Ahoy, pirates! We know you usually come here for travel deals, but we've been itching to give you something to keep you inspired to see the world, and who better to inspire you than those who inspire for a living?
Welcome to Travel Tip Tuesday, where we're super excited to kick off a new series of interviews with our favourite travel bloggers!
First up, we're chatting to Dannielle Noonan of wildly successful While I'm Young. Dannielle's award-winning blog is all about inspiring young women to travel and experience all that the world has to offer while they're young - although as she points out, youth is only a state of mind! On her blog, you'll find travel stories, tips and detailed destination guides, as well as some fascinating insights into her life living and working in Dubai. Honestly, we'd challenge anyone not to feel a little struck with wanderlust after taking a browse.
Tell our readers a little bit about how you got into travel!
I didn’t really start travelling until I was 21, when I spent three months in New Zealand, Australia, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. It was 'proper' backpacking: sleeping almost exclusively in hostels, moving to a new place every other night, and packing as much living into one summer as possible. After that trip, I was determined to make seeing more of the world a priority. Five years on, I’ve been to over 45 countries.
You became engaged a few months ago – congratulations! You’ve mentioned wanting to get married abroad. Are there any locations you’ve begun to seriously consider?
Thank you! Planning a destination wedding has turned out to be a lot more difficult than I expected, so I'm going to share the process on my blog to try to help others. It was really hard to choose where in the world to tie the knot! We knew we didn’t want to ask our families to travel on long-haul flights so that narrowed it down a tiny bit. We considered Cyprus and Greece but eventually chose Italy, our dream wedding destination.
On your blog, you’ve discussed your time living in Dubai for 14 months. What were your expectations of living there and how were you surprised?
Honestly, I had no idea what to expect. I think I spent the first few months in a state of shock! I was fortunate because the company I worked for flew me out for an interview beforehand, so I had 48 hours to explore and decide if I could live there. But really, two days can’t prepare you for a move like that.
The main thing that didn’t fit with my expectations was how much fun my social life would be. With free drinks at ladies nights around the emirate almost every night, Dubai is a playground for twenty somethings. I didn’t expect to find so many other young women who were in a similar situation to me out there and actually found that it was much easier to make friends in Dubai than it is in the UK. Within a few months, my life became a parade of lavish (boozy) Friday brunches and yacht days with my new mates. It was all a little bit ridiculous, but very good fun.
I think the experience would have been very different had I gone with family or my partner. I have no idea what people in that situation do in Dubai!
As well as locations abroad, you’ve also explored much of what the UK has to offer. Where has been your favourite place to enjoy a staycation?
Ah, I do love a UK staycation! It’s actually one of my goals to explore more of the UK, especially ‘Down South’, since I haven’t really been there. My fiancé and I love going to York for a weekend break but if I’m solo, I like Manchester. It’s just such a cool, creative city to spend time in! And of course, I'll never stop singing Edinburgh's praises. My uni city is my favourite place in the world.
You made the leap to full-time travel blogging earlier this year. What three tips would you give to someone aiming to do the same?
Like anyone who is transitioning to self-employment or freelance life, I strongly recommend saving for a long time before you take the leap. I would never have felt brave enough to give it a go without that financial safety net.
I think having a good network of contacts and even other creatives in the industry makes a big difference too. I miss out on a lot of industry events because I don’t live in London, but I’m trying!
Finally, I probably wouldn’t recommend starting a blog because you want to be like the people you see ‘living the dream’ on Instagram. You’d be in for a shock because the reality is often quite different.
Plane travel or train travel?
Ooh, that’s tough! I’d have to say train travel because flying really takes it out of me and I hate how dehydrated it makes me feel - like a dried up prune. Give me a nice array of snacks, a good window view and free wifi so I can get some work done and I’d happily travel anywhere by train.
Do you prefer travelling solo, with friends or with your fiancé?
I first started travelling with a friend and think that's a good way to do your first big trip, but I’m not sure I’d enjoy travelling with friends at this stage of my life. I’m a big girl, I can go by myself!
Relaxing holidays with my fiancé are great but when it comes to real travelling, I prefer to go solo. I just love exploring a new destination entirely on my own terms and never having to compromise. I’ve taken solo city breaks in Vienna, Rome and Hong Kong and those are some of my favourite travel memories.
What trips do you have lined up?
I’m not much of a planner so I don’t really have much booked in advance! My fiancé and I are flying to Saint Lucia on Christmas day and after that, who knows. I’d like to go back to NYC in 2019, and possibly Australia. My little brother is out there now so I’ve been very jealous of his snaps!
Finally, what’s your number one travel hack?
Have a vague plan so you get to do everything you'd like to, but don't be afraid to abandon the plan and just go with the flow. I know people who use spreadsheets to plan their trips, and personally I can't think of anything worse! The best adventures are the accidental ones.
Thanks so much for the chat, Dannielle! If you're feeling inspired after this interview, we recommend checking out Dannielle's incredible blog While I'm Young. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @danniellelily, or keep up with her on Facebook.