In today’s travel chat with Alma from Roaming Fox, mature travel blogger Alma van As, shares how her love of travel, adventure and safaris led her to start blogging a few years ago. Her travel stories paint incredible pictures of the countries she has visited – and make me desperate to see more of Africa!
Born and bred in South Africa and still residing there, Alma and her family have explored their own country, some of the surrounding African countries and islands, as well as numerous international destinations.
Hi, I’m Alma, I love travel, adventure and safaris!
After an overland trip a few years ago, I realized I had a few stories to tell, hence the reason to start my blog. I found it difficult to niche my site into just travel, as we have had various experiences and activities.
Q1. When did you start travelling?
Although I had done a few short local trips in my youth by car, train or plane, my first international trip was in 1983, two years after my husband and I married.
Q2. Where did you go on your first trip, and why?
The very first trip that I can remember was at the age of 6 or 7 years old – about 1965. My parents sent me on a plane from Cape Town to Durban to visit family. The significance was travelling on my own without adult supervision, apart from the air hostesses. It felt exotic enough for me, travelling to the “tropics” of KwaZulu Natal, on my own.
The first international trip I took was with my husband to Mauritius, a tropical island off the coast of South Africa. The warm Indian Ocean, with its beautiful beaches, coral reefs and exotic flair of Indian, Chinese and African heritage was so appealing to us. We thought this would be the only international trip we could ever afford.
Q3. How would you describe your travel style?
We love off the beaten path destinations, sprinkled with some adventure. Having said that we have been known to explore cities as well, to absorb a touch of different culture.
Q4. What do you love most about travelling? And what drives you crazy?
The thrill of the unknown as you step onto new soil in a country to discover different cultures, foods and beliefs is what makes me enjoy travel. I love absorbing that experience.
I hate it when travellers behave as if the whole world owes them and have a string of demands. They expect everything to be the same as they have at home and belittle the country they are in. Why bother to travel then?
Q5. How do you most like to travel? (mode of transport)
It depends where I am going. The mode of transport is not important to me, although I do like a little bit of comfort. It is the destination and journey which determines how we travel.
Q6. Are you a planner or a last-minute traveller?
I love planning, although I often don’t stick to the plan. Researching and mulling over where we are going or what we will see, and experience is part of the fun. Some of our trips have warranted a large amount of planning. That being said, I am definitely not opposed to spur of the moment travel. That can be just as much fun.
Q7. Are you a full-time or part-time traveller?
To date I have only been able to travel part time. Maybe in my retirement years I will be able to remedy that.
Q8. Do you travel differently today to how you did in your 20s and 30s? What’s changed, and why?
I would not say that our travels are different now, except for an extra bit of comfort, the older we get. For instance, many of our trips have included camping, then and now. When we were young it was acceptable to sleep on the ground on a thin mattress. Now that ground feels less comfortable and I prefer a thicker mattress.
Q9. Has Coronavirus made you think differently about your future travels?
That is an interesting question because I do not believe I will travel any differently apart from the hygiene aspect, but I will only be able to answer that question once we are allowed to travel again. I miss having the freedom to be able to go away and look forward to the day that we are not restricted. I am so thankful for all the opportunities I have had to see the places that I have and when I did because one never knows when that luxury is taken away from you, for whatever reason.
Q10. Tell us about the most memorable place you’ve visited so far.
That is so difficult to answer, because I have had so many memorable travels to fantastic places.
The one that comes to mind though, is our first adventurous trip as a family that changed our perception in many aspects. We chartered a yacht for two weeks to sail around the northwestern islands of Madagascar.
It happened at just the right time for us as a family, when life was hectic, and we needed a break and opened up a whole new world for us. Our teenage sons at the time thought it cool to go on such an adventure and my husband and I enjoyed the combination of relaxation, a new culture, and the experience.
Then I think back to some of our trips to the UK, Europe, and Australia, and they have been memorable as well in so many ways.
Q11. Is there anywhere you wouldn’t go, or a type of travel/experience you wouldn’t be comfortable with?
I am open to most opportunities to travel to any destination although my adventurous side seems to be slowing down just a tad.
I would hate to be in the middle of a natural disaster though, like a tsunami or earthquake and especially a civil war.
Q12. If you could live in one other country, where would you choose, and why?
There are two countries that I feel at home in, the one being Australia and the other Germany. Maybe it is because I have spent time in both and lived like a local, instead of just a tourist. I am of course biased, as our sons live in those two respective countries! Both lifestyles suit me, and both offer pleasant outdoor daily life.
Q13. What’s the worst travel mistake/regret you’ll admit to?
Mistakes or regrets in travel? Never! Only joking. Any mistake I might have made was if I could not manage to do everything I would have liked to.
