Traveler of the Month—Helen from CH1K

In another edition of Traveler of the Month, I wanted to feature the travel blogger behind CH1K! This Sydney-based 24-year old blogs about fashion, lifestyle and her amazing travels. Check out this great Q&A and learn a little more about her. Also check out her Instagram @helenchikx, beware as scrolling her IG can be addicting! Enjoy!

Could tell us a little blurb about your blog and how you got started? 

I started my blog very early on and it focused on showcasing my personal style; this was whilst I was at university and when my degree became too intense I took two and a half years off with no intention or timeline of when I would return to blogging. When I started with my 9 to 5 job at a very conservative bank – it dawned on me that I needed something more.

Made the decision to re-launch and rebrand my site in December 2014 and voila – in January 2015, was born. I’ve chosen to evolve further with CH1K and added a lifestyle and travel element to my content as I find this more rewarding then constantly parading my own style to the world. I wanted to share my travels and adventures with everyone whilst also showcasing my creative side.

Why did you create the blog and who is it for?

Think I’ve answered the why but the who is a good question. I would say that for the most part I would think my travel adventures are for any young and independent female. That’s not to say men are excluded from my demographic but I’ve always aspired to be an independent woman who marches to the beat of various electro and house DJ’s – and I hope that by reading my blog this inspires other young girls to do the same. It’s very easy to travel with loved ones, friends and partners but a whole different world to travel on your own. Of course this also applies to my personal style.

Must haves when traveling?

My travel essentials are to bring three different types of cameras – you never know when you might need each and when I saw different I mean I’ll usually bring an SLR for my more professional shots, a polaroid because they’re fun mementos and an action camera to record video footage or take images where bringing your SLR is not feasible.

Bring one of those nifty world adapters, which have you covered no matter where you travel. I personally have this one – that I found whilst browsing a men’s online store. Make sure you also bring a large hard drive and if you’re trigger happy when it comes to taking photos then you’ll run out of memory fairly quickly and you want to be able to move these onto some place safe and preserve your memories.

Bring a diary so you can make note of all your experiences – chances are you’re experiencing so much that it’ll become harder for you to recall at the end.

Best travel experience?

My top would be visiting the Salt Flats (also known as Salar de Uyuni). It’s not just the Salt Flats themselves that was stunning but the entire 3-day tour where you travel across so many different terrains and each was as unique and different as the next. Here is a video of the tour that was made during my 2012 visit.

This is followed closely by completing the Inca Trail and seeing Machu Picchu in person. Quite possibly one of the most physically demanding activities I’ve ever had to do but completely worth it. If I ever got offered the chance to do it again, I would do it in a heartbeat.

How do you decide where to travel next?

I think the first question would be what do you personally enjoy. If you’re an active person who enjoys reconnecting with Mother Nature then heading to big metropolitan cities like New York is not going to be right. Decide if you’re someone who enjoys admiring architecture and wandering through museums or if you’re someone who likes to be lost in the wild and getting dirty. This generally affects my decisions of where I want to go.

Also figuring out why you want to travel is also an important factor. Sometimes I just want to be somewhere where there is endless sunshine and beaches but other times I will just want to go somewhere and give my credit card a good workout with some retail therapy. If you’re on a mission to find yourself and embark on an Eat, Pray & Love sort of journey then that will also influence where you want to go.

Finally I decide when I want to travel and this will tell me what countries are feasible as there is always an optimum time to travel to any country – whether it be the season (wet or dry, high or low), the major events happening in each city or who can travel with me during this period.

Best money-saving advice while traveling?

Plan ahead – although it’s impossible to account for everything that happens whilst you’re travelling you should plan ahead. I know there are many travellers out there who like to book a ticket and see where they go from there but you’ll find that you sometimes miss things when you wing your travel plans. For example, you may have a small window of opportunity to explore one city and you wanted to book yourself on a tour only to find that it’s sold out and the next available timeslot isn’t for another 2-3 days and you would have moved onto the next city by that point.

By booking early you lock in early bird discounts – check the returns policy and what timeframe you have to get a full refund should you find a better tour later on. If you’re locked into something then do your research before you commit.

My next bit of advice would be to ALWAYS purchase travel insurance. If you have credit cards then check with your provider if travel insurance has been included and what is included. I can’t describe how much travel insurance has saved me on so many occasions – the biggest would be on medical bills should you fall ill whilst travelling (like I do – all the time). Nothing kills a holiday like being hit with a whopping hospital bill – so save yourself the grief and just buy travel insurance for any incidentals that might happen. Never say never because anything can happen – good or bad.

Favorite travel magazines/blogs to follow online?

My favorite traveller would definitely be Jessica Stein from Tuula Vintage and a recent discovery was the Polkadot Passport and my new friend Alana Morgan who I met during Yacht Week Thailand who founded Paper Planes Blog.

Advice you have for any newbie travelers? 

Embrace all experiences and try new things outside of your comfort zone. Travel safe and be smart. Do your research before you visit a new city and read about other people’s experiences.