I’m free! Okay, kind of. I handed in my last piece of coursework for my Master’s degree yesterday and I can finally breathe… if only for a moment before I start buckling down on my dissertation.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m Charlie, an almost-30 year old travel blogger who lives in North London. I’m half-Jamaican, have a weird phobia of balloons, and I’m the first result if you search for ‘Eurovision fancy dress’ on Google Images! I started travel blogging when I went off on a solo three-month adventure and two years later here I am still writing but fitting travel into my annual leave at work and mainly travelling with my boyfriend instead of on my own. I’m all about ‘flexible luxury’, so getting a bargain flight but having a fancy hotel, or staying in a hostel so I can afford a Michelin star meal!
How did you get into blogging?
I started it about seven years ago to get noticed in the social media industry as I wanted to put it on my CV! I wrote about living in London on a budget but it obviously developed into travel over time. I’ve also worked in influencer outreach for about seven years, so I met lots of other bloggers at events and a lot of those have turned into friends as well!
Tell us about your favorite blog post.
I have two and they are both looking back on my big solo travel experience. The first is The Real Reasons I Went Travelling (and Why It’s The Best Thing I’ve Ever Done) which is me basically laying myself bare as to all of the horrible shit I’d been going through in the run up to leaving the UK and I still get emotional reading it back. The second is 19 Amazing Women Share Why Solo Travel Is The Best Thing They’ve Ever Done, where I asked my followers across Twitter and Instagram to tell me why travelling solo, whether a weekend in the UK or years as a digital nomad, has changed their life. The answers were so varied and so many people contacted me to tell me they’ve started planning their first solo trip as a result of it which is so amazing!
What are you doing when you’re not blogging?
I’m Head of Social Media at a PR agency in London so Monday to Friday is normally super stressful and jam packed with adult responsibilities! I cook a lot at home and I’m launching a foodie/travel YouTube channel with my friend Katy soon which is really exciting! Other than that, the usual Netflix binges and of course, planning my next trip away!
Tell us about your most stressful or frightening travel experience.
I don’t think I’ve ever felt as stressed as I did being alone in Xi’an in China on a bank holiday. I’ve literally never seen so many people crowding the streets and unlike bigger cities like Shanghai, there’s very little English around there. I was the only non-Chinese person around, my VPN wouldn’t work so I had no access to Google Maps and I was completely lost and so hungry. All I could find was pigs trotters and chicken feet which is fine if I was feeling more adventurous but I just wanted something I recognised. Eventually I found some kind of spring onion pancake thing, managed to get back to my hotel and Skyped my mum whilst watching the Lego Movie on TV!
My most frightening experience was driving in South Africa from Cape Town to a little place called Swellendam. Our rental car was old and slow and as we were slowly driving up a very steep hill, two lorries started to block us in. Obviously, carjacking is a thing in South Africa and it was just me and a female friend so we started to freak out about what to do. I ended up slamming into reverse, doing a super quick three point turn and just racing back down the road we’d come from. Part of me wonders if we were just on edge because it was getting dark and actually those lorries didn’t know our tiny car was between them, but I wasn’t hanging around to find out!
What has been your best accommodation experience?
I worked with Shangri-La hotels when I was in Shanghai and it was insane (full post on it here)! I had a corner room on the top floor, overlooking the whole of Shanghai. I had lunch in their Japanese restaurant, Tsuru, which was divine, and their whisky bar is incredible. It was total luxury, especially compared to the manky hotel I’d been staying in in Chengdu before!
Where else can we find you?