The first time I set my eyes on Dee’s Instagram page, I wanted to go on an adventure with her! Her fun personality shines through her photos and she seemed like the perfect travel companion. From hot air ballooning in Cappadocia, seeing the Northern lights in Iceland, spending the night in the desert in Morocco to taking mind bending photos in Salar De Uyuni and climbing Machu Picchu, her travel journey is really impressive and will inspire you to see the world. She currently lives in Edinburgh, Scotland and when shes not planning trips for herself or her friends, she’s being behind a camera, reading, dancing and having long deep conversations about life! She’s a travel blogger at wellwornheels.com Instagram: @wellwornheels
When you embark on a holiday, what determines your destination of choice?
Honestly, it depends. It can be the is the budget, proximity to my current location, my mood (like am I ready for adventure or just chill, city life or beautiful landscapes), my travel companions, or sometimes it can be something as simple as an image that inspires a trip. Like that one time I saw the first picture of Cappadocia Turkey or Salar De Uyuni and I decided that I must ‘reach there’ that year. So, all you Instagram posters, I’m watching you, my wallet is also thanking you!
What is the one thing you cannot do without when you travel?
I try to go with a good attitude and an open mind. Because…stuff happens that I can’t control, it always works out and I’ve never had a bad trip, but I have had drama/wahala! Next to a good attitude are my passport and a camera.
Most memorable thing you have done during a holiday?
Hmm, this is a good one because it’s a hard one. My first main trip after I started working was a solo trip to Greece and Turkey and it was special in that regard. But…since you’re twisting my hand to pick one, I’d have to pick spending 3 days far away from civilisation driving through Bolivia seeing some of the most beautiful landscapes I’ve ever seen (including the salt flats).
We slept in a hotel made out of salt, on beds made of salt, ate at tables made out of salt blocks. You might be wondering if I tried it out, yes, I’m disgusting and curious I had to lick the wall of our room to find out for myself. It was ……salty! This trip was definitely one for the books and everyone should try out the salt flats!
Every avid traveller has a travel bucket list. What’s on yours?
- Skydive in Switzerland or New Zealand (because I’m such a chicken and will only attempt a crazy thing like sky diving if the view will be ‘nice’)
- Climb Kilimanjaro
- Visit all continents (minus Antartica)
- Road trip through New Zealand
- Spend five days chilling in Vanuatu
- Ride in a hot air balloon over the Serengeti
- Go on Safari in South Africa, Botswana, and Kenya
- See Victoria Falls
- Spend a weekend in Montreal
- Step foot onto Zanzibar
- Inspire my niece to be a little globe-trotter
- See a heck of a lot of the African Continent, because we need to tell our stories!
- Buy a pair of loubs in Paris
- Travel to all US States
- Take Spanish or French lessons and become fluent
- See the sand dunes in Namibia
- Eat Dibi in Senegal
- See the blossoms in Japan
- Spend an afternoon in Monaco
- Live part-time in Thailand or Vietnam
What was it like seeing the Northern lights?
Well, it was a miracle, literally! People tell you that seeing the northern lights is hit or miss. You might be lucky and you might not. I tried to play cool that I’d be fine either way, but heck no! Did I come here to count horses? I mean…yes Iceland is beautiful and the blue lagoon was a major highlight, but my main reason was to see the Northern Lights.
For the northern lights viewing, we booked with this tour company where they drive you in a bus with several others into the middle of nowhere (you’re more likely to see it outside of town). Then, they just dump you there for a few hours and you hope to God the lights come out to dance. We waited…and waited and waited! It was cold and dark and I was pretty close to regretting the whole tour thing. We pretty much gave up and went into the bus about 30 minutes before we were to leave.
We had been there for 2.5 hours, nothing, not even a northern ‘dot’ not to talk of lights. I sat down, accepting disappointment and giving myself an internal pep talk about all the other beautiful things we’d seen. Out of nowhere, one of our friends comes yelling, ‘northern lights’! He’s such a joker so I called him a liar but I didn’t want to carry last (miss out) so I went. There it was, doing a little dance, just for us, when we had given up! This dance lasted for about 30 minutes and we couldn’t believe what just happened. It was nothing short of a miracle.
Hotels or Hostels?
I’ve done both, and now I’m more likely to be found in an Airbnb especially when I travel with friends these days. Airbnb needs its own category, don’t you think? To be honest, hotels are convenient, they’re just not always budget friendly.
Solo Travel or Group?
Honestly, 50-50. There’s a time for group trips and a time to go solo. I’m fine either way. I plan some trips as solo trips and other as group trips, then there are those in the middle where no one is able to go at the time so I carry on anyway.
