In this month's Talking Travel series, we chat to long-term TP member and avid traveller Rebecca Barnshaw (aka bex76). She loves travel, photography, snorkelling, film, reading, swimming and football (watching not playing!).
You're a Mancunian living in New Zealand – how did you make the switch and which hemisphere do you like better?
I initially went over on a one year visa as a backpacker in 2005, but met a Kiwi guy and ended up staying longer than expected! I’m actually in the process of moving back to Manchester, mainly to be closer to family but also because I miss the travelling opportunities that living in the UK brings. The lifestyle in New Zealand is great and on the whole I have loved living there, but it’s not the best place to be based if you want to travel regularly. I’ve enjoyed travelling in NZ, Oz and three of the Pacific Islands (The Cook Islands, Fiji and Samoa) and I’m now looking forward to exploring lots more of Europe, in particular the former Yugoslavian countries which I think sound fascinating. I love that within a couple of hours I could be somewhere which is culturally and linguistically different, something which isn’t possible from NZ!
You recently went to The Cook Islands – what are you must-see and dos there?
Rarotonga is the main island and offers some fantastic snorkeling, right off the beach. It’s possible to explore the pretty interior by 4x4 jeep, and the island also has some excellent restaurants. Aitutaki is a beautiful island and can be visited on a day trip from Rarotonga. The Cooks are a great place just got get away and relax for a few days, especially during the NZ winter which is what plenty of Kiwis do.
What do you love about travelling and what kind of traveller are you?
I love experiencing and learning about new cultures, seeing how people live and meeting people from all over the world, both locals and fellow travellers. I’m fascinated by the varied history of everywhere I go and whenever I’ve been somewhere I’m always inspired to read more about that country, so I love the fact that I learn a lot from my travels too. I try to support the local community wherever possible, so I’d rather stay in a small and friendly family-run guesthouse than a large, multi-national five-star hotel chain, not that I can afford that anyway! I generally like to pack in as much as possible when travelling – I’ll save my relaxing for weekends at home. While I think flexibility is important on any trip, I do love the planning as for me that’s a big part of the fun; reading and researching a place gets me even more excited about going!
You've been a TP member since early '04 – what do you love about the site?
I like the friendliness and sense of community that TP has always had, something which I feel few other forum websites have. I feel as if I know a lot of the regulars even though there is only one I have ever met; hopefully I’ll be able to meet more TPers in person one day. I think both novices and experienced travellers alike feel comfortable posting on the site, because the reaction from others is almost always positive and helpful. It’s a pleasant and user-friendly site to use and navigate around which always helps. TP also offers lots more as well as the forums such as photo storage, accommodation bookings and blogs so it’s almost a one-stop place for all travel needs.
Of course I have to do some travelling before I settle down in Manchester and get back to reality and job hunting! So my partner and I are going to spend a few weeks travelling in Sri Lanka, India and Nepal from mid December. I’m really excited because although I’ve travelled extensively in other parts of Asia it will be my first time in the Indian Subcontinent. Sri Lanka in particular really appeals to me as it’s still relatively unspoilt and looks beautiful. I’ve wanted to go to Nepal but for a time it wasn’t stable, so it’s taken me a long time to get round to going there. India I’m sure will be fascinating, and I’m very much looking forward to the amazing photo opportunities that I think it will offer. I’m considering spending a few days in the Maldives before Sri Lanka too – I think it would be rude not wouldn’t it, seeing as they are so close to Sri Lanka?!
Check out these recent interviews in the Talking Travel series: