We met Ellen soon after we launched BYOM (she was one of our first three followers!), and were blown away by her accomplishments and joyful approach to life. As both a registered midwife and a solo world traveller (though not at the same time), her experiences are unique. In her words, they are both “life-affirming.” This young Australian adventurer is an inspiration, proving that with an open mind and open heart, the world awaits with open arms. We’re so excited to introduce Ms. Burne!
- Age: 21, and turning 22 in May
- Location: Adelaide, South Australia
- Education: University of South Australia
- Field of Interest: Absolutely anything and everything that is foreign to me and my life in Australia, hence the love of solo backpacking! Also, midwifery, bringing new life into the world has got to be up there with one of the best feelings in the world!
- What Inspired You Today? The cold weather in the wee hours of the morning on the way to work. Winter is my favourite season, and knowing that it’s on the way makes me infinitely happy.
- What’s Your Favorite Thing About Yourself? That’s a toughie, but it’s got to be my adventurousness. I love that I don’t fear much and that I know I’ll give anything and everything a try, at least once. It makes for some amazing self discoveries and incredible experiences (hello bungee jumping!)
Questions + Answers
You’ve been skydiving, bungee jumping, swimming with cape fur seals, zip lining and more. What’s more, you’ve taken many of these adventures alone! When did you first decide to start traveling solo, and why do you continue to do it?
I first started to travel alone when I was barely 19. I had started to find my own home city (Adelaide, Australia) stifling. I was so sick of going to the same places and eating the same foods and everything being so static. My friends tend to be a bit more on the “party animal” side when they travel, so going alone seemed like the best option.
As for why I continued? That trip was amazing, and I found that I loved the freedom going solo afforded me, and the anonymity. I loved that I could do whatever I pleased without having to compromise. Mostly I loved that while it was amazing, at times it was very difficult and without anyone else to lean on, I learned to problem solve more effectively, think and work rationally and most importantly, I learned that I was much more capable than I had given myself credit for.
How do you balance two such seemingly incompatible passions – being a midwife and being a world traveller? Or, are they more similar than one might think?
Being a midwife and being a world traveller may seem worlds apart – and they are – but both share certain skill sets. Midwives tend to be able to cope in a crisis, something which is handy when you are stranded halfway across the world. Both midwives and world travelers need to be able to work/live both alone and within a group/team in order to function as well as possible.
Really though, the thing I love most about traveling is the fact that I can escape my own life and immerse myself in a new culture, new language and completely forget myself. Midwifery provides a similar escape. When I am in the process of birthing a baby, I am able to immerse myself into the lives of the women and families and feel that same escape. Finally, midwifery and traveling are both inherently life-affirming. They are different, but they both complete me and make me happy in similar ways.
What’s the biggest lesson that you’ve learned as a midwife, and the biggest lesson you’ve learned as a world traveller?
You mean other than to never go anywhere without gloves in my pocket?
On a serious note though, midwifery has taught me that life is precious and forever ending and beginning, it has taught me to appreciate all I have and to make the most of this incredible life I have somehow been able to live.
The biggest lesson I have learned as a traveller is that my life, my successes, my problems, they are all so small. The world is enormous, I am just a speck of dust on this planet, but I want to be the speck of dust that dances through the air, going wherever the air blows it.
Could you describe the feeling you have as you’re leaving for a new adventure?
That is tough! Excitement, nervousness and a whole lot of anticipation. I often feel calm but excited while waiting to board, but the minute I step onto that plane, it would be pretty much impossible to wipe the cheshire cat grin from my face! I do worry about the family and friends I leave behind, I know my dad worries about me when I go away, but mostly I am just ecstatic.
The photographs you take of your adventures (and that you share on your lovely blog) are amazing! How do you take them and what do you use?
I do take them all (sort of) – the ones of me in them are either selfies, self-timer mode while rested on a fence or object, and the rest I have used people as tripods, positioning them how I like and then just getting them to ‘click’.
What advice would you give to young women interested in traveling alone?
Solo female travel is getting more and more normal, for good reason. I wish I could tell all women considering traveling alone to please do it, and please don’t stress too much. The world has its issues and it has its flaws, but the world is not as scary as Western media would have one believe.
If you use common sense like you would do normally, you will more than likely be fine. It is basic stuff like not walking alone at night where avoidable, asking your hostel staff for tips on any areas where crime is more prevalent, keeping belongings in your hostel safe or locker and only carrying that which you can afford to lose when possible.
Mostly though, say yes to opportunities!
Pub crawl with the girls in your hostel dorm? Yes. Day trip to that abandoned castle? Yes. Trying the street food even if it looks terrifying? Yes. Chatting to those strangers in a pub or bar? Yes. Making the most of every minute? YES!
Who inspires you?
Justine at travel-lush.com: she is living and backpacking around Asia, at the moment she is in Jakarta. Indonesia is somewhere I have never been, but her blog has me dreaming and planning!
Tracy at travelswithtracy.net: Tracy inspires me because I hope that as my life progresses I will become like her! She is no longer in her 20s like me, but is continuing to travel, blog and explore with the passion and fervour of someone younger than her years.