‘Getting to know you, getting to know all about you…’ You know the song, now we’re going to put it into action with a little bit of insight into the story of one of our very own Travelettes. Alex has been a regular writer since 2012 when her sister introduced her to the world of blogging. She has a long-standing love affair with Asia, has started her own personal blog with her sister, Saints On A Plane and tells us how you can hold down a job in a city you love whilst keeping travel at the forefront of your life too…

Where did your love of travel begin?

My mum grew up in Malaysia so perhaps it was fate that I was going to fall in love with travel in Asia. I jetted off to Bali when I was 18 – we meant to have a 3 week holiday, but it turned into about 4 and a half months.


It stopped feeling like a normal holiday once I got to know some of the local guys – I would eat dinner at the local night market with them and hang out at their place where one of them would paint and we would watch some kind of version of Indonesia’s Most Haunted. I felt like I really got to know their stories and learn about their lives away from the front they put on for the tourists. It was especially emotional to visit both shortly before and after the Bali bombing of 2002 and hear how it affected their lives.

How did you get involved with Travelettes?

It’s all down to my sister! Sophie was one of the first writers for Travelettes and it was a great way of keeping up with her post-uni travels. Once she had put down roots in Melbourne, I wrote a tongue-in-cheek piece to give her a nudge to come home: 10 reasons Britannia rules. She loved it, posted it on Travelettes and then I realised how much I’d enjoyed writing it and started bombarding Katja with posts until she asked me to join the team!

Joining Travelettes actually affected me lots personally as well as it being an amazing way to share and record experiences. It reminded how much I’d always loved writing and introduced me to the whole blogging world. Now I write full-time for a range of travel-related clients… and Travelettes is where it all started. My sister and I even started our own blog, Saints on a Plane, where we can record a few of our joint trips or more personal stories.


How do you travel around a full time job?

I’ve always found a way! I initially worked in publishing after uni and when I came to settle in Bristol (definitely one of the coolest cities in the UK – not biased at all!).

I took full advantage of the generous annual leave, running the holidays into bank holidays and Christmas leave to give me longer to get away. You’d be surprised just how far you can stretch it, plus you can always ask for the option of buying back additional days – always worth it! And I never wasted my precious holiday on days off that didn’t involve a trip somewhere. Every day counts.

I also travelled outside of peak times to take advantage of cheaper deals – I’ve never stopped talking about the time I got return flights to Marrakech and Barcelona for £20 including tax.

More trips came along after I decided the publishing world wasn’t for me. I jacked it all in, left my flat and took off to Indonesia for a few months, before deciding to spend a few years working with disadvantaged teenagers in a school. Schools get 6 weeks off every summer – it goes without saying I took full advantage of those too!


What are your favourite destinations?

This is tough, but I think it has to be Asia for me, So much beautiful scenery and milestone moments. Plus it always feels like there is loads more to discover! And the food is to die for. I literally thought I had died and gone to food heaven in Lau Pa Sat in Singapore, and also at the Thong Sala night market on Koh Pha Ngan.

Indonesia is pretty special as it’s the first place my boyfriend and I went travelling together. And recently the Philippines blew me away – the sunsets there are out of this world!


What are some of your most memorable moments?

Watching the sun set on the beaches of Bali, Malaysia and the Philippines never gets old. Swimming under a waterfall in Thailand. Exploring various Indonesian and Thai islands on the back of a motorbike. Snorkelling in a deserted spot on Utila in Honduras – with nobody else around to scare the fish, the experience was out of this world. And spending a crazy week on a yacht in Croatia with some of the other Travelettes girls – that was pretty special as we just got along so well.


Any top packing tips?

Even when I’m not strictly off on a backpacking holiday, I tend to carry mine. If you get one that’s just the right size, you can carry your stuff and stay hands free. Plus, in Asia you never quite know if visiting an island will involve hopping into and out of a boat into thigh-deep water!

Otherwise, I would say my top tips for packing are roll your clothes as it saves insane amounts of space and keeps them mostly wrinkle-free and ALWAYS pack a few essentials into your hand luggage. My backpack went walkabout on my trip to the Philippines and having the right bits in my bag stopped me going too nuts in the first few days!


What trips do you have planned yet and what’s on the bucket list?

I’m actually in the process of buying a house so hoping to spend a bit more time closer to home, exploring the UK. I have always jetted off abroad so feel like I’ve neglected some beautiful places right on my doorstep. I’ll be spending more time in London (just got back with some top tips for central London on a budget); definitely planning some glamping with the girls when the weather picks up; and would really like to pop over to Edinburgh too.

I’m also off to Spain in the summer to do a bit of exploring… and finances depending, perhaps somewhere further afield for Christmas.

The bucket list is always growing and changing! At the moment Mexico is calling and in the future I have to go to Africa. I give to Plan International which does some great work in Tanzania, so it would be great to visit that area and see where my money is going. But Asia’s still calling too…


Has travel taught you anything in particular?

So many things! But a few that stand out are :

  1. You are definitely more likely to regret saying no to something than saying yes… But you don’t have to do anything just because someone else thinks you should.
  2. Always trust your gut.
  3. Whether you have a nomadic life or a home you love, you can still turn yourself into a traveller.
  4. The bucket list never ends.


Do you want some Bristol  insider tips, need advice on managing a full-time job and travelling or just some inspiration for the best places to see in Asia? Shoot Alex  mail to alex@travelettes.net and for more stories check out her blog Saints On A Plane.

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Travelette of the Month - Alex Saint