You’ve been to 27 states in America, most Americans cannot boast of that. How much did these states vary? If you were to live in one state for the rest of your life which would it be and why?
Thank you! I lived and schooled in the Midwest (Minneapolis and Chicago) for the most part and in my opinion, there are certain similarities in some of the Midwest states I’ve visited but each one still has its own flavour.
America is huge and rich in diversity of culture, landscape, and people and that’s what I love about it. From the food, to the mannerisms, the swag, the music, and even the accents! I think there’s a bit of truth to what you hear about ‘Minnesota nice’, New York concrete jungle ‘gragra’, Miami’s sexy/spicy persona, Silicon Valley tech/entrepreneur’s Mecca, Denver for the outdoorsy.
If I had to pick one though, I’d pick San Diego, California for perfect weather but the people in the Midwest are the nicest.
For someone who works full-time, how were you able to pull off visiting 13 countries in 2016 and what were your highlights?
Okay, let me just be honest by saying that it was amazing, but it is not normal for me to travel this much in one year. However, I’m doing a 2+ year stint in Edinburgh with work so I’m on a mission to see as much of Europe while I’m here. Plus I need to use my Schengen visa well, make it worth the trouble. Europe is so accessible so I took advantage of weekend trips, cheap Easyjet/Ryainair flights when I could. When I went on two work trips to Amsterdam I added on other trips at the end of it. All of those definitely helped aside from the standard vacation time.
Seeing the northern lights, hanging out in Jemaa El-Fnaa in Marrakesh, road tripping through Portugal with friends, going back to the US to see friends and some of my family, living it UP in Barcelona with friends, starting to explore Scotland and the highlands, and just having friends and family visit me here were some of my highlights!
You are clearly the shoe expert hence “well-worn heels”. Tell us what type of shoes are appropriate for the following situations:
- At the airport : ballet flats, wedges, clean sneakers, or Sperry’s
- At the beach : sandals, flip-flops or no shoes at all
- A night out in town : stilettos (but one you can dance in)
- Hiking/ mountain climbing: Northface/Salomon have a few lightweight and hardcore hiking boots. I wear normal tennis shoes/trainers for day-to-day hiking so I’m not in any way a pro or an avid hiker.
How many shoes do you take on a holiday?
Well before I moved to Europe, I’d pack at least 6 pairs and when going to Naija I’ve packed up to 10 pairs. But, I’ve been working on it and it doesn’t make sense on short trips with the little handbag size luggage these cheap airlines allow. You can find me with 3 – 4 pairs these days.
If you had just one shoe to pick from your current pool, which would it be?
I love my Aminah Abdul Jillil Bow pumps!
Your travel goals for 2017 is LIT and we definitely have our eyes on the Philippines. What is it about SOUTH EAST Asia that keeps you going back?
Thank you, I’m trying o! I have had my eyes on the Philippines for a while and I’m currently there at the moment…aghhhhh (that’s the sound of excitement btw)! Back to the question, so my first stint in SE Asia was a two-week trip to Thailand in 2013, then Vietnam in 2015 and Philippines is my third stop. I’m a listaholic so I’m just going to list why I love SE Asia:
- It is affordable,
- There’s so much beauty,
- There’s history (I learned so much in Vietnam)
- People have been nice and friendly (even if curious about me),
- Your money will go far, as in luxury for less (check, check, check),
- Amazingly cheap and tasty food (check),
- Something for everyone (beach bum, city lovers, hikers/adventurers, history lovers, shoppers alike)
- The food again! (I’ve been told Philippines doesn’t compare to Vietnam and Thailand when it comes to food but we’ll see).
Myanmar, Cambodia, and Indonesia are next on my SE Asia list.
Do you do more work or leisure travel?
I do more leisure travel these days, I travel for work within the UK more than anything currently. When work mistakenly takes me outside the UK (which may be 3 times this year) I make sure to take advantage and ‘branch’ somewhere.
What is your favourite travel quote?
Honestly, I can’t think of any specific one. It depends on the day, so let me not pretend to be deep right now.
I’ll like to wake up in _________
Vanuatu! This is my current obsession.
Travel tips or advise for the Nomad community?
Travelling is great and can be transforming/enriching in more ways than I can put into words. Travel within your means and at your own pace; don’t try to keep up with the Joneses. While you learn a few things from being on the road there’s no ‘perfect’ way to travel. If your thing is just cities, or just beaches, or just cruises, or group trips, that’s fine.
If you can’t afford it now, that’s okay, I was in your shoes too. The magic of social media brings the world to your doorstep. So when you are ready to go, you already have lots of inspiration.