London-born Flora Baker is a well-known travel blogger who chronicles her adventures on her blog, Flora the Explorer. At on the onset of her global travels, she set herself an ambitious goal: to visit every continent twice before she turns 31.
Flora has lived in Florence and San Francisco, worked in India and Iceland, volunteered in Nepal and Lithuania, and travelled across several other countries. She has worked as a Colombian journalist, a Bolivian artificial limb maker and a Brazilian builder. In her blog, you will find all sorts of stories about the places she has been to and the kind of people she has met. Her blog offers helpful travel tips and advice to readers. Read on to know more about Flora Baker and her travel adventures.
How would you define your travelling style?
I usually like to travel slowly, spending at least a few weeks to a couple of months in any one destination. After years of flitting through different cities every few days I realised that I wasn't remembering where I'd been, and that was a horrible wake up call. Now I actively try to search out the interesting or relatively unknown cultural, historical or traditional aspects of a place and use that as a springboard to explore further.
You participated in the 'National Novel Writing Month' (NaNoWriMo) in 2014. How was the experience?
Well, I did NaNoWriMo to spur on my writing for my masters degree in non fiction writing (which I'm currently halfway through). Ultimately it was a fantastic experience, although my flatmate would probably disagree - writing 50,000 words in 30 days requires a lot of coffee, not much movement from behind a desk and a tendency to scream at the computer screen..!
You spent a lot of time in India and had a great time in the country. How much time, do you think, one needs to explore all facets of this large country?
It completely depends on how much you want to see! I was there for four months and feel like I explored a lot of the country, but I have friends who've lived there for years as expats and still have more they want to do.
You had an exciting time accompanying a Bollywood celebrity in India. Do you think Bollywood plays a vital role in Indian tourism?
Bollywood culture is undoubtedly a tempting aspect of travelling to India - not least because a lot of backpackers seem to end up being cast as extras in the movies. Not sure about how vital it is... although there's probably a lot to be said for the impression many Indians have of Western women through what they see on Bollywood movies.
You confessed in one of your blog posts that travelling alone scares you. But you still carry on with your solo adventures. What inspires you to travel alone?
It doesn't always scare me! I just wanted to write about the fears I sometimes have, to allay the fears of other travellers who might assume that many solo female bloggers don't feel the same way they do. In terms of inspiration, there isn't a particular source: I just want to see as much of the world as I can, and travelling is how I do it. Although the more I write on my site, the more I find myself travelling in order to show these countries to an audience and not solely for my own gratification. Which is a nice feeling!
As a holiday destination, the Philippines exceeded your expectations. Is there any other city/country which turned out to be pleasantly different from what you had expected it to be?
When I first planned to travel to Colombia I was a bit nervous - particularly as I would be arriving with friends then heading out on my own once they left. As soon as I arrived in the country, though, I felt immediately at home. I've now been to Colombia at least four times, think of it as a second home and can't wait to go back!
7. You love staying at quirky places. Which is the quirkiest place you have stayed at, and how was the experience?
Probably when I stayed in a 14th century Scottish castle which sat on top of a cliff above the Firth of Clyde. I was there with a group of other bloggers, and we drank champagne outside on the battlements at sunset, ate in a dining room filled with portraits, played a murder mystery beside a fire while the wind howled outside - and then barely slept due to worrying that the castle was haunted! You can read more about that night here
You have a fear of flying, but interestingly or rather gallantly, you included skydiving in your bucket list. Now that you have skydived couple of times, are you still afraid of flying? And how was whole skydiving experience for you?
Skydiving is an incredible thing to do and I highly recommend that everyone tries it at least once - especially if you're scared of flying & falling like I am! Doing it twice didn't stop me being scared of flying but I still felt incredible, as well as getting an adrenaline rush like no other.
Considering the fact that you have travelled all over the world, you must have a sizable collection of souvenirs. Which one is the most prized souvenir in your collection, and where did you buy it?
I don't actually have one specific favourite souvenir, but I guess the jewellery I wear all the time is the most meaningful. Currently I've got rings on my hands from Peru, India, and France, little woven bracelets from Colombia, Peru, the Philippines and Ecuador, and metal bracelets from Bolivia and India on my wrists. They're only valuable to me, but I remember where I was & how I felt when I received every one of them.
How has 2015 been so far and what are your plans for the rest of the year?
This past year has been wonderful for me. I've travelled to a number of European destinations as well as farther afield to South Africa, Peru and the Philippines; I walked 400 kilometres across Spain on the Camino de Santiago; I won the National Geographic Traveller's annual travel writing contest and I'm now in Austria with my dad on a well deserved holiday! The rest of the year will be quieter - I have a literature festival in Gibraltar and then I'll be settling into the writing work for my masters degree in non fiction writing.
This interview with Flora Baker is a part of Travel Trolley's ongoing 'Best of the Travel Bloggers' series. We are interviewing and showcasing popular travel bloggers who encourage and inspire people to travel. Check out all the bloggers we have interviewed and showcased and learn about their interesting experiences, adventures, travel stories as well as useful holiday tips.