Do you know anyone who has been headbutted by a cow? Well you do now. Please meet Rachel Jones of the wonderfully named Hippie in Heels.
What is your name?
Which country do you come from/call home?
Are you a backpacker/long term traveller/business traveller/live and work abroad? I’m an expat in Goa, India but travel around from there, most recently to Singapore and Thailand.
How do you fund your travel (savings/work whilst travelling/other)?
I am a Thai yoga masseuse in Goa, plus I still have savings from when I was a nurse in the U.S. I live with my boyfriend which helps cut costs, and being an expat in India really makes my cost of living a lot lower.
What is the first trip you remember taking and how old were you?
We went to Gulf Shores, Alabama. I was only 4 and outside our cabin on the lake were 2 huge alligators!
Have you been anywhere which turned out to be totally different to how you imagined? If so, how?
My first trip to London was my first time abroad at 19. I was totally broke and just scraping by so it was a wake up call- telling me I wasn’t ready to spend a few months in Europe and would probably end up a street beggar. After London, places got less expensive and it was a great trip. Luckily, I got to go back to England and tried London again with my English boyfriend so it was much better a second time around.
Have you had any bad experiences whilst travelling?
I have had more bad experiences than I can count! I have been pickpocketed in Barcelona, had my butt grabbed in Delhi, lost luggage in Athens, Dengue fever in the Himalayas, been head-butted by a cow in Varanasi, and been forced to hitchhike through Albania.
Do you have any funny travel stories?
The being pick-pocketed wasn’t funny itself, but chasing them through the subway and catching them turned out to be funny. To get my camera back, I had to go to the police station in the back of a cop car and fill out a report. I then had to call my couchsurfing host to come get me from jail… He laughed and was very helpful.
Which is the worst place you’ve been to and why?
I didn’t enjoy the Thai islands that much. I found them to be crowded, overpriced, and the local shop owners were always a little rude.
Where is your favourite place in the world?
My home in Goa, India might be my new favorite place. I’ve been here almost two years and have a little house and dog… it’s a nice peaceful village called Assagao just 10 minutes from the ocean. It’s also only 5 minutes from all the raging Goa parties.
India is known as a dangerous destination for females. Before you lived there, you backpacked alone. Was it safe?
I always found India to be safer than what the media makes it out to be. My blog has numerous articles about solo female travel in India and what types of men to avoid, how to dress, and general tipslike not getting drunk when you’re out on your own. There are villages in India that it wouldn’t be safe to be alone, but would be safe alone if you were at a homestay and had a family with you. Like anywhere, you don’t want to let people know you’re all by you’re lonesome self.
Some people don’t have India on their travel radar, why do you think that is?
People see India as dangerous, too smelly, crowded, or not pretty enough for their instagram photos I think. Some people don’t think they are experienced enough travelers or maybe they want a guy to go with them to feel safer. The things that make India special are the dangers, the smells, and the absolute chaos. I think people who don’t seem interested in India shouldn’t force themselves to come because they will find it overwhelming. The people who hear about the chaos and are intrigued will probably find peace in the madness! It’s a rare traveler that loves India and wants to stay longer than their six month visa.
Do you have a bucket list? If so what is on it?
I have a huge bucket list; I actually have a whole page dedicated to it! I want to learn Hindi, backpack a year in South America, honeymoon in Hawaii, get my scuba certificates in the Maldives, rent a van and travel NZ for a year, and once I settle down I really can’t wait to refurbish a house- if you saw my pinterest you’d think I have an obsession!
Can you imagine life without travel?
Sometimes I daydream what it would be like. Had I not been so obsessed with traveling and could be content, I think my life would be really nice in the States. I don’t think travel is the only way to live but it’s the path I chose and I couldn’t ever go back on it.
If you were not travelling what would you be doing instead?
I would be a travel nurse with my original plan (which I had started) of working a few months on a contract then traveling, and repeat.
Why did you move to India?
I was backpacking in India between my job in Charlotte and my job in Seattle and after a few months I met my now boyfriend in Goa. We decided to live together.
What is the name of your travel blog and the url?
Hippie in Heels:- http://www.hippie-inheels.com
When did you begin your website?
October of 2013, so less than a year ago.
Why do you write (for money/connecting with people/therapeutic/fun)?
I write to show people the side of India that I see. I show them the silly differences in culture, maybe vent a little, but mainly I show beauty. The beaches, deserts, and mountains… the jungles and busy streets, the pretty women dripped in jewels and the men selling chai on the street. At the same time, the street is covered in trash and the women in jewels may be begging. It’s all what make India so unique and why people either fall in love with the country or hate it.
What makes your site so unique and why should people read it?
There aren’t a lot of American blondies running around India in high heels searching for boutique hotels and fashion designers, but at the same time spending time in remote villages and trekking to waterfalls.
Do you have any products or services to offer?
I have tons of packing lists on my site. I’m all about looking cute while you travel and it’s all easy to fit in a backpack. I offer Thai massage if you visit India! I do partnerships on my blog with a variety of companies.
What has been your most successful blog post to date and what was it about?
http://hippie-inheels.com/tips-for-safe-couchsurfing/ I posted 9 tips for safe couchsurfing as I have done it from the US to Europe and India. People seem to love this post. It’s visited more than any other.
What has been your favourite article to write either for your blog or another publication?
I compiled all the FAQ I get in e-mails into a post http://hippie-inheels.com/basic-travel-to-india-questions/ where I answer ALL things India and link back to articles I’ve written in detail. It’s been shared a lot, I love making lists, and I get less e-mails now too 😉
What is your favourite mode of transport? (plane/train/boat/car)
Train is the best! You can put your legs up. Now, if I could fly first class I would totally change my mind.
Do you have any advice or tips for aspiring travellers?
My advice is always just to go for it. You are never going to have the right amount of money, the right plan, or the right person to go with you. Branch out, go alone, and wing it!
What has travel taught you?
Travel taught me that I can literally do anything I want in life. I could open a guesthouse or become a scuba diver. I became a masseuse and I plan to be a candle-maker too. Life is what you make it. I didn’t have to be a nurse; a job I didn’t like that much.
Quick fire questions:-
Favourite airline? Indigo
Favourite country? India
Favourite city? Prague
Favourite beach? Ko Tao
Favourite food? anything mexican
Favourite language? French, although I can’t speak it
Please provide the following:-
Website url? http://www.hippie-inheels.com
Twitter handle? http://www.twitter.com/hippie_inheels
Facebook page? http://www.facebook.com/hippieinheelsblog
Google+ profile/page? https://plus.google.com/101539117753491029009/posts