Meet Emily, a fellow traveler and blogger. She just finished a five month journey throughout South America to Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, and Brazil.
It’s easy to come up with excuses not to travel like responsibility, fear, or money… but none of them outweigh the benefits of a long term trip: what you’ll learn about yourself, how you’ll grow, who you’ll meet, and what you’ll see. Don’t put off your dreams and risk losing them; live them right now!
- From: England. I was born on the South Coast but spent the past two years living in London.
- When We Met: July 2014
- Occupation(s): Since quitting my “day job” before my last trip, I work as a full time blogger and freelance writer.
What is the name of your Blog?
It is called Emily Luxton Travel Blog.
Why do you blog?
I’ve always loved to write, and my dream is to work as a travel writer. I fell in love with blogging about two years ago when I started my site purely as a way to build a portfolio. It has rapidly become much more to me than that; not only is the blog a great way to share my adventures and stories, but it’s attracted a strong following and has now become a full time business for me, alongside freelance writing. The huge bonus side to blogging is that I’ve become part of a wonderful online community, meeting other travel bloggers and swapping stories and tips, which I absolutely love.
Where are you now?
I’ve just returned to England this week from a trip around South America.
How long did you spend in South America?
My last trip was just over five months long, starting in February this year!
Where did you go?
I started in Colombia and traveled down through the Amazon to Peru, then into Bolivia, Chile, Argentina and finally Brazil – in time for the World Cup celebrations, which was fantastic.
Why did you want to take the trip?
I’ve always wanted to take a long term trip, which is something I hadn’t been able to do before, and South America has been my dream destination since I learned about the different cultures there in my Spanish A Level! It took a long time to turn my dreams into a solid reality, as there were a few practical things (like uni debts) standing in my way, but with a little determination anything is possible and eventually I was able to take the trip of a lifetime!
How long did you save?
I started saving around the same time I moved to London, so about 18 months before the trip! South America is a more expensive continent for travel, and London is one of the worst places to save money.
And for how long did you plan it?
I started planning the trip about a year before, and once I knew exactly where and when I wanted to go, I booked my flights at the end of August 2013 – about five months before travelling. Those five months of waiting seemed much slower than the five months of travelling!
Any eyeopening experiences from traveling throughout South America?
So many! One particularly eye-opening trip was a mine tour in Potosi, Bolivia. The miners’ working conditions were far worse than I’d ever realized, and even being inside the mine for a short time was really uncomfortable. Considering that they earn the equivalent of about £200 ($338) a month working twelve or fourteen hour days inside the mine, doing back-breaking labor with no meals or even drinks, it was pretty shocking. It made the boring desk job I’d been desperate to quit seem a lot less hideous. We took the miners gifts of juice drinks, which they really appreciated, but I want to find a way to give more.
What’s the one item you packed for this trip you can’t live without?
My hiking boots! We did so much walking and hiking throughout South America – not to mention outdoor activities like cycling and horse riding – and tackled mud, rain, rocks, mountains, snow, sand and so much more. In fact, I worked the boots so hard that by the end of the trip they were completely destroyed. Even if you’re not much of a hiker, I don’t recommend visiting South America without some decent walking shoes!
What is your your best travel memory?
Sitting at the Sun Gate in Machu Picchu, overlooking the ruins and the mountains, and knowing that I had finally achieved what has been a dream for many years. Another would be watching the sunrise over the Sahara Desert in Morocco – that was pretty special!
What is your favorite place you have ever visited and why?
Colombia, as a whole, was simply incredible: my favorite country in the whole world.The friendliest people I’ve ever met, and so genuinely pleased to show off their country to travelers. I loved everything: the landscapes, the beaches, the music, the locals, the food – and especially the limonada de coconut! My favourite spots within Colombia were Salento, Minca, and Cartagena.
Why do you travel?
I think it comes from my inability to sit still! I love exploring new things and new places all the time, learning new skills and meeting new people. I just want to see as much of the world as possible. All my life, I‘ve spent far too much of my time lost in daydreams of adventures and excitement (much like the protagonist in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty) and I’m only recently learning how important it is to actually live, rather than dream.
How has travel changed you?
I’d say it has made me much braver! Having tried so many new challenges and terrifying things, from white water rafting to cycling Death Road to running face-first down a building, I’ve learnt to stop giving in to my fear and press on. Although I still frighten easily, learning new ways to deal with it has made life that little bit easier – and more fun. Challenging myself mentally and physically has really toughened me up, too, and I hope made me more independent.
What do you miss about home most when you travel?
Besides my family and friends, I really miss a good bacon sandwich. That and Cadbury’s dairy milk!
Do you/have you traveled solo as a female? Any words of wisdom to your fellow female travelers?
I’ve only made a few short trips alone, and all to places in Europe where I’ve never felt that being female put me in any greater risk. I don’t think being a solo female should put anyone off; lots of hostels have female-only dorm rooms so you can feel more comfortable, and it’s easy to make friends on the road to travel with. Most female travelers I met in South America were traveling temporarily with friends they’d met, so it’s easy to avoid being solo in places you don’t feel comfortable. For a really fantastic example of a solo female traveler, read Kira Salak’s The Cruellest Journey or Four Corners – my favorite author.
What words of wisdom would you offer someone who wants to travel long term but hasn’t yet?
Just: do it now! As my favorite quote goes, twenty years from now you’ll regret the things you didn’t know, not the things you did. It’s easy to come up with excuses not to travel like responsibility, fear, or money… but none of them outweigh the benefits of a long term trip: what you’ll learn about yourself, how you’ll grow, who you’ll meet, and what you’ll see. Don’t put off your dreams and risk losing them; live them right now!