Liesbet & Mark, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador-

In today’s travel chat with Liesbet from Roaming About, mature full-time nomad Liesbet Collaert shares how she has been travelling for a lifetime and blogging about her travels for thirteen years.

Travel interview with Liesbet Collaert, full-time traveller and blogger

Her travel stories are rich, detailed and always leave me wanting to read more, so I was excited to interview her and get to know more about the woman behind the blog!

Hi, I’m Liesbet, I’ve been a full-time nomad since 2003!

What's covered in this article

I’ve been blogging about my travels for thirteen years – eight years on my sailing blog It’s Irie – Cruising the World, the Way It Is and the last five years on Roaming About – A Life Less Ordinary

As a nomad, originally from Belgium, I document our life and travels on the road (currently in a 19ft camper van in the US), my writing journey, and random thoughts and photos to inspire readers.

Q1. When did you start travelling?

As a child and teenager growing up in Belgium, I joined family vacations to France, Spain, Italy, and Norway and a school trip to Morocco.

Q2. Where did you go on your first trip, and why?

My first two trips without adults happened in the same year – the summer of 1993 – at age seventeen. One was by ferry and bus for a weekend in London, UK, with a friend. The other was a multiple-week hitchhiking adventure, with a different friend, to and in Italy.

Why? Adventure, freedom, and independence lured. 😊

Travel chat with Liesbet from Roaming About
Liesbet at The Wave, Vermilion Cliffs, Utah

Q3. How would you describe your travel style?

Low-budget, impulsive, 100% independent, flexible, adventurous. I’m curious about cultures, languages, and sights – architectural as well as natural. In general, light on luggage, but that doesn’t quite fit the bill when travelling with your own house (campers, sailboats, cars), which I have been doing now for seventeen years.

Q4. What do you love most about travelling? And what drives you crazy?

Being in nature with its peace and beauty, especially interacting with or observing wildlife, and being immersed in different cultures while meeting fascinating people are my favourites. 

While I’m generally a flexible person, if nothing works out, consistently, and Murphy’s Law keeps following me, that drives me crazy! Also, not being able to get comfortable (or sleep) for days or feeling disrespected or taken advantage of diminishes my spirits.

Q5. How do you most like to travel? (mode of transport)

This really depends. While I like to say a small RV because that’s our current mode of travel and transportation, there are times I preferred our catamaran, and we both look forward to “no responsibility” travel in the future, as “backpackers” with just carry-on luggage.

Q6. Are you a planner or a last-minute traveller?

Last-minute traveller. We are quite impulsive and flexible and hate for anticipation to turn into disappointment. It’s better to have no or few expectations – pleasant surprises will await!

Liesbet & Maya, Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP, Colorado.
Liesbet & Maya, Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP, Colorado

Q7. Are you a full-time or part-time traveller?

Full-time since 2003. Before that, two stints of a year at a time, and part-time.

Q8. Do you travel differently today to how you did in your 20s and 30s? What’s changed, and why?

Yes and no.

  • As a 20-something, I mostly backpacked on an even tighter budget than now and I explored the US and Canada in a small RV.
  • In my 30s, it was a slightly bigger truck camper and two smallish sailboats.
  • Now, in my 40s, it’s a 19ft campervan. It’s shorter than our last RV, but, in a way, more liveable and “roomy”.

With age comes the desire for comfort (I won’t call it luxury). The solution for me – and my past and present partner – was to travel with our own home, on the oceans and overland. We always knew we’d have a place to sleep at night (our own bed) and food to cook and eat (in our own kitchen).

And, we figured out a way to always carry enough water for showers and create our own electricity.

Q9. Has Coronavirus made you think differently about your future travels?

That’s a resounding yes, as travel is our life. The biggest impact for me is not being able to see my friends and family in my home country. It had already been two years since my last visit to Belgium and this year, that trip won’t happen either.

Here in the US, it affected us back in March and it will do so in the future. We will still be able to roam about, but facilities might be hard to come by, national parks entries might be restricted, and certain attractions will remain closed.

We usually boondock (camp for free) in nature and away from other people. But we still need access to dump stations to empty our tanks and fill with fresh water. If those facilities close (again), we are in trouble.

Q10. Tell us about the most memorable place you’ve visited so far.

There are many memorable places; their influence depends on personal interests.

