Bootcamp Barbie

If you have a passion for travelling to the most amazing places on the planet, I hope you find some inspiration and helpful tips on my website and travel blogs.

Travel has always given me the most incredible thrill. As a child, I moved home across Australia and the UK so many times that, by my early 20s, I had already lived in around 23 homes. Although this meant adapting to 8 different schools, and having a period of home-schooling too, moving to a new location always excited me. It was the start of my itchy feet.

At the age of 21, I married Karl and together we embarked on our first travel adventure together - moving from the UK to Australia on our own after graduating from uni. Looking back, it was a big move for someone like Karl who at that stage could only remember living in one family home. However he embraced the opportunity to relocate to the other side of the world and became an Aussie from day one.

In my mid 20s, I had my first solo travel adventure when I left my job to travel back to the UK for my friend’s wedding. Not being flush with money at that time, I flew into the UK on Kuwait Airways - just before the invasion of Kuwait. I was stranded in the UK for months so decided to backpack solo around Europe for a while with Karl back home in Australia regularly topping up my travel fund.

Solo travel was an incredible learning experience for me. With very little money and my battered Frommer’s Travel Guide, I spontaneously chose my next destination each night as I slept in hostels or on trains. I became sharper to happenings around me, present in the moment in a way that I only ever experience while I’m travelling.

I found myself at the front of every queue, whether that was in the desperate rush of the crowd to get out of Barcelona on the last train for the night (there was no available accommodation and Barcelona police were arresting travellers sleeping outside!) or getting onto an overcrowded ferry from Catania to Malta and securing a prize place to sleep on the floor of the upper deck. As others missed out on opportunities, I learnt quickly how to use my assertiveness and sharpness to my advantage.

With an intense desire to see as much of Europe as possible, I often chose to sleep on overnight trains and learnt how to close my eyes while being alert to potential thieves. I remember a group of people on a train from Naples pointing to the camera around my neck and play-acting a slashed throat. Not understanding Italian at the time, I was quite taken aback until I realised it wasn’t a threat, just a warning to beware. The next time I closed my eyes, I hugged my camera closer and shifted my level of alertness up a few more notches.

As a young female travelling on my own, I often found myself arriving in a town in the dark of the night with nowhere planned to stay. I slept in a park in Zurich until the sun rose and slept on a chair in a police station in Malta when I arrived too early to wake the nuns in the convent that I was visiting (where Karl’s Auntie Eileen is a nun). I learnt lessons in resilience on that trip that I have never forgotten since.

Over the space of that month backpacking across Europe, I visited over 20 destinations, including spending several days in Malta catching up with Karl’s family. I still travel with that level of intensity today although I am no longer restricted to Frommer’s $40 a day budget.

Today, we are not backpackers. Karl and I appreciate staying in beautiful places in incredible destinations. We have stayed in palaces, luxury classic camps, stunning eco-lodges, historic hotels and in rooms with views as unbelievable as the Pyramids of Giza, the Acropolis and the Empire State Building.

After returning to Australia (when another airline finally agreed to bring me home on my Kuwait Airlines ticket!), I had to rest my itchy feet while we brought up our three boys and built my marketing business. We took many trips around Australia and took the boys to the UK but our focus was more on school fees than intense travel adventures.

That all changed in 2016 when I visited a local travel agent and spontaneously decided to take our teenage/early 20s boys and future daughter-in-law to Italy. I had this urge to give them a travel experience they would never forget before they left home. It was a relatively short trip but we followed it up with nearly 4 weeks across the UK and Europe in 2017 where we visited over 20 unforgettable destinations. My passion for travel returned and I have been obsessed with planning our travel adventures ever since.

While COVID put a spanner in the works, we have since travelled to numerous new destinations across Africa, Egypt, the US, South America, Europe and the UK. I have now been to over 30 countries with more already planned for 2023. I have my bucket list destinations planned out for the next ten years with ancient sites, endangered wildlife, stunning treks, incredible scenery and historic towns high on my priority list.

My type of travel isn’t for everyone. I earned my nickname ‘Bootcamp Barbie’ for a reason. We don’t sit for days by pools in luxury resorts - although I am happy to enjoy a margarita by a pool after a great day of adventure.

I want to see and experience as much as possible when I travel. We’ll spend 2 or 3 days in a place before moving on but during those days we’ll get up early and follow a plan. We don’t drift and waste time although we will stop and change our plans if we discover something new. Having a plan but being flexible and spontaneous to change is how we like to travel.

Our joint travel budget is now more on the scale of $500 to $1000 a day but it doesn’t have to cost this much to see the places that we visit. Eating every meal in costly restaurants and staying in iconic accommodation are luxuries that can be sacrificed to meet a significantly lower budget.

Whatever your budget, if you love to travel to unforgettable places, see as much as humanly possible in the timeframe, experience diverse cultures, learn new languages and come home a more enlightened, energised and educated person, I hope you will find some travel inspiration in my itineraries and blogs. I am open to preparing individual itineraries on request and welcome any questions on my Instagram and Facebook posts.

Our world is full of incredible travel experiences! Where are you going next? Travel wide, travel well! All the best,

Bootcamp Barbie