As part of the next instalment in my international version of Guests’ Corner (previously a local South African travel interview section on Tamlyn Amber Wanderlust), I chatted to Anne-Marie Soulsby, travel blogger at Soulful Travels.
Annie is a travel addict and travel blogger at Soulful Travels. Her love affair with travel began in 2000 when she was introduced to backpacking, while on a trip to Morocco. From there, through the power of travel, she overcame a handful of personal fears – from large insects to deep waters.
What’s more, thanks to her Period of Purposelessness tour (365 days of adventure) and living abroad in Tanzania for several years, Annie turned from an inexperienced tourist to an expert solo traveller.
With her travel experience and time abroad, Annie is one of the best people around to give authentic travel advice and help you make your next dream travel journey a reality.
1) Who or what inspired you to go into travel blogging?
I was asked to create some destination guides for a travel company last year. I enjoyed producing the content and received really positive feedback, so I decided to jump in and start my own little creative outlet.
It’s a nice way to record my travels, as more than just photos or memories, but stories I can share with everyone – and luckily, it seems many people are enjoying them!
2) What kind of traveller are you: thrill seeker, culture vulture, adrenaline junkie, nature lover or something of everything?
I used to be a bit of everything until my back injury! I do love being out in nature; it’s very restorative for both the body and the mind. I try to stay active – walking tours, hiking, cycling or kayaking are my favourite methods of exploring.
I’m definitely a foodie, and I love absorbing the creative energy of an area, from mini festivals to art galleries via street theatre and cultural performances.
3) Which are your top three most memorable travel experiences and why? Please list each one with a brief explanation.
So my first real backpacking adventure was in Morocco around 2000. I trusted my friend – and was taught many of the solo traveller survival skills I use today. The highlight was sitting on the top of a dune in the Sahara, with a kitten on my knee, welcoming the sunrise. People actually asked me if I brought my own cat…
I took a year out to travel for 363 days continuously around the world, which was truly a life changing experience – I really challenged myself and pushed my fears to the limits. I learned to scuba dive, and went surfing, white water rafting and skydiving. There were so many highlights – but I think watching a wild baby orangutan pick a leaf and hand it to his mother was so cute; a moment I will treasure forever.
Last year, I became one of the coolest people on the planet by attending Natron 100, a festival at Lake Natron in Tanzania, in the shadow of an active volcano. It was so exclusive, intimate, friendly and bags of fun; everyone was so lovely who organised and attended. I managed to persuade the local Maasai girls to come and join us on the dance floor; the electronic music was a little different to what they are used to – but they still put me to shame!
4) What was your most humbling or eye-opening travel experience in your home country and why? (Please provide your home country’s name too.)
I live in the U.K. and unfortunately, the number of people who are homeless is terrible, which was really apparent when I visited Edinburgh this year. Arriving early meant I saw the main shopping streets before the stores opened and the crowds descended – so the number of occupied doorways was truly shocking… We should be doing more for the most vulnerable in our society.
5) Worst local travel experience (and if you are comfortable enough to, please explain why)?
The worst travel experience in my home country was the misogynistic attitude of a coach driver. He criticised my appearance twice! He commented about my hair, which had been blown about by the wind and was fresh from a trip to the hairdressers the day before. As he was bald, I replied, “At least I have hair.”
Luckily, the U.K. has a pretty good complaints system, and, with the advent of social media, companies are generally of the opinion that this old-fashioned behaviour is not acceptable anymore.
6) Your top three travel destinations across the globe – either that you have personally experienced or would love to visit?
1) New Zealand: It’s simply the best. I spent three months there and would love to retire to a little place on the Coromandel. Everything about the country is great – food, wine, beer, activities, people…. which is tough to beat!
2) Tanzania: I lived there for seven years. From the vast wild plains of the Serengeti, filled with the sounds of safari to the giant whale sharks that visit the quiet, desert island of Mafia, it’s one of those places that will knock your socks off.
3) I’m keen to check out more of what Portugal has to offer; it seems to be emerging as a cracking little gem of a country and not too expensive – yet!
7) Any useful travel sites/blogs that you can recommend for following?
Well, apart from Soulful Travels, of course, I tend to keep up with the industry leaders through their online magazines. Conde Nast and British Airways always present lovely ideas and insurance company, World Nomads, send some really useful emails through too.
8) If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would it be and why?
Iran. It’s one of those places that has a modern transport system, some nice hiking opportunities, some ancient historical sites and lots of culture to unearth.
I recently saw a really cool vampire black -and-white movie made in Tehran, and I want to seek out some of the more underground arts that are emerging. I think it has so much to offer and I can’t wait to explore it!
9) Do you have any handy tips for planning a trip/day out in your city (and please state which city it is)?
At the moment, I’m close to the town of my birth, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. My advice is to enjoy the raw nature of the area and get out to the coast, which is littered with castles and long sandy beaches.
Alternatively, soak up the atmosphere of more than 50,000 fans at a home match of Newcastle United football team, and then party the night away in the Bigg Market area of town. You can find out more information on all of those things in my post about Newcastle here.
10) Best travel advice for locals and tourists?
Talk to people! I find out so many cool things to do from asking around when I arrive somewhere – an insider’s knowledge is priceless.
To read about and see all of Annie’s amazing travel stories and adventures, you can visit her blog. Or follow her on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
Thank you very much, Anne-Marie, for appearing in this international guest travel segment. Until the next one… happy writing and reading, everyone!
Author: Tamlyn Ryan
Content writer by day and blogger by night, Tamlyn Ryan passionately runs her own travel blog, called Tamlyn Amber Wanderlust, from her home base of Cape Town, South Africa. And, despite a national diploma in Journalism, in her free time, Tamlyn’s preferred niche remains travel writing.
Tamlyn is a hopeless wanderer, equipped with an endless passion for road trips, carefully planned, holiday itineraries and, above all else, an innate love for the great outdoors.