Ellen Burne is on a mission to travel solo to every single country in the world and she’s off to a great start, having already visited all 7 continents. Before her 25th birthday, Ellen had swam with humpback whales, kayaked in both the North and South Poles, backpacked through Iran, gone dog sledding in Iceland, inter-railed through Europe, slept in an igloo, visited the lost city of Petra and partied her behind off in Edinburgh… a girls gotta let her hair down!
Ellen shares her many incredible travel stories, stunning photography and solo travel tips on her travel blog Travelling The World Solo providing endless inspiration for anyone dreaming of, well, travelling the world solo!
Hi Ellen, tell us about your travel website and how you became a travel blogger?
My website is ‘Travelling The World Solo’, which originally started as nothing more than a kind of personal diary. I had been borderline compulsive in writing in my travel journal every day, until one day on a train in Italy I left it behind and lost it forever! I was so sad to see all my thoughts and memories lost, so I decided to start a kind of e-journal so that I’d never have to feel that way again. Over time my audience grew and grew, until Travelling The World Solo became what it is today – a website to guide, encourage and inspire people to travel fearlessly and independently around the world.
What do you love most about travel blogging?
Definitely the response I get from my readers! I absolutely love getting comments, questions and thoughts from the wonderful people that read my blog. It gives me a real sense of community, and that is really special.
When did you first get the travel bug and how long have you been traveling for?
I first started travelling when I was 19, but it wasn’t then that the travel bug hit. On the last night of that first trip I was assaulted and raped in Ireland – and afterwards, I wanted nothing more than to go home and never go anywhere ever again.
However, over time I realised that before the attack I had had all these dreams and desires to see the world; and if I never did all those things, then I was letting my rapist have power and control over me for the rest of my life, and that just didn’t sit with me. So, I decided to go travelling again, and although it was scary, it was single handedly one of the most cathartic experiences of my life, and it was on that trip that I started healing and in turn, got bitten by the travel bug.
Ellen, you are incredibly brave, how empowering to stick two fingers up to that SOB and get back on track, living your best life. What motivates and inspires you to travel so often and so far these days?
The promise of the new, the exciting, the challenging and the beautiful! There are so many challenges to overcome, so many foods to eat, so many cities to explore, so many cultures to explore and so many incredible people to meet. Knowing that there will always be something new to see and experience is a hugely motivating factor.
When not on the road describe your idea of a perfect day spent at home.
Netflix, bed and going out to watch the sunrise.
Name your 5 favorite places that you’ve visited so far.
Iran, Greenland, Japan, South Africa and Tonga.
What’s your most memorable travel experience so far?
Swimming with Humpback Whales in Tonga is high on that list. As was kayaking amongst icebergs in the Disko Bay in Greenland.
Any major travel fails you care to share?
Oh my god, so many! Last year I wrote an entire blog post on the most embarrassing stuff that happened to me while travelling! One of the first that comes to mind though is a sex dream + propensity to sleep talk + a full hostel dorm… not a good combo!
OMG! Lol. What place in the world would you recommend everyone should visit at least once and why?
Greenland! Greenland is one of the most wild, exciting and beautiful places I have ever visited. It gives you a real sense of exploration and wilderness – something that I think many places now lack. Plus, all the sled dogs running around the settlements is a paradise for dog lovers!
Based on your travels so far, where have you visited that you would love to go back to and why?
Definitely Iran. Iran was cheap, easy to travel in and home to some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. Plus, the architecture is all kinds of incredible. I would go back there in a heartbeat.
Have you ever visited a place that ended up being a total disappointment?
Oh hell yeah! I often find big cities really underwhelming, so places like Barcelona, Rome and London just don’t do it for me.
What’s the one thing you’d never travel without?
My Olympus camera! I use an OM-D EM1 set up, and if you are travelling to excessively cold or rainy climates, there is nothing more weatherproof on the market. I have used my camera and lenses in temperatures as cold as -51 degrees Celsius, and they still worked perfectly!
Name your 3 carry on essentials that you bring with you on every flight.
Lip balm, noise cancelling headphones and earplugs!
What do you love most about coming home after a long trip?
It sounds so stupid, but I look forward to nothing more than doing laundry. Doing my laundry is so hard while travelling, and everything in my backpack is always so gross by the time I get home, so doing two to four loads of laundry is always so satisfying.
Where are you off to next?
I have actually just started another extended adventure. I am currently in Iceland, and after this I will be heading to Cape Town, and from there I will be travelling through Namibia and East Africa.
What’s on your future travel bucket list?
Central Asia and Central America! I am dreaming of Guatemala and Belize, as well as Mongolia and Uzbekistan!
What advice would you give your best friend about traveling solo?
The world seems like such a scary place and I know firsthand that things can definitely go wrong! But by the same token, shit can hit the fan at any place, at any time, even at home, so you really shouldn’t live your life in fear. Get out there, make the most of every day and create memories that you’ll cherish for the rest of your life.
Keep up to date with Ellen’s latest travel adventures and get inspiration for travelling the world solo on her travel blog.
You can also follow Ellen on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Pinterest and Instagram.
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