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Welcome to another installment of my travel blogger interview series! Today, I’m happy to introduce you to Linn from Brainy Backpackers!
Linn Haglund is from Norway but has lived the more than 10 years in Spain. She has traveled and lived abroad most of the time since she finished her degree in Tourism and Communication. Over the years, she felt the negatives of tourism firsthand, and as a result, she founded Brainy Backpackers to help other travelers explore this planet in a responsible way.
How long have you been blogging for? Why’d you decide to start a travel blog?
Nearly four years now. I always wanted to write about my big passion, travel. I also realized how much unethical travel there is in the world, often well-disguised.
So I decided that a travel blog would be the perfect way to help others to travel more responsibly and hopefully avoid many of the mistakes I have done while traveling.
The funny thing is that I didn’t even know what a blog was when I decided to create one. I thought I needed to get out of my comfort zone and learn something new, and I really did!
Do you have any tips for new travel bloggers/aspiring travel bloggers?
Don’t give up; learn from those who have been in the game for a long time and follow their advice. There is no need to invent the wheel all over again.
Remember that blogging is a marathon, not a sprint so be patient. And remember SEO and Pinterest for traffic. Social media for the community.
What’s one thing you wish you knew before you started traveling?
Hard to tell since I’ve been traveling all my life. But one thing I wish I had more knowledge about was the effects of my actions on wildlife especially. I have learned so much about being a responsible traveler, and I’m still learning.
This was without a doubt the motivation for starting Brainy Backpackers, to help others avoid the same mistakes as I did. Examples are animal rides, visiting “ethical” animal sanctuaries that turned out not to be so ethical after all, visiting schools during school hours etc.
Why do you love to travel?
It makes me feel alive. New impressions, new cultures, nature, meeting new people, new languages. The feeling of uncertainty and overcoming it in a new place, learning the local codes, slowly learning to navigate them. And I love to get reminded that we are all people, that we all have something in common.
It is a wonderful way to step out of my comfort zone. And secretly, I love to prove to everyone that told me I shouldn’t travel to a place wrong, to show them that it’s not what they see on the news.
What’s your best and worst travel experience?
It’s hard to pick out from years of travel, but I can tell you about an amazing travel memory from my first trip to Australia. Long story short, my friend and I traveled in a van. In Airlie Beach, we got to know this random guy that was on his way to Mossman Gorge in his van to meet his aborigine friends.
We tagged along, and he took us to meet locals along the road; I especially remember a couple that had adopted ten children, and they all had their little mini cross bikes on the farm they lived.
Another visit was to a super friendly snake hunter that had the cranium of his deceased dog on the wall and tens of jars with dead snakes in them.
Once we arrived at Mossman Gorge, we made friends with his Aborigine friends and ended up staying there for a month. We went on bush walks, learned methods for tracking by an old tracker, and were smoked by the healer to be protected by their ancestors.
We even went into the dark forest at night to chant for the ancestors, it was magical. They were the rainforest people, and we were taken in as a family, not as tourists. This was in 2006 before Mossman Gorge had become very touristy.
It’s hard to come up with a bad travel experience. It all comes up to how you choose to react to the happenings too, I guess. I never got robbed or attacked (touch wood).
I guess I have had a guarding angel with me on my travels. However, I was a bit stressed when I found out I had left my only bank card in a cash machine in Koh Pangan.
I had already got to Phuket when I ran out of money and had a flight to Australia the same evening. Luckily, an English guy I had met on the bus the night before gave me money to get to the airport, and my friend picked me up in Brisbane.
From Australia, I managed to get hold of money. I have never traveled with only one card again.
Do you prefer solo travel or traveling with other people? Why?
Tough one! I enjoy solo travel more and more. It makes me slow down and be present which is one of the things I enjoy the most with traveling.
It’s also great to be able to go where I want to and when I want to. I connect a lot more with the locals when I travel alone, and that always makes the best travel memories.
On the other hand, it’s fun to make travel memories with good friends, share the costs, and spend quality time with those I love.
What’s your favorite place you’ve ever been to? Why?
It’s a split between India and Iran. India because of the unfiltered chaos. The colorful scene, insane (not always pleasant) smells, and amazing people. India is a country of contrasts. Overwhelming. Diverse. Culture. Yoga. Ayurveda. And the best food in the world!
Iran, because of the insane contrasts in mesmerizing nature scenes. The outstanding mosques and strong cultural heritage. And because of the people. I have never traveled to a place with friendlier people.
Both India and Iran are countries I want to go back to and explore every inch of.
What’s your biggest travel tip?
Think about the consequences of your actions. Make sure you don’t leave any negative impact on the locals, wildlife, and environment. Educate yourself before you go and talk to the locals to make sure you only leave footprints and preferably even a positive impact.
Is there one specific thing you like to do, see, or buy in every place that you visit?
I love views, so I will always try to climb up to the highest top with the best views. In general, I like natural destinations more than big cities and will always look for a natural wonder to explore. A waterfall, a canyon, or a mountain top.
Is there one particular food that you’ve tried while traveling that you loved? What food was it and why do you love it so much?
Can I just call that food Indian food? It’s the best food in the world without a doubt! The flavors, the spices, I love everything about Indian food and could eat it every day for the rest of my life. And Indian food tastes best in India.
Plane or train? Depends where I’m going and how much time I have.
Hotel or hostel? Hostel
City or nature? Nature
Popular site or off the beaten path? Off the beaten path
Suitcase or backpack? Backpack
Fast travel or slow travel? Slow travel
Professional camera or iPhone photography? A mix of both
Warm or cold weather? Warm, always
All photos used throughout this post are courtesy of Linn.