Welcome to


I’m Victoria, that travel-obsessed friend who everyone always asks for travel tips (I once had the nickname “Vic-tours!”).

And now, after working in journalism and comms, I’ve made it my job – running a travel blog where I share all my experience and tips from nearly 60 countries around the world.

I’m here to help you discover all the creative and exciting places that make a destination special, even if you’re travelling with kids.

I’m based in Bristol with my husband and two sons, but I’ve been travelling regularly, sometimes full time, for the past 22 years!

Let’s make your travels special!

What’s Bridges and Balloons about?

Bridges and Balloons is all about travel for creative people and their families. We don’t believe you have to sacrifice your own tastes when travelling as a family. And we’re here to show you how.

And don’t be put off if you’re travelling without kids. Many of our guides suit solo travellers and couples too – we still love the same things we did pre-kids and always include them in our trips. Plus I started this site six years before the kids were even born.

I’ve been travelling solo since my teens, as a couple since 2009, and as a family since 2018. And I’ve visited almost 60 countries so far. Together we have lots of experience to share!

So if you love road trips, indy bookshops, cool hotels, cosy cafes, farmers’ markets, street art and discovering the creative side of a city, you’re in the right place! This site is your shortcut to creating a perfect trip.

What you can find on Bridges and Balloons

We’re here to make your travel planning simple. We put together carefully designed itineraries and travel guides, filled with special places to stay and ways to experience life like a (somewhat hipster) local.

Words that epitomise the style you’ll find on Bridges and Balloons are: creative, cosy, independent, bohemian, boutique, slow, design-led and characterful. We favour a local style of travel, so don’t necessarily hit all the “must-sees”. We like to seek out the creative neighbourhoods, soak up the atmosphere and experience local life.

We favour independents over chains, and while we’re vegetarian, we tend to eat in restaurants that are known to be good for all food rather than just veggie stuff. We always find the best coffee and donuts! Explore our itineraries and destination guides.

And where we stay is important to us: we love guesthouses made from their owner’s dreams, cool design-led hotels, and back-to-nature glamping experiences. We look for the opposite of corporate and bland. And we prioritise the experience over the price, featuring both budget and luxury styles. Explore our special stays section for cool family hotels, hip boutique hotels, glamping experiences and stylish Airbnbs.

And if you’re traveling as a family, head to our family travel section where you’ll find kid-friendly road trips, city guides, unique family hotels and family travel tips to make your trips easier. We’ve even found wineries with playgrounds!

Finally, if you’re living in Bristol or heading this way, I have all the tips on the city. Explore our Bristol section for all the best restaurants, things to do, and, of course, cakes!

Alongside all this, I also share personal stories from along the way: stories of grief, false starts, love, nomadism, working on the road, frustrations, freelancing, confusion, starting a business, and the good, bad and ugly side of travel. Welcome to the ride!

Victoria’s story

Chapter one

I was born and raised in Surrey, an only child to two lovely nurses. I caught the travel bug from my dad who took us away as often as possible. Childhood was filled with package holidays in Europe, big extended family holidays in our caravan in Hayling Island, and the occasional trip to Idaho to visit Dad’s twin.

We even lived in Qatar for a year when I was three with my parents working in a hospital there.

My first taste of solo travel was age 13 on the Spanish exchange where I fell in love with the lifestyle (and a boy!) and travelled back by myself every year after until I finished school. At 15, I did a 5-week school trip to Tanzania, a life changing experience that cemented a passion for both travel and international development work.

The teen years were hard. My dad was ill with alcoholism and died from liver disease when I was 17, and my Mum had progressive MS, which deteriorated over those years. Travel was a respite and an escape from the heaviness of home.


Chapter two

At 18, post-school and before studying English at university, I did a classic English rite of passage and went on a solo gap year around the world, spending six months on the road through Asia, Australasia and the USA.

Travel was now a part of me, and I escaped whenever I could, doing another solo trip to south-east Asia in the long summer break from uni, and then a month camping around Europe. 

