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.
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!
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. 😊
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!
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 them 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.
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 almost 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?
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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’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.
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!
- Sue from Sue Where? Why? What?
- Zoe from Duende by Madam Zo-Zo
- Heather from Heather Begins
- Lisa from One Ocean at a Time
- Alma from Roaming Fox
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.