Travel Blogger Interview: First Time Foreigner

Ana GussoAna suffers from wanderlust and fails constantly to find the cure for it. Her international adventures stretch over several regions in Asia, Australasia, South and North America, Europe, Middle East and the Indian Subcontinent. Ana has published the e-book “My New Life Abroad” and has been assisted countless people to pursue their dreams overseas.

She believes that all one needs to be able to travel is a desire to do so and has founded Top Trip Travel Consulting to assist Brazilians with their travel plans. Check more about her wonders at www.firsttimeforeigner.com, or on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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First Time Foreigner

Tell us a bit about yourself. 

I am from Brazil and I have been living in Australia for the past 7 years. I started blogging almost 2 years ago after I realized that if I had never left my country I would have never tried Malaysian coconut rice with curry, currently my favourite dish.

That day, I decided that I wanted to help and inspire people to start traveling.

I was 16 years old when I travelled overseas for the first time for a volleyball tournament in Chile. Before that, I had always dreamed about traveling but it was very difficult for me as a teenager to find funds to make this happen.

It took me 4 years after that first trip to get enough money to hit the road again, but I did it and never stopped. I lived in London and travelled all over Europe. After my European experience, I came to Australia to visit a friend with the idea of spending 3 months in Sydney but I never left the country. I think I was born with itchy feet and now that I know the formula to afford all my travels, it became an obsession.  

You’ve recently taken a sabbatical. What were your reasons for that and how did that come to be?

After 7 years working in full time jobs in Australia and traveling all over the world for work, I was flat out. Yes, I was traveling, which I love, but I had crazy schedules and not enough time to enjoy my trips. Besides, I had personal projects too, but no time to work on them.

So, I decided to take a break to do what I love. Realizing that I knew a lot about the world, but almost nothing about my own country, I went back to South America to spend some time in Argentina and then headed to Brazil, where I spent 7 months traveling around.

During my sabbatical, I worked in different jobs to cover my expenses but I also started Top Trip Travel Consulting, an online travel agency specialized in Australia and the Himalayan region.

Taking a break enabled me to focus on the things I really wanted to do. With Top Trip I am able to assist and inspire people to travel, which was my initial goal with firsttimeforeigner.com, and I do everything while traveling! Win-win!    

Exploring the Himalayan region in Bhutan

Exploring the Himalayan region in Bhutan

What do you have planned for the future?

I realized during my sabbatical that I still have a lot to learn. Having time away opened my eyes and my mind to search for new opportunities. I don’t have a far future planned. All I know is that I want to do what I love, helping and inspiring people to travel. I think I am on the right path now.

You focus on first time travellers on your blog. Why?

Leaving your country by the first time can be a daunting experience and I wanted to help people to face their fears and hit the road. After the first time, everything gets easier but taking the first step is the most difficult part.

The blog started from an e-book I wrote with a friend to assist people to start new life overseas, especially in English speaking countries. “My new Life Abroad” is a survival guide for a smoother beginning abroad. The blog was born after I started to receive messages from readers asking for more information. It was during that lunch break, while eating Malaysian food, that I had my “aha” moment and decided to start the blog by creating the “Pack and Go Movement” to inspire people to, well, just “pack and go”.   

Ana in Myanmar

Ana in Myanmar

What’s your definition of adventure?

Everything that is out of my ordinary.

What’s the most dangerous thing that’s ever happened to you on the road?

As a solo female traveller, I have been in many situations that I could consider dangerous. Fortunately, nothing major has ever happened to me (I believe I have a travel angel to protect me all the time).

Once, a friend and I were ready to board an interstate train in India when a guy, wearing a name tag and uniform, claiming to work for the train company told us that we needed to exchange our printed tickets to real tickets from the Tourism Centre. It was 5 min to the departure time so he rushed us to follow him to the “office”. He pointed to the set of stairs and I started to climb up, not able to see what was at the end of it. It was when my friend yelled to me to come back because she realized it was a scam.

I was at the Tourism Centre but it was 6 am and the sign said “Opening from 9 am”. It was dark upstairs so I have no idea of what would have happened to me and to my backpack if I had gone all the way up. We rushed back, shouting to other tourists that it was a scam and got in to the train. The scammers actually confessed that it was a scam and let the other tourists go. 

I wrote about other scams to avoid in India here.

What’s your biggest achievement?

I guess building a successful career overseas was one of my biggest achievements. Being able to start new life in a foreign place (twice) and in a foreign language is definitely something to be proud of.

Can you tell me a time when things didn’t go to plan?

I missed my flight from Bali to Australia and I had my purse stolen during that trip too (in Malaysia) so I was living off of my friend’s money until the end of the trip. By missing the flight, they wanted me to purchase another one. My friend was not returning home with me so I was alone in the airport with no money, no card and no ticket. There was also no one back home that could help me.

Somehow, I talked my way out of the situation and got a free new ticket for the next day. Then, I got a taxi to where my friend was staying and spent one more day in Bali with her. That day, I saw the last and only thing I didn’t have a chance to see during that trip: a traditional Indonesian cremation ceremony. It was like as it was meant to be.   

Indonesian cremation ceremony

What’s your favourite food and where can you get it?

Alfajores de Dulce de Leche from Argentina.

Tell me something about travel that no one else knows

That is a difficult one. Not that no one else knows that but the first time traveling solo is always the hardest. It gets easier after you take the first step. Oh, and not everyone knows this either but some countries provide free English lessons to expats and new citizens.   

What advice would you give to someone who is looking for adventure, but isn’t sure where to start?

Start by doing something you feel a bit more confident about first and then dare to do a bit more. One step at the time. Just put yourself out of your comfort zone a little and let the things just happen naturally. 

Thanks to Ana for taking part in my travel blogger interview series. For more interviews and general travel inspiration, check out the adventure inspiration section of the blog. 

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Hayley is the author behind A Life of More, a travel and lifestyle blog with the goal of helping you to live a happier and more fulfilled life, whether you're currently travelling or happily settled.

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