It was also the era of cheaper than chips budget flights, so I’d book £3 flights on a whim, heading all around Europe for long weekends.

There was heartache along the way, and I spent one summer couchsurfing around Spain in a bid to mend those wounds – and it worked! I fell in love with Barcelona, which has since become a second home. I even engineered my own redundancy so I could move there for a time.

Post-undergraduate, I worked for Oxfam (I reckon I was one of the first social media consultants, running campaigns on MySpace!). And then I did a postgraduate in journalism before melding the two and working as a writer for the Red Cross while also freelancing as a journalist for a lush magazine called Oh Comely (I got to interview some pretty cool people).


Chapter three

The next years were the start of some of the best times, but also some of the worst.

After years of being friends, Steve and I finally got together and the love story began. We both have adventure in our hearts, and travelled plenty from the get-go, fitting it in around our work. We used to follow our favourite bands, seeing people like Joanna Newsom in Budapest, and the Lumineers and Fleet Foxes in Paris.

But, after years of struggling with MS, my mum died in 2009 and life went black for quite some time. Slowly I passed through the changing shapes of grief. I went on a retreat in the Amazonian jungle, spent time at a Buddhist monastery in Scotland, and generally looked everywhere for ways to ease the pain.

Steve and I bought a house in Peckham, London, but eventually itchy feet got the better of us, and a combination of wanderlust and a drive for healing led to chapter four…


Chapter four

In 2012, Steve and I packed up our lives in London and bought a one-way ticket to Rio. I quit my job and he took his on the road. I was in search of that classic travel cliché: I wanted to “find myself” and work out what it was I truly wanted to do with my life. I was hoping for an epiphany.

And along the way, I had many epiphany moments. I started a creative business, I trained as a yoga teacher, I did a course in nutrition, I learned to program, I started research for several books, I studied mindfulness, I was a digital nomad, I did a foundation course in psychotherapy, I freelanced, I nearly started a yoga retreat, I did the Artist’s Way, taught writing classes, and decided not to knock anything until I’d tried it during a maddening experiment in Bali.

We travelled for around three years, starting in South America, and then slowing down to spend six months in San Pancho (Mexico), six in Ubud (Bali) and another six in Berlin. We were looking for somewhere to live, but nothing quite hit the spot (although Mexico came close) and we eventually made our way back to London, hungry for a community of friends. We still travelled, going on big trips to New Zealand, Australia, Japan and Korea, but we wanted to put down roots and build a homebase to travel from.


Chapter five

We soon remembered the reasons we’d left London in the first place and began our search elsewhere, moving to Bristol in 2016, not long after getting married in a magical forest the year before!

Steve grew up in Bristol and it ticked a lot of boxes with many of the things we loved about London, but without the things we didn’t. We’ve been here ever since and it’s now firmly the place we call home.

We have two sons, Otis and Arlo, and we’re part of a lush community of friends. I no longer freelance and instead work on this blog full-time (yep, you can make good money as a blogger!).

And, of course, travel is still part of the mix. Since having Otis and Arlo, we’ve done many multi-month trips as well as shorter ones close to home. Nowadays, we’re more constrained by the school holidays, but that didn’t stop 2023 from being one of our busiest travel years yet (including trips to Thailand, Spain, California, New England and France!). And I went to Greece by myself too.

So that’s where we’re at now: Bristol is our homebase but we travel as much as we can. And we love that balance of community and adventure.

But looking back on our track record, I guess it’s hard to say what will come next. Perhaps we’ll continue like this, or maybe one year we’ll do a family gap year. The wanderlust lives on. But unlike before, I’m no longer fixated on finding an answer. As some wise fellow once said, “the journey is the destination”. 


Get to know me better

As well as on this blog, you can also find me on Instagram, Pinterest and TikTok. Come say hi!

Or send a good old fashioned email to [email protected]

And sign up to my monthly newsletter for travel tips and inspiration.

