“Don’t let doubts or worries stop you doing what you really want to do. Don’t think you have anything to lose by travel. You have only to gain. ” – Nikki Scott
Because someone yearned for more than what she already knows. Because someone is humbled to realize that there is so much that she didn’t know. And because someone has the courage and strong will to discover a deeper and more insightful meaning of what travel really is, South East Asia Backpacker Magazine was born.
I am only left more than astounded and enthused to be having the chance to interview the backpacker turned entrepreneur, Nikki Scott. She is the Founder and Director of South East Asia Backpacker Magazine, the first and only magazine for backpackers in South East Asia that serves as a travel diary for everyone who dreams of backpacking it theirselves and realizes it the same time.
So, below are a handful of inspiration from someone who fell in love with the backpacking lifestyle, herself, and created a venue on where to chronicle and showcase it for everyone who wishes to backpack Sout East Asia theirselves and realizes it.
Table of Contents
1. When did you realize that you were meant to travel and discover what the world has to offer?
I always had an itch to travel from being very young. I think my love of travel began with my parents who taught me to appreciate the great outdoors and showed me that the best things in life are free! Each weekend we would head off to the countryside in England (when weather permitted!) for walking and mountain biking adventures. On holidays we’d head off to Europe; Spain, France, Croatia… As I grew up, I wanted to expand on what I had been given – I wanted to explore the world beyond Europe – I wanted a tasted of Asia, South America and beyond. I wanted to witness different worlds and find new ways of thinking.
2. Was it difficult to pursue? What hindered you to do so and how did you overcome it?
When I left University I started work in an Advertising Agency in Manchester. I had to earn money to save for my travels and I also wanted a taste of what the “real world” of work was like before heading off to unknown destinations. It didn’t take me long to realize that a life of 9-5 was not for me and after 2 years I bought a one-way ticket to Asia, starting in Kathmandu.
Before leaving of course I had doubts, as many people do. What if travel ruins my career? What if I get sick, robbed or worse? What if my friends and family forget me? Of course, none of these things happened, and in fact, travel changed my entire life for the better giving me so many amazing experiences that have made me the person I am today.
3. What is your concept or definition of “home”? How has this concept or definition helped you or brought you to where you are today?
Great question! This is a concept that I have often pondered in articles such as this one. Having lived in many different places and with friends and family scattered all over the world, I have called many places “home”. Rather than a town or a building or a country, ‘home’ is more of an idea to me. Home for me has become a place where I feel comfortable at that point in time, a place that I feel is helping me to grow and flourish. A place where there is love, inspiration and opportunity. For long term travellers, it is often the case that you will find a place to call ‘home’ many times on your adventures.
4. Have you gone through all the countries in South East Asia? Which one is your favorite and why? Which one do you see yourself retiring to and why?
I have travelled to every country in South East Asia, except Brunei and East Timor. (I have actually recently been hearing that East Timor is an upcoming destination that’s incredible for backpackers – so watch out for info on this on the SEA Backpacker website!)
Having lived in Thailand for over five years, it has a special place in my heart, the many colourful festivals, the fun-loving people and of course the amazing beaches! I’m not thinking about retiring yet, (I’ve just turned 30!) but I would probably say Thailand due to the easy, laid-back and inexpensive way of life there.
For adventure though – I would love to explore more of Myanmar. Being closed for so many years, the country has so many untouched places to discover and the people there are so intelligent and gentle.
5. Any travel “mantra” that you keep in case of adventures and even misadventures? Why? Is it effective for you? How?
“Everything will work out in the end” has probably been the most uttered phrase to myself on the road! As every backpacker in South East Asia knows, things do not always go to plan and it’s important to keep a positive mindset and a good sense of humour at all times. Even if things don’t go according to your wishes, you may find that you’ll end up seeing amazing places, meeting new people and discovering new things exactly because your initial plan went wrong! So be open to changes in the plan – this is the beauty and spontaneous freedom of independent travel.