One of my downfalls is that I get seasick which really sucks because we have had many adventures in boats, so it takes me a while to adapt. The truth is I love spending time on or in the water, my body just sends out its own warning signals, as a reminder that I can’t have fun all the time.
Q14. What do you do first when you arrive somewhere new?
It largely depends where we are. Sometimes I just love exploring on foot to get to know the area better. On other occasions out of necessity I am in search of food!
Q15. How do you stay healthy when travelling?
Because I have not travelled full time, I have not been too concerned about staying healthy while traveling. Some of the third world destinations we have been to though has made it necessary to ensure that we have a good first aid kit with broad based general medication in case of emergency, especially when traveling with children.
Q16. What wouldn’t you leave home without in your cabin bag?
My passport and cell phone. Money or a credit card helps too and then, of course, a few comforts such as lip balm.
Q17. Which movie(s) or book(s) have inspired your travels?
I read extensively and many adventure books have inspired my travels although not necessarily to the extent of their trips.
I love reading about adventure such as Around Africa on my bicycle by Rian Manser or Achieving the impossible by Lewis Pugh. Of course who hasn’t read Eat, Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert or Under a Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes?
Q18. What are the best and the worst things you’ve eaten on your travels?
I cannot think of one particular item that I have eaten during my travels that has been the best, because each country has its own specialities which I have loved. Mopani worms were the worst, although I only ate a small piece. I have also eaten a small piece of fruit bat.
Q19. When choosing somewhere to visit, what’s most important to you?
I don’t look for importance in my destination. It depends on the purpose of the visit, whether it is, for instance, a scuba dive trip or visiting family internationally or just general sightseeing. No matter where I am, I love to immerse myself in the experience.
Q20. Tell us about three midlife bloggers you follow, and why their blogs inspire you
- Jennifer Mostert from Jen from Africa. I am not sure if it is because Jennifer and I live in the same country, but it seems our spirits have connected. She has been to some interesting places and also a few of the same places I have been to.
- Jay Artale from Roving Jay: Jay is what you call a go-getter with an abundance of energy to tackle anything if you can go by what she fits into her schedule. She has a few websites – Birds of a Feather Press – and has even created a podcast – How Travel Writers Self Publish. I can barely keep up with one travel blog.
- Bree Dixon from 3 Sisters Abroad: Bree and her sisters Muriel and Paula have travelled home and away, and cruised around Europe. What stands out though for me about Bree, is that she suffers from a number of chronic illnesses and still manages to travel and have fun.
Q21. What’s #1 on your travel bucket list and why?
There is still so much I would love to see around the world, that it is difficult to choose a #1. I wouldn’t mind though, doing a couple of months of road trip through Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
Q22. Where are you planning to visit next?
At this stage, it is difficult to plan any travelling, because we cannot even move around in our own country, so I suppose it would be great to visit one of South Africa’s national parks first unless of course there is the possibility of visiting family locally or internationally.
A Little More Travel Chat with Alma from Roaming Fox
Alma’s Top 3 Travel Tips:
Top Packing Tip
- Pack something for all four seasons – you never know when you might need it.
- Have sachet or two of electrolyte solution. They come in handy for rehydration especially when having diarrheal issues.
How to Survive Long-haul Flying
- Relax and enjoy!
- Try to sleep, but if you cannot, at least close and rest your eyes.
- When you get to your destination you want to be as fresh as possible.
- Drink plenty of water.
How to Stay Safe When Travelling
- Be observant and alert and don’t display your valuables.
- Trust your instinct and try not to put yourself in positions where you are not comfortable.
Final Quick Words for this Travel Chat with Alma from Roaming Fox
- Self-guided travel or join a tour? Prefer self-guided travel but sometimes a tour has its place.
- Window seat or aisle? Love the window seat, but on a long-haul flight, the aisle is more comfortable if you have to stand up regularly.
- Favourite thing to wear for travelling? Flat, comfortable shoes for walking around.
- Favourite Country? Is the world a country? I don’t have any favourites – but love exploring so many of them!
- Checked bags or carry on only? Checked bags. I don’t like to have cumbersome items to haul around when I board the plane and have to walk down a narrow aisle.
- Book or Kindle? Definitely Kindle for travelling. I normally use an iPad which has so many other uses, but that has the Kindle app too.
- Best travel resource? The internet? We are so fortunate to have a wealth of information at our fingertips. When we first started travelling, we relied on paper books and brochures that had limited information.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this travel chat with Alma from Roaming Fox! Don’t forget to check out her travel stories on Roaming Fox and do follow her on social media Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram
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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!
- Sue from Sue Where? Why? What?
- Zoe from Duende by Madam Zo-Zo
- Heather from Heather Begins
- Lisa from One Ocean at a Time
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.