FAQs: Travel

This is nearly always the question I get asked first when people find out I work in travel. And it’s sooo hard to answer because it depends so much on the context. I’d say Mexico is the country that stole my heart the most (we nearly moved there after all). But Barcelona is also like a second home to me and the place I’ve returned to the most. Then for those one-off once-in-a-lifetime holidays, I think I’d choose Japan, New Zealand and Brazil. And of course I also have a soft spot for the USA – especially California and New England – I think it’s because I spent so much time watching American TV as a child that it feels oddly familiar but also hyper-real.

Ah, I was so worried about this when Otis started school. Attendance rules are really strict here in the UK (you can even be penalised in court if you miss too many days!). But luckily, there are actually a lot of school holidays to travel in, including two weeks over Christmas and Easter, six weeks in the summer, and three more week-long holidays over the year. It’s quite a lot to play with. The big problem is that all the flight and accommodation prices go up during the school holidays, so it’s certainly made things less affordable. That said, our school is quite flexible in allowing us a day off ahead of the end of term in order to avoid those price hikes.

I travelled solo for years, and then as a couple for even longer, but nowadays I do the majority of my travels with my family. I do solo trips here and there, but for the most part I really love travelling with Steve and the kids.

All the countries I’ve written about can be found on the destinations page. But a full list of the ones I’ve been to are: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Latvia, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Singapore, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, UK, USA, Vatican City and Vietnam.

It’s changed over the years. I paid for my original gap year at 18 out of a mixture of earnings from summer jobs and money I earned as a child model!! After that, I generally just scrimped and saved, and travelled on a budget, often using couchsurfing.com, which helped save the pennies. I became an expert at finding cheap flights!

Nowadays, Steve and I both have fairly well paid jobs, so that’s part of it. And I’m also lucky to sometimes partner with brands who help fund some of the accommodation etc. That said, the majority of it is out of our own pockets.  

We use Home Exchange a lot, which was a natural progression from years of couchsurfing. Read more about why we love it here.

And finally, I’ll be upfront, I’m nowadays much more privileged than I was growing up. The untimely deaths of my parents meant I have a degree of financial security. But never think that lucky – there’s no real upside to that loss.

I get asked this question a lot and I’m afraid it’s not a service I offer at the moment. I am looking into it though.

So many of you have requested this, so it’s something I’m working on now. The first ones should be available in 2024! Exciting!

FAQs: Blogging

I do, but only since the start of 2023. Before that I also worked freelance as a writer and editor, most recently editing a magazine for the MS Society. I worked in communications for NGOs for years, and also as a journalist, mostly doing interviews and first-person narrative. I’m still open to freelance gigs from time to time – I just no longer need them financially. 

I also only work a four-day week. I spend the other day looking after Arlo. Steve does the same.

I started this blog in 2012 when we started on our indefinite travels. It was a natural progression for me as I’d worked on websites and blogs for years for organisations like Oxfam and the Red Cross. I had also run a blog about London with friends for a while after my journalism course, so it made sense to start my own.

The first question anyone asks when they hear I’m a full-time blogger! There are lots of ways to make money blogging and everyone has a slightly different model. But for me, the majority of my income is from advertising and affiliates. Whenever you book something that I’ve recommended, I get a small commission, and all of that adds up. The site gets 250k page views per month after all!

I occasionally do paid campaigns where someone pays me to write about a destination, but that’s very rare (and I always disclose it if that’s the case). I’m an old school blogger rather than a social media influencer, so my focus is on ads and affiliates rather than paid campaigns.

I’d say around 95% of the blog is written by me, but I do accept guest posts from time to time for places I haven’t visited myself. I always make that clear in the intro.

Let me know if you have a destination you’d like to write about!

I also have two assistants who help with SEO, general admin and uploading posts.

I’ve been to all the destinations I write about (I travel a lot!). And when there’s a place I haven’t been to, I ask other writers to contribute. There are a few collaborative posts with other bloggers you can find on the site – and they’ve all been to the places they’re writing about too.

However, when I write a ‘best hotels’ post, I haven’t necessarily stayed at every hotel. These posts are a way to share my extensive research. When planning a trip, I make a shortlist of the best places I find and then I share those with you. I make sure to read lots of reviews so I know they’re genuinely good recommendations. And I often stay in more than one place in a destination, so we can provide as many personal reviews as possible.

