By Caitlyn Leggett
“Why on earth did I decide to do this?” She is sitting on her bike facing Death. Death Road, that is. Staring at the path she will soon spin her wheels down. Butterflies have decided to call the pit of her stomach home. Is she crazy? Maybe. Choosing to ride down ‘the world’s most dangerous road’ where around 300 people die per year. The famous road begins at 15,260 feet and descends to 3,900 feet over its course of just 38 miles. The cliff lining the edge of the treacherous mountain pass is as vertical as your bedroom wall and is surrounded by thick, dense forest. The Amazon rainforest to be exact. Welcome to Bolivia. Welcome to the everyday adventures of Brooke Saward.
Saward, is a renowned travel blogger who has made a recent living out of visiting new countries and partaking in unique experiences such as this one. Growing up on the small island state of Tasmania, Australia, she now writes reviews and shares stories of the 50 plus countries across 6 continents that she has visited so far. This year her blog World of Wanderlust (WOW) won ‘Best Travel Blog’ by Skyscanner, just over a year after it went live. Skyscanner is a website that compares flights, car rental and hotel deals. Saward has also written three successful ebooks, is in the midst of writing her fourth, has an online readership of 4 million per year and has over 100,000 social media fans. All this success for a girl who only recently celebrated her 23rd birthday.
Her passion for travel began at just 13 years of age, embarking on her first overseas holiday to Hong Kong with the International Children’s Choir. She caught the travel bug straight away. “I think it partly has something to do with being at such a vulnerable age where your experiences really shape your views and attitudes.” By the age of 15, she was off again, convincing her mum, sister and aunties to go on a shopping holiday back to Hong Kong. At 17 she used those convincing skills once more to encourage her dad to accompany her on a trip to Europe. Parental supervision on these trips were just that, though, as she saved every penny herself from part time work and continuingly searching for coins. “I was a human metal detector,” she said.
The rest is history. She took every opportunity she could to see more of the world whilst earning a combined degree of Law and International Relations. Blogging began with ‘B Travel Tales’, where she would blog for family and friends after getting tired of receiving requests from them to share her ‘tips for Paris’ or answering ‘Where should I stay in Thailand?’ Before too long, people from around the world were commenting on the posts. Being careful to write only what she is passionate about, she has continued to write in a way to inform and inspire people. The blog launched in December 2012 and it took off within just a few weeks. With her heart and soul now focused on WOW, the following year she dropped the law part of her degree and finished studying business via distance.
The single, self confessed people-person has surprisingly mostly travelled alone. After a bad experience in Bali, she wasn’t counting on a travel partner to take on the world by her side. “I learned first hand that in most cases travelling internationally with someone you barely know is not one of the smartest, nor adequately thought through decisions I have made,” she writes in her first book The World of Wanderlust Story. Careful not to make the same mistake again, her first time in Europe was ventured alone and she is now a strong advocate for solo female travellers.
“I think the strongest message I try to convey is to ‘love yourself first’. We live in a society where we seek validation through a currency of ‘likes’ on social media and forget that the only person we need to impress is ourselves. If we stay true to ourselves and shape our lives through our own experiences (i.e. travel), we can become the truest and happiest version of ourselves.” She is now doing just that, as she sits in one of the highest cities in the world with only herself as company and a Canon. La Paz has been one of the hardest countries the bubbly brunette has traveled to as a solo female. “It has been a mix of emotions the past week… but I always try to stay positive.”
Currently in the midst of a yearlong adventure around the globe, she is focusing most of her leftover energy into writing her new book, A Year to Myself. The travelogue will share more in-depth stories of the trials and tribulations she faced this year travelling the world solo at 22 (now 23) years of age. “It’s personal… perhaps too personal. But it is really shaping up to be something special that I am quite proud of.”
Catching flights every few days and sometimes not knowing where she will be the following week means there is no such thing as a typical ‘day in the office’ for Saward. Her office is often in a hotel room with her laptop. After living out of a suitcase for such a long time, she is about to finally have a home, planning a move to Berlin next month. She is also adding to her brand. “I’m getting ready to launch my second blog as well as a start up company that I haven’t previously spoken about… I’m excited to reveal more soon, though you may already notice some hints and clues popping up on the Internet.”
With endless opportunities in every corner of the world, the new path Saward is about to embark on is not unlike that intimidating path in La Paz. No railing, no safety net, no guarantee of making it to the end in one piece. So was she going to do it anyway? Absolutely. And just like that, with one big push, she was off. Into the unknown, facing all of her fears, and nothing would ever be as exhilarating.