EMWT Community of Intrepid Travelers features:

Colleen Setchell (England) - freelance travel writer and photographer 

Hi there, Colleen here.
I am a writer, travel blogger and photographer. I love learning new things which is why I love travelling - to experience new things, foods, people, cultures, sights and ways of life.  My hobbies are writing and photography as well as cinema, theatre, art appreciation, eating out and learning new things. I am generally a happy-go-lucky person with a tendency to get stressed easily. I can also be a little crazy and have been known to hug trees, howl at the moon and taste weird foods.

All Intrepid Travelers have a story to tell, the exact moment in their lives when the travel bug bit them, transforming their lives forever. 
Mine bit me, strangely enough, when I wasn't travelling.  My last job was as a Service Delivery Manager for an international airline responsible for a global customer.  In true Colleen style, I threw myself into it, worked ridiculous hours and this coupled with various management/teamwork/operational issues, eventually had me booked off work for a month with stress and burnout.  It's amazing how you can focus when you can't move out of bed... I had a horrible vision of myself old and haggard from working too hard and letting stress get the better of me.  I was talking to some children telling them they had to work harder or they will get nowhere in life. I was shocked and horrified by the image and decided I would much rather be an old woman filled with wonderful memories entertaining the same children with stories of eating spiders or pigs intestines and jumping off cliffs and diving with sharks.

I had travelled quite a lot already but decided that in order to become that wise old cliff jumping, spider-eating woman, I would sell everything I owned, resign from my job and go travelling.  That was last July and I have been travelling ever since.  I am leaving for Ireland this week, then Canada, then America and from August, I will be living in Thailand.

The part of the world and culture that makes my heart sing.
I was born in South Africa and whenever I return, I instantly feel 'comfortable'. While the country still has a long way to go, it is always striving to improve.  The people (white, black, brown, pink, purple or whatever) are all friendly, genuine people.  
The outdoor culture is wonderful; 'braais' (barbecues) with tons of steak, chops and sausages, are a regular occurrence and everyone spends lots of time on the beach or outside in the sun.  

Chasing monkeys away from your fruit is a regular occurrence and the sea and sand are always warm and inviting. The scenery is world class - oceans, beaches, mountains ranges, deserts, rolling hills and lush valleys, bushveld, diving, safaris, African culture, English speaking culture, Afrikaans speaking culture, Indian culture and Coloured culture, foods from all the different cultures, the list goes on and on.  It really is a world in one country.

How I like to travel:
I would like to think I am very organised. I plan everything in advance, sometimes print it all out and colour code the different papers (flight, car hire and accommodation).  I often use my mobile phone, saving all important documents to Dropbox or Evernote.  I research the place beforehand so I know what needs to be seen,  more or less what things cost and how I need to behave taking into consideration different customs and cultures.  I have guidebooks overflowing on my bookshelf and a few electronic ones too.  I use twitter to ask for advice about what I can see and do in various places. I would like to 'wing' it but I'm not sure if I am brave enough. Maybe it depends on the location...

Traveling with people or going solo.
A bit of both.  I like to travel on my own because I feel at peace and I can control where and what I do as well as when.  I can eat chocolate for breakfast and chips for lunch without feeling guilty. But sometimes it's nice to have someone to share it with and to talk to during the less-interesting parts of the journey.  

I travel a lot with my brother because he is self employed, has no commitments and has the flexibility to travel often. We have common interests and he is also a photographer. This comes in handy when you want to spend an hour preparing to photograph a sunset.

I also travel a lot with a friend of mine who lives in Germany. Up until now, we always either fly together or meet up somewhere to enjoy a holiday together.  I am not sure how this will work when I am living in Thailand. Maybe we will meet half way...

7 things I never travel without: 
1. I would never go anywhere without my iPhone and iPad.  They give me flight checkers, guidebooks, books to read, weather checkers, train time checkers, the internet, a camera, photo editing software, my website, Facebook, twitter, Flickr, email and a host of other things I just couldn't be without. 

2. Nail clippers. Don't laugh but a pet hate is those little bits of skin that pull down the side of your nail that you feel continuously compelled to nibble on.  I keep my nails short for travel so nail clippers are a must. 

3. Body cream.  I hate it when I get dry skin - makes me feel like a reptile and sometimes it just feels like a nice treat.
 
4. Lip salve - chapped lips are sore and uncomfortable and when you're up early in the middle of Scotland and fighting your way through icy gales, you appreciate this little stick more than a cup of tea!! (but only just...) 

5. My camera and tripod. Being a photographer too, I can't bear the thought of not having my camera with me. I would rather leaves clothes behind. (well, some at least, I'm crazy but not THAT crazy!) 

6. iPhone and iPad counted as two 

7. Camera and tripod counted as two

To contact Colleen Setchell, go to www.writearoundtheworld.me

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