THE LOST GUIDES
ND : TELL ME A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS AND WHY YOU DECIDED TO START LOST GUIDES?
TLG : At the start of 2014 I moved from London to Singapore. My boyfriend had been transferred to Singapore with his job, and I wanted to do something that made the most my new location in Asia, and Singapore being such a great travel hub.
Lost Guides was born out of my own personal frustration for not finding useful and trusted information about places that I wanted to travel to. I couldn’t find anything that was relevant to me! A lot of information out there was either targeted to backpackers, or to the luxury consumer and I couldn’t find anything that was for the everyday person that has a modest budget, and that wants to find stylish places to stay, and enjoys a great meal. I could see that this was a problem for a lot of other people to.
I launched thelostguides.com website in May 2014. The focus is on curated travel guides for Asia, so you’ll find tips for places like Singapore, Bali, Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand. I also to do freelance travel writing work for publications and companies.
This November 2015, I will launch my first book ‘Lost Guides – Bali’, which features unique, stylish and offbeat travel recommendations for Bali in Indonesia. It is one of those destinations that everyone is always asking me about, and I know it really well since I love going back there. I’ve distilled all my tips from best boutique hideaways, to surf spots, authentic artisan shopping and foodie favourites. It’s been a real labour of love, and I can’t wait for people to start using it!
ND : AS A VERY CHIC NOMAD, WHAT ARE THE FIVE ESSENTIAL ACCESSORIES YOU ALWAYS TAKE WITH YOU ON YOUR TRAVELS?
1. iPad: I couldn’t travel without my iPad! Before I travel, I download The Times weekend newspaper and download some documentaries from BBC iPlayer. The backgammon app is good for long journeys.
2. Black Aspinal travel wallet: I bought this for my boyfriend with his initials printed on it when he moved to Singapore, but he never uses it so I’ve stolen it back! When you travel in Asia there are always lots of different currencies, visa and tickets so it’s good for keeping everything organised.
3. Eye mask: An eye mask is seriously essential, especially if I’m doing the 12-hour flight between Singapore and London.
4. Birkenstock black Arizona sandals: There’s nothing worse than getting off a long flight and not being able to fit into your snug shoes, with swollen feet! Luckily these sandals allow for such feet swelling.
5. Black Rayban wayfarer sunglasses: I’ve lost so many of these. I’m currently borrowing my boyfriend’s pair.
NDA : YOU OBVIOUSLY TRAVEL A LOT WITH YOUR JOB, WHERE DO YOU FEEL MOST AT HOME? IS IT WHILST YOU ARE ON THE ROAD EXPLORING OR BACK IN THE UK?
TLG : Since moving away from the UK, home has become less of a physical place, and more about the people that I am with. I feel most at home when I am with people that I love, so that could be on a beach shack in Kerala in India with my family or cooking in the kitchen at our home in Singapore with my boyfriend. When I go back to the UK, I love being at home in West Sussex. I think I must be getting old as I find London too hectic! Food can be really homely. If I’m feeling a bit homesick I’ll cook up spaghetti bolognaise and bake some cupcakes!
NDA : WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB?
TLG : I love the field research. Being on the ground, exploring, meeting people, speaking to people. Stumbling across a great find. I actually find the writing part the most challenging, even though it takes up the bulk of time for what I do.
NDA :WHAT DO YOU THINK IS YOUR BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT SO FAR?
TLG : This summer I launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for the production of my book. I was obviously worried that I wouldn’t reach my goal, and not have enough funds to complete the project. But at the end of the campaign, I had raised a lot more than my original goal so that was a great feeling. I suppose the biggest achievements come out of the things that you are most afraid of!
NDA : WHEN YOU TRAVEL WHAT DO THE FIRST TWO HOURS OF YOUR DAY LOOK LIKE? DO YOU HAVE ANY RITUALS?
TLG : When I’m travelling I normally wake up quite early, at around 6am. The light is often good so it’s a great opportunity to do the photography that I need. If I’m researching for a guide, the schedule for the day will be packed, so it’s good to start as early as possible too.
ND : IF SOMEONE CAME TO YOU FOR ADVICE ABOUT STARTING AND RUNNING A NEW BUSINESS WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE THEM?
TLG : When you transition from employment to running your own business you need to prepare financially, so you need to start saving while you are in your job. A lot of friends say to me that they would love to travel, change jobs, retrain or start a business, but can’t as they are paying off credit card debts etc – don’t be imprisoned by a lavish lifestyle and start cutting back so you can get your finances in order and save while you have a steady income. You will need to have enough money saved to tide you over, until you can start drawing a livable income from your business.
- Initially, talk about your business idea to anyone and everyone. Each person you speak to will have something helpful to say or new information. This often comes from the most unlikely people. People outside your industry might say something that sparks an idea, or know someone to connect you with. I love the idea that everyone knows something that you don’t.
- If you are starting up on your own it can be lonely, and you will go a bit mad having no one to discuss your ideas with. It was slightly different for me as I was in a new city, with no real network, I would suggest joining some sort of network or community. In Singapore, I'm a member of The Hub (http://singapore.impacthub.net/homepage). It’s a co-working space and a vibrant community that thrives on discussing new ideas and exchanging skills. Members are encouraged to collaborate and help each other out. There are weekly events, and experienced mentors that are happy to give their advice. The Hub actually started in London, and there are these types of communities all over the world. They have an amazing one in Bali called Hubud, in Ubud, which is a bamboo structured co-working space looking over the rice paddies (you can see this in my book!).
TLG : I’m not one to preach at being healthy, as I am definitely the kind of girl that likes to sample a lot of food that a destination has to offer! But I do think that it’s good to stay active when you are travelling. I love to surf when I’m at a new place - Bali is great for surfing. It’s also a good way to meet people, as you often start chatting to people while waiting for a wave. There are some amazing yoga studios in Asia. Ubud in Bali has become a hub for yoga, but you can’t get better teachers than those in India.
ND : THE PLACES YOU HAVE FOUND SEEM TO HAVE BEEN ‘HAPPENED UPON' THROUGH YOUR EXPLORATION AND KNOWLEDGE OF THE COUNTRY. ARE YOU A NOMAD THAT PLANS OR DO YOU TEND TO WING YOUR EXPEDITIONS?
TLG : A bit of both. I’ll do a lot of research before I go on a trip, but once I’m there it’s important to go where the wind takes you, or you would miss out on the new things that you didn’t know about. Speaking to local people is the best way to find good places, so once I’m there I’ll just start chatting to people. It’s good to have a schedule to work from, but also be prepared to rip up you itinerary if you chance upon even better places.