6. Travel, however cheap and tight a budget is, entails costs. With this, is travel for everyone? Why and Why not?
There’s a myth that travel costs vast amounts of money and will leave you with a debt that you’ll spend your entire life trying to pay back. The cost entailed of course depends on where you travel and how you do it. A life of travel and adventure needn’t break the bank and believe me can cost a hell of a lot less than a life of 9-5 in London! South East Asia can be a very cheap destination to travel.
Through the magazine, I have encountered many backpackers who have made travel a lifestyle rather than something that they ‘get out of their system’. Getting various jobs along the way and earning money as you travel is one way to extend your adventures and also integrate into cultures in a way that you may not have done if you were just passing through a place. From teaching English to becoming a Dive Master, check out this article about the types of jobs that you can do on your travels for ideas…
When I say travel is for everyone – of course it is true to say that in today’s world, sadly, there are underprivileged people living in war-torn poverty stricken countries for whom travel is only be a dream. However, I do believe that if you are given the opportunity, you should take it – travel is a force for good for the world and a great way to break down stereotypes and bigotry in the world and see that we are all the same!
7. How did travel help you become the person that you are now? What is the most important lesson that traveling has taught you?
Travel has taught me so many things! I cannot name just one. It certainly changed my life and I believe changed me for the better.
First of all, travel made me appreciate the smaller things. A soft bed, a good night’s sleep, good food, friendships, health and family. Being on the road isn’t always easy and when you have to do without home comforts, you will never take things for granted again!
Secondly, travel taught me patience. In the Western world, people want things NOW NOW NOW. When the monsoon season sets in, the road is blocked and the WIFI has stopped working – you need to learn to just… chill out.
Thirdly, travel taught me that above all, people are the most important thing to me. The best times I had traveling where when the moments where shared with friends, travel buddies or local people. For me, there is no point being in the most beautiful place in the world if you can’t turn around to someone and say – “hey it’s good this isn’t it?” I used to be fiercely independent, but the more I travelled, the more I realized that it was the human encounters that touched me the most.
8. How did South East Asia Backpacker Magazine started? Where is South East Asia Backpacker Magazine today?
I launched South East Asia Backpacker Magazine in June 2009. During my time backpacking I had come across lots of free magazines, but nothing for the backpacking lifestyle. I wanted to create a “travel diary for everyone” – where people could share their stories and advice about life on the road – a magazine that would be the ‘voice’ of backpackers.
Over 5 years, 30 magazines were printed and distributed to hostels, cafes and travel companies all over the South East Asia region. The magazine became a beloved and trusted source of inspiration and information for backpackers! Alongside this the SEA Backpacker website and social media channels (Facebook and Twitter) grew and now we have a very strong online presence.
The magazine exists now in digital format and is published bi-monthly, We have had thousands of writers contribute over the years and we’re still the one-stop-shop for backpacker information to South East Asia!
In addition to this, we started a website for backpackers to South America, a trip booking website for all the best adventures we’ve come across (Backpacker Bookings) and soon to be – Europe Backpacker!
9. Where do you see South East Asia Backpacker Magazine in 10 years from now?
Oh my goodness I have no idea – 10 years is a very long time! Perhaps we will have travel magazines and destination guides for the whole world!? On a personal level, I’d like to have a house on a beach somewhere in the world – and still travel from there of course! There have been so many changes in the magazine and my lifestyle over the past 6 years since I left home and started it, I know that I cannot plan more than a few months ahead!
10 .If you are to give a message of inspiration to other travel enthusiasts, what would it be?
I still love this quote (perhaps my favourite travel quote of all time):
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
Don’t let doubts or worries stop you doing what you really want to do. Don’t think you have anything to lose by travel. You have only to gain. The world is full of friendly, good people, more willing to help you than hurt you and the most amazing unimaginable adventures are waiting!
There you have it. A glimpse of the woman behind South East Asia Magazine. Indeed, every answer was a total inspiration, right?