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Travellers’ Tales – Meet Melissa from High Heels & A Backpack

I created the “Travellers’ Tales” section to give other travellers an opportunity to talk about their travels. Today I would like to introduce you to Melissa, a travel blogger from the United Kingdom. She blogs at High Heels & A Backpack.

I would love to hear about your travels too. Go to “Travellers’ Tales, fill in the quick questionnaire and email it to me with your blog links.

Read about Melissa’s travels here,

1. Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Melissa and I’m the 20-something Travel Blogger behind High Heels and a Backpack – a solo female travel blog that focuses on unusual countries and off the beaten track destinations.

I left my corporate job as a Global Sourcing Manager in 2015 to concentrate on writing and blogging and people thought that I was being unrealistic or that I had gone crazy! I taught English in South Korea for a while to get my work off the ground, got discovered by Forbes Travel and now I am a full time Travel Writer and Blogger.

2. What is your earliest travel memory?

My family was pretty poor growing up so we didn’t have much chance to travel. When I was 11 we took a trip to Disney World in Florida (I’m from the UK and this was my first time out of the country). I loved everything about the experience – experiencing a new country and culture, the plane ride – all of it. I knew right away that this was something I wanted to do more of.

3. Where was the last place you travelled to?

I have just returned from a trip to the Caucasus’s (Azerbaijan and Georgia) which I definitely recommend.

4. What was the best thing you did there?

Azerbaijan in particular was a really awesome country. It’s one of the least visited countries in Europe/Asia however there is so much to see and no tourists really there to see it. As an example, you can visit mud volcanoes (I didn’t even know they were a thing, did you?) which are literally huge craters in the ground which gargle and spurt out mud at regular intervals. Weirdly the mud is really cold… and green.  Some of the locals like to bathe in it or lather it over their skin. I gave myself a mud facial and my skin actually felt great after!High Heels & a backpack

5. What was your best holiday ever? Why?

I went to Bhutan last December which was an incredible travel experience. I had always wanted to visit, but since the Bhutanese government impose a daily travel fee of $250 per day I had thought that I would never be able to make it there. I had the opportunity to watch a masked dance festival  while I was there too (a local tradition).

6. What is your favourite travel destination?

That’s a tough one, but maybe South Korea. I travelled to the country on vacation twice and loved it so much that I moved there for a while to teach English – that must say something about it right?  South Korea is great for both the city life in Seoul and the nature. People don’t realise that the country is 70% mountainous and there are so many hiking trails.

7. What must one do there?

I really recommend participating in a Buddhist temple stay. Even if you are not religious, you can live like the monks do for a weekend and it is a really eye-opening experience. Do a little research beforehand though as in some temples they do not speak English. Oh and be prepared for the 3am wake up calls!

8. Who is your favourite travel companion/s?

Maybe my Mum!  She loves travelling as much as I do and she even went backpacking around Morocco in the 80s before that was a thing! I can take her to the most obscure places and she loves it. Even though she’s now in her 60s, she is still so adventurous and laid back!

9. Name one item you must have when travelling.

Comfortable walking shoes! I really love hiking so this is a must. When I was in rural Azerbaijan I realised that I had left my comfy North Face shoes somewhere (nooo!) so I went hiking up a sludgy hill to see a waterfall in open-toed wedge sandals. People were looking at me like I was insane but I managed it! Never again though…Sara Essop - High Heels & a backpack

10. Your best travel advice?

Take everything in small steps, especially if travelling solo. I feel that some people can easily get overwhelmed when travelling to unusual places or taking that first trip alone. As in, they think “OMG I’m here by myself and I don’t know where my hotel is, and I don’t know anyone, and I don’t know how much I should pay for this taxi. HELP!!” Just take everything as one small step at a time instead.

11. The one place you want to visit before you die?

I’m so happy that I’ve already gotten a good way through my list, so if I was to die tomorrow I’d be quite satisfied with what I have done. At the moment I am obsessed with Sri Lanka. I have heard so many positive things about it recently and I am determined to make it there in the next 12 months.

12. Your favourite place in South Africa?

I haven’t been yet unfortunately! I have a good friend living in Cape Town. She posted some photos on Facebook recently of her and her boyfriend visiting Stellenbosch and the wineries in the region which gave me major travel envy. I definitely need to make it over there some day.

13. Any embarrassing travel moments?

Oh my gosh. I had THE WORST experience last year in Bangkok.

Basically, I was waiting for the metro and I put my water bottle down beside me while I tied my shoelace, however as I went to pick it up again,  I tipped it all over my leg and my crotch, soaking my shorts and creating a huge puddle on the floor. I was like – whatever, people will know it’s water.

However PEOPLE DID NOT BELIEVE IT WAS WATER!  What?? There was a Thai woman with her two kids and she was tutting and ushering them away from me in disgust. Then a security guard came over to question me. I couldn’t speak Thai so I was just gesturing from the water bottle to the ground and he nodded and walked off, but then a cleaner came along to sweep the puddle. I literally distanced myself from it as much as I could but the entire station was shooting daggers at me with their eyes. Madness. So happy that I look like someone that just p**s openly in the street.

14. Worst travel experience?

Perhaps the above? But also when I was in Vietnam, I was travelling alone near Hoi An and the Cab Driver drove me off into the middle of a paddy field and tried to lock me in his car. I wasn’t sure exactly whether he was trying to scam me out of money or something else but I got out and ran as fast as I could for miles. He tried chasing me and I kept slapping him away with my selfie stick (great extra purpose as a weapon!) so be careful out there.

15. How can people connect with you?

You can follow my blog at High Heels & A Backpack

On Twitter at www.twitter.com/girlynomad

On Instagram at www.instagram.com/highheelsandabackpack

On Facebook at www.facebook.com/highheelsandabackpack

Thank you, Melissa , for sharing your fascinating travels with us!

I would love to hear about your travels too. Go to “Travellers’ Tales, fill in the quick questionnaire and email it to me with your blog links.

Who will I feature next? I’ve got an exciting line-up ahead. Make sure you subscribe to the free newsletter so you don’t miss out on some exciting travel tales.

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