In today’s travel chat with Zoe From Duende by Madam Zo-Zo, expat Aussie travel blogger Zoe Peate shares how being a trailing spouse catapulted her into a new world of international travel, blogging and new adventures.
It’s been quite a journey for this travel blogger, so grab yourself a cuppa and a comfy seat, and delve into Zoe’s story.
Hi, I’m Zoë, an Australian currently residing in Seattle, USA.
I created Duende by Madam ZoZo when I became a trailing spouse living in Singapore seven years ago. As a graphic designer and event stylist, I wanted to share the destinations and cross-cultural experiences I found most creatively inspiring.
Q1. When did you start travelling?
I didn’t start travelling on a regular basis until age 30 when my husband and I relocated to Singapore on a work assignment. I’d taken the occasional trip in my 20’s but was focussed mostly on my career and travelled mostly within Australia.
Q2. Where did you go on your first trip, and why?
My first international trip as an adult was to the US. My best friend and I were planning a 3-month working holiday in North America during our summer break from university. Unfortunately, my friend broke her back before we could complete the application process, so we decided to blow all our savings on a 2-week Contiki Tour instead. We travelled a loop from Los Angeles through San Diego, Phoenix, Sedona, Grand Canyon, Las Vegas and back to LA.
Q3. How would you describe your travel style?
I would describe myself as a comfort, cultural traveller:
“Comfort” because I’m not a budget traveller or backpacker, but certainly not a luxury traveller either. I want to be comfortable while getting good value, so I can see and experience more for my money. I’m also willing to sacrifice comfort for the experience where necessary. For example, I’ve slept on the floor in a tribal longhouse in the Borneo jungle and gone 3-days without a shower hiking the Inca Trail.
“Cultural” because for me, travel is about seeing the world from a different perspective and discovering what is unique about a destination, whether it’s the food, language, music, art, history, landscapes or all of the above.
Q4. What do you love most about travelling? And what drives you crazy?
I’m super curious and creative, so the best thing about travel, in my opinion, is the inspiration I draw from immersing in a foreign place and culture.
What drives me crazy is being harassed to purchase items or services, usually in highly touristed areas. I generally start out feeling the need to politely decline every offer, but after an hour or so of someone yelling “iPhone, massage, suit!” at me, I’m giving everyone stink eye.
Q5. How do you most like to travel? (mode of transport)
I prefer a mode of transport with a view but I also get motion sick, so the smoother the ride the better – trains are great for this reason.
Q6. Are you a planner or a last-minute traveller?
Definitely a planner. I have found the best way to see more in less time is to do a lot of research and arrive with a plan. That said, I always leave a little to chance.
Q7. Are you a full-time or part-time traveller?
Q8. Do you travel differently today to how you did in your 20s and 30s? What’s changed, and why?
These days I do more research and planning because I have more time pressure and need to experience places in shorter timeframes. I also have increased financial resources to splash out on some of the experiences I couldn’t afford when I was younger, such as lunch at a Michelin-rated restaurant or a helicopter ride over Niagara Falls.
Q9. Has Coronavirus made you think differently about your future travels?
Coronavirus has made me realise how lucky I am to have never had my travel disrupted by war, terrorism or other negative world events. This is the first time I’ve had to put my globetrotting on hold and I won’t take the freedom to travel for granted again.
Q10. Tell us about the most memorable place you’ve visited so far.
I loved every aspect of Vietnam including the delicious cuisine, friendly people, Indochine architecture, lush landscapes, fascinating archaeological sites and traditional handicrafts. It is a great all-round destination.
Q11. Is there anywhere you wouldn’t go, or a type of travel/experience you wouldn’t be comfortable with?
I’m very wary of animal tourism. I rode an elephant and visited the Tiger Temple in Thailand many years ago and really regret it now.
Q12. If you could live in one other country, where would you choose, and why?
I’ve lived in Singapore and the United States, but my dream has always been to live somewhere in Europe. I’m not fussy but prefer a Mediterranean climate.
Q13. What’s the worst travel mistake/regret you’ll admit to?
As I mentioned before, the animal tourism experiences I participated in were a huge indiscretion. I should have done more research.
Q14. What do you do first when you arrive somewhere new?
First up, I try to take a walk or walking tour. It helps me get my bearings in a new place. A walking tour is great in urban locations because it also enables me to ask a local guide, who’s passionate about their city, for recommendations.
Q15. How do you stay healthy when travelling?
I’m very careful about the water I drink and the food I eat. I also have a strict plane routine to prevent picking up illnesses inflight.
Q16. What wouldn’t you leave home without in your cabin bag?
Medication, change of clothes (I’ve had my luggage lost several times), noise-cancelling headphones and basic toiletries.
Q17. Which movie(s) or book(s) have inspired your travels?
I watch Under the Tuscan Sun at least once a year and I still haven’t made it to Italy! Actually, I was supposed to go earlier this year before the pandemic took hold.
Q18. What are the best and the worst things you’ve eaten on your travels?
My husband and I have recognised a pattern of eating one really bad meal every trip, no matter how many recommendations we field or reviews we read. Once we get that one bad meal out of the way, it’s usually smooth sailing.
In terms of the best food, we’ve taken some fantastic cooking classes in Thailand and Mexico which always end with a delicious feast.
Q19. When choosing somewhere to visit, what’s most important to you?
I look for what is unique about a destination that I can’t experience anywhere else.
Q20. Tell us about three midlife bloggers you follow and why their blogs inspire you.
I follow bloggers equally interested in cultural exploration and who take a very no-nonsense, practical approach to travel. Some of my favourites include Dave and Deb at The Planet D, Sarah Murdoch from Adventures with Sarah, along with Julie and Tim at Earth Trekkers.
Q21. What’s #1 on your travel bucket list and why?
I’ve been an avid genealogist for most of my life. I have traced my roots to Ireland, Germany and Lebanon, which puts these destinations at the top of my bucket list.
Q22. Where are you planning to visit next?
We have just relocated from Brisbane, Australia to Seattle, USA. Given the global pandemic, we will probably be doing a lot of local trips around our new home in the short term.
A Little More Travel Chat with Zoe from Duende by Madam Zo-Zo
Zoe’s Top 3 Travel Tips:
Top packing tip
Pack to a colour scheme so that you can mix and match everything as much a possible, which helps to reduce clothing overall.
How to survive long-haul flying
Pack noise-cancelling headphones, drink lots of water, and take a great travel pillow and eye mask.
How to stay safe when travelling
Do your research in advance to get an idea of the common scams in a destination and always respect local customs.
Final Quick Words for this Travel Chat with Zoe from Duende by Madam Zo-Zo
- Self-guided travel or join a tour? Small tour.
- Window seat or aisle? Window.
- Favourite thing to wear for travelling? A big cotton scarf or sarong – it comes in handy for so many things.
- Favourite Country? Vietnam.
- Checked bags or carry on only? Depends on the trip – I do both.
- Book or Kindle? Book.
- Best travel resource? Lonely Planet.
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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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