “adventure" wasn’t something that only belonged in fiction. I read The Cruellest Journey by Kira Salak and I remember thinking “wow, I could actually do something like that”. Although I’ve never done anything on quite so grand a scale as canoeing the Niger, like she did, I have had plenty of my own adventures!

How do you decide where to travel to?

Honestly - I don’t really know! My travel wish-list is pretty endless, so there aren’t many places I don’t want to go. If a work trip comes up that gets me free flights to a destination, that will help sway me – but otherwise I just seem to pick trips on a whim! I look for places with beautiful landscapes, a sense of adventure, and a culture that intrigues or fascinates me. Other times, I travel purely because of food – like my recent trip to Rome, which I only booked because I wanted to spend a weekend eating pasta and drinking wine!

What is your travel style?

I like to try to “travel deeper” and encourage others to do the same. Rather than ticking off a list of tourist attractions, or seeing things just to say you’ve seen it, for me travel is about going deeper and really getting to know a destination. That can be through food, experiences, finding ways to connect with locals – all kinds of things.

Overland travel is another biggie for me – the slower the travel, the better. I loved my adventure travelling from Singapore to Hanoi by train. It just feels like you see more of a place, and connect with it on a different scale, when you travel across it by land. One of my most treasured travel moments was simply waking up on a train in Thailand, watching the sunrise over flooded paddy fields as we raced past.

Top 3 bucket list places you’d love to visit?

This changes ALL the time! But right now on my bucket list I have:

  • The Trans-Siberian express train journey, across Russia and Mongolia to China

  • Ecuador

  • Australia

Before travel writing became a full-time job for you what were you doing to fund your travels and how did you travel while holding down a job?

Before all this started, I didn’t really travel very much other than a handful of holidays with friends. When I finished uni I had a ton of debt and couldn’t afford to take many trips. So, I took a full-time job in a call centre and worked really hard to pay off that debt. I saved my butt off, worked lots of overtime, and managed to pay for two amazing holidays – Malaysia and Morocco – which really fanned the flames of my travel addiction and inspired me to save up for a “Big Trip”.

Along with my boyfriend at the time, I moved to London and got a slightly better paid job working in customer services at a company’s head office. Once most of my debt was paid off, I spent a year saving really hard, then quit that job to go backpacking for five months with my ex. I’d been working on the blog all that time and, luckily, by the time that first backpacking trip was over it had started doing well enough that I didn’t need to go back to work.

What is one stereotype you think people have of full-time travel bloggers that is totally untrue?

That press trips are free holidays! It’s easy to assume that a blogger on a trip is getting a “free holiday”, but we’re actually paying for that trip through labour and work hours. It can be several days, even weeks, of work - writing blog posts, editing videos and photos, posting on social media - in exchange for that “free” trip. And press trips themselves rarely feel like a holiday as they involve busy schedules, lots of note taking, filming, etc. They’re great fun but also a lot of work – which is one of the reasons I prefer to pay for my own travels when I can.

What is something you wish you could share with your pre-travel life self?

Not to wait for someone to go with you. Aside from having debts, and needing to save money, one of the main reasons I put off travelling for so long was that I was deathly afraid of going solo. I’m eternally grateful that my ex-boyfriend wanted the same thing I did, and that he let me plan that entire trip for us. If he hadn’t come with me, would I ever have gone? I honestly don’t know!

After he broke up with me, I was devastated, and headed to Thailand for three months on my own. I met up with various friends, and didn’t travel solo the whole time, but I realised that travelling solo wasn’t as scary or as difficult as I’d thought. Sometimes I wish I had just taken off straight after uni, taken jobs abroad if I needed money, and just made it all work. Perhaps I’d have gotten to the point I’m at today seven years earlier!

Ultimately, I think everything happened as it should have done. But if anyone else wants to learn from my mistakes – don’t wait! If there’s something you really want to do, go for it: don’t want for someone else to help you. And don’t be afraid to travel solo, it is one of the most wonderful, rewarding experiences in the world, and it has truly made me the person I am today.

Best & worst travel moment?

Best – reaching the top of Mount Fuji. I really didn’t think I’d manage it! There are so many different kinds of “best” moments and it’s hard to say what tops them all. But climbing Fuji is probably the thing I’m most proud of, so that does stand out when I look back. We climbed overnight, and I’m so unfit that it felt like I was never going to make it. It was a mind-over-matter thing; my body felt like it was breaking down, but I couldn’t bear to give up. By the time I reached the top, just before sunrise after climbing all night long, I was so drained it felt like I was floating, everything felt surreal. But then I looked around and realized I’d done it. It was very special.

Honestly, I struggled to pick a “worst” moment. Even things that felt like disasters at the time have usually turned into funny stories or good memories. If not, they’ve been forgotten – drowned out by the good memories. I guess having my phone stolen in Nicaragua was a low point. Although even that doesn’t feel so bad now!

Do you think social media has changed travel, and if so, how? Very much so. One of the worst ways is that, thanks to things like Instagram, people seem to prioritise how their trips “look” over how their trips actually are. It seems more important to get the perfect selfie, or the perfect portrait in a floaty dress in front of a monument, than to actually enjoy the moments and see the things you’re posing in front of. I like to get a nice photo as much as the next person, especially because it’s part of my job, but I try to prioritise the experiences. There’s no point in doing something just to take a photo.

On the flip side, I think social media and blogging have made travel a lot more accessible. Sharing information and tips online means that more people can get to places that aren’t in the guidebooks. And sharing photos of the world’s most incredible places put them on the radar for people who might never have heard about them otherwise. So there is definitely a plus side to social media in travel.

If you could live anywhere else in the world (visas not being an issue) where would it be and why?

I think it has to be Mexico. If it’s possible for a country to be your soulmate, Mexico is mine! I love everything about it: the food, the people, the nature, the insane variety of landscapes, the culture. And especially the food!

Famous last words for all the wanderers out there...

As I said before, don’t wait for anyone else to come with you, don’t be afraid to go it alone, and just don’t put it off. I honestly don’t think you’ll ever regret going travelling, but you might regret not going.

You can always come home if you hate it, but you can never undo not going, if that makes sense! So if you’re dreaming of adventure, take a deep breath and go for it. It might just change your life!

To keep your finger on the pulse of all of Emily's adventures be sure to check out her social channels below and give her a follow!

Website https://www.emilyluxton.co.uk/

Instagram @Em_Luxton

Facebook @EmilyLuxtonTravelBlog

Twitter @Em_Luxton

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