Irish travel blogger Jen Crosbie’s website is a must read for those who share her wanderlust.
The Kinsale native has always had a passion for exploring unknown territory, and this year embarked on one of her biggest trips yet.
The writer launched her blog Little Foot Travels to document her travels as she went, and the site has become a mine of information for would-be wanderlusts who are hoping to take on a journey to South East Asia.
From tips on how to maintain your safety abroad to an essential list of Thai hot spots for first time travelers, Jen has a library of knowledge thanks to her experience travelling to 21 countries.
Her Instagram, where she has cultivated a community of over one and a half thousand like-minded travel fans, is a cache of stunning snaps from Indonesia, Thailand, The Philippines, Switzerland and Scotland.
With a decade of travels under her belt, we asked the 26-year-old to share her tips and experiences:
1. How did your interest in travel start?
Well from as young as I can remember, the idea of travelling was like a fire in my belly. I dreamed of living out the stories I was told from my mum and my grandparents about their own wild adventures across the world. However, the beginning of my own travelling career began at sixteen when I confidently proclaimed I was moving to Barcelona for the summer to work as an Au Pair, on reflected I was very young and naive and hadn’t a breeze what I was doing! When I ask my mum now why she ever let me go, she simply says “Well I didn’t really have a choice.” (haha) So I think my steely determination and hunger for adventure was evident from that point on!
2. What does your travel bucket list look like?
Tough question because there are honestly very few places in the world I wouldn’t not like to see! But if I was to choose my top three, I would say Madagascar to see the Avenue of Baobabs, Brazil to experience the Amazon and the Cook Islands because I’ll always be a beach bum at heart. My bucket list is always changing, as I tick one off then another one is added.
3. What were your hopes and your fears when you began your travels?
For my first big solo trip, I went with the sole purpose of volunteering with elephants in Northern Thailand. So for me, my main hope was to simply push myself out of my comfort zone, fulfill a lifelong dream and to soak up the freedom of the backpacker lifestyle. For me personally, fear was never something that detoured me from travel.
I guess the beauty of travel in my eyes, is you never really know what to expect and I found the idea of that almost exciting, rather than fearful. Also I had worked 3 jobs just to fund my first trip so I was determined not to waste a second of it on fear! I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel nervous walking into hostels on my own or wandering around a city, trying to pretend like I wasn’t completely lost, but in reality, it was in these moments that you find a confidence you never knew existed and learn to be comfortable in your own company, regardless by the end of most nights you usually end drinking beers with other backpackers as if you’ve known them your whole life!
5. How did you choose the name for your blog?
The name of my blog Little Foot Travels is in honour of one of my biggest travel inspiration. My beautiful late grandmother, Winnie. Both a pioneer in her own right and an all round bad ass, she took off at a very young age from England and headed across the globe to eventually settle in Zimbabwe. There she met my grandfather (after a bit of chasing of course) and raised my mum and her siblings in the heart of the African bush, in a house they built from scratch with their own bare hands. Even in her final years she would still recall making and molding every brick for their home.
As well as that, she was the most incredible writer and as children, she wrote us a treasured bedtime story called Little Foot, in which my brothers and I were the staring characters! So of course, when choosing a name it felt right to use a name thought up by the very lady who taught me to push the scope of my adventures.
6. What pushed you to share your travel experiences with the world?
If I’m honest, it wasn’t something that came naturally to me, I went on many adventures without a phone or camera (I was VERY prone to losing them) and with no thought to share my adventures or misadventure’s with the world! But as time went on, I found I was getting more messages from both friends and strangers looking for travel advice. I never aspired to be a blogger with thousands of followers, I simply do it because I love to help people, nothing makes me happier then to see people I’ve helped live out their dream adventures!
Also I’ve been fortunate enough to try everything from Au pairing, volunteering and working as a TEFL teacher. So I felt maybe I had a little bit of varied experience to pass on to other people. I also love photography and meeting new people so it only seemed right to create a little corner of the internet to call my own.
7. What are your top three tips for planning a trip?
1. Don’t be afraid to go off the beaten track – Although tourist hot spots are popular for good reason, I encourage everyone to try and see somewhere off the usual trail. It can sometimes take courage to leave the crowds and WIFI behind but I guarantee these are the places that will remain the most unforgettable. 2. Research and consider what time of year to go – Asia in particular, experiences their wet season during our summer months and although you can still have an incredible trip, its worth bearing in mind that there can be certain challenges while trying to travel during this time, not to mention the risk of multiple days of rain! 3. Plan your trip logistically – Something as simple as looking at a map and figuring out where each place is located can help you to create a route and most importantly save you time and money.
8. What is your advice for saving money to travel?
Firstly, give yourself time. We’re all guilty of being impatient when we get excited about a trip, but remember it’s more important to have the funds to experience everything to its full potential than to rush it and simply run out of money! Be realistic with what you need to save and how long it’ll take for you to accumulate it. I always do my research and try estimate a daily budget for each country so I can plan out my overall budget. Always overestimate, things happen unexpectedly while travelling so its always wise to have a little bit of emergency cash. Lastly, think hard about what your willing to sacrifice to have the trip of a lifetime, a small amount of money can go an awful long way while travelling so sometimes we have to say no to a night out or take an extra shift in work, I promise you it’ll be more than worth it in the end!
9. What lessons has your time travelling taught you?
Well on a practical level? To be more careful of my belongings! I can’t help but laugh as I write that, but I was notorious among my friends and family for losing my stuff when I first started travelling. Whether it was my phone, wallet, my bank card, camera, my friends bank card, shoes.. you name it. I lost it! I sometimes got too caught up in the freedom that I was careless with my stuff. Thankfully after many years, I’ve learnt to be more mindful of my things and to value them.
Aside from that, Travelling has taught me to be incredibly comfortable in my own skin, I now feel content in my own company but also more open to the people I meet, but perhaps the biggest lesson I’ve learnt is to appreciate how lucky I am. Seeing people living in extreme poverty but still so willing to share what little they have with you, is a humbling experience that sticks with you for life.
10. Finally, what is your advice to anyone who wants to travel the world but is scared to start?
Don’t feed into your fear, sometimes we have to push ourselves out of our comfort to achieve something really rewarding. Don’t wait on other people to fulfill your own dream, travel solo and I promise, it will be the greatest thing you’ll ever do! It teaches you to be secure and content in your own company and develops your confidence in ways you never imagined.
You’ll never be completely “alone” as everyone fears, only the times you choose to be. You’ll met so many amazing people, some will be wonderful, some will be utterly weird and some will be everything in between, but they’ll make your adventure and you’ll come away with life long friends stronger than even some of your oldest friendships. Just remember, life is what you make of it, so be brave, be bold and start planning!
Jen is embarking on her next big trip in February 2020, so follow her blog HERE and her Instagram HERE for information and inspiration.