Full-time wan­derer liv­ing the dream

Meet the Coolum-based blog­ging beauty, Aquila Bergström

Life & Style Weekend - - READ - Layne Whit­burn

GET­TING paid to travel the globe and write about your ex­pe­ri­ences with new cul­tures, food and peo­ple sounds tough, but some­one’s got to do it. Meet Aquila Bergström.

This 26-year-old Coolum beauty is a full-time wan­derer. Pro­fes­sion­ally speak­ing, Aquila is a model and so­cial me­dia in­flu­encer/ travel jour­nal­ist for her blog, 365 Days of Wan­der­ing, as well as a free­lance writer for Lonely

Planet’s Indonesia and Philip­pines travel guides plus she is un­der­tak­ing a post-grad at the Univer­sity of the Sun­shine Coast study­ing Ce­les­tial Nav­i­ga­tion and In­ter­cul­tural Re­la­tions.

Aquila’s busy and colour­ful life has taken her to 38 coun­tries and just this week she has em­barked on a uni­ver­sal ad­ven­ture com­pet­ing on the Miss Uni­verse Aus­tralia stage as a Queens­land fi­nal­ist.

But with or with­out the Miss Uni­verse sash, this Aus­tralian beauty is as worldly as they come.

We caught up with the blog­ging beauty to see what life is like be­hind the glitz and glam of pageants. No Miss Uni­verse talk, just the real life of Aquila.

How did you get into blog­ging?

It hap­pened or­gan­i­cally to be to­tally hon­est. One thing stemmed from the other. Start­ing with mod­el­ling and then merg­ing my mod­el­ling work onto In­sta­gram re­sulted in be­ing tagged by brands like city beach or Jetts swimwear, etc. The more you work with other brands, restau­rants or com­pa­nies, the faster you will grow.

What is the idea be­hind your blog, 365 Days of Wan­der­ing?

I orig­i­nally be­gan 365 Days of Wan­der­ing as a new year res­o­lu­tion in 2015. It was more so a per­sonal prom­ise to my­self and my (at the time very small In­sta­gram fol­low­ing) that I would push my­self to see, ex­pe­ri­ence, feel, taste or do some­thing dif­fer­ent and share it with the world ev­ery day of the year with an im­age from that ex­pe­ri­ence, and some form of self-writ­ten in­spi­ra­tional or mo­ti­va­tional quote or di­ary-like jour­nal for that day.

Since this idea be­gan, it gen­er­ated a bit of in­ter­est and I have now changed my di­rec­tion slightly. Next year in March I will be launch­ing a dif­fer­ent ver­sion of 365 Days of Wan­der­ing with an en­tirely new slo­gan. I am not go­ing to give a way too much but I’ll give you a hint, sail­ing is in­volved.

The dream for me is and for a long time has been to sail around the world doc­u­ment­ing my jour­ney and show­ing peo­ple healthy or­ganic recipes on board, what liv­ing on a sail­boat is like, and then re­view­ing my favourite ho­tels (in par­tic­u­lar bou­tique ho­tels), restau­rants, day spas and ac­tiv­ity cen­tres for each coun­try I visit. I will be start­ing a Youtube chan­nel so I sup­pose I will be push­ing for more of a video pres­ence.

Wow, that sounds amaz­ing! Surely it’s not all glitz and glam… what is it like liv­ing out of a suit­case?

It is not glam­orous. I have a slight OCD thing with hav­ing to have ev­ery­thing folded a cer­tain way so, when you lit­er­ally live out of your bags and go some­where new, you can’t al­ways col­lect new things on your jour­neys be­cause you have no more room or be­cause the postage sys­tem is non-ex­is­tent in cer­tain parts of the world. It can be good be­cause it lim­its your life to that con­fined space of things, so you only ever have your favourite bits and pieces with you. It’s good to live a min­i­mal­is­tic life how­ever there are cer­tainly days where I wish I could have my things hang­ing on coat hang­ers and have huge can­dles and vases of flow­ers on my bed­side ta­ble.

How of­ten do you come home?

I prob­a­bly spend about three months back in Noosa/ Coolum ev­ery year. Up un­til this year any­way, univer­sity has es­sen­tially held me cap­tive for another few weeks. Then I’m back to Indonesia for work and a schol­ar­ship pro­gram where I will get to teach kids ba­sic

In­done­sian in re­mote Ku­pang (al­most West Ti­mor). After this, I have plans to go back to my home away from home, the Philip­pines. This coun­try has my heart.

Sounds like you have a lot of goals and one wild bucket list. What has travel taught you?

Joy for life and to chase even your wildest dreams. Travel has given me so much sta­bil­ity in self, drive to al­ways see more, achieve more and be more. It has opened doors down path­ways I never thought I would have walked through when I was 10. It has made me who I am. For some peo­ple, they need their phone or their favourite pair of jeans. For me it’s a pass­port and the free­dom to just go.

Your life looks and sounds so fun; do you see your job as work?

I do for sure, I take it re­ally se­ri­ously now as there are a lot of things to or­gan­ise, plan, book and juggle that ev­ery­one from the out­side wouldn’t see. This is the one thing that I could po­ten­tially see as be­ing a neg­a­tive for youth in par­tic­u­lar. There needs to be a re­al­i­sa­tion that the pic­tures posted are lit­er­ally a three sec­ond cap­ture of a day. No-one’s lives are per­fect, it’s just that so­cial me­dia doesn’t re­ally doc­u­ment that side of things be­cause its neg­a­tive. In­sta­gram or a blog is es­sen­tially a high­light reel of a per­son’s life en­cap­su­lated into a sequence of squares. With that be­ing said, I worked re­ally hard for it to be­come my ‘job’ and next year with the sail­ing as­pect com­ing into the mix it will be ful­fill­ing my dream and big­gest pas­sion. So, I’m su­per thank­ful for ev­ery­one’s sup­port in fol­low­ing the jour­ney which is es­sen­tially what has helped me more than any­thing to reach my goals.