In the last decade:

  • Wildlife – Galapagos Islands and French Polynesia;
  • Culture – Guatemala, San Blas Islands in Panama and French Polynesia
  • Happy Hours & Socializing – Eastern Caribbean; Beaches – Barbuda and the Tuamotu Archipelago
  • Snorkelling – Bonaire, the Gambier Islands, and the Society Archipelago.
Sailing on Irie in the Caribbean
Sailing on Irie in the Caribbean

Q11. Is there anywhere you wouldn’t go, or a type of travel/experience you wouldn’t be comfortable with?

I’m open to pretty much any experience as long as it doesn’t affect the environment or local people in a negative way. Hey, I went sailing for eight years while being prone to seasickness.

Q12. If you could live in one other country, where would you choose, and why?

Very difficult question and one my husband and I have been debating for fifteen years. If there was a perfect country, everyone would live there, right?

We contemplated living in Belize, thirteen years ago, but changed our mind. At the moment, while being mobile, we kind of live in the United States, but we are ready to take our travels and lives abroad again. More tropical locales await.

We do think becoming expats in a place like Mexico, Grenada or Bali might be in our (distant) future.

Q13. What’s the worst travel mistake/regret you’ll admit to?

Being too frugal when it comes to splurging on a meal or visiting a site. Yep, I’ve skipped many an attraction, encounter, experience, and activity for this reason.

Q14. What do you do first when you arrive somewhere new?

Check whether there is WiFi. I sure hope this will change in the near future. Maybe whenever we retire… In our camper, we actually check if we are level first (or make that happen as best as possible) and on the boat, it was making sure the anchor was set. Safety and comfort are still more important than internet availability.

Q15. How do you stay healthy when travelling?

We walk most anywhere, go on hikes in nature, and eat a plant-based diet. Most importantly, we now have a dog that needs exercise, so taking her for a few walks a day is part of our daily routine.

Q16. What wouldn’t you leave home without in your cabin bag?

My diary (now on my tablet), my camera, my laptop.

Q17. Which movie(s) or book(s) have inspired your travels?

None. As a (young) adult, I travelled before I read books or watched movies. If I have to answer something, I guess it would be guidebooks and documentaries.

Q18. What are the best and the worst things you’ve eaten on your travels?

Eating fish tacos in Mexico
Eating fish tacos in Mexico

I like to try new foods and love rice and noodle dishes with loads of vegetables and non-bony seafood. I’ve also come to like spicy food as I started traveling. Mexican fish tacos along the street are cheap and to die for and you can order me anything in a restaurant in Thailand…

The worst? Probably Chinese street food (very different than what you eat in Westernized Chinese restaurants, as I’ve never seen fish eyes and chicken feet on the menu there) and fried insects.

Q19. When choosing somewhere to visit, what’s most important to you?

That it’s affordable, attractive, and a new experience, and that I can stay a while.

Q20. Tell us about three midlife bloggers you follow, and why their blogs inspire you

While I read (too) many, I’ll stick to three travel bloggers I follow for different reasons:

  1. Lisa Dorenfest from One Ocean at a Time – not only is she a positive, supportive, inspiring, kind, and strong real-life friend, adventurer, and sailor, she is also an amazing storyteller and photographer.
  2. Laura and Kevin of Chapter 3 Travels – I only recently discovered this blog through a mutual nomadic blogging friend, Peta from Green Global Trek, and like following along because they also travel full-time in a camper, love dogs and have one aboard, take amazing photos, and produce engaging (sarcastic and truthful) travel accounts.
  3. Duwan and Greg of Make Like An Ape Man – This adventurous nomadic couple has a lot in common with us. They owned a sailboat, did house and petting gigs, live frugally, and they currently travel in a camper van. We hung out with them in person a couple of times and hope to meet up again soon. I enjoy following their blog as it contains great shots and practical information that might come in handy.

Q21. What’s #1 on your travel bucket list and why?

I don’t believe in bucket lists. I think it’s an over-used word that has lost its original purpose and meaning. That being said, I want to travel to so many places still, with South Africa, Patagonia, and Antarctica high on “the list”.

Q22. Where are you planning to visit next?

We are driving back to the visually stunning American Southwest and hopefully hop over the border into Mexico again this fall and winter. Our short-term goal is to find a way (meaning a suitable camper) to explore the South American continent.

A Little More Travel Chat with Liesbet from Roaming About

Liesbet, Mark, Kali, and Darwin - Samara, Costa Rica
Liesbet, Mark, Kali, and Darwin – Samara, Costa Rica

Liesbet’s Top 3 Travel Tips:

Top Packing Tip

Only pack what you need on a daily basis, nothing you rarely use. Comfortable clothes and shoes. Anything to collect memories and retain them.

How to Survive Long-haul Flying

With plenty of water and a book or tablet.

