Full-time wanderer living the dream
Meet the Coolum-based blogging beauty, Aquila Bergström
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.
Aquila explores the Philippines with Bea Vega.
Aquila is a model, social media influencer, travel writer, blogger and student.
A sun-kissed day spent exploring Sabang Surfing Beach in the Philippines and making a new four-legged friend.
Aquila soaking up the sun in the Philippines.
Aquila swapping the beach for a studio in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Aquila floating in the crystal clear waters of Baler, Aurora, Philippines.
Exploring the sights of Queretaro, Mexico.
Making friends with the locals at Ubud, Indonesia.
The island life has an abundance of fresh mangos and coconuts.