Ahhh, I know they’re annoying. I’d also prefer they weren’t there, but I have to make a living somehow! This blog takes hours to put together and it’s free for you to read, so the ads are what make that possible.

I miss the way Bridges and Balloons used to be!

I hear you. When I started the blog, it was a mostly a hobby and a creative outlet. I had no idea I could make it a career. As such, it was much more whimsical, and I wrote a lot more about my personal journey. That’s what blogging was like back in 2012!

I started out very anti-advertising and resisted advice to focus on SEO rather than writing whatever I wanted. But in the end, as time went on, savings ran out, the internet evolved, and I realised I could make a living from this website, I decided to focus more on the useful travel guide posts rather than the whimsical ones. I do miss writing how I used to, but I also think the site is much more useful now.

I’m pondering plans to re-introduce more creative writing, potentially in the form of blog posts, interviews, or even a book, but first I’m focussing on how to make this sustainable as it is (I essentially need a team as there’s just not enough time in the day!).

34 thoughts on “About Bridges and Balloons”

  1. Good for you for going for it! I saw that you love Couchsurfing — we do too. We’ve met so many wonderful people through it and part of our mission to run a hostel in Scotland is to create a bigger place for all the Couchsurfers to stay 🙂

    All the best to you on your journeys…Oh and I LOVE the balloon background of your website. Gorgeous.

    • Thanks Rachel. The balloons were Steve’s handiwork. I do agree that they are rather lovely.
      And yes, Couchsurfing – we love it! Did you see our other site http://www.ifihadasuperpower.com , which is mostly made up of interviews with couchsurfers?
      Hostel Hub sounds like a brilliant idea. I hope it goes well for you. If we’re ever in Scotland we’ll be sure to look you up.

  2. Love love love your blog, Steve and Victoria. You are living the dream that my boyfriend and I dream of daily. I recently quit my J.O.B. (Just Over Broke) this year to start my own business as an international education agency in hopes of having the flexibility to live anywhere in the world while helping others. Thank you for continuing to inspire me to keep reaching for the TRUE dream 🙂

    • Thanks Lydia. It’s wonderful to hear from people following their dreams. It’s a lot of work setting up on your own but, for me, the benefits are absolutely worth it. Today, I’m writing this from La Paz. I need to work for most of the day but, afterwards, I know I can go out and explore this incredible city. Being location-independent is mine and Steve’s dream. Good luck with your agency and dreams. They sound excellent.

  3. Hi Victoria and Steve! Just discovered your blog and I’m just loving it! I began travel blogging during a post graduation trip to Southeast Asia last year and I’m taking off again in November – to South America! I’ve got similar plans as you guys in that I’m not really planning at all. Just hoping to stay on the road for as long as possible. I know its a large continent but if we happen to end up gallivanting in the same area at some point, I’d love to meet up with some fellow bloggers! I’ll be traveling solo so I’m trying to make lots of contacts in the region (mostly so I can hand my mom a list and say- see! i’m not traveling alone!) 🙂 safe travels!

    • Hi Britany, Of course, we’d love to meet up with you if our paths cross. We’ll likely be in Ecuador/Colombia in November and then heading up through Central America. Hope to see you, Victoria

  4. What an attractive looking website. Outside and inside. Look forward to following your stories and I hope our roads will cross one day. (We are in Brazil and will be heading for the Andes in January).

    • Thanks for the kind words Karin. I’m pleased you like it! And yes, that would be lovely if our paths crossed. We’re in Mexico now, then who knows!

  5. I just started following your blog and find it so inspiring. You are both very brave for doing what you’re doing and many of us wish we could follow suit! Makes me wish that my husband and I were still expats. Thanks for sharing your stories.