How to Stay Safe When Travelling

  • Be aware.
  • Remain vigilant, kind, and open-minded.
  • Learn a few words in the local language.
  • Trust your gut.
Liesbet and Mark, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Liesbet and Mark, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Final Quick Words for this Travel Chat with Liesbet from Roaming About

  • Self-guided travel or join a tour? Self-guided travel
  • Window seat or aisle? Window seat
  • Favourite thing to wear for travelling? Comfortable shoes. Shorts with deep pockets 
  • Favourite Country? Australia
  • Checked bags or carry on only? Carry-on only
  • Book or Kindle? Tablet which has Kindle 🙂
  • Best travel resource? Other travellers

I hope you’ve enjoyed this travel chat with Liesbet from Roaming About! Don’t forget to check out her travel stories on Roaming About and do follow her on social media Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

Pin for later – Travel Chat with Liesbet from Roaming About

More Travel Chats

While you’re here, why not take a peek at more travel chats with inspiring
travel bloggers? They have so many tales to tell!

If you have any feedback or suggestions for other mature travel bloggers to interview, please let me know in the comments box below! If you have any questions, feel free to ask too.

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About Author

Coralie is a Brit living in North Yorkshire. When she's not writing, she's either out exploring, planning a new trip, tasting street food or relaxing with a cold G&T. With 40+ years of adventurous travel to almost 40 countries (so far), she knows there's still much to see and remains an adventure-seeker at heart. Follow her on social media and keep up with her adventures and awesome travel tips.

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33 Comments

  1. Good morning from Massachusetts, Coralie! Thank you so much for featuring me here on your inspiring travel blog. I loved the questions you asked and enjoyed answering them. I hope your readers find some value, inspiration, and entertainment in my travel experiences.

    1. Hi Liesbet, I’m so glad you were happy to be featured and enjoyed answering the questions. The post has been popular already and I’m sure my readers have taken lots away from reading your story x

  2. Lovely to see your smiling face here at Grey Globetrotters, Liesbet. And I was chuffed to see my name on your list of blogs that inspire you! That means a great deal to me coming from a seasoned travel writer whom I admire and adore. I remember meeting you for the first time in the Gambier four months after I’d lifted anchor from my desk in NYC. I thought that you were the coolest person ever and aspired to have an ounce of your travel-savvy. I’ve added a few ounces since then, but still look to you and Marks as my road gurus. I hope you’ll be traveling Arizona way!

    1. Ah Lisa, what a lovely endorsement for Liesbet! I can see that she’s a very special lady, and so generous in sharing her experiences for all to learn from. I’m looking forward to days when travel is possible and safe, and when I can start to meet my travel heroes like you and Liesbet x

      1. Oh that sounds wonderful, Coralie! My husband and I can’t wait to hit the road again – domestically and internationally – and meet like-minded people again, in real life! 🙂

    2. Hi Lisa!

      You are just too kind. Hey, I mentioned that above! Yes, you are incredibly “positive, supportive, inspiring, and kind” indeed. 🙂

      Yes, you and the Captain will be on the forefront of our travels in Arizona this winter. I was excited to learn that your base is there and not in New England!!

  3. Hi, Coralie – It is wonderful to see Liesbet featured here. I have had the pleasure of meeting Liesbet IRL (2x) and I have regularly followed her blog for years. Still, I learned a great deal of new info from this post. Excellent questions with a very inspiring guest. Thank you!

    1. How lucky you are to have met Liesbet IRL! I’m sure that was a great experience with some wonderful tales shared. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Liesbet through this interview 🙂

  4. So nice to read more about your travel adventures, Liesbet with your crew! I have to admit that I prefer planning to chance, but Hans reminds me to be spontaneous when needed! I’m sorry that it has been two years since you visited your family! I agree with you that having your own place and bed to stay in while traveling is wonderful! Our road trip pulling the trailer to Spokane begins this coming Sunday. After that I am back to the blogosphere! Thanks for the great tips and thanks, Coralie for hosting Liesbet this week!

    1. Hi Terri, it was such a pleasure to interview Liesbet, and to learn about the incredible woman behind a blog I enjoy so much. Your road trip sounds wonderful – I’m a little envious 🙂

    2. Hi Terri!

      Enjoy your road trip and “trailer delivery” to Washington. 🙂 I hope the wildfires won’t cause you any grief… Some planning is a good thing once in a while. As with most things, finding a balance between knowing what to expect (to make you feel comfortable and secure ahead of time) and spontaneity (to leave room for unexpected events) would be ideal.

