Budget Travel Blog “Big World Small Pockets”

Big World Small Pockets in Petra, Jordan

Meet Steph Parker, Author of Budget Travel Blog “Big World Small Pockets”

Originally from Jersey in the Channel Islands, Steph started traveling at the tender age of 18, and hasn’t really looked back since. From living in Latin America for two years, Australia for four, and having visited over 50 countries so far, Steph wanted to start blogging to help show others how they, too, could travel more and spend less. And so her budget travel blog—Big World Small Pockets—was born. Follow her adventures live on InstagramFacebook or Twitter.


You did a six-month stint in Africa at 19. Were you much of a traveler before that? What inspired you to take the leap? And, what drew you to Africa?

I was lucky enough to have always been taken on family holidays as a child, so I blame my parents for my itchy feet! I visited countries such as the US, Egypt, Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, Spain, and Portugal as a child, but my first foray as an independent traveller was actually at 18 when I backpacked Italy for two months directly after I finished secondary school.

Then came Africa and, well… the rest is history! I chose Africa because it seemed wildly different; while everyone else seemed to be inter-railing Europe during their “gap years” I was determined to do something out of the ordinary. No change there then!

Big World Small Pockets in Sudan

You note that your Central American travels were what officially made you realize you wanted to travel as a way of life. Was there a specific event that solidified that decision? How did your family and friends take the news initially?

After Africa, I studied at university for 3 years and, while I always traveled in the holidays, it felt like a “regular” career path was how my life would finally pan out. This was despite me traveling for a year after university, and then also during the holidays of my Master’s degree. Yet as time went on, I couldn’t shake the travel bug; I always felt like I had my feet in two worlds—one career and “normal” life, the other “freedom” and the open road.

Heading to Central America and falling in love with the continent after my Master’s solidified my decision to put my two feet along the path that made me happiest. The choice was crystalized as I watched the sunrise of the Spring Equinox over Lago Atitlan in Guatemala. Anyone who’s been here will know it’s a special place! My family are amazingly supportive, my rock from afar.

How did you fund your travels in the beginning? When, and why, was the budget travel blog “Big World Small Pockets” born? Any advice for us budding bloggers?

In the beginning I worked super hard at home in the UK, saving every penny so I could travel for months on end. In Latin America, I began “working on the road” largely in hospitality jobs that allowed me to extend… and extend… and extend my travels. However, I always felt unsatisfied by this sort of work, especially as I got older and really wanted something more of a challenge. The time came when I was living in Australia.

A friend I met there, who made money online, introduced me to blogging, set up my budget travel blog, showed me the ropes and the rest is history. Well, not quite history! It’s important to remember blogging is a lot of work—I slaved for two years working full time jobs and pretty much full-time on my blog, too, before I really started to see results. It’s important for budding bloggers to remember perseverance, determination, hard work, and lots and lots of continuous research is the key to success. It’s a path I’m still on myself.

Big World Small Pockets in Bratislava, Slovakia

You’ve been featured on Lonely Planet, Nat Geo, Huff Po, and Thought Catalog. How did you land your first big break? What was it about?

Honestly, it was luck. As you grow your blog, more brands become aware of you and reach out to you. There are no special tricks, I’m afraid. Just maintaining high quality is key.

You recently completed another trip to Africa, with the Middle East mixed in. What were some of your top experiences? 

Oh goodness, there’s a question! I mean, there’s no doubt Ethiopia and Lebanon stand out for me as sensational destinations; both a complete surprise, both wonderfully off-the-beaten-track, and both chock full of sensational food, friendly people, and incredible culture. Petra in Jordan also deserves a special mention, as does the Masai Mara in Kenya, trekking with the gorillas in Uganda, Stone Town in Zanzibar, and Cappadocia in Turkey.

Did you find solo travel as a woman in those regions challenging? 

Honestly, no; I’ve rarely felt more looked after.

If you could rework the trip based on what you know now, would you change anything?

Just allow more time! I always want more time!

Big World Small Pockets in Uganda

I’ve yet to travel to Africa. What’s the #1 thing I should know about visiting?

That everything runs on a different timescale, and that fear of this little-travelled continent is no reason not to explore its unbelievable depths and delights. Africa gets under your skin. There’s no doubt about that. I’m planning my 5th trip there soon! Oh, and take a tent; this can save you a huge amount if you’re on a tight budget!

