Q+A with Ellen Burne, Solo World Traveller + Midwife

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!

The Basics

  • 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!)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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’.

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As for what I use, the majority of these were taken with an iPhone 4S or iPhone 5. A few were also taken with a GoPro Hero. I’m saving for a DSLR at the moment though, so hopefully I will have one before I go on my next trip to Greenland and Iceland!

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.

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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!

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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.

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Connect with Ellen on Instagram, and definitely subscribe to her lovely blog!

+ Know any other independent, adventurous young people we should feature? People who are building the life of their own imagining? Let us know!
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19 Comments Add yours

  1. wwellend says:

    Reblogged this on Travelling the World Solo and commented:
    I was lucky enough to be interviewed by the amazing team at beyourownmuse.org a few weeks ago, and this is the finished product! You should definitely go check out their blog for regular doses of inspiration.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. libraschild says:

      i prefer not to, i either get jealous at what people have done or extra paranoid! it’s easier to just roll with it and if you want to go somewhere, find a way to make it happen and worry later.

      Like

  2. nikirath says:

    Wow, so inspiring 🙂 Thank you for sharing your experiences.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Laura4NYC says:

    What an inspiring post! 21 years – that’s kinda when I was still a bit afraid of traveling solo but did it nonetheless. She is so right – our entire world and problems are just a small peck of dust in this universe but if we don’t make a difference, who will?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. RMW says:

    I wish every young woman (and man) could have the opportunity to travel and experience other cultures before settling down with a job and family.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This was a wonderful read! And so inspiring!! I am way older than you (28) and am contemplating my first solo adventure and I think this is the push I needed to go from dreaming to planning! 🙂

    Like

    1. You should definitely go for it! Ellen is amazing, and living proof that taking a risk is so worth it. Good luck on your upcoming adventures!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Yasir Ahmed says:

    That lion is really big!

    Like

  7. ustabe says:

    Thanks to both the muses and to Ellen for this post. As I prepare to set out on my travels in a few weeks (can’t believe that June 1st is less than a month away), I have to admit that even though I’m looking forward to getting under way, I’m also filled with anxiety and fear. I’ve drawn quite a bit of inspiration from following Ellen’s blog along with other folks who are traveling solo.

    Regards,
    Jeff

    Like

    1. We are so glad! Good luck on your adventures!

      Like

  8. deawehbenson says:

    Such an inspiring story. I’m excited to read more on this blog!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We’re so excited that it’s hitting home for you! We can’t wait to share more inspiring stories. Thanks for all of your support! xx

      Like

  9. Hi Ellen! I was so honored when I saw that you mentioned my blog! You definitely made my day 🙂 I really enjoyed reading this interview and these pictures are incredible. It looks like you’ve had some pretty incredibly travel experiences at such a young age! Happy travels 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We’d love to hear more about your adventures too, Justine! From what Ellen told us, you sound so inspiring as well and your blog is wonderful! If you’d be interested in a feature, let us know!

      Like

  10. michela64 says:

    Thank you for the contact & for following my blog!😍😍if you visit Tuscany ,Italy,come to see me & I will show my authentic Tuscan town ,Pistoia, just close to Florence👍👍& have a great thick foam cappuccino together!❤️

    Like

  11. karacummins says:

    I love this!
    “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.”

    couldn’t have put it more perfectly – what an inspiring life you live.

    Like

    1. kinsey lane says:

      Thanks for reading, Kara! We think Ellen is pretty inspiring, too. 🙂

      Like

  12. Lovely interview! I love that you have adventures and try our new worlds. May you continue to surprise yourself and share your adventures with us! Oh, and thank you for following my blog! I feel quite honored.

    Like

  13. mrigankdubey says:

    Belated Happy Bday. Like thus space and hope to see you some day.

    Cheers!

    Like

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