    1. You are so nice, Jill! This was an interview where the frugality of my lifestyle didn’t even come into play, I think. 🙂 So many things to talk about when it comes to travel.

    1. Oh Janis, if only we could start traveling internationally! I’m sure you are missing your getaways. And the Mexican food… A year and a half ago, I wanted to take Mark out for margaritas and a Mexican dinner for his birthday and we ended up driving all the way into Mexico for just that. 🙂 Well, we stayed a few days. We are thinking of heading south of the border in Zesty this winter as well. If they allow Americans in!

    1. Hi Alex, I’d pass on the fish eyes too! Ugh! The lure of a camper is getting stronger for me – I can definitely see one (or a yacht) in my future 🙂 I think my doggo would prefer the caper though!

    2. Thanks for swinging by here and leaving a comment, Alex. Yes! Rainy days are the worst in our little camper van. While I always have indoor things to do, more than one day of being cooped up inside drives my husband – and dog – a tad crazy. 🙂

  5. Thank you Coralie for featuring Liesbet on your blog.

    Liesbet, the photo of you at the Wave is a favourite of mine. I found Question 4 very revealing. Especially feeling disrespected of taken advantage. Your answers do remind me of the turning lemons into lemonade philosophy.

    Number 9 is fascinating. How the virus has impacted everyone on our planet. I also appreciated your Question 10. Now I know where to possibly travel in the future. OMgosh on the fish eyes. I have seen my husband eat chicken feet.

    I appreciate the reference to the new blogs.

    All of these questions are excellent, Coralie. I enjoyed learning more about Liesbet. Thank you!

    1. Hi Erica, thanks so much for leaving your lovely comments about Liesbet’s blog, and for your kind words about my interview questions. I loved getting to know Liesbet better during the interview, and I’m glad the questions inspired you too. Have a great day x

    2. Hi Erica! Thank you so much for reading and for leaving a comment here and on Roaming About. The Wave is such a unique place to wander and take photos. We were very lucky (and I don’t use that word lightly :-)) to have been able to make this hike, because it works with a lottery system as you might remember from my original post about it. I think it was then that you left a comment about you winning another kind of lottery, involving walking and wine. 🙂 All that happened before Covid, of course. Reading your kind comments always makes me smile. Have a wonderful rest of the week!

  6. Nice interview!

    Being frugal can be a tricky one. I always have to remind my partner that one of the big reasons we get to travel is because I have always been frugal. I socked that money away and now if we are careful we can travel indefinitely until there is some sort of major catastrophe (health problems, etc). But lately, we have been setting a little more money loose – buying things we need and want. I hate spending money on something that ends up being disappointing, though. But sometimes I guess you just have to take the risk.

    I was pretty pleased to see that my blog, Make Like An Apeman, in your list of the blogs that inspire you! When I first discovered your blog I read it for a while before I ever left a comment, but I kept thinking to myself, that’s exactly what I would have done/where I would have gone/etc.. I love your journey because it is so personal, I have found very few land travel blogs that have the same feel.

    1. Hi Duwan, what lovely comments about Liesbet’s blog. Through Liesbet, I’ve discovered yours which I’ve been enjoying too – I particularly enjoyed your time travels along Snake River!
      Coralie x

    2. Hi Duwan!

      Your blog is one of the few travel blogs I follow. You always give such good information and your photos are superb. Now, with your new camera, I can only imagine what that will create! 🙂

      Because we have so much in common – van travel, sailing life, house and pet sitting, being frugal – I enjoy your blog and our meet-ups in person. Can’t wait for the next one.

      You are right about the advantages of frugalness for you and me. Neither of us is rich or will ever be, yet, because of our choices in the past and now, we can indefinitely do what others only dream of. So, while having made sacrifices (small ones for the greater good :-)) our entire life, we are reaping the benefits now. 🙂

  7. Liesbet, you are one cool lady!! I really enjoyed this travel interview, specially because I feel it is so genuine. You come across as a very down-to-earth, humble person. Yet you have so many years of travel and true adventure under your belt. Lots of great advice and wise words, also some new travel blogs I will be checking out. Thank you!!!

    1. Hi Gilda, what lovely comments about Liesbet! I have to agree with your thoughts though – I’ve learned so much about and from this lady, and I thoroughly enjoy reading her blog x

    2. Hi Gilda! From one cool lady to another: thank you for reading and leaving a comment here as well and… you are an inspiration yourself! I’m so happy for you both to be exploring (Europe) again in your RV! And, I’m a tad envious. Once I have my travel memoir publication figured out, I’ll be on the road in earnest again as well. 🙂

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