As part of our continuing series of blog posts where we interview travelers, we asked Daisy Li all about her life and travels. She’s visited a number of interesting places, and her energy and desire to visit the world is an inspiration to everyone who meets her.
Who are you, and where are you from?
I am Daisy, a solo backpacker that travels the world budget style. I’m a Chinese Canadian that currently moves around between Houston, Calgary, and Toronto.
What led you to start traveling? What motivated you to start exploring new places?
My first flight experience was at 3 months, and have been back and forth between China and Canada since then. My parents were keen to have me perfect both Mandarin and English, and as a result, my pre-teen years were spent between 12 different schools in 5 cities within these two countries. Needless to say, traveling is in my blood.
As someone fascinated by cultures, my desire to travel led to a four-month student exchange in Paris. The stay turned into an 8-month backpacking and Couchsurfing trip across Europe and Turkey, and I haven’t stopped since.
Where have you been recently?
India was one of the most difficult yet enchanting places I’ve lived in. I was fortunate enough to visit the highest Shiva temple in the world, which was set in the Himalayas. Waking up to the sunrise reflecting off snow-capped mountain ranges was such a glorious experience.
Colombia has some of the happiest people I’ve met. Knowing the complicated past of this vibrant country, I was truly astonished by the resilience exhibited by its people. Its nature is magnificent. Endless rolling hills, vast jungles, and the tallest palm trees in the world are some of the many beauties of this fascinating country.
Turkey remains one of my favorite places. I spent two months backpacked along the Antalya Coast towards Cappadoia (hot air balloons), into Denizli, and finished the trip in Istanbul. Being the history nerd that I am, it was incredible to see places mentioned in books come to life. The country kept much of its archaeological sites intact and it was extremely humbling to explore these areas. This trip inspired me so much that my senior thesis ended up being about the Ottoman Empire!
What is the craziest travel story you have? Has anything weird or strange or chaotic happened to you during your travels?
Since I am a solo backpacker/couchsurfer, I often find myself in strange situations. From cracking my head open in Paris ($6000 paid by insurance) to being adopted by a modeling agency in Delhi, I’ve gathered a handful of fun table-tales. One of the most chaotic situations however, was when I lost my passport in the Himalayas. My friend and I took a week-long biking trip through the mountains and were physically exhausted from the journey. It was devastating to find out that I lost my entire purse somewhere along the way. Thinking of the cost and difficulty of getting a new passport, several visas, and all my IDs, I was at a total loss.
While having dinner that night, I received a call from an unknown number. On the other end, a man told us that he found a purse by the side of the road, and called the number inside. (I completely forgot that I left my number in the purse!)
So yes, I ended up retrieving my purse in the middle of nowhere, without a single thing missing.
What inspired you to start blogging about your travels?
Like many bloggers, I started writing to assure my parents that I am alive and well.
My focus gradually shifted from documenting journeys to noting the beauty and charm of budget local travels. Couchsurfing and backpacking gave me the opportunity to interactive with those who live in the country. As such, I wanted to carry out guides, advice, and experiences that cater to those who wish to travel off the beaten path. If I can inspire one person to explore a bit more, or help someone along the way, I’d call it a win!
How do you save money before and during a trip?
A number of my travels are funded through conferences and events I find online. Otherwise, I save up a bit before a trip, and try to find cash jobs while in the country (e.g., hosting weddings in India). Since I’ve eliminated most of my accommodation costs and don’t indulge in expensive meals, my trips are usually decently economically friendly.
Do you have any travel tips or advice for others?
Body wallets come in handy when traveling alone. I keep needed change in a purse but store larger bills in a wallet that goes under my shirt. I can easily access the money if needed, and won’t have to worry about losing them when wandering around a new city. I also have a few hidden compartments on the inside of my belongings. Whether it be a small pouch in my bag or a tiny pocket in my purse, I would have them prepared before traveling. When accessing the body wallet isn’t the most convenient thing to do, these concealed pockets are the best spots to store valuables without raising much attention.
What are your future plans, travel or otherwise?
I will be exploring South American a bit more! I found out that with new airport openings, flights to Turkey and China will be cheaper this year, so that may be a possibility as well!
Regardless, we shall see where the wind takes me :)