A very successful blog and a website with a huge readership, an inspiring community of travellers and a few travel books to her name as well as her trips to 109 countries later, we've finally been able to catch up with Lisa Imogen Eldridge of the Girl about the Globe. A champion of solo women travellers and an advocate of responsible tourism, Lisa brings many interesting anecdotes, travel tips and tricks along with tonnes of inspiration through her award-winning blog for her readers. In this interview, we talk to Lisa about her beginning, her journeys, her aspirations and her vision, and hope that our readers are able to find value and inspiration in her wise and witty words.
Would you say that you would have still been travelling the world if not for your beginning as a travel journalist?
This is a great question! Yes definitely. Since the age of 21 I have worked, travelled and lived in many different places. I was a late starter with university and didn't get my Journalism degree until I was 29 so I was definitely doing it before.
Once I took my first flight at the age of 17 I was hooked and travel became my passion. To be able to now write about my travels and get paid for doing it is a dream.
A cocktail waitress, a hostel cleaner, a chalet girl, a travel journalist, a travel blogger and an influencer - what is next?
I've been so lucky to have tried so many different things in my life. My goal is to experience as much as I possibly can in this lifetime and live with no regrets. Next is to become a credible journalist. I am passionate about visiting local projects and showcasing a different side of the world. My dream would be to have an article published on Al Jazeera and become an award-winning journalist. I would also love to start a Girl about the Globe Foundation and help children all over the world. I currently work with The Code, to prevent children from being sexually exploited, and donate 10% off all profits to War Child, helping children in war zones, but there is so much more than I want to do. My aim is to start this in the next couple of years.
We hear that India has a big role to play in your journey as a travel writer? Can you tell us more about it?
It probably sounds a bit cliche and very 'Eat Pray Love,' but India played a big part in my divorce. In 2012 I left my marital home and flew straight to India to stay in a yoga ashram. I knew that I wouldn't be able to cope with the life changes I was about to experience and needed to prepare myself mentally. India is an amazing country but you have to be open to the experience otherwise it can be an immense culture shock. I guess India was the turning point for me being able to embrace my new life as a new divorcee. It was since my trip in India that I became a paid travel journalist.
The wisest words said by someone to you during your journeys around the globe?
I don't know if these are really wise words but they are definitely the words which have impacted me the most. Before I even travelled abroad for the first time I asked my dad what life was all about. He said, "you get a job, you get a car, you get married, you have kids." I remember thinking 'that can't be it. There must be more to life.' This became the catalyst to my "no regrets" moto. I was determined to live my life as fully as I could and opt out of society's way of thinking. I spent my twenties living and working abroad and figuring out what I wanted in life. Even though I got married and settled down in my early thirties, I soon realised that that wasn't the right life for me and I took off travelling again. I believe that life is there to be lived and that we shouldn't waste any of it being unhappy. I am constantly challenging myself to the max, wanting to make the most of this lifetime.
You inspire young women to travel the world through your blog and website, who or what inspires you to keep going?
Receiving messages from women who have found the courage to travel solo inspires me to keep going. Starting a Facebook community for women who travel solo is one of the best things that I have done. I can see firsthand how nervous and excited they are at the beginning to how much they embrace their solo trip and post pictures of how amazing it is. Knowing that I have created a group of supportive, inspiring women helps me to carry on when I have those 'wanting to give up' moments.
Create a utopian town basis parameters below and borrowing elements from different places that you have visited?
The more I travel the more I am so so lucky to see amazing cultures and stunning landscapes. Planet Earth is a really incredible place. If I had to create my own utopian town based on places I have been this would be my perfect place:
- Weather like: Spring temperatures year-round so you don't have to wear a coat. I lived in Medellin (the 'City of Eternal Spring') for 1.5 years and loved the climate. It was constantly warm. This would definitely be my perfect weather - not unbearably hot and not cold either.
- Landscapes like: My favourite landscape is the desert and one of my favourite places is Wadi Rum in Jordan. This was the movie setting for Lawrence of Arabia and it is such a magical place.Definitely a stunning pink desert and sand as far as the eye can see.
- Local Spirit like: So many places I visit seem to be defined by their past and hold onto that. I would love to create a welcoming, friendly environment where people want to become better versions of themselves, evolve, and look to the future. Where money isn't a currency and people do things for others, being non-judgmental and open to everyone else's opinions.
- Food like: Vegetarian or possibly vegan. No processed food just healthy, nutritious food.
- Architecture like: I once stayed in a desert hotel in Abu Dhabi. It was the most gorgeous place and looked like a palace in the middle of nowhere with sandstone coloured buildings and soft lighting. I love the stars so be able to have a dream world with no pollution so you can see thousands of stars would be amazing. Plus lots of green space for people to grow their fruit and vegetables of course!
- Soul like: People who have an open soul with good energy and a good heart. Everybody living in a world without fear.
If Responsible Tourism is the gospel truth, what are the top three commandments for travellers according to you?
There are so many commandments that I would choose but there are definitely my top 3.
- Choose responsible tour companies that use local guides and support local projects.
- Ask permission before taking pictures of people or entering their homes.
- Always respect different cultures and dress appropriately and modestly.
Complete the sentence:
'Try everything once', but may be skip...... I think everyone should try everything once. We don't know what we are really good at unless we try something.
What would you say to that girl itching to get away but bogged down by career, family, finances etc?
To not listen to the fear that others may be projecting onto you. I think society puts so much pressure on us to act and be a certain way. When I took off travelling during my divorce some people didn't understand why I wanted to travel. Even before I had taken my trip they were asking me what I was going to do when I returned. I would say don't listen to what anyone else says. Go with your instinct and if you have a desire to travel, just travel. In my book, a Female Guide to Solo Travel, I cover the roadblocks and how to get over them. I think we can let our circumstances stop us from travelling when there are always solutions.
You can always ask for a secondment or unpaid leave so that you have your career to come back to. You don't even need that much money to travel as you can teach English, volunteer in exchange for your room, and stay with locals through Couchsurfing. If you have the itch to travel, just book the flight and do it. At the end of the day we only regret the things we don't do and not the things we do do.
How do you think love for travel can be inculcated in children and young adults, especially women?
I think that being aware of the rest of the world and different cultures when you are young is so important. Travel gives you an education that you just don't get from school or university. It's only when you see places and cultures first-hand that you truly get a chance to appreciate them. Travel teaches us that no matter where in the world we come from, deep down we are all the same. That every human being is doing their best to survive. Learning more about cultures at school is key.
This interview with Lisa Eldridge is a part of Travel Trolley's ongoing 'Best of the Travel Bloggers' series. We are interviewing popular travel bloggers who encourage and inspire people to travel. Check out all the bloggers we have interviewed and learn about their interesting experiences, adventures, travel stories as well as useful holiday tips.