We were pretty darn excited to get a chance to chat recently with Julie, of A Not So Young Woman Abroad. She’s won a swathe of awards in her time, chiefly for being among the top travel bloggers in the world. Rubbing shoulders with the ‘influencer’ crowd and batting off brands with a stick, to say Julie is a success in the travel entrepreneur community would be a gross understatement.
While we’re totally in awe of her credentials, what we’re most keen to talk to her about are her travel experiences. The name of her blog alone suggests that she likes to break the ‘rules’ a little. The idea that travel is a younger person’s game is not only outdated, it’s been terribly inaccurate for as long as it’s been around. Travel is all about diversity – of people, of cultures and of experiences – after all. Julie is proving to women…and men…young and old, that travel is for everyone. No matter your budget, your previous experience, or your preferred mode of transport, there’s a trip of a lifetime out there for you. For years now, Julie has been dishing out invaluable advice on travel, and relaying her anecdotes for a rabid audience. We’re among her adoring fans, and pens at the ready, we’re hoping to osmotically soak up some of her travel prowess.
So Julie, we’ll try not to fan-girl too hard, but please excuse us if we stare, starry-eyed a little. For those readers who are not yet following your blog, or social media pages, would you tell us a little about yourself. What do you do, what makes you tick, what are your passions?
I’m just an ordinary gal now in my early 50’s, with a passion to learn and an interest in culture, architecture and history. My partner (the one I leave at home when I travel), family and friends enrich my life.
Personally, I’ve always been someone who isn’t afraid of trying new things and during the course of my life I’ve been privileged to break the glass ceiling in male dominated industries.
Others describe me as brave, resilient and a risk taker, in some ways I guess I am. I travel solo and have a desire to encourage others to do so too, through my travel blog A Not So Young Woman Abroad.
We’re super impressed by your attitude to life, work and travel. We’d definitely call you a risk taker. Would you tell us, where have you travelled in the world?
Around the US, Canada numerous times, France, Italy, Singapore, New Zealand, Vanuatu, Noumea and most recently Turkey.
That’s a pretty fantastic list of destinations. And quite varied, too. What would you say is your favourite place?
I have lots of favourites, but my most favourite is France, I keep returning. To me it’s like a second home.
J’aime France! The food, the people, the history, the architecture and art, it’s all consuming.
As far as culture goes, France has it in spades. What is your favourite way to travel, when you’re zipping off to these exotic locations?
I couldn’t imagine ever travelling on an arranged tour. Couldn’t think of anything worse than hanging around people from my own country while I travel. I plan my own Solo Travel. I love getting lost and experiencing the off the beaten track places.
Rule Breaker co-founder Maggie is a bit of a solo travel enthusiast, but she does admit, it gets a little hectic (read: scary, lonely, hard) sometimes. Tell us, why do you love to travel solo?
For me travelling solo is the only way to go. You can easily jump out of your comfort zone when travelling on your own. There’s no one to tell you what to do or where to go. You can eat whatever you like and catch 40 winks whenever you please.
We totally concur. Solo travel opens you up to a lot of experiences you wouldn’t have otherwise (not to mention the ability to take unplanned naps at will. YES!) In fact, we think that everyone should travel alone at least once in their lives.
So, would you tell us a story about your best travel experience? We bet you’ve got plenty to choose from!
It’s hard to narrow down my best travel experiences. Everywhere I go brings a different and unique experience. One of my favourites is a story of a cheeky man in Marseille, France.
It was a glorious spring afternoon when my train from Lyon arrived in Marseille France. The sun was shining and being a weekend people were out and about enjoying a break from the cold weather. Many people had told me that Marseille might be a bit too ‘cosmopolitan’ and ‘edgy’ for a woman travelling on her own. But cosmopolitan and edgy is one of the most compelling reasons for me to travel to any destination. I proceeded to walk to my hotel, which was situated at Vieux Port (Old Port) on the edge of the Mediterranean Sea.
After meandering down to the hill through the streets filled with the sounds and smells of a different place, I arrived at my accommodation and settled myself in. The view from my hotel window was of the port. It was magical and the sun seemed to dance on the water. There were people out and about around the port so I decided to go for a walk. My stroll along the docks had taken me past some men fishing. I checked out what they were catching and went on my way once more. There is an amazing old fort at the end of the docks and I decided to take a closer look.
I am always alert of my surroundings when travelling in foreign places and I noticed a man (one of the men that I had previously seen fishing off the wharf) in my peripheral vision. I kept walking and noticed that there were fewer people about the further I ventured. Knowing that this man was following me I decided to turn around and make my way back. The man smiled at me as I walked past him, he seemed pretty harmless. Soon the man had also turned around and was now at my side. He asked me if I spoke French, to which I replied Oui (Yes). We started having a little chat about how beautiful the day was and I asked him if he had had much luck catching fish. Not long into our conversation this cheeky Frenchman, asked me if I would like to go behind the fort with him. Non Merci Monsour! I replied. He then proceeded to tell me he was an excellent lover to which I replied that thanks very much but I have one of those at home. I made my way back to my hotel.
See folks, it doesn’t matter where you go in the world, there is some guy waiting to give it a crack. And those chance encounters do tend to be some of the best – even if just for the story-telling factor. What would you say is the craziest/stupidest/most dangerous thing you’ve ever done while travelling?
Some might think that travelling on my own is somewhat crazy; others may think it stupid and dangerous. I do have a habit of getting lost and sometimes this has taken me into places that others may not venture into on their own. There have been times I have said to myself “what on earth were you thinking girl”.
What’s your philosophy on travel and/or life?
“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”
― Roald Dahl
I view the world as a magical place with many hidden secrets to be found. I yearn to find the hidden gems and create opportunities to learn new things.
We knew there was a reason we loved you, Julie. Quoting Roald Dahl and spreading the magic of travel. Be still our beating hearts.
We’d love to know where you get your travel inspiration?
My inspiration comes from meeting people from all over the world, the desire to learn and see new things.
As such a keen traveller, you must have a few destinations on your bucket list?
It’s hard to narrow down my desire to travel the whole world into one list. But here goes:
- Travel through France again and again
- See more of Italy
- A road trip along Route 66 in the US
- Visit more places in Canada
- Greece and the Greek Isles
- South Kore
- See more of New Zealand
And wherever else my heart wants to take me.
We see you’ve ticked Istanbul off the list this year. For readers who want to read more about Julie’s Turkish visit, check out her blog post here.
Photo credit: Julie Beckers, A Not So Young Woman Abroad
Julie, what’s your biggest fear?
I can’t say that I’m really afraid of anything, (except heights haha) but if I have to narrow it down, I’d say that I have a fear of not being able to travel on my own anymore.
We think that’s a fear that many in our Rule Breakers community would share. Life is short. Best pack it all in while you can, right?! Julie, thanks so much for sharing your travel tales and philosophy with us. We can’t wait to see what you get up to next.
For those not already following Julie (what are you waiting for?!) you can find her website here, and her Facebook page for all the latest here.