What’s your favorite aspect of traveling? Any advice for folks that want to travel, but just can’t seem to push that button?

The sense of discovery, of learning, of opening your mind, the wildness of the adventure, the spontaneity, the beauty, the faith in humanity it restores, the ability to experience with your own eyes and not rely on what we are told about certain places… need I go on?!?

Such a typical question, but everyone wants to know: Favorite destination? Or top three? (I can never narrow it down to just one!)

1. Ethiopia
2. Lebanon
3. Nicaragua
4. Bulgaria (new entry!)

Last, but not least, when are you visiting us in the United States?!?

Now, there’s a question…


Okay, so maybe Steph will swing back through the US after she finishes eastern Europe and South America. (If she does, I know this great DC tour guide.) A huge thank you to budget travel blog “Big World Small Pockets” for taking the time to share her extensive travel insights and blogging knowledge! To track Steph’s travels, follow her on InstagramFacebook or Twitter.

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40 comments

  1. All I can say as I was reading your post was WOW! This girl is an inspiration! I plan on showing this to my 12 yr old granddaughter. …Why you ask? So she can see that hard work and perseverance pays off and your DREAMS can come true!!! Sounds like you have the life of travel that so many desire, but are afraid to make a leap towards!

    1. Steph is a true inspiration for sure! Traveling opens your eyes in so many ways. I hope your granddaughter enjoys as much as you did!

  2. I like these interview style posts. It’s so interesting to hear people’s stories. Sounds like she’s had an amazing life!

  3. Sounds like a girl after my heart! I studied abroad in college and, while all my friends were headed to Europe and Australia, I headed for Africa!

  4. Wow, insightful. I loved when she said, “It’s important for budding bloggers to remember perseverance, determination, hard work, and lots and lots of continuous research is the key to success.” I feel like a lot of us bloggers struggle with this even though its our passion.

  5. Very interesting and truly motivating read! I agree perseverance, determination and hard work is the key to success. Blogging requires a lot of hard work and there are no shortcuts.

  6. This is such an awesome interview! I particularly liked her comment about bloggers and reminding us that we have to have perseverance. 🙂

    1. Indeed! I’ll take ANY advice she has to give. She’s got THOUSANDS of followers! An inspiration in a number of ways!

  7. This is an amazing interview. What sticks out the most to me is when she says, “It’s important for budding bloggers to remember perseverance, determination, hard work, and lots and lots of continuous research is the key to success.” because that’s something I struggle with. I want to see results now, and it doesn’t always work that way.

  8. Wow, what an amazing life! I dream of a life like that. I hope that, one day, my freelancing and coaching and life circumstances will all come together so that I can hit the road and start exploring.

    1. You may want to check out my Meantime Meanderings column. It’s ideas for what to do between major travels. Sort of mini travel ideas. 😉

  9. I have enjoyed reading this interview so much! I am not an adventurer at all and greatly admire those who go out and discover the world through unbeaten paths!

  10. This is so inspiring! I love what Steph is doing. Keep it up!!! Travel the world and show how eye-opening and heartwarming it is to travel! See different cultures! 🙂

    1. Yeah, she’s pretty amazing. I’d love if my blog eventually made enough to where I could travel like this one day!

    1. She was so fun to work with and I’m really excited she took the time out to take part in my little ol’ blog! Love watching her adventures right now!

    1. I’ll actually be going to New Brunswick in the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned on my blog! I’ll also have a Japan feature coming out soon! 😉

  11. Thank you for sharing Steph Parker’s blogging history. I am happy to hear about her success and appreciate your sharing.

    1. She’s been one of my favs for a while, so I was really excited she was willing to answer a few questions for me! She was great!

  12. I loved her stories from Central America! I was there last year and fell in love with it too. I’ve been to Lake Atitlan as well and enjoyed some beautiful sunsets over it. It’s so nice that her family supported her in all her decisions.

    1. Absolutely! I was so curious about that because I’m sure plenty of peoples’ mouths might drop if you told them you’re just traveling the world for a few years. Lol.

  13. Awwww I love this and Steph is soooo right. Africa does get under your skin. It’s a world like no other. I’ll definitely be following this young lady!

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