Stories from the road is an interview series with inspiring people all over the world. Meet backpackers, expats, nomads and full-time travellers, and learn how you can do it too.
This time, we meet Melissa Giroux, founder of A Broken Backpack, she is a full-time backpacker and travel blogger. Melissa is originally from Quebec, Canada and is currently backpacking her way across the globe on a tight budget! Her blog focuses on backpacking, cheap travel, and crazy adventures. It’s the perfect place to get inspired and learn how you too can travel the world without any money.
Hi Melissa, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me. Tell me, how did you get the travel bug? And why/when did you start travelling?
I started backpacking solo in Europe when I was 20 years old and I didn’t realise how much I liked it until I came back home. Since then, I travelled every summer to Europe. One day, I decided to go to Western Canada for two months… somehow, I ended up in Australia five months later. It has been two years now.
How was A Broken Backpack born? Why did you start blogging?
I used to work on a farm in Australia and I had nothing to do with my days off. As I love writing, I thought I could give it a try. I also had to add a challenge to it; as I was living an English life, I thought I could give it a try in English. So far, so good! I loved it and I still do!
I know a lot of crazy and random things happen when you’re travelling, please tell me about your craziest memory
I used to be a travel agent, and seriously, you can’t tell when I start talking about my misadventures abroad. I like to travel at a slow pace without planning it too much. And well, sometimes, my lack of organisation transformed my adventures into crazy stories.
The last time I had a crazy thing happen, was this time in China when I ended up in Zhengzhou instead of Beijing. I googled the Great Wall of China, but somehow, I found out that there was a scientific industry named Great Wall in Zhengzhou. Anyway, I realised my mistake once I had booked everything (flights and accommodation). I haven’t seen the Great Wall yet, but I discovered a very random place.
A Broken Backpack is all about backpacking and travelling cheap, and you said your broke and still travel, how is that possible?
I have many debts at home so that means I need to send money overseas every month. I started my journey in Western Canada so I could save money to go to Australia on a working holiday visa. Then, I started my travel blog and I found some freelancing jobs. Travelling is my main priority at the moment and I make it work despite my financial situation. I left Australia a few days ago and thank god, I’ll receive my tax return and my superannuation fund from Australia so I can backpack my way across South-East Asia. I’m currently travelling in the Philippines.
Please give me your best tip for how to travel cheap!
All you need is flexibility. As long as you are flexible (and not too fussy), you’ll be alright. I use Skyscanner’s feature: everywhere to find out about cheap flights. My itinerary is also very flexible, and so are my dates. I’ll be the one sleeping at airports, buses, and ferries so I can save money on accommodation. If required, I’m willing to volunteer, couch surf and hitch-hike too.
Tell me about your favourite travel memory
This one happened just a few days ago. I decided to do a 3-day trekking trip in the Banaue region in the Philippines. I had my own guide so I could do it safely, but I realised I was scared of heights while walking across the mountains and rice terraces. It was the most challenging thing I’ve ever done! It was so dangerous, I’m glad I survived it!
You’ve been backpacking around the world for a very long time now, do you ever feel like just going home?
I did go home for 6 weeks back in February as my Mum was sick. I went home as it was the right thing to do. But to be honest, I don’t really feel like just going home. I want to travel when I’m young, (27 is still young, isn’t it?) and healthy as I have no idea of what’s around the corner. I miss comfort and the food of course, but I love my lifestyle. I like to see people’s eyes when I say I’m travelling since two years. I used to be in admiration of other travellers a few years ago. Now, I feel grateful for living my dream.
Give me your best tip for handling being homesick.
Give it more time. If you go home now, you might regret it later. Do something that scares you today… and you won’t think of it for a while!
What do you know now, that you wish you knew before you started your travel?
Be flexible. Don’t book everything in advance. And say yes!
What would you tell people who are dreaming about travelling like you do?
Don’t wait for the perfect moment. Pick a moment and make it perfect.