Nikki (or Noodles as she is known to her friends) is a UK-based travel writer and self-confessed noodles addict with a passion for exploring the world. She tries to fit in travel at every opportunity and has been getting wanderfully lost in faraway lands since she was 19 years old. Now with 26 countries under her belt, she loves to ramble on about her past and recent travels to anyone who will listen – you can follow along with her quirky and fun adventures at Where is Noodles?
Alex: Can you briefly introduce yourself?
I am Nikki and I’ve just turned 31 years old. I currently live in a sleepy village in the rolling hills of South Northamptonshire, England. Before that I lived in the vibrant city of Nottingham (also home to the legend of Robin Hood) for ten wonderful years, but left to embark on my first epic solo adventure across the world. For now I am sitting still….saving up the pennies with the hope to take off again in the not too distant future!
Why do you travel? What are your inspirations?
I’d say my biggest inspiration has been my late grandparents who have lived in places like Tanzania, Ghana and Bahrain.
Weekends with them were always filled with inspiring stories about their times abroad and so I think this curiosity to see the world has been ingrained in me since a very young age. Thanks to them I have a massive obsession with Africa and am determined to see more of this wonderful continent.
I love nothing more than the freedom of being on the road, learning about new cultures and traditions along the way. As the popular saying goes “the world is a book, and those who do not travel only read a page.” I know, I know…it’s such a cliché – BUT I genuinely feel as though there is just so much the world can teach us.
How do you organize your travel plans? Any travel hacks you can share?
I am actually pretty disorganised when it comes to organising myself let alone any trip! I try not to plan too much in advance and decide what to do when I get there based on what I hear from other travellers or the locals. Sometimes this works…other times not so much…so I am trying to find a balance now. I do shop around for cheap flights though, and Skyscanner or Google Flights are usually my go-to for this. I’ll usually have a vague idea of what I want to do through reading other travel blogs for inspiration. But usually when I’m there, I just see where the mood takes me!
Tell me about a person you’ve met or a memory that impacted you the most during one of your trips?
I’ve met so many wonderful people through travel, from all walks of life. Some are still very good friends now. That’s the great thing about travel, you get to meet so many like-minded people who you form strong connections with quite quickly. It’s hard to name one person that has impacted me the most, but volunteering with children in Tanzania is something that I think about almost every day. Their happiness and pure love truly touched my heart in ways that words can’t describe.
Aside from the basics, name three items that you always bring when you travel.
I always carry my journal to jot down memories and thoughts. I have a memory of the goldfish, so this helps me remember the good times! To second that, I always carry my camera for exactly the same reason. And finally….GOOD earplugs. I mostly stay in hostels when travelling long-term and these have saved me from the morning grumps many a time!
What is your motto when it comes to traveling?
“Hakuna Matata” – what a wonderful phrase (as the song goes in the Lion King haha!) This is a Swahili phrase that I picked up in Tanzania and basically means “no worries” The reason I love this phrase so much is because I feel that it encompasses probably one of the biggest life lessons that travel has taught me. I have always been a little bit of a fret-head, but when you are travelling you also begin to realise that there are much bigger things in this world worth worrying over and life’s little complaints are more manageable than you think. There’s only so much in life that you can control…so roll with the punches and everything will eventually fall into place.
The best and the worst meals you’ve ever had traveling?
As my nickname “Noodles” suggests, I am a big lover of Asian cuisine. Vietnamese food is definitely a favourite, from pho bo to cau lau….everything they cook is like a taste explosion in the mouth.
As for the worst food? I probably have to say Ugali (a national dish in Tanzania) is pretty rank. It is basically a stiff dough that is made from cornmeal – it looks like really, really white sticky mashed potato, but tastes far from it. At first I didn’t mind it too much, but after weeks and weeks of the stuff, I think it’s fair to say I’ll be happy if I never see another bowl of Ugali again in my life!
Which city do you consider yourself an expert on? Can you share any hidden gems in that city?
I can talk about life in Moshi (Tanzania) until I am blue in the face! This medium-sized town is located near the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro and it is a great base for getting a taste of Tanzanian life. There are lots of popular activities like going on jungle/waterfall hikes, hot springs, safari excursions etc. But one of my favourite things to do was head down to the old railway track to people watch. The station is no longer in use, but one of the booking offices has been converted into a small bar where you can grab a beer. Many of the locals still walk along the track to and from work, so that’s the best time to head down as it becomes a hive of activity. And if Mt Kili is not being her normal shy self, you can also get some great sunset views!
What is your favorite travel song/album to listen on a trip?
Ooooh this is a tough one. I have a never-ending playlist and it would be impossible to pick one. But the one band that always gives me a warm fuzzy feeling when I listen to them is Yamoto Band. They’re a bongo flava group from Tanzania and you hear them played everywhere, ALL the time. We were actually lucky enough to catch a gig of theirs while in Moshi. I felt like I was witnessing Tanzania’s version of [insert name of big boy band here] with the amount of screaming and fainting women around. It was absolutely insane!
What is the funniest foreign swear word you know?
Me…swear? Nooooo! But maybe the word “malaka” which in Greece means “asshole.” But I love it because it can also be used in an affectionate way too. Or at least that’s what my friend told me….who called me it all the time. Hrrrrrrrrm???
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