A few years back, Hollie Roberts left "a giant Australian rut" to travel Europe and then Central America, before returning to Europe to work for Stoke Travel. She has worked in hostels, hosted surf trips, and organised festivals to keep the traveling dream alive (and funded). We first met Hollie when she penned us a hilarious review of the nightlife in Budapest, Eastern Europe's up-and-coming party town. You can read more about her experiences, opportunities, people she's met, and places she's been on her website, Holliedays and follow her on Twitter @Holstarrrr. We caught up with her to see what she has been up to since leaving Budapest and recovering from that hangover....
1. You are currently in Spain working for Stoke Travel – why don’t you give us a quick rundown of how you made it there from your home in Brisbane, Australia?
I made the decision to give in to that niggling travel itch in June 2013. Less than a month later, all nerves aside, I was on a plane bound for Corfu, Greece, to volunteer at The Pink Palace, one of Europe’s top party hostels. Nearly two years (and a cancelled flight home) later, I am still here.
I organised The Pink Palace volunteer job before leaving Brisbane, but since then I’ve found further opportunities as they’ve cropped up along the way. These have varied from working on the Oktoberfest ground crew, to an underground hostel bar in Bucharest, Romania. In 2014, I started the year at the amazing Taghazout surf camp in Morocco where I first crossed paths with Stoke Travel and also got into blogging.
Visiting and writing for some of Europe’s biggest (and craziest) hostels kept me busy for the rest of the year. I had actually left Europe when the Stoke gig came up, but I just had to go back. Now I’m based in Barcelona, spreading the word about this unique surf and festival tour operator that gives backpackers European trips that are flexible, affordable, and more fun than one can remember. They’re also a source of unlimited booze.
2. You are currently based in Europe, and you've said that it was Europe that really sparked your desire to travel...but what about the other continents?
Prior to taking the plunge to travel long term around Europe, I’d taken the safe route and ventured overseas for three-week hotel jaunts checking out the well-worn paths of Bali, Cancun, Western USA, and Western Europe.
This time around, I’ve found myself surfing and chicken-bus-hopping around Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. Followed with a few weeks on hands and knees housekeeping to supplement the surfing lifestyle of San Diego. I also spent Christmas and New Year’s in New York City at the start of the year.
I’ve now ticked five continents and 30 countries off my non-existent list!
3. What familiar comforts have you found on the road? What are the things that catch you off guard, even after traveling for so long?
I’d say the Australian accent, but that’s bloody everywhere! Finding Milo in a small supermarket in Zarautz, Spain had me jumping up and down like a five-year-old.
Sometimes being back somewhere where people speak English, your accent is understood easily, and you can drink the tap water can mean the world. Shit wifi when you’ve battled the time differences to have a conversation with someone from home can drive you crazy.
Also, seeing other people reunited with their family really hits home. It’s been over two years since I’ve seen my parents. Luckily my brother is visiting me next month. Not looking forward to that goodbye.
4. How do the people you meet influence your travel plans?
Immensely. As a solo traveller, my next step has been hugely dictated by the opportunities that arise from the people I meet. My plans don’t usually extend past the length of my rubber arm.
I’m not a huge researcher about places I’m going to visit. I ask my friends from there, or who’ve been there, what they really dig.
5. Traveling opens our eyes to new truths in a way that staying in one place cannot do. What are some of the greatest truths you have encountered on your travels?
I asked my house full of fellow travelers this question and we’ve come up with this comprehensive, at times cheesy, list.
Care less about what people think of you.
You don’t see nearly as much from behind the lens of a camera
The world is a much bigger place than your problems.
Happiness is appreciating what you already have.
Always say yes.
Nothing bonds people quite like beer.
Home is where you make it.
6. Are you a nomad for life? Or is this something you are ‘getting out of your system’?
Ooh the struggle is real on this one. Initially this was something I was getting out of my system. But now I can’t see myself settling for any long period of time. The more you travel, the more you know is out there. And you want to see it all.
7. Is there anything you wish you had known, but didn’t, when you set out on your first trip? Is there anything you wish you had packed, but hadn’t?
I wish I knew I’d be here this long! Never underestimate how much you might fall in love with this lifestyle. I wish I knew many many years ago that it isn’t that scary to travel long-term. I wish I knew you can make the uncomfortable comfortable. I wish I knew small talk isn’t the devil.
I wish I didn’t pack anything that meant something. If you can’t leave it behind in a hostel in a mad rush to pack, or because you don’t have room, or simply because seasons change, don’t take it. In saying that, there is nothing I wished I packed. Despite my early days as a pre-Girl Guide Brownie, you don’t need to be as prepared as you think you do, and by that I mean, you don’t need to take as much crap. But do get a good travel money card.
Oh and book with Stoke Travel with the promo code MANYMANY for all the free beer and sangria you can drink at Europe’s top festivals.
Read more of Hollie's adventures at: