Sue Bedford of www.Sbedford.ca
Sue don’t know how to ride a bicycle. But she can tap dance. It never, ever comes in handy. Sue Bedford aka S. Bedford recently achieved her life goal of publishing a book on her 30th birthday. Her book “It’s Only the Himalayas and Other Tales of Miscalculation from an Overconfident Backpacker” was launched last April 5th 2016, exactly 12 days before her birthday.
Learn more about Sue by reading her answers to few of our travel related questions:
When did you started blogging, Why do you blog?
In 2010, I was a 23-year-old waitress who’d just dropped out of university for the second time and was living with my parents. I felt like a total loser. Meanwhile, my best friend Sara—who’s always been exasperatingly perfect—had just graduated top of her class and was about to begin her fresh, adult life as a nurse. But first, she wanted an adventure.
When the two of us set off on a year-long around-the-world trip, I thought I would “find myself” amidst sweeping vistas and tangible history, and return this well-adjusted, fully-functional grown-up. What actually happened was a series of awkward, embarrassing and ridiculous misadventures that proved travel isn’t about the rosy photos on Instagram but rather the unexpected challenges that arise and how you handle them.
It wasn’t until 2012 that I began reading through my old (water-worn and ominously stained) journals and reflecting on my experiences, and crafting what would become my travel memoir It’s Only the Himalayas and Other Tales of Miscalculation from an Overconfident Backpacker. The most common misconceptions about travel are that a) you have to be a stoic athlete with an anthropology Masters and the ability to construct a winterized shelter out of your pajamas to travel, and b) the backpacker life is a glamorous one. I hope my book with demonstrate that neither of those is true.
It’s Only the Himalayas and Other Tales of Miscalculation from an Overconfident Backpacker was published in April 2016 by Brindle & Glass. It’s available on Amazon or in Chapters and Barnes & Noble in Canada and the States, respectively. You can read an excerpt on my website www.sbedford.ca
Tell us more about your hometown.
I’m from Toronto, Canada, which is one of the most fantastic places to live in the summer and the most brutal in the winter. When it becomes even remotely warmish, Torontonians flock in droves to patios—occasionally still donning their mittens. But in January and February, the cold slaps you across the face like an indignant and mildly intoxicated aunt. When I was younger I used to wear braces, and if I laughed too much when I was walking home from school with my friends in the winter the metal would freeze my teeth.
When did you start traveling, inspirations?
When I was 13 my second-cousin-once-removed (or something like that) from England visited us. She was in her twenties and on a year-long, around-the-world trip. I remember thinking, “Wait a sec, you can do that? My middle school guidance counselor never told me about that option!”
Lessons you learned on the road?
“Fortune favours the bold.” I think that’s a Latin proverb (or else something the Power Rangers said in the early nineties?) and it’s very applicable to traveling. Of course, some risks end in disaster, but more often I found stepping outside my comfort zone and seizing opportunities resulted in the most incredible experiences. Besides, even if everything does go awry… well, that’s what makes for the best stories later, right?
Destinations on your Bucket List?
I want to see the northern lights and plan to fly to either the Yukon or the Northwest Territories in the future. Funny story: when I was five, I was at my cottage in Ontario and came down with a terrible fever. My parents took me outside at night to cool me down, and the northern lights were shining overhead—but I was so grouchy over being dragged out of bed that I refused to look.
Beach or Mountain?
I’ll say mountain because right now I’m sitting in a warmly lit kitchen wearing pajamas and drinking tea. But I’m sure if you ask me while I’m puffing and swearing and clambering up the vertical trail, I’ll change my answer to beach.
How often do you travel by air / land?
I aim to take a major trip every year or 18 months, and I usually travel by land once I’ve arrived in my destined country just because I enjoy gazing out the windows on long journeys, especially on trains.
What’s your favorite airport?
Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok. It’s clean and well-lit with plenty of shops and restaurants to keep you entertained during layovers (one of my favourite ways to pass the time in an airport is to smell the perfumes in the duty free store), and you can lie down with your sleeping bag to nap without anybody disturbing you. Also, the personnel there are helpful, especially if you’re running late for a flight, and security is polite (unlike in the US, where I’m always “randomly” searched because I have dreadlocks).
What is your favorite Hotel?
Because I’m a budget traveler I haven’t actually stayed in many name-brand hotels. I prefer guesthouses, especially in Southeast Asia, as you can find clean, comfortable rooms for a great price.
What is your preferred Airline?
Definitely Air Asia. The prices are terrific and there are tons of flight options.
How do you beat jet lag / Motion sickness?
I take Dramamine for motion sickness, and always eat beforehand. I don’t usually experience severe jetlag traveling away from home because I’m going west to east, but coming back is rough. I take time-released melatonin tablets at night and do my best to resist napping during the day.
What are your favorite travel gadgets?
I don’t think these count as gadgets but I always carry ear plugs and an eye mask with me. Nothing’s served me as well as those $5 investments!
Any Tips on how to travel light?
Many people bring too much clothing. Remember that unless you’re doing some sort of extreme alpine trek, you can always buy extra layers (and probably for cheaper) at your destination. Also, function and comfort are more important than fashion—besides, no accessory is as flattering as the ginormous grin of an intrepid traveler.
Best Backpack Brand?
My Wild Kitimat backpack has been to over 50 countries in the last decade and is still going strong.
Top 3 Philippine Destinations?
I was very fortunate in that I arrived in Boracay without a plan, and that evening met a brother and sister duo who’d just finished building their own boat and were about to set sail around Palawan. My friend Sara and I jumped aboard their maiden voyage and spent the next three weeks eating over campfires on secluded beaches, snorkeling with sea-life atop spectacular reefs, and swimming beneath limestone karsts in secret lagoons. In fact, there’s an entire chapter about our adventures—including what happened when our toilet was no longer accepting solid waste and we were far from shore—in my book It’s Only the Himalayas and Other Tales of Miscalculation from an Overconfident Backpacker. I love the backpacker vibe of El Nido, and although Boracay is a little touristic the beach is arguably the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. But my absolute favourite spot in the Philippines is the sunken ship just off the coast of Corón as it’s enveloped by the most outstanding coral reef.
Things you love about the Philippines?
The landscape, the waterscape, and the people. The limestone karsts topped with fluffy ambrosia jutting out of the turquoise waves are breathtaking, especially at sunset. But what’s going on under those waves is even more mind-blowing. The colours and textures of the coral look like something out of a Jim Henson production, and the sea snakes, stingrays, jellyfish, sharks, eels and zillions of fish are incredible to watch. Also, I found the people to be friendly and relaxed, and quick to share a laugh.
Things you hate about the Philippines?
It’s a challenge to get to from Canada. Also, at the time I was vegetarian and so I didn’t have a ton of meal options. Now that I eat meat again, I’d love to go back and sample the seafood as well as balut.
What made you decide to visit the Philippines?
It was an impulse decision. My friend and I were flying from India to Vietnam, and we sat next to another Canadian who convinced us tat the Philippines was not to be missed. Sure enough, it became one of our favourite Southeast Asian destinations… and now I’m the Canadian insisting that others add it to their itinerary.
Top 3 International Destinations?
Nepal, Myanmar and the Galapagos Islands (Ecuador).