“Do not stop thinking of life as an adventure. You have no security unless you can live bravely, excitingly, imaginatively, unless you can choose a challenge instead of a competence.” Eleanor Roosevelt
I have just discovered Nat and her wonderful blog on Twitter, these interviews have introduced so many amazing women to my little corner of the internet. You can find Nat on Instagram @natpackertravel Twitter @natpckertravel Facebook @natpackertravel and her blog which is a must read Natpacker
1. Can you tell us something about yourself?
I’m Nat, I’ve recently turned 32 and have been a traveller since I got bitten by the bug on an Around The World Trip when I was 21 (wow, didn’t realise it was a decade ago!) I’m a budget traveller, but that doesn’t mean I’m all about cheaping out. I like to have experiences when I travel, I’ll pretty much try anything. I like seeing the main tourist spots and getting off the beaten path, I’ll explore cities and enjoy a good hike in the wilderness.
2. What is the first memory of an adventure you had? And why does it stand out?
My first memory of an adventure is when me and th’other half went on our first RTW trip at 21. Before that, family holidays to all-inclusives don’t really count as an “adventure” to me!
We spent months planning, we’d finished Uni had saved up and were ready to go. It was so exciting. But it was winter and it was snowing, so our connecting flight was cancelled. We got put up in a hotel and were able to go the next day, but bags got lost and it all went a bit wrong! Luckily though, we weren’t deterred and I think it set us up for having a good attitude of just accepting that anything can happen when you travel, you just have to deal with it when it happens.
3. What are three things on your bucket list?
Hiking Machu Picchu (there’s a hike that’s not the Inca trail that I’m interested in, but cannot remember the name).
Exploring the Galapagos Islands
Spending a few months exploring Japan
4. Are there any women that inspire your adventures or that you look to for inspiration?
In all honesty, no. I don’t. I’m not one for looking at “celebrities”. I get ideas and inspiration from other travellers, but I don’t “look to them”, it’s more symbiotic as we help each other.
5. What piece of advice would you give your younger self?
Do your research. You love research anyway, so before going anywhere fully look up what you want to do and see. Do it in-depth and have a plan, or you just end up chasing your tail, not sure what to prioritise.
6. What advice would you give someone who is just starting their outdoor journey?
Be flexible. Don’t have a ridiculously rigid plan, or trying to stick to it will stress you out. Instead have a loose plan and be prepared for unexpected situations to make you change it.
7. What is the hardest adventure/hike you have done and why?
Climbing Kilimanjaro. The altitude sickness hit me pretty badly on the summiting night. I’m not that good at mountain climbs, I get out of breath easily, so coupled with the cold and altitude I have this horrible memory of it all hitting me at once. I made it though, so totally worth it.
8. What is your favourite thing about the outdoor community?
Most are sociable and happy to help each other. It’s great that we’re not overly competitive but supportive instead.
9. Is there anything you would change about the outdoor community?
I think more needs to be done to encourage girls to get outdoors. It is still very male-dominated, especially when doing adventure sports. Even I still have a little voice in the back of my head occasionally telling me I’m not strong or brave enough for certain things, though I’ve learnt to (mostly) ignore it after years, and a couple of instances that I regretted not taking part in something.
10. Is there a sport/adventure pursuit you would like to try? If yes what’s stopping you?
I love trying anything and everything! The only thing stopping me is not having the opportunity.
I really want to get more into kayaking. I’ve done the odd bit when I’m travelling, but I’d like to have proper training. But I’m not that close to anywhere that I could do this, and the course takes a few weeks. I plan to do it over one summer eventually, but it will essentially take up the whole summer.
11. Has the outdoors impacted your mental health?
I’m always much happier outdoors. It definitely has a positive impact on my mental health.
12. What does a typical adventure day look like for you?
Normally it’s getting up early and driving to somewhere that I can hike. I’m fairly close to the Peak District (that I definitely need to explore more). So I’ll get there, get my hiking gear on, and start walking. Usually, I get lost at least twice, but that’s all part of the fun. Circular routes are my preferred type. I usually take a lot longer than is expected for a hike (taking pictures, admiring the view and my short legs are to blame). So I get back to the car late and drive home, maybe stopping in a pub for some dinner.
13. Your website is amazing, what got you started blogging?
So glad you like my blog! In all honesty, I started it to simply record what travels I’ve done. I realised very quickly that once you get home from a trip, people back home don’t actually want to know, they can’t relate. So I wanted somewhere to record my adventures that people can look at, and it makes a great trip down memory lane occasionally.
14. What advice would you give someone who is considering starting a blog?
Don’t do it for the money. Although monetising is part of it, this takes time. You need to build up an audience and really work at it. So blog for the enjoyment, if you make money from it, that’s a great bonus.
15. Where has been your favourite place to back pack and why?
Mexico. Probably because it was my most recent big adventure, I spent six months exploring the country. It was the first time I went somewhere with just a rough idea of what I want to do in the entire country and no ticket booked to get me back home. Some parts of the country (Yucatan Peninsula for example) are really set up for and used to backpackers. Other areas are a bit more, difficult. But worth it.
16. And your worst to back pack and why?
Probably the USA. It’s so expensive and the places that aren’t set up for backpackers don’t have good cheap accommodation. You either have to pay through the nose or accept you’re sleeping somewhere terrible. The worst place for this was Memphis, we stayed in a “hostel” with free “breakfast” and “laundry” facilities. Once there we discovered it was a motel with bunk beds in the rooms, the “breakfast” was mouldy cereal in the reception and the “laundry” facilities a 30-minute drive. It’s difficult to find a good value hostel in the USA.
17. What are your top three favourite outdoor brands?
I’m not really “into” brands, so I don’t actually know that many! If I have to pick, I’d definitely say Osprey, their backpacks are the best! That’s probably the only brand I’m loyal to.
18. Are you happy with their selection of women’s clothing?
No, no, no! All outdoor clothing is a pain for women. It’s hard to find something that is comfortable to hike in and makes you feel good. The hiking trousers are always practical, but never look good. And so many hiking brands just do crew-neck t-shirts, which I really don’t suit. There’s been a few hiking brand dresses that I’ve bought in the past few years, but not sure how I feel about hiking in these really!
Also, I need someone to make a hiking boot that can be doubled up for city wear. One that looks good with dresses.
A lot of women’s hiking clothing is still very much based on men’s hiking clothing. And that’s probably because not as many women get outdoors, but ironically this is probably part of the reason there are fewer women outdoors.
19. How did you find lockdown? Did you have any home adventures?
I have been very lucky with the lockdown. Both me and my partner are in very safe positions and have not really been affected, other than trips being cancelled. WFH means we have so much time back, our commute was ridiculous!
Another good point is that we have found some lovely walks right on our doorstep that we never knew about. One of these is around a sand quarry that is apparently going to be turned into a nature reserve over the next decade. I’m excited to see this happen!
20. How will Covid-19 affect your travel plans in the future if at all?
2020 was the first year that we had booked ahead and been really organised… That’ll teach us! Everything got cancelled!
The big thing that got cancelled was we were going to Oberammergau. This little German town in the mountains put a Passion of the Christ play on every ten years, and 2020 was the year. It’s a great story, during the Black Death, the priest prayed to the big guy upstairs, promising that if his village was spared the whole village would take part in a Passion of the Christ play every decade. The village was spared and the priest was true to his word. Quite ironic that a pandemic has caused it to be cancelled for the first time in 400 years.
On a side note, I am not religious, nor can I speak German. So it would’ve been great fun to see! Luckily they have exchanged our tickets for 2022 dates. So fingers crossed it the pandemic is under control by then.