Meet Alli, the Canadian writer and full-time traveler behind Expat Alli. Alli has been living a nomadic lifestyle since she bravely sold all of her belongings and moved to Australia several years ago. Throw in trips to 37 countries, living as an expat on 3 continents, 3 years of 24 hour layovers as a flight attendant (plus a slight detour due to a Kiwi romance) and you have a travel blog that’s packed with fun stories and top tips. I mean who better than an ex flight attendant to help you plan a 24 hour layover right? Alli now focuses on traveling slower and aims to share her often hard-learned travel advice with her readers.
Hi Alli, tell us about your travel blog and how you got started as a travel blogger?
I created Expat Alli when I was working as a flight attendant in the Middle East, because people had been constantly telling me I should start a blog, and I thought it would be a fun way to keep friends & family updated on where I was and what I was doing. Eventually it kind of transformed into something bigger than just a personal blog — I wanted to be able to use my experiences to help and inspire others on their travels.
What do you love most about travel blogging?
I love having the opportunity to inspire others to travel and see things they may not otherwise have known about. I’ve always loved sharing my travel experiences with friends & family, and blogging is a great way to do that on a bigger scale, to a wider audience. It’s also fun to be creative with the way the content is presented. There’s really no end to what you can do with a website.
When did you first get the travel bug and how long have you been traveling for?
I’ve had the travel bug for as long as I can remember. I didn’t have the opportunity to travel when I was a kid, so I would collect postcards & travel brochures and I read as many books as I could. My dream country was Australia. Then in 2011 I was laid off from my job and decided to sell everything and move to Sydney for a year. I haven’t really stopped moving since!
What motivates and inspires you to travel so often and so far?
I just think that the world is such an interesting place, and there’s so much beauty in the differences between each place. Travel gives you a better understanding of how the world works, and helps you connect better to people from different cultures. That’s a really important thing. I’m also the kind of person who has a difficult time with routine and being surrounded with too much familiarity so I think that helps.
Name your 10 favorite places you’ve visited
That’s a tough one! I guess the 10 most special places for me would be:
- Sydney, Australia
- Guilin, China
- Mahe Island, Seychelles
- Nairobi, Kenya
- Wadi Rum, Jordan
- New York City, USA
- Tofino, Canada
- Hong Kong
- Ischia, Italy
- St Petersburg, Russia
What’s your most memorable travel experience so far?
Probably my trip to China earlier this year. It was the most difficult, due to the language barrier, but that really gave me an opportunity to learn how to connect with people without being able to communicate with them. I also got to do a lot of things I never thought I’d ever be able to check off my bucket list – like seeing pandas in Chengdu, cruising down the Li River, and experiencing Yangshuo’s amazing light show.
Any major travel fails you care to share?
I spent a summer working at some festivals in Alberta several years ago and my employer didn’t pay me so I was stranded for a while. Luckily I had some great Couchsurfing hosts that were really accommodating and I was resourceful enough to pick up some freelance writing work that funded my way back home. My fail was buying a one-way ticket without having some savings to fall back on, or even a ticket home. I do, however, see it as a positive experience as it taught me some important lessons.
What place in the world would you recommend everyone should visit at least once and why?
That’s a tough question to answer because everyone has different priorities and interests — I’ve loved places others have hated, and vice versa. I do feel that everyone living in a developed country should visit an underdeveloped part of the world at some point in their lives. I think there are important things that can be learned by doing that, and it helps to develop a greater amount of empathy and appreciation for what we have.
Have you ever visited a place that ended up being a total disappointment?
Christchurch, New Zealand. I moved there to be with a guy I dated a few years ago and he made it sound incredible. This was shortly after the big earthquakes, and the city was still very broken. I also really struggled finding a job, which made things difficult. I’d like to go back someday though, to experience it under better conditions.
Based on your travels so far, where have you visited that you would love to go back to and why?
I always try to leave a place with things I still want to do, so I would be happy to travel pretty much anywhere again. Italy is a pretty high priority though, particularly the Campania region. I’ve always had an amazing experience there, and I constantly crave their food, coffee & meloncello.
Name your 3 carry on essentials that you bring with you on every flight
Kiehls Ultimate-Strength hand cream is something I can’t fly without. Also a large bottle of water from wherever I can find one after security. Hydration is so important when you’re flying. And a pen! Such an easy thing to forget, but so important.
What’s the one thing you’d never travel without?
What do you love most about coming home after a long trip?
Seeing friends & family is always the most important part of going back for me. And Vancouver has some great food – I was just back for 6 weeks and I’m sure I put on a couple of extra pounds. It’s also nice to be back in familiar surroundings, but only for a short amount of time – I get itchy feet pretty fast!
What advice would you give an apprehensive best friend about traveling solo?
I’d say it’s definitely good to be aware of the risks of traveling the world, especially if you plan to do it solo. But don’t let that stop you because it’s an amazingly rewarding experience. There are also tons of resources out there that can help, including travel blogs and social media groups from people who have previously and are currently traveling on their own.
What’s on your future travel bucket list?
There are still SO many places I want to go. Antarctica is at the top of the list, but it’s gonna be a while still until that happens. And Egypt & Turkey, which sadly I didn’t get to travel to when I was living in the Middle East. I’d also like to also do a road trip through the Southwestern US to see those amazing National Parks. But first I’ll be heading back to the South Pacific, and there are a lot of islands there I plan to check out. Stay tuned!
Keep up to date with Alli’s latest travel plans and find even more inspiration, tips and advice to live an expat lifestyle or just go on that trip you’ve been dreaming of by visiting Alli’s rather awesome travel blog. While you’re at it, you can also follow Alli on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.