A Chat with Roam Magazine

A Life of Travel | With Anna & Athena

1. What inspired the formation of Roam? 

Athena: Anna and I, in a way, grew up travelling. We lived in the UAE (Abu Dhabi and Dubai) and Australia when we were little, and travelled a lot in Asia, Australasia and Europe from a young age. When we both graduated we went on big, solo trips - Anna travelled for two years around Asia and I went bike-touring in New Zealand and camping/hiking in the US. We have always loved sharing, through writing, photography, social media or endless postcards. Anna had the idea to set up a travel magazine and asked me to do it with her. We came up with the name, the concept and created the website. Right now we’re still testing the water a little, establishing a voice and an audience, but we both love doing ROAM and are excited to see where it will take us.

2. What have you got planned for Roam in the future? Are there any plans to take features and stories into print?

Athena: At the moment we are just working on building an audience and finding our voice in an internet world filled with travel media. We’d like to get more interviews from creatives, and find people who are both writers and photographers but most of all storytellers, to contribute regularly and become part of our vision. We’d love to eventually take ROAM into print, whether that just be a yearly annual or a quarterly magazine, but these things are expensive and we’re not in a position to do that at the moment. Who knows in the future though!

3. What's your best travel or outdoor memory from growing up?

Athena: I remember a family holiday to Fiji when I was probably 6 or 7. The six of us stayed in this tiny little shack right on the beach. I don’t remember a lot, only that we had the best time ever - it was that sweet-spot of childhood when you’re young enough to not care about anything but the moment you're in but old enough that you appreciate your surroundings more. I remember watching the stars from our little hut and thinking it was the most incredible thing I had ever seen. Fijians climbed trees to fetch us coconuts and we learned how to do tapestry with palm leaves. I must have been just about old enough to realise that we were in paradise.

Anna: My earliest travel memory is from Malaysia, and another slice of paradise called Tioman Island. I remember hiking through the jungle with my dad to a remote beach and spending days eating in bamboo huts, overlooking paradise. I tried to go back there a few years ago when I was in Malaysia again but the seas were too rough to take the boat journey across. But I’ve found tons of little islands like that in SE Asia, they still exist in all their wildness and remote beauty.

4. Do you have any big trips lined up, If so whereabouts and what's the plan?

Athena: I only have a few small trips planned at the moment. I’m heading to Lisbon at the end of November and I’m hoping to go camping and hiking in Wales in the next month before it gets too cold. I’m saving money at the moment, but I’m thinking of planning a trip to Stockholm for my Birthday (March) and hiking the Pennine Way next May/June. My ultimate dream would be to road-trip around Norway, right up into the highlands where you’re almost in the Arctic - it looks like an untouched, forgotten world up there. I also want to go to Iceland so much… there are too many places! Trips that involve being completely surrounded and consumed by nature are what inspire me at the moment.

Anna: I’m hoping to head to either East Africa or India again in January. I need sun and exoticness to break up the English winter, and I’m fascinated by Africa as a continent. The colours, the tribes, the landscapes and foreignness of it all. One of my best friends is living in Hong Kong for the next year so hopefully I’ll be able to go out and visit her at some point, perhaps combining it with some galavanting around somewhere new in Asia. Otherwise, I’m currently writing regularly for Travelettes and I occasionally get to go on press trips, the most recent one was to Japan - so hopefully some more of those will be on the cards. I love travelling with that purpose, to photograph and write.

5. What are your favourite bits of kit that you would pack first for your future travels? 

Athena: Before I went bike-touring, I invested a lot of money in a tent. I bought the MSR Hubba Hubba and am basically in love with it! It’s so quick and easy to pitch, and has loads of space for one or two people. I also love my MSR pocket rocket stove because it’s so small and portable. I’ll also mention my touring bike… It’s the Condor Fratello, it was basically my dream bike and I chose every part on it. If you’re going on a long-distance cycling trip you need to love your bike, I feel like I was meant to ride this one. Another item I always take travelling is my Pentax MX film camera and a notebook to write things while I’m on the move.

Anna: Mine is mostly about Cameras… so a Canon 5D Mark III and a bunch of lenses, the 24-70 and 50mm being the most useful for me. I use Lowepro backpacks and I love them for the combination of comfort and practicability and that they are designed as camera bags, so it keeps all your gear safe in padded compartments. Then a tripod, hard drives and a laptop. My backpack for the last few years has been a Lowe Alpine Annapurna bag which I bought mostly because it has the same name as me but to say it’s been to nearly 30 countries with me, it’s stood up pretty well.

6. What's the best meal you have ever eaten in the great outdoors? Or any favourite snacks for carrying on adventures?

Athena: When I was bike-touring I would always just make the quickest, easiest and lightest thing to carry, which was usually packet rice or pasta with a few vegetables. When I went car-camping in the states I got a bit more adventurous with my camping meals. My favourite has to be chilli. It’s great because you can make it all in one pot - onion, beef mince, chopped tomatoes, kidney beans, then maybe a little cheese on top, avocado and some nachos. When I’m out hiking I usually just take a vegemite sandwich and cereal bars. 

Anna: When I was travelling in Mongolia we would stop off at Ger’s in the middle of nowhere and the families would always make us food. This ranged from things like fermented camel milk to arruul which is a very dry cheese which tastes more like soap. I’m not sure these were the ‘best’ meals, but the setting and company certainly made it some of the most memorable.

7. What is your favourite Instagram account that your following at the moment

Athena: I love Andrew Kearns’ (@andrewtkearns) Instagram account for the moody, whimsical shots of the Pacific Northwest and his beautiful portraits. Finn Beales' (@finn) photography is just stunning, and then Jack Anstey (@jack_anstey) for the warm colours and inspiring me to get out more into the Peaks.

Anna: Jon Collins (@easternsuns) is a firm favourite of mine, I love the way he captures people alongside moody, misty landscapes. Melissa Findley is another favourite (@melissafindley), she’s in Nepal at the moment and, like for me, the country has special significance to her. It’s beautiful seeing how she captures what I believe is the world’s most naturally and culturally stunning place.

8. Which blog (Apart from Roam of course!!) do you read most for inspiration currently

Athena: I’m a little obsessed with Erin Outdoors at the moment. She started out as an outdoor/adventure blogger, but her writing lately has been a lot more inspirational. She really inspires me to do what I love, think for myself and be more creative. She’s also just started a YouTube channel! I also love Kath Griff who’s blog is Damsel Semi Distressed. She basically sums up all the confusion and mixed emotions of being in your 20s and makes me feel slightly less alone.

Anna: I really like reading all the stories on Exposure (exposure.co), The Adventure Handbook (http://theadventurehandbook.com/) and Huck Magazine. 

9. What would be your wilderness/desert island book of choice?

Athena: While I was bike-touring in the States I read Wild by Cheryl Strayed. Maybe it’s an obvious choice, but at that time I felt like we were on such similar journeys and I really connected with it. She was alone on the Pacific Crest Trail and I was alone on the Pacific Coast Highway. If I read that book again I know I would feel a lot of nostalgia for that journey.

Anna: I usually try and read books relating to the country I am in- so that would entirely depend on what desert island I was on! I’ve recently been to Japan so I’m reading Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood which is set in Tokyo.

See more of what Anna and Athena have to say on the wonderful Roam Magazine Website and Blog.