Frequent Flyer : Brenna of This Battered Suitcase

It started with a single comment left on a blog.

One day back in August I was getting caught up on my google reader and was reading a travel blog where the post happened to be India related. Of course I had to leave a comment. So before typing mine in I glanced at the ones directly above mine – as I often do. And the comment right above mine was written by Brenna. In her comment she casually mentioned that she would be in India in February and enjoyed the post. So I left my comment and clicked on Brenna’s name which led me to her blog. “She’s going to India in February, I’m going in March – we have something in common,” I thought. I arrived at Brenna’s blog, This Battered Suitcase, and was immediately drawn to her adventurous spirit. I read a couple of posts and found out that while she was living in Japan she had decided to hit the road and take a 6 month trip through Asia beginning in 2017 and that before departing she’d visit her mom at home….in Toronto.

I live in Toronto. Do you see where I’m going with this people?

So I left a comment on Brenna’s blog, she left one on mine, which led to us exchanging emails and a quick chat on the phone. And before you knew it we were chatting over coffee at Tim Hortons like long-time friends about our upcoming adventures, goals, and the future. We even made plans to meet up in Delhi to celebrate Holi. This all happened, her comment on that blog, our comment on each other’s blogs, emails, chat, meeting – within a span of less than 2 weeks.

And it all started with a single comment left on a blog. Amazing, right.

Brenna is such a kind girl and I’m so in awe of and inspired by her adventurous spirit. Her blog is a testament to free-spirited travel and adventure. I feel lucky to have met her and now consider her a friend (facebook proves it!). I can’t wait to meet up with her again in just a few weeks – on the other side of the world.

If you haven’t already visited her blog, This Battered Suitcase, you definitely need to check it out. It’s filled with pictures she takes while on the road (which is practically always) and quick snippets of her thoughts. Now on to some of Brenna’s tried-and-true travel tips, a few tales, and lots of inspiration…..

How many trips do you take each year:
I try to travel every month, but I usually average two to three big trips a year. In 2010 I started the year in Malaysian Borneo and Brunei, travelled a lot through Japan, spent August in the Philippines, did the Trans-Siberian through China, Mongolia, and Russia, and went to the Grand Canyon for the first time.

Early in 2017 in Brunei….

On the train in Mongolia….and Russia

Grand Canyon, USA


Can you share a favourite travel memory (in 5 sentences or less):
I was with my best friend, travelling through Romania, Bulgaria, and Turkey for a month. We finally made it to Istanbul after a long bus ride from Varna, and, after dropping off our backpacks at the hostel, we climbed five flights of stairs to the rooftop bar nearby. There we sat, cold Efes in hand, listening to the calls from the Blue Mosque, the Aya Sofia, and all the other mosques encircling us. Surrounded by the lights and sounds of that beautiful city, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed by emotion. Sleeping under the stars in the Sahara, waking up to see the Mongolian plains out my train window, stepping into Red Square for the first time, seeing cherry blossoms fall out of the sky like snow in Japan, reaching the top of the Eiffel Tower, and spotting my first highland cow in Scotland all come to mind as well.

Cherry Blossoms in Japan… Scotland…

The Sahara Desert…

The plains of Mongolia…..

Best thing about traveling: 
Those moments that take your breath away, that remind you why you go through all of the frustration, fears, and tears that inevitably come with travel. That and meeting people. Oh, and trying new food. I just love everything, what can I say?

Tokyo at night…..

Trying the local cuisine in Morocco….

…..with a local In Galle, Sri Lanka


Toughest thing about traveling:
Travelling alone as a woman can often be difficult, but it almost always works out and you learn so much about yourself and what you are capable of. The inefficiency of certain countries’ trains and buses can also cause major frustration! (Kay’s note: Brenna has a fantastic post on her blog about traveling solo.)

On the train traveling through Mongolia…..


Three essentials you always take with you (excluding money & passport):
I love taking photos, so I always have three or more cameras with me at any given time. As well, I always take a paper journal, and I tend to write in it every day; I glue tickets and other mementos inside, too. I also love going to the bookstore before my trip and buying a brand new (usually Rough Guides) guidebook, as they usually prove to be invaluable. An honourable mention goes to Imodium, which has saved my life more times than I would care to remember.

A favourite gadget/item/tip you’ve discovered that helps:
Something I started doing was to switch my memory card every day. I usually have two or three on the go, and keep the extra ones with my passport in my money belt. This way, if someone steals/I lose my camera and I haven’t backed up the data yet, I only lose half my photos.

How do you survive long plane rides: 
A lot of long plane rides I’ve taken have been with Air Canada and they offer personal TVs, which help immensely. Other than that, I tend to be OK with a book and my journal. The day I learn how to sleep on planes, however, will be the happiest day of my life.

