Katie McKnoulty is a girl after our own hearts. After leaving her life in Brisbane behind in 2011, she moved to London where she spent the next two years working towards the start of her site, The Travelling Light. Once launched, it wasn’t long before the jetsetter was off exploring cities around the globe, sure to find all the coolest nooks and crannies in each and every one of them. Flooded with dreamy photos and city-life facts, her site is a one-stop shop for some of the world’s best hidden gems.
SUITCASE MAGAZINE: Who or what inspired you to leave Brisbane and start The Travelling Light?
KATIE MCKNOULTY: I always knew that I wanted to live away from my hometown eventually, it’s just something I always had in the back of my mind. All my studies, reading and interests were always geared around languages and travel.
I made the move to London from Brisbane in 2011. I lived a normal life in Brisbane working full-time in travel but I think in London I was very inspired to finally start producing travel guides in one form or another – inspired by London itself as there’s just so much to explore in such a big city but also all the little side trips around Europe I was taking. In particular, I was spending a lot of time in Le Marche in Italy, which is quite an undiscovered region, so there was a part of me that really wanted to shine a light on these lesser known places. I started photographing everything obsessively and it all started from there!
SM: What are your three packing tips you live by?
KM: Only pack things that bring you joy when you use or wear them (this tip is care of my Mother); every piece of clothing you pack must go with at least two other things in your suitcase; every item must be multi-purpose e.g. “This sarong doubles as a scarf, a picnic blanket, a blanket on the plane…ok it’s going in.”
SM: What is your travel philosophy?
KM: I travel to find places and experience things that will change the way I think about life, that will challenge me in some way. For me, travel is about personal transformation.
SM: Your site says you spend six months travelling and six months at home in Brisbane. What are your favourite things to do when you are home?
KM: Spend time with my boyfriend, family and friends. We go hiking and wild swimming in Brisbane’s surrounds, eat Vietnamese pho at my favourite place in West End, drive out of the city on weekends to the most beautiful beaches (Caloundra at the Sunshine Coast is my favourite). I also love working at the Queensland State Library during the week and taking lunch breaks wandering the Gallery of Modern Art nearby. And I love to work at this great co-working space, Prospect Studios to meet other freelancers and start-ups.
SM: What is one thing you cannot travel without?
KM: Journals/notebooks – I wish I could make everything digital but I just don’t think anything can replace paper and pen for me, I write most things on paper first then type them up. They’re so heavy though and I always contemplate leaving them behind, but I think I’d feel lost.
SM: What would you pack in your suitcase?
KM: My Acne grey jeans usually come with me, I have a lot of American Apparel t-shirts too, I have this cream Vintage midi-skirt I always pack with me and I can no longer live without my Boody bamboo underwear.
SM: Where has been your favourite city to travel to?
KM: Portland, Oregon – it’s green and suburban without being twee and overly manicured, it’s surrounded by mountains for hiking, people say ‘hi’ to you in the street, there are so many unique places to eat for vegetarians too, it’s full of surprises and secrets and you can ride a bike almost everywhere.
SM: Favourite place to shop?
KM: Copenhagen and Sweden – because they always seem to have Acne on sale somewhere, which is the only way I can afford it.
SM: Favourite place to eat?
KM: Le Marche in Italy in truffle season (May to September) it doesn’t hurt that gelato is more readily available during this time of year too.
SM: Favourite place to stay?
KM: The Canal Saint-Martin in Paris.
SM: Where was the most remote place you have ever travelled to?
KM: Last August, I spent a whole week in this cabin in the Dordogne in France with my boyfriend. It was only a ten-minute drive to the nearest village but to get to the cabin, you had to walk for ten minutes down a dirt path through the forest, past cows and paddocks, and this cabin was in the middle of a beautiful green valley on its own private lake with a wooden platform and oars. The cabin had no electricity or Wifi, the hot water was powered by the fireplace. And there was some sort of wild animal living in the cupboard too. I felt like a different person after our week there, it was so nice to live a completely unconnected life for a little while.
SM: Where has been the most inspiring place you have travelled to and what lessons did you learn from that place?
KM: I think Ubud in Bali, where I have just been, has been pretty inspiring for me. The Balinese people and their way of life was inspiring to watch – how they build spirituality into their daily lives, how they go with the flow of life rather than forcing and controlling things. I was also very inspired by the digital nomad scene in Ubud, people who travel and work at the same time.
SM: You’re about to have your last meal on earth. Where do you go and what do you order?
KM: I go to the tiny town of Mercatello sul Metauro in Le Marche, Italy, to the local restaurant, Umberto’s, for a big plate of his tagliatelle with porcini mushrooms and truffles.
SM: The best piece of advice you have ever been given?
KM: Helen Jacobs from The Little Sage once told me – “In your life, you’re going to cycle pretty close to the edge at times. But don’t worry, you’ll never fall off.” So whenever I’m worried my freelancer/travel blogger/nomadic lifestyle is feeling a bit uncertain and ridiculous, I tell myself, “You’re not going to fall off, you’re not going to fall off…”
SM: Top three things on your bucket list?
KM: Three very exotic places: India, Iceland and Central America
SM: Which other bloggers do you admire?
KM: Nomadic Habit for her beautiful photography and deep understanding of life and travel and Scandinavia Standard for inspiration to spend more time in Scandinavia and to drool over their Copenhagen fashion week coverage.
SM: What is your greatest extravagance?
KM: Plane tickets! And anything related to my health and wellbeing like good organic produce, Ayurvedic massages, Reiki healing, meditation sessions and yoga because I think they make me a better human overall.
SM: What camera do you use on your travels?
KM: I use a Canon Kiss x5 (equivalent to a 600D) it’s actually called a ‘Kiss’ on the body though as my friend helped me pick it out in Tokyo, Japan a few years ago.
New York or LA?
LA! I haven’t spent much time there but something is drawing me over…maybe it’s just Instagram.
Black or White?
White! Light, summer, beaches, coconut smoothies.
Checked bag or carry-on?
I wish I was a carry on girl but because I’m always carrying everything with me for six months + when I fly, it has to be checked bag.
Red-eye or day flight?
Day flight – I’m a terrible sleeper so plane sleeps are problematic, and I love the uninterrupted time and space you get on planes anyway so I want to be awake.
Silver or gold?
Laptop or tablet?
Feminine or masculine?
Call or text?
Text, always texting, for some reason I forget I can call people for free with the magic of the internet even though I might be miles away.
Early bird or night owl?
Recovering night owl – I’m trying to become an early bird.