Interview with a traveller is back! This time, I touched based with my best Dutch friend, Hayat Berkaoui, who I met in a hostel in Broome, Western Australia, in 2013. Since then, our friendship has blossomed – we have partied together in Darwin, road-tripped far North Queensland, had wonderful adventures in Melbourne and spent endless hours on the phone, sharing stories, hopes and dreams for the future. She has recently left Australia, off on a world adventure and she is greatly missed! Let’s see what Hayat has to say about her travel experiences and what’s in store for the future:
1. When was your first trip and where did you go?
My first solo trip was to Ghana when I was 19 to do volunteer work at a primary school. I was teaching and assisting teachers there for a month and lived with a local Ghanian family. My first backpacking experience was in Java and Bali when I was 21. I backpacked with my aunt for a month through these two islands.
2. Where are you now? How did you get there?
I am now in Holland, my home country, and we have just come from Singapore/Abu Dhabi/Paris and snowboarding in France. We’re here to see my friends and family and to show my kiwi boyfriend the Netherlands. After NL, we will travel to the UK to work there and we will try to see more of Europe in September before we head to a snow season in Canada.
3. How would you describe your travel style?
My travel style is go-with-the-flow. I love to be flexible so I never book things too much ahead and I like to take my time, usually at least a month per country. Some countries, like India, I’ve backpacked for three months without any pre made plans, but most countries/islands, I’ll stay for a month. I like to not book ahead too much because you’ll never know up front which place you’ll like most. If I really like a place, I’d stay there for a week or two.
4. What the most adventurous travel experience you’ve ever had?
The most adventurous travel experience was probably backpacking through India by bus and train, meeting locals and other travellers and spontaneously hiring some scooters. Staying with locals overnight has been adventurous sometimes, but have been great experiences. Driving my own car through safari parks in South Africa and bungee jumping off the highest bridge in the world has been quite adventurous too 😉
5. What are the first three things you do when you arrive in a new place?
- Look for a hostel/hotel/guesthouse
- Eat some local foods
- Go for a walk to get my bearings of a place
6. How has travel influenced your every day lifestyle?
Through travel, I have learned some valuable lessons I don’t think I would’ve gained anywhere else. I’ve lived out of a suitcase for over 5 years. Even if I lived in a place for two years, I lived with the knowledge that one day, I would pack my backpack again. Therefore, I have lived with far less clothes/accessories/shoes or other necessities than usual. With having few belongings, I feel free. Not only am I free to go where I please, because nothing of value is holding me back (like a mortgage or a rental house), but also I feel free from wanting to have every fashion item/perfume/book etc (because everything takes up unnecessary space). So by having nearly nothing, I end up feeling rich..rich to travel around, having enough financial resources, because I hardly spend any money on things other than food, accommodation and transport.
6. What do you always put in your backpack?
My big backpack is always filled with clothes, toiletries and the main things every traveler has. My smaller backpack is filled with my valuables, until I can store them in my room. I like to always travel with some wet wipes, so I can clean up wherever I am. And they always come in handy!
8. What are some of the most unique jobs you’ve taken whilst travelling?
I’m not sure of the uniqueness of it, but I have worked on the Sydney showboat as a waitress and was lucky to cruise the Sydney Harbour and all its sites on a daily basis. I have worked as a supervisor housekeeper, without any housekeeping experience, for a nice resort in Broome. I have picked oranges and other fruits and veggies on a farm in the middle of nowhere in South Australia and I have worked as a receptionist for a backpackers. In South Africa, I worked for an HR consultancy firm and as a teacher in Ghana 🙂
9. Any future travel plans?
Travel plans in the near future will be the UK and other places in Europe. After Europe, we will head to Canada to work and travel there and maybe South America after that… Who knows? Nothing is set in stone…everything can always change!
10. Any words of wisdom to first time, solo travellers?
Just do it! Travelling will make you a more open-minded, richer person, even if you’ll return home with an empty bank account. That’s if you return home at all! I have lived my life permanently in Australia for the last few years!
Thanks Hayat! It was a pleasure reading about your travel experiences – I think I even learnt something new…driving your own car through a safari park in South Africa? Now that is brave! Good luck on all your future adventures and hope to see you soon!
Note: All answers and photos supplied by Hayat Berkaoui