And we are back to our On The Road Interview Series! Today we are so excited to talk about travel and jobs abroad with Ms. Belle de Neige. Chalet girl in the Alps, hilarious blogger, and now a published writer, she’s a 30-year-old girl from the UK that prefers to remain anonymous. No wonder why when she defines herself and her blog as Chalet Girl. Up the mountain, bringing you illicit gossip and tales of extraordinary catastrophe, sex, and squalor from the Alpine underbelly.
I hope you enjoy his stories of Alpine knowledge as much as we do! Vital if you are planning to work on the slopes as a seasonnaire next winter!
- Tell us a bit about yourself and how you started to travel. Do you remember your 1st travel experience? Why are you (if that’s so…) passionate about traveling?
If you were to ask me which travel experiences have shaped me the most during my life, it always comes back to the mountains. I’ve been all over the world to the most beautiful places, from South Africa to Udaipur in India, Morocco, Thailand, but my most potent childhood travel memories are all tied up it car rides to and from the Italian dolomites with my parents.
I have always found the mountains so completely awe-inspiring and mysterious, yet the ice and the snow – the lightness there during the winter – seems to make everything feel so clear and simple.
I’d cry for weeks after a skiing holiday when we came home. My Mum used to say in another life she must have been a tree on a mountainside. Well, I think I must be one of her pine cones!
Now that we know where do you come from… could you tell us where are you heading to? Which are your plans for the future in terms of traveling?
Right now I’m being sensible and concentrating on my career. I’ve just published a book about my experiences working as a ‘chalet bitch’ in a ski resort for three years, so I’m sticking around in the UK to promote that.
But I have one eye on the mountains at all times. I’ve never been to the Himalayas – I think that might be the next stop. Next year I’d like to throw a few things in a rucksack and go an explore some new hills.
What do you think of traveling with a purpose or meaning in mind? What do you look for when traveling long term?
Traveling is an immense privilege. It commands perspective. It makes you look inwards and outwards. I went traveling because at the time I felt I was only a 10th of the person I could have been. And I was right!
When you look at disaffected people in the UK – particularly young people – I think it’s such a shame you can’t just grab one of them, stick them at the top of a mountain for a second and just say, “Hey – look around you. There’s a big world out there, and it’s beautiful. Maybe you should reconsider some of your preconceptions.”
I think the ultimate purpose of traveling is to test yourself and gain consciousness.
To me, the greatest travelers of our time are astronauts as there is a real risk in what they do. That’s not something most of us are able to experience anymore.
Ultimately we’re not on this little bubble in the universe very long. It’s our responsibility to learn as much about it as possible in the time we’re here.
How do you fund your travels? Have you found a job or income source that allows you to be on the road fulltime? Tell us what you do for a living.
I wanted to be on the road full time and I started down that path. I took a load of qualifications so I could work on yachts in the summer and be a chalet host during the winter on a permanent basis. I did work a summer on a yacht, but then I fell in love…and the book has meant I’ve stayed at home more than I intended. I think working on yachts is a fantastic opportunity to see the world whilst earning great money and having no burdens on you, no responsibilities to anyone but yourself – but it can be immensely lonely. I guess I decided if I was going to travel I’d prefer to share it with the one I love. Happiness is nothing if not shared.
I’m hoping that eventually, I’ll sell enough books that I can take a year out and check into some far-flung unusual places. But that’s a pipe dream at the moment!
What would you recommend to someone who wants to follow your steps? Which kind of training or studies is necessary? Would an investment be needed in the first place? Please, give 3 pieces of advice (you wish to have known before starting) of what to do and what to avoid in order to succeed.
When I have children, ski seasons will be compulsory for them. A lot of people tried to tell me giving up my job to go and bum around in a ski resort was going to be career suicide – but I would never have written a book if I hadn’t done it!
And I certainly wouldn’t be as fit, healthy, happy, and proud of myself as I am now.
Three things I wish I’d known before doing a ski season:
- Apply for as many jobs as you can find. Being enthusiastic, friendly, and open will be enough. You don’t need pre-defined skills.
- Excitement and stress go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other.
- Don’t listen to people who say it’s a waste of time. If nothing else you’ll learn how tough you are.
What does a perfect day in your life look like? Do you follow any particular routine?
When I’m in the mountains – a perfect day is usually my day off. I’ll have been working like a dog in the chalet all week, and probably have finished late the night before and gone out partying, so 9 times out of 10 I’ll wake up with a stonking hangover.
That doesn’t matter though – because it’s a bluebird powder day, and I’m heading up a chairlift to get first tracks. On the best days, I’ll run into a big group of friends, ski all day – hopefully, find some fresh powder – but always spend a big chunk of the day laughing.
Do you read, write, draw, listen to music, sing, watch movies, or do something else while traveling? How do you interact with technology these days and which gadgets you definitely take with you everywhere? What is your favorite book? And the movie?
Because of my blog I’ve had to stay quite clued up with Social Media, although I do find it hard work. It’s not my natural state! I do try to take pictures wherever I go and find time to write regular updates, but truth be told when I’m up a mountain I’d rather put my phone away and enjoy the snow.
Do you keep a bucket list? Which are your craziest dreams? Where are your favorite destinations on earth?
Top of the list right now is to hit Japan, with a bunch of guys from my first season. It’s a very different vibe out there in terms of skiing, but I’ve heard enough stories and perved over enough ski movies now to know in terms of powder it’s pretty much Elysium!
Thanks so much, Belle! Hope your travel dreams become true in no time and please, do us a favor: DO NOT QUIT BLOGGING! We couldn’t live without your Alpine tales! 🙂
Photo and video credits: Belle and friends + featured one by AlaskaTeacher