I remember the first day I stumbled upon Brooke Saward’s website, World of Wanderlust. It was four years ago and I could be found working at an advertising firm in New York City. I had reached that point in the afternoon where 2 pm finds you growing roots in your cubicle and clinging to coffee like one does a life raft.
At this time, my desire to be a travel writer existed only as a pipe dream in the margins of my life. Between lunch meetings and conference calls, I would indulge my love of writing and dare to escape the monotony of work by losing myself to travel blogs. On this particular afternoon, I had been clicking through travel sites when I landed on World of Wanderlust. Just like that, I was swept up into the whimsical world of Brooke.
Then a recent college graduate, Brooke had booked herself a one-way ticket to London and began traveling the world. With nothing more than an unwavering determination, some savings and a desire to globe-trot, Brooke created World of Wanderlust.
Today, World of Wanderlust is one of the top travel blogs in the world and Brooke one of the top bloggers. Over the past four years, the website has expanded into a self-sufficient company with Brooke at the helm of this ever expanding empire. With more than six million readers and one million social media fans; World of Wanderlust has become a globally recognized brand and Brooke a blogging maven.
I have watched Brooke’s website blossom over the years; have seen as she has burst through the glass ceiling of the blogging world to become an entrepreneur, an editor and now author. In her latest endeavor, Brooke’s words are jumping off the screen and onto the pages of her first published book, World of Wanderlust: How to Live an Adventurous Life.
In this exclusive interview, Brooke spills the details of her upcoming book, what readers can expect to find and shares coveted advice for aspiring writers.
Nikki Vargas: Thank you for this interview! To begin, tell us about World of Wanderlust and what inspired your website?
Brooke Saward: I created my own little space on the internet around four years ago to inspire people to travel to more places, more often. I wanted to share beautiful photos and the stories behind them so that I could convince people to visit the places I was visiting, with my own experiences encouraging theirs. Four years later and I’m still having the time of my life discovering new places for readers to visit and discover!
NV: How often do you currently travel?
BS: For the past four years, I have quite literally lived out of a suitcase. I spent 12 months overseas when I started to take my blog seriously and after that I was traveling 80% of my time, spending the other 20% of my time at home to keep a normal lifestyle amongst the craziness of the blogging world! I’m now fairly split between travel and home life, though still spending a little more time on the road than at home (I can’t help it!).
NV: How would you describe your travel style?
BS: I like to seek out the absolute best of the best when I travel; that could mean the swankiest hotel or it could mean the craziest bungee jump (like the highest in the world, that I somehow convinced myself to jump off when visiting Macau).
NV: The blogging world is competitive! Over two million blog posts are written and shared on a daily basis. As one of the top travel bloggers, what has been your key to success?
BS: I know it’s a cliché but truly, just be yourself. Your readers will connect with you because of your personality and outlook on life – not because of how many places you have been or what you’re wearing. Let your personality shine through and don’t be afraid to change your approach as you yourself change – we humans are not built to be stagnate!
NV: You are an editor of a top travel blog, oversee a team of writers, have authored books and traveled extensively! How do you juggle these projects?
BS: It does sound a little crazy when you put it like that! Now that I stop to think about it, I guess I spend 100% of my awake time working. Be it answering emails, writing blog posts, taking and editing photos or networking…no matter what time of day, I’m always working in some sort of way and I usually multi-task between 2-3 tasks at once! I’m just always constantly looking forward, onward and upward.
NV: Give us a teaser of your new book, World of Wanderlust: How to Live an Adventurous Life. What can a reader expect to find within its pages?
BS: The book is so beautiful I’m still having trouble believing it is mine! The pages are absolutely filled with color in the form of photos, illustrations and of course, colorful stories and tips! It’s the kind of book you would find on every travel-lover’s coffee table or bookshelf. The kind of book you pick up and are instantly inspired to book a ticket to a new destination or jump in the car for a road trip.
NV: Will your new book be a collection of short stories or a reference book for all things travel?
BS: I would say neither! It’s a book of inspiration for travelers. Every single page in the book is colorful and there are so many photos and insider tips from my favorite places. When working with Penguin Random House on the book there was a really clear vision from the get go, which was the same as my blog: inspire people through beautiful photos and words – don’t let them leave the pages without being inspired to go somewhere new.
NV: Take us through an average day for you while working on World of Wanderlust: How to Live an Adventurous Life.
BS: Oh gosh, the sleepless nights! I’m someone who has some of my greatest and most creative ideas in my sleep so I was constantly waking up multiple times a night to write down new ideas (my laptop quite literally lives under my pillow when I sleep).
I was approached by my editor in early September 2015 and had a deadline of November 2015 to make. I didn’t quite make the deadline and sent upwards of 20 emails with new ideas in the days after I had sent the manuscript. Finally, my editor had to call me and say that much of the book would be cut because I had just tried to pack so much in!
NV: Solo travel has been a cornerstone of World of Wanderlust and is a topic in your upcoming book. What is one of the best places to solo travel?
BS: For newbie solo travelers, I would recommend going to places like New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, Norway or anywhere with stunning scenery! Often I have found these are the best places to listen to yourself and figure out why you felt the need to take a trip. Once you’ve figured that out, you will ease into the idea of solo travel more and just enjoy the ride. Southeast Asia is a great choice for solo travelers who have already taken one or two solo adventures, as it is much cheaper (more time on the road) but a little more chaotic of course!
NV: You have already self-published four books ― Solo Travel Guidebook, A Year to Myself, The World of Wanderlust Story and How to Create a Successful Blog Overnight. It’s a big leap from self-publishing to a formal book deal! How did the opportunity to publish a book with Penguin Random House Australia arise?
BS: My (now) editor emailed me about a potential book and two days later she flew to my hometown to meet and discuss! It happened so fast that I couldn’t really believe it was happening. Publishing was always something I aspired to but never really knew how to achieve. My plan has and always will be to keep creating content online and see where the opportunities lead!
NV: Would you recommend self-publishing to other aspiring novelists?
BS: Of course! One of the best things I read when beginning in the blogging world was to “be prepared to write for free until you have reached a point where people can recognize your quality and passion so much that they’re willing to pay for it.” I couldn’t agree more! Self-publishing through e-books is a great place to start out if you’re strapped for cash or even investing in self-publishing for print if you have the budget to do so. You just need to be willing to work with what you have in front of you and take small steps to success. It pays off in the long run!
NV: What’s next for you, Brooke?
BS: I’m currently opening up a dessert house in my hometown (Launceston, Tasmania) to pursue another passion of mine: adventures in the kitchen! The store opens in September and will be where you’ll find me when I’m not on a plane or in an airport.
There are always plenty of things coming down the pipeline but I love to surprise readers and share what I’m doing when it is about to go ahead or is actually happening. You just never know where I’ll be or what I’ll be doing next - I’m going with the wind.
World of Wanderlust: How to Live an Adventurous Life comes out October 2016. You can pre-order your copy of the book today!
Nikki Vargas is Travel Editor of Culture Trip, and a freelance journalist with bylines in VICE, FOOD & WINE, Roads & Kingdoms and more. She is also the founder of top 100 travel blog, The Pin the Map Project. Follow Nikki and her travels on Instagram or Twitter.