Interview with Audrey from ‘That Backpacker’
Most of you may already know Audrey from ‘That Backpacker‘, what with her big smile, fun writing and incredible adventures across (currently Southeast Asia) she would be hard to miss. I was curious about how she’s been able to travel for such a long time and still remain stylish, and how she fits it all into her backpack? *hint* it involves a separate plane. Read on to hear her story
Your website is called ‘That Backpacker’, but given your years of travel, has your travel style changed from purely a ‘backpacker’ style or have you retained the ‘single bag double straps’ rule?
While I am currently travelling with a backpack strapped on my back, my travel style has evolved from when I first set out as a university student. I still consider myself a budget traveller – I’m all about street food and seeing a place on the cheap – however, there are times when I’m willing to splurge on accommodations and unique cultural experiences like taking a cooking class in Cambodia or going on a 2 day trek through northern Vietnam. You could say there is a little ‘flashpacking’ involved in the way I now travel.
You have also travelled through very different countries and climates, how has your packing and fashion style evolved throughout the years?
I certainly prefer travelling through warmer climates because that means my luggage is a lot lighter; that being said, overtime I’ve learned to pack pieces that are versatile and can easily be mixed and matched. I also like to pick up local pieces when I travel – a necklace, an alpaca sweater, a pair of hippie pants – and incorporate those into my wardrobe.
How different would you say your travel style differs from your daily style? What are the big differences?
It doesn’t differ that much actually. When I was packing for this extended trip that I’m now on, I wanted to make sure that I’d wear every piece in my backpack – there’s no sense it carrying around extra weight. My only consideration was that my clothes needed to be appropriate for tropical weather.
What has been your fail safe travel outfit?
A pair of cut-off shorts, a t-shirt with a fun pattern, flip flops, and hair up in a ponytail. It’s simple and comfortable for a day of travel or exploring around town.
How would you ‘jazz up’ or formalize a travel outfit if needed?
For the girls, I think any simple dress can be jazzed up by adding a little belt around the waist, switching the flip-flops for a nice pair of leather sandals, and adding a few fun pieces of jewellery. For the boys, a pair of darker jeans and a simple button down shirt is easy to pull off for a fun night out.
You’ve also shopped in different places around the world, from vintage markets in Berlin, to getting tailored clothes in Vietnam. Where has been your favourite place to find good fashion and style?
Hoi An was definitely a shopper’s paradise. There are literally hundreds of tailor shops scattered across town, and all you have to do is walk into the shop and choose a style you like from the mannequin, or point at a magazine and ask to have the outfit replicated. I walked out of one tailor shop with three new dresses, but I probably could have gotten more. Self-control, self-control!
Given you are travelling continuously for a long period of time, and you still shop while on the road, how do you manage your packing and baggage? I.e. do you wear something until it falls apart and gets replaced?/ do you only buy one or two items maximum when travelling? Etc.
I’m trying to limit myself when it comes to shopping, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t picked up a few pieces along the way. My main concern is not having a heavy backpack, so whenever I feel that my new purchases are starting to weigh me down, it’s usually time to ship a box home. Thankfully sending things by surface from Asia is quite affordable – it may just take several months to get there.
What would you say are the big lessons you’ve learnt from all your packing and travelling?
Packing cubes! I’ve only started using them on my recent trip to help keep my clothes sorted, and it has made a huge difference! I am no longer throwing half the contents of my backpack on the ground whenever I need to find a clean pair of sock. I personally use small laundry bags to keep my clothes sorted – shirts, shorts, dresses, undergarments. Now I know where everything is.
Another thing I’ve learned is to wear pieces that are culturally sensitive. I am always baffled when I see foreigners walking around in booty shorts through ancient temples. If you’re visiting a place like Angkor Wat you need to cover up – even if it is 40 degrees Celsius.
What kinds of fashion ‘disasters’ or fashion emergencies have you faced before?
None so far – knock on wood! I think the worse thing I’ve ever done is underestimate how cold an air-conditioned train can be and as a result I shivered in my seat for the whole ride. Now I always remember to pack a scarf and a sweater in my day-pack.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to travel stylishly?
If you like to travel stylishly, then do. There is no sense in buying cargo pants and hiking boots that you’ll never wear. Choose some of your favourite pieces that you’d normally wear at home, and bring along some of your favourite accessories to mix things up. Just because you’re backpacking doesn’t mean that you’re wardrobe has to change completely.
Audrey is the girl who wants more stamps on her passport. She runs a travel blog called ‘That Backpacker’ and is currently making her way across Asia. You can keep up with her wanderings over on Facebook or YouTube where she shares her travel videos from the road.
Thank you Audrey for the interview!