Travel Talk with Abbi from Life in a rucksack

Travel talk is taking a little break for a while, as I focus on other content. Thanks to Jonny, Tom, Sophie, Marc, KP, Bec, Moriah, Anneka, and Shelly for your insights into travelling.

I thought I’d end this mini series by completing these interview questions myself, to give you a better insight into why I travel and what I have learnt, and love about it.

Introduce yourself

  • Name:  Abigail, but most know me me as Abbi
  • Place of Origin (where you were born/grew up/spent most of your youth): Born on the North Coast of Northern Ireland, where I lived until I was 19.
  • Current location: Staffordshire, UK; where I am working as a Locum (temporary/agency) Occupational Therapist. I can move around a lot doing this job, as the contracts are only short term.

Travel Talk

  • Why do you choose to travel/what inspires you to travel?
Looking out to the World in New York City

I remember sitting in a Geography class at school, staring at the map and thinking “gosh, there is a World out there”. My mum always taught us to be independent, and to “go, do and be”. She always said, if we wanted to go and live in Outer Mongolia, then we should go, as long as we were happy. I wrote about some of the reasons I travel a little while ago, but I have constantly been inspired by a lot of people. I enjoy seeing new places, people and cultures, as well as trying new things. We have an unknown amount of days on this earth, so it is time to use them to see it. The recent Earthquake in Nepal sadly taught me this – it’ll never be the same.

  • How do you fund your travels?

Ever since I was young, my parents instilled in us, the ethic that things need to be worked for, and not handed to you on a platter.

When I went on my school trip to London at the age of 11, I went out and collected drinks cans for recycling, which in turn gave me some money towards the flights/accommodation, as well as spending money. As kids, we would do chores, and earn our pocket money. This work ethic has continued well into adult life, and so I work hard, save and then travel. Currently I am working as an Occupational Therapist in short term contracts, which means I don’t have to commit to any one place, and the pay is significantly better than on a full time contract.

  • When did you first start travelling?

This is a tough question, as from a young age I remember travelling with my dad in his truck, over to Wales, Scotland and England (he is a long distance truck driver), these small trips opened my eyes to a new World, all be it a short distance away; but the way people talked, the different towns/cities – it all fascinated me. When I was 11, I went on a school trip to London, which was the first time I went away, without my parents, and my first time on a plane. I loved it.

At the age of 17, after meeting a group of American’s, who had come to Northern Ireland for a year to do some Youth Work, I decided to take a trip over to Philadelphia in Pennsylvania. That was the moment that defined my wanderlust; I had done an 8 hour flight myself and seen a part of the World, that I only knew in Movies. From then on in, I was hooked.

11 year old Abbi, at Wembley Stadium in London: The first big trip away from home, without my family.


  • What is your travel style/niche?

As my blog is called life in a rucksack, I’d like to say that my style is truly a backpacker, but it is not – it varies from backpacking, to flash packing. I enjoyed spending 4 months in South East Asia, eating street food couch surfing and finding the cheapest possible accommodation, but equally; I do enjoy a little bit of luxury at times.

  • What do you use to travel with – rucksack (backpack) or suitcase, and why?

Most of the time it is a rucksack, or a hand luggage bag. I have learnt to travel with less and less these days, as you can often pick up what you need, when you are away. Although I have been known to travel with a suitcase. I do find rucksacks a lot easier though, chuck it on and away you go – no nasty stairs to struggle with,

  • What three things that you will never travel without:
Untitled design
From New Zealand, to New York: Tipiwhenau, my travel mascot comes with me
  1. My Camera (life has to be captured)
  2. My kiwi mascot – Tipiwhenua (meaning traveller in the Maori language)
  3. My notebook/journal to document my time wherever I am

Travel reflections:

Abi from life in a rucksack, in Hanoi, Vietnam
  • What is the best thing about travelling?

The best thing is getting out of your comfort zone, before I travelled, I was scared to travel. I was unsure if I could do it. I was worried about getting lost, mugged, or being in a accident. I was worried that I would be lonely, but although there have been challenges on my travels, they have made me a stronger and more independent person.

One of the best things I love about travelling is seeing part of the World, though the eyes of a local. You can do this through couch surfing or through homestays, and they are fantastic.

  • What is the scariest thing that has happened to you whilst travelling?

A Motorbike accident in Vietnam, one which landed me in hospital, it could have been so much worse, and ended so much differently, but I lived to tell the tale. It did make me sit back and reflect on life and where I was going/doing.

  • What have you learnt about yourself through travelling?

That it is ok if everything isn’t organised. I used to be such a panicked traveller, checking and triple checking things, having a set in stone itinerary. I have learnt to go with the flow, travel slow and to enjoy where I am in that moment.

  • What have you learnt about the World through travelling

That the stereotypes are not true, and that every part of the World is unique, with its own story to tell.

Abbi from life in a rucksack, connecting with locals, at a homestay in Laos

The Top of Travel:

  • Top three countries (and why – optional):
  1. New Zealand – my beautiful second home, where I lived for almost three years. A stunning country, with incredible people. Adventure, beauty and well … you just need to go there!
  2. Northern Ireland – I think I underestimate how beautiful my own home country is. Everytime, I return, or I see a photo of the stunning coastline, I think “wow, I am from there!”
  3. Tough call between – Laos and Malaysia, South East Asia – The Lao people were probably some of the most friendly people I met. Laos,  is such an underrated country, with beauty, and not overrun by the tourism industry just yet. On the other hand, Malaysia is so diverse; from the jungles of Borneo, to the city of Kuala Lumpur, the luscious highlands and food capital in Penang – it is a country that has it all.
  • Top three cuisines/dishes eaten:
Chicken Pho; one of Vietnam’s best dishes, and my favourite!
  1. Pho from Vietnam – so simple, but delicious
  2. Thai Food – I know it is clique, but Pad Thai, Chicken in Cashew nuts and mango sticky rice are my go to food in Thailand
  3. Italian – so simple, but I love pasta and pizza, and oh the gelato is incredible!
  • Top three adventurous activities you’ve done on your travels:
Abbi from life in a rucksack; forever the adventurer – about to bunny jump off Auckland Harbour Bridge, New Zealand
  1. Canyon Swing, Queenstown, New Zealand
  2. Skydiving, Taupo, New Zealand 
  3. Riding a motorbike around the Bolivian Plateau in Laos 

Travel Wisdom:

Please state a one liner – your best piece of travel advice for those new to travelling:

Passed down from my mum – “Go, Do and Be”. Jump into the World, with both feet, and don’t look back.

Don’t let others look down on you for travelling, remember that “the World is a book, those who do not travel, read only a page.” – St Augustine.


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