Welcome to my new series Women of Wanderlust! Here I’ll be interviewing a very selective list of amazing female travelers. The goal is to introduce you to other passionate women who can inspire you to see the world!
Next up is Anna from Global Gallivanting. I stumbled on Anna’s blog a few months ago, and was immediately hooked by the way she talked about living and traveling in India. I’ve been really interested in India for a few years now, but frankly with the news focused on India’s sexual assault and rape issue, I didn’t feel comfortable visiting as a young solo woman.
Rather than focusing on sensationalized media, I figured it would be best for me to ask a fellow female traveler about her experience living and traveling in India long-term.
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Let’s start with an introduction. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Hi, I’m Anna, I’m a dreamer, writer and travel addict from the UK. I quit the corporate world in the UK in December 2012 and decided to make every day count! After traveling South East Asia and spending a year on a Working Holiday in Australia now you’re more likely to find me in India, discovering more about life each day and living life to the full. You can keep updated with my travels on my blog www.global-gallivanting.com
You write the travel blog Global Gallivanting. What’s it about?
I started my blog out of a passion to show people that living a life of travel is affordable and achievable. That there is so much more to life than the 9 – 5. I wanted to bring the incredible experiences I’ve seen to life and share the experiences I’ve had but most of all I want to show people, especially women, that they can also make their dreams of travel a reality. By focusing on ways to travel for less and how to work abroad I want to show that traveling the world is not as expensive, difficult or dangerous as you might think! It’s a totally achievable lifestyle choice!
What made you decide to quit your 9-5 for a life of travel?
I just felt like I was wasting my life away doing something that I wasn’t happy doing when there was a whole world of amazing experiences, wonderful people and beautiful places out there just waiting to be discovered. After a couple of years trying to convince myself that I could fit into the corporate world I had to admit that I couldn’t and wouldn’t waste my life day dreaming out of an office window. So I saved like crazy for 18 months, sold all my things, quit everything and bought a one way ticket to India. My only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner!
How do you support yourself on the road?
I saved up a lot before I left and I’m careful with my money, visiting cheap countries where I can survive comfortably on less than $20 a day. I like to travel slow, at the moment I’m renting a cute little house in Goa which is even cheaper than the cheap hotels here and I can live like the Queen for less than $15 a day! Sometimes I get free accommodation in exchange for volunteering by using websites like Workaway and I’ve got a lot of friends around the world so I stay with them! Mostly though I did a working holiday in Australia where I worked in an outback pub and managed to save loads of money. I’ve also got myself a TEFL certificate so teaching English is also something I’m considering and then there’s always good old temping back in the UK if I get really skint!
You’ve spent a lot of time in India. What do you love about the country?
Wow, so many things, I could write an essay about why I love India. But mainly I love India because it is so different, so exotic, I love the culture, the colour, the chaos, the exuberance, the life all around you, the people are so friendly, the food is so tasty. I just feel so alive in India. Plus India is so diverse, so fascinating and so cheap to travel you could spend a lifetime traveling here and never see it all.
How do you feel about the media attention India has been given in regards to sexual assault? Is it accurate? Do you feel safe as a woman in India?
I’m not sure if I am qualified to say whether it is accurate and to be honest I try to avoid reading the kind of scare mongering news that brings me down – the most important thing I’ve learned over 2 years of full time travel is that the world is not a scary place and people all over are inherently kind! Sometimes we need to switch off the news and actually go and experience the world – it’s often a lot less scary than they make it out to be!
That said, yes I do believe that women need to be cautious in India, understand the cultural differences and adapt the way that they travel to suit. There are several strategies that I follow that I have helped to keep me safe. Most of it becomes common sense after a while and with sensible precautions I don’t feel any less safe in Mumbai than I do in London. My biggest tip would be to be dress conservatively, be careful who you trust and just be confident and assertive, but most of all keep it in perspective and don’t let fear put you off discovering the most mind blowing, amazing, transformative travel destination.
What’s your craziest “culture shock” moment?
Probably the first day I landed in Mumbai, India. I knew it was going to be a culture shock and I went there because I wanted to experience a completely new culture but it was still overwhelming the way that everything was so different, there were so many people, noises, colours, smells, tastes, it was truly a shock for all the senses but I grew to love it and got easier to deal with. Mumbai’s one of my favourite cities now.
What’s your all-time favorite country you’ve ever visited? What do you love about it?
Cambodia and surprise! – India have a special place in my heart. India for the diversity, colour and exuberance of life and Cambodia because it is an incredible destination due to the beautiful, undeveloped countryside, of course the incredible temples of Angkor and mostly the amazing, genuine, charming people who have been to hell and back and are an inspirational to me. Sometimes it’s hard to describe why I love a place so much – often it’s just a feeling or energy I get from being somewhere that feels special and steals my heart.
What places are on your bucket list?
I’m really in love with Asia and really want to see the all places in Asia that I haven’t visited yet, Myanmar is top of the list, China and Japan and the Philippines. I’d also love to travel the Silk Road through Central Asia and I’m intrigued by Jordan, Egypt, Turkey and Morocco. I also really want to get over to South America and Africa in the not too distant future if only I can pry myself away from Asia! I want to go everywhere really!
What’s next for you? Do you have any exciting trips or projects coming up?
I’m working on writing some ebooks at the moment and looking forward to seeing more of India and South East Asia and hoping that next year I can get over to South America for a few months. I’m working on a couple of exciting projects and trips for the Autumn but nothing that I can really announce just yet sorry!
Give us two of your favorite posts from your blog. What are they about?
I wrote a big post on How to Live in Goa for less than $16 a Day which I hope will inspire more people to discover this place that is so special to me.
I also wrote a post last year that kind of sums up how I feel about this life of travel – rather than being lonely, I now have friends and homes all over the world that I miss. I didn’t realise there would be so many goodbyes and that I would become so attached to the places I visited and people I met.
Curious about Anna’s life in India? In addition to her website, be sure to check out Anna on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!
Have you ever traveled India as a woman? What did you think?