Flying over the Canadian Prairies


How do you plan for a trip?
I almost never plan a thing. When I went to the Philippines in August I had only booked my flight there and back, but I ended up having a great time with zero problems finding accommodation or transportation. That was low season, though, so in high season I try to book things a few days in advance. For the most part, however, I just go with the flow. It’s more fun that way, I think! For booking hostels, I only ever use Hostelworld, as I trust their ratings and I have never had a booking lost.

Favourite things to do/see when you’re in a new city: 
I love visiting markets, whether they be food markets, souvenir markets, etc. I love to purchase things specific to that country or city, and I love photographing the items as well. I do tend to spend a day or two seeing as many of the tourist sites as I can, but mostly I enjoy just walking around a place, sitting in a café and watching the people go by.

Seeing the sites in Beijing, China…

Souvenirs in Osaka, Japan…..

Market in Turkey…..

& another in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia….


What camera do you carry with you:
On this particular trip I have three cameras with me: a Canon G12, a Fujifilm XP10 Waterproof camera, and a Superheadz Harinezumi. I have only ever used Canon cameras for my day-to-day digital pictures, and I don’t think I would ever use another brand. I have always been so pleased with their cameras, and the G12 takes great nighttime shots. It also has a swivel screen, which is so useful for a solo traveller (I don’t know exactly how many failed self-photos I’ve taken in the past, but I know it’s a lot). The Fujifilm is great to take to the beach or on a night on the town, as it is more durable and shockproof than most. The Harinezumi is mostly for video, as it takes videos similar to Super 8 film. I like to put together little montage videos of my trips.

Many people want to travel but often don’t – citing reasons like not enough time/money, too busy etc. how are you able to make travel a regular part of your life: 
I feel as though every day of my life and every penny I earn is somehow gearing me up for my next adventure; I am constantly thinking of travelling and exploring the world. I honestly believe I will travel for the rest of my life, though perhaps not with the voracity that I have in the past five years. I believe if someone has wanderlust, there is nothing in the world that will stop him or her from going out and seeing what they can.

South Island, New Zealand


Do you collect anything from your trips: 
What don’t I collect? I collect currency, silver (or something resembling silver) bracelets, traditional clothing (kimono, sari, etc), paintings, books from museums, teas/spices…so many things. I often send a box or two home from my travels. I also collect photos of my feet, of the local beer I drink, and of my memorable breakfasts and lunches.

In Istanbul and Romania….

…..the Philippines and Russia…..

……Paris, France & Osaka, Japan…..

Last trip: 
Other than the one I’m on at the moment, the visit to Phoenix and the Grand Canyon was my last trip.

Next trip: 
It’s difficult to think that far in advance as I’m currently on the road for six months, but this summer I know I’m visiting Las Vegas with my friend and Hawaii with my family. I’m also hoping to move to Amsterdam near the end of 2017.

Place you’re dying to return to: 
Morocco, France, Japan, Russia, Turkey, Vietnam, Slovenia…

Brenna in Turkey

Taken in Sapa, Vietnam


Best hotel you’ve stayed in: 
I don’t often stay in hotels, but I’ve stayed in some really lovely and interesting hostels. I remember having a great time at Lisbon Lounge Hostel and at the famous Kadir’s in Olympos, Turkey, but there are dozens of other hostels I thought were excellent. I also recommend staying in a monastery in Koyasan, Japan, if you have the chance.

Dream destination: 
Bhutan, Tibet, Antarctica, Tanzania, Bolivia, Kazakhstan, the Maldives…

Finish this sentence: A world without travel is like…
I know I’m supposed to say a world I wouldn’t want to live in. However, I studied literature for four years and a trite simile is what you’re going to get. So…a world without travel is like a book with random pages torn out. Frustrating, barely tolerable, and you’d miss the whole damn point of it all.


Inspiring, right? Brenna is so down-to-earth and if her travels don’t give you some sense of wanderlust well….I dunno; I certainly hope it does. Head over to her blog to keep up-to-date on her current 6 month travels through Asia….and stay tuned here sometime in late March for when I’ll share some pics of the both of us when we meet up again in India!

+photo credits: all pictures taken by Brenna of This Battered Suitcase and used with permission.

Frequent Flyer spotlights a blogger I enjoy who also happens to love traveling and exploring new places. In Frequent Flyer I ask them a few questions to get their thoughts, tips, suggestions, and travel tales – in hopes of inspiring YOU (and myself!) on future travels. In the Frequent Flyer feature I don’t just talk to travel bloggers – I talk to bloggers of various backgrounds (design, photography, fashion, life…) Some take many quick trips a year, others travel frequently for work, and others take a handful of longer jaunts abroad – but they all have great stories and tips and I hope you enjoy this feature!

  1. An absolutely breathtaking interview, didn’t want it to end. We need more Brenna’s in this world 🙂

  2. Another Winnipegger! People from Winnipeg should be paid to travel for having to live in that city.

    …and I love that fisheye, she looks adorable.

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