Have you had a nor­mal job be­fore?

Yep, I sure have. I have never had an of­fice job as I can­not sit still or be in bright lights with no plants... I would lose my­self and my cre­ativ­ity in that en­vi­ron­ment. Dur­ing and after my stud­ies con­cluded at univer­sity and floristry school, I worked as a florist and as­sis­tant wed­ding plan­ner. I love that job and I love the peo­ple I’ve worked with for four years. It’s like a fam­ily to me. It’s the per­fect “nor­mal job” for me be­cause it’s out­side, I get to be cre­ative and I get to make beau­ti­ful flower ar­range­ments for some­one else’s spe­cial day. It’s at times stress­ful, chaotic and things go wrong – like rain... but I clearly love it as I go back to my old job ev­ery time I am back in Aus­tralia. It helps to keep me grounded and is some­thing I can see my­self do­ing in the fu­ture.

Speak­ing of chaos, have you ever found your­self in any sticky sit­u­a­tions over­seas?

Oh my, yes I have found my­self in predica­ments in nu­mer­ous places around the world. The top three worst times in­cluded;

1) Indonesia – with a dodgy taxi driver who went the long­est way to get to my ac­com­mo­da­tion. He pur­posely took an ex­tra two hours to get from Ubud in the moun­tains to Bin­gin on the coast­line near Uluwatu. My friend and I had al­ready paid the agreed upon rate as well as a tip and he threat­ened to call the em­bassy and have us de­ported if we didn’t pay this ex­tra amount of money that he just came up with on the spot which

Travel has given me so much sta­bil­ity in self, drive to al­ways see more, achieve more and be more.

equated to a cou­ple hun­dred in Aussie dol­lars. He then had the nerve to ask my friend and I to rate him highly on tripad­vi­sor. Pffft! Dreamer!

2) Dubai – Lan­guage bar­rier! I was there to post con­tent for a fash­ion show that I had thought was at the ship ho­tel, it was mis­com­mu­ni­cated some­how and it was in fact on “a ship”. When you travel alone, land at mid­night and can­not speak the lo­cal lan­guage and see your driver go straight past the iconic ho­tel you thought you were go­ing to and in fact wind up at a ma­rina down a se­ries of wind­ing iso­lated roads you lit­er­ally think you are about to be “taken”. I can­not tell you how happy I was to see a bunch of girls and me­dia step out of the car that parked up be­hind us and a re­ally beau­ti­ful mega yacht decked out from top to bot­tom. It turned out to be an amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence!

3) New York City – I was liv­ing there when I was 21/22 and wound up on the wrong sub­way by ac­ci­dent at the wrong time of night after go­ing to an event. I have never sprinted so fast across the road to get on the re­turn­ing train line back to cen­tral sta­tion and out of Har­lem (Ghetto-ville). It was the last op­er­at­ing train to go back up­town so I was very lucky in­deed.

Yikes. De­spite the pos­si­ble risky side to trav­el­ling, why do you think it’s im­por­tant for oth­ers to ex­pe­ri­ence new places and cul­tures?

To me, trav­el­ling is like a crash course in self-love, in­de­pen­dence, and gives you di­rec­tion. I of­ten get com­ments like are you trav­el­ling so much be­cause you can’t face re­al­ity, or are run­ning away from some­thing? The an­swer is sim­ply no. I don’t run from any­thing, I run to op­por­tu­ni­ties and free­dom. Travel gives me that and I truly hope that ev­ery sin­gle per­son who reads this and may be toss­ing up between up­grad­ing their bed­room in­te­rior or go­ing on that trip they’d al­ways dreamt of does the right thing and in­vests in them­selves. When you die, you don’t have things. So spend your money on en­rich­ing your cur­rent ex­is­tence through ex­pe­ri­enc­ing another world, another cul­ture, another life. I prom­ise you it’s worth it.

PHOTO: AM­BER MOZO

Aquila ex­plores the Philip­pines with Bea Vega.

PHOTO: DARIANE SANCHE.

Aquila is a model, so­cial me­dia in­flu­encer, travel writer, blog­ger and stu­dent.

PHOTO: AM­BER MOZO

A sun-kissed day spent ex­plor­ing Sa­bang Surfing Beach in the Philip­pines and mak­ing a new four-legged friend.

PHOTO: AM­BER MOZO.

Aquila soak­ing up the sun in the Philip­pines.

PHOTO: DARIANE SANCHE

Aquila swap­ping the beach for a stu­dio in Fort Laud­erdale, Florida.

PHOTO: AM­BER MOZO.

Aquila float­ing in the crys­tal clear waters of Baler, Aurora, Philip­pines.

PHOTO: CONTRIBUTE­D.

Ex­plor­ing the sights of Quere­taro, Mex­ico.

PHOTO: CONTRIBUTE­D.

Mak­ing friends with the lo­cals at Ubud, Indonesia.

PHOTO: CONTRIBUTE­D.

The is­land life has an abun­dance of fresh man­gos and co­conuts.

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