Today’s Runway features Keisha travelling the world
and her trip highlights to Malaysia, Borneo, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand and India
I’m Keisha Akinwunmi and I am from South London (Born and raised), heritage is Nigeria (West Africa). I have lived in London all my life. My profession has always been in Human Resources, banking, mining and most recently media. I’m into fashion, food and holistic health.
What kind of traveller are you? (Holidaymaker, Long term traveller, Backpacker or other):
Traditionally when I go on holiday I like comfort and style, however, like most I don’t want to pay through the nose to get it, so with that said I am quite a savvy holiday booker searching for good deals at a reduced cost of what they would normally cost.
However my last trip (6months), I had to mix it up a little as it would not always be possible to travel in style if I wanted to be economical with my budget, therefore I made the decision to backpack and only checking into nice hotels when I got tired or needed a bit of TLC ! I received mixed reactions from friends and family when I told them my style of travel. Some couldn’t quite wrap their heads around the fact that I would be living out of a backpack for 6 months moving from place to place not always knowing where I would sleep until I got to my destination and others thought it was amazing and brave especially as I would be going alone.
What made you decide to take a leap to travel and how long have you been travelling?
I was in a role, which in my opinion was not developing the way I wanted it to and the company itself was going through a restructure… was this the right time to re-evaluate? I think so !!!! Like most, I loved to travel and was desperate to do more… I had not done the typical western approach, which is to travel or live abroad before or after university (my very Nigerian Grandmother would have thought I had lost the plot if I had uttered such intentions anyhow).
It wasn’t that I had not thought about it, but it was just never the right time or I could never get the right friends to commit to go with me…most of my friends just wouldn’t be down to travel in such a way. I had previously backpacked around South East Asia but only for a few weeks with a couple friends 3 years ago.. I remember meeting other travelers on this trip, a mixed bunch, some were in their late teens who were on their own and being in total awe of how confident they not to mention all the fun they were having.. I remember thinking at the time, if they could do it, why can’t you… Keisha….. I made a memory note that the next available opportunity that presented itself I would go.
So in August of last year, I made a decision, visited STA travel centre in Covent Garden to discuss a potential travel plan, bought some second travel books from eBay… and 1 month later, I waved my job, friends and family good bye and off I went!
What has been the highlight of your travels so far?
Too many to mention, I visited 5 countries in the space of 6 months, each very different to the last and memorable in their own way.
However I made some really great friendships from all around the world and connected with people that I would not always speak to but I think my current all-time highlight is skydiving onto Mission Beach in Australia, BEST EXPERIENCE EVER. I never thought I would be brave enough to do it, so pleased with myself.
I also climbed the Tonagriro Alpine Crossing, an active volcano which took 7 hours to complete.
Taking a helicopter ride onto the Franz Josef Glacier in New Zealand and feeding a semi wild orangutan on the island of Borneo.
What 3 items could you not survive without during your travels?
I had to be very compact whilst travelling and in fact ended up posting boxes with my personal stuff when my backpack got continually heavy .. my hair dryers, that electronic facial brush all had to go… it was time to go back to basics, however the three items I just could not live without were my passport (obviously), my smart phone and then weirdly veggiemite, which I became addicted to whilst I was in Australia.
What has been the most difficult thing to deal with on your travels so far?
Sometimes it got a little tiring moving around every 2-3 days because sometimes I was on a schedule and had a plane or train to catch and some days all i wanted to do was just stand still and take it all in. This happened quite a lot whilst I was in Australia. Its such a big place and I only had 2 and half months there…. most people do Australia properly in 6 to 12 months so you can imagine the pressure I had. I only really managed the east coast of Oz!
How do you cater/provide for yourself financially when travelling?
I had no intentions of working whilst I was travelling, this was purely a research mission 🙂 so I had budgeted an amount of what I thought I would need and lived of that, transferring money into my travel account when I needed a top up!!
Worst, unusual or funny travel experience?
Too many, but I will probably start with Borneo which is an island off of main Malaysia. I said to myself at the start of my travels that I wanted to go out of my comfort zone – lying around on beaches and drinking cocktails only to get up to go shopping is my usual holiday vice but not this time… I could not sustain this for 6 months anyhow and just walking around and taking pictures of temples, rainfalls would be too too easy. I wanted to really challenge myself and be open to new experiences that I would not necessary have been exposed to. However, I had not fully prepared myself for what was to come.. I had signed up to sit in the jungle for 3 days and 2 nights…in the jungle of one of Borneo, near Sandankan. No cleaning or hot water facilities, just swamp water, no internet, sleeping in huts that did not have any windows or doors. my only protection was a mosquito net to cover myself at night.. I could hear monkeys, snakes and bush rats scurrying at night.. I just hoped they would not find their way into my hut!!! The first night I did not sleep at all, no one did.. I heard that one person had to take a sleeping pill the following night because they were so exhausted but too scared to sleep!
And then there is India, the locals are absolute charmers but you have your wits about you.. I ended up in what I thought was a guest house in Munnar, on the recommendation of the last guest house owner I stayed at (in Kochin) but it turned out to be just his sisters place with a spare room… it was quite interesting in the evening when we were all sat in the living room and the rest of the family members were looking at me wondering who I was…
One life lesson you have learnt through travelling?
Not to judge a book by its cover – I always thought I wasn’t a judgmental person but I had these pre-conceive thoughts of what the locals might be like when I went to their country or what other travellers might be like. I was at every opportunity surprised and usually in a good way.
Best travel tip for other people looking to travel?
Roughly plan where it is you want to go but remain flexible as there will be times that you may want to stay a bit longer or not and speak to other travellers. I had reservations about staying in hostels but this is one of the best things I could have done, people in hotels wont talk to you in the same way they would in hostels. I would walk into a dorm and within 5 minutes someone would introduce themselves… I met so many people who were either going my way or had already gone in the direction therefore they could share their experiences with me which often proved useful. not all hostels are built equally, some especially in Asia can be super super cheap which might work if you are on a really tight tight budget and others are bit comfortable which have pools, big cooking facilities or comfortable chill out area with roof top bars etc!!!
I have definitely caught the travel bug so almost certain I will travel again. Maybe this time South America. I’m dying to go to Machu Picchu in Peru!
Countries Keisha travelled to are:
Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur, Cameron Highlands, Penang and LangkawiI
Borneo (Sandankan and Kota Kinabulu)
Australia (Cairns to Melbourne)
New Zealand (North and South Island)
India (Mumbai, Goa, Kerala, Dehli, Agra and Rajasthan)
**Photo Credit – Keisha
Thank you for sharing your travel life with us!