  6. Hey guys! How’s life?

    I discovered your blog, and it’s fantastic! I love your idea of travelling and sharing, and completely understand your passion, I’m a travel addict too ^^

    It’s just what I was looking for! I and my friend Flavia are working on a project. We would like to interview people who believe in an alternative, different world and work on that changing their way of living. And we’ll do that on the road, retracing the Hippie Trail toward East. It would be fantastic to interview you, if you’re gonna be around!!

    If you like, have a look here 😉

    Stay Bum,

    • Thank you. Steve uses a Canon 5D Mark 2 camera. He also has a Canon 24-70 L lens, and we use Colour Efex Pro for editing. I also have a Canon G12, which is especially handy for macro shots and when we don’t want to lug the big camera around.
      Pleased you like the photos 🙂

  7. Victoria,

    I am really loving your blog – I can’t stop reading. Your “Eat Pray Lovers” article was quite interesting and I couldn’t help but nod and agree. I also really liked your article about what life would have been like if you stayed in your hometown – it struck a chord in me. Anyway, I’ll be following along, friend.


    • Thanks Marissa. I’m so pleased you like it. Thanks for reading and I’m delighted you’ll be following. LOVE the name of your blog, by the way.

  8. Victoria/Steve,

    Love your blog! I’m actually down in Cabo right now with my folks on an adventure of our own. I actually helped make a tool for travelers to share their adventures.

    It’s called StoryApp (https://www.itunes.com/apps/StoryApp) and it records your voice over a series of photos. You basically tell the story of your trip using the photos you already took and your voice describing it.

    I’d love to know if it’s as fun for you as it has been for us!

    Hope all is well!

  9. Hi Victoria, Steve!
    First of all I would like to congratulate you on the lovely blog which you run! It’s very informative and fun to navigate from people who love travelling like me!
    I wanted to let you know a bit about my new venture with the hope of tempting you to visit our beautiful island, Gozo!
    I am the owner of Gozo Segway Tours, a new, fun and eco-friendly way to explore Gozo’s hidden treasures! If ever you are in Gozo please make sure to let me know as I would love to take you on one of our lovely sightseeing tours and to personally meet you!
    In the meantime take care and safe travels!

  10. You have such a beautiful and colorful blog! Your posts are interesting and make me dream all the time! I just have one question for you: can you tell me what theme you’re using for your blog?
    Thanks! Keep going!

    • Thank you! We don’t actually use a theme per se. Instead we use the Genesis Framework with the Dynamik Theme Builder by Cobalt Apps. The site was designed by Steve initially and then updated by Hannah at Further Bound. I coded it with Dynamik 🙂 Hope that helps…

  11. You have indeed inspired me Victoria! I would love to spend time with you in a cafe with a coffee and cake and hear more.

    We share a similar zest for writing, journeys and self-exploration… my family is off again for seven months in Buenos Aires to experience the city and explore South America. I pinned a lot of ideas from your blog and am particularly interested in Salta and Cloudhead. It sounds like the experience I’ve been seeking for my husband and I and two daughters, 12 and 15 years old.

    Now that I’ve found you, looking forward to more. Muchas gracias por todo.

    • Thanks for such a lovely comment! Lucky you off to Buenos Aires. It’s such a great place. I feel pretty nostalgic for it right about now! You’ll have a lovely time with Cloudhead. Leigh and Noah are great! Have a wonderful time x

  12. Interesting! How did you two meet, by the way? How did your paths cross? Maybe you already write it somewhere, and I just missed it. Anyways, nice to get to know you two and your lovely, inspirational blog!

  13. Hola Victoria y Steve!
    What a beautiful site you have! Found it extremely creative. And so refreshing!
    I left my career and country ( Argentina) 15 years ago to marry a a british gentleman… Together we lived in 7 countries and 3 continents. Our daughter Gala was born in Mexico. We LOVE moving around and we are always planning our next city… I just started my own blog and while I was searching for inspiration I found yours… Thank you for sharing your incredible story! Sorry to hear about your papi!
    Wish you all the best!

    • Thanks for your lovely comments Vane. Sounds like you have had lots of adventures too! Wishing you all the best too. Happy travels! (P.s. Gala is such a lovely name!)

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