Featured traveller: Leslie Baird – BJJ Globetrotters

Leslie Baird - BJJ Globetrotters

Age: 30

Belt: Blue

Profession: Nanny

How many years in BJJ: 3.5

Other martial arts: Boxing (11 years)

Where do you live: Currently London

Where are you from: Scotland

Other fun or curious information you would like to share: I’ve been to 76 countries so far and have lived in 4 countries (not including the UK)

Leslie Baird – BJJ Globetrotters

Tell us what inspired you to travel and train?
I’ve always loved travelling. I’ve been travelling since I was 19 and started boxing in Australia just to keep fit and then basically that spiralled into more martial arts and travel. It’s a great way to meet new people in new countries, especially when travelling alone.

Tell us about your most recent travel and your upcoming travel – where have you been and where are you going?
Currently this year has been a lot of European travel, including two camps in Estonia. I’m trying to keep the cost down as I spent three months in Africa (11 countries) last year camping and overland trucking.

As for upcoming trips, I have a trip to Iraq in October which I’m very excited about. Hoping to do some BJJ in Saddam Hussein’s palace.

Leslie Baird – BJJ Globetrotters

What are the things you enjoy about travelling?
Meeting new people and experiencing new cultures, and definitely the food. Also learning new things – I always seem to leave a place with some new fact, usually weird and wonderful.

Can you give us some examples of experiences you had that makes it worth traveling and training?
So I don’t always train when I travel. Often I travel solo to places which don’t seem to have gyms. I find it pretty fun to meet other travellers or locals who are keen to learn a few basics and end up showing them some things. Whilst in Africa last year I ended up showing a local guy from Zimbabwe armbars and triangles while we were on a house boat on the Zambezi River. We got told off several times by the captain, as he was scared we would fall off into the croc and hippo-infested water, but it was definitely a lot of fun. I love showing people who haven’t had the chance to learn or even try it. Looking forward to try and teach a few people in Iraq a thing or two.

Non-training examples are meeting and experiencing amazing people and things. From walking up hills for views in Samoa and being stopped by literally every person because they are that friendly and want to say hi and even giving you free fruit from their plantation because it’s customary, to having a local tap tattoo done in a beach hut next to a guy receiving his pe’a (from knee to bottom back tattoo, needs to be finished or it’s dishonour to family) being chased by elephants in Zimbabwe and having zebras sleeping next to our tents, to playing netball with local girls in Malawi. It’s all simply wonderful.

What has so far been the most surprising experience for you when traveling?
How kind people can be. I started travelling when I was 19 and moved halfway across the world. I had so many strangers look out for me. I used to door knock as my first job and I was terrible at it, but I met some wonderful people by knocking on their door and often would get homemade dinners to take home with me. I was even invited to spend Christmas with another family I met doing the job. Obviously you always have to be careful, especially as a solo female, but I think if you always show kindness then most people will show the same. Even had the most wonderful experience in Yemen where I was invited to the house of a local woman who didn’t speak any English and we ended up having the funniest and most genuine “conversation” with the few random words I knew in Arabic and hand gestures and pointing to things. I think simply smiling is the international language that we all know.

Leslie Baird – BJJ Globetrotters

Are you a budget traveller – and if so how do you plan for a cheap trip?
I used to only be a budget traveller, but not always now that I’ve gotten older. Tips are: cook at hostel, find fellow travellers to cook with, and meal share. If you know you’re going somewhere expensive, pack some dry packets of rice or pasta etc. Also walking everywhere is incredible – you usually find some secret treasure and obviously it’s a free mode of transport.

If you were to pass on travel advice to your fellow Globetrotters, what would it be?
Just go! Go somewhere new that you barely know much about or somewhere that scares you. You will be pleasantly surprised at how wonderful places can be.

Thank you to Leslie Baird – BJJ Globetrotters for making this interview!