Name: Alexandra Baackes
Home Base: Wherever my backpack lies
Last Trip: Ecuador
Next Trip: Panama—Actually, it’s my current trip as I’m writing this from Panama City!
1. What are three things you take on every trip?
My laptop, so I can work; my SteriPen, so I can drink tap water anywhere I go; and a guidebook, so I can read up on local history and hotspots.
2. What is your best remedy for jet lag?
When you find it, tell me. Jet lag tends to knock me sideways on occasion though I do always follow the recommendations to exercise, adapt to local time as strictly as possible upon landing, and to avoid alcohol and drink plenty of water.
3. What is the first thing you do when you get to a new place?
If it’s anywhere in Southeast Asia, get a massage. It’s the best way to melt away all the travel stress.
4. What place has the best food? The worst food?
While it’s not a very original answer, Thailand has both my heart and my stomach. I just can’t get enough Massaman curry! The Philippines will always be the country I almost starved in—someone once described the national cuisine as “burnt meat fat” and I believe they were more or less on target.
5. What is one place that changed your outlook on life?
I can’t think of a trip that hasn’t in some way made me smarter, stronger, or more compassionate to the world. However, my experience at Burning Man opened my eyes in all those ways and more.
6. What is your favorite travel quote?
“Pilgrims are poets who create by taking journeys,” by Richard Niebuhr. I love to think of travel as an art.
7. Is there any music that inspires you to travel?
Ever since I did a student exchange in Costa Rica, reggaeton has had a special place in my heart. Listening to it always makes me want to hop a flight just to shimmy away at a bar anywhere in Latin America.
8. What is your craziest true travel story?
In Laos my travel companions and I had a rental motorcycle stolen by a band of ladyboys. That alone would have made the cut, but days later one of those companions was cycling around the outskirts of Vientiane, found the bike, and proceeded to steal it back while an aggressive ladyboy chased him down the streets. I have no need to ever write fiction if my real life continues on in this manner.
9. How do you think that travel videos can be useful to travelers, even if they aren’t filmmakers themselves?
I think videos are the best way to convey the energy of a destination, and can really inspire people to get out and travel. I am planning a trip to the 2014 Tomorrowland festival based solely on the after-movies I’ve watched from previous years!
10. What is the goal/philosophy of your videos?
When I think back on a trip a highlight reel often plays in my mind, accompanied by a song that I strongly associate with the destination. I try to move that highlight reel from my mind to my screen.
11. What advice do you have for someone who wants to make travel videos?
Shoot plenty of what we call B-Roll—it may not be your primary focus, but these shots give a more rounded-out sense of the story. You can never have too much footage.
12. What is your best travel tip?
Don’t let fear hold you back. Remember that the good judgement that serves you at home will also keep you safe on the road, and the majority of people in the world want to help you, not hurt you.
Watch travel videos by Alexandra Baackes here.