I’m a former Seattle-native turned Melbourne-local obsessed with chaotic overseas adventures, long backcountry treks, scuba diving in exotic places, and discovering unexpected moments of real magic in between.
I created this blog in 2013 to share travel photos and stories with my friends and family back home— but Brooke Around Town has since evolved to include a range of travel itineraries, “what to do” lists for unique destinations, and hiking guides for overnight treks around the world, all designed to help you plan your own off-the-beaten-path adventure. This is how it all started.
Seattle to Sydney
I grew up in Seattle, Washington, a rainy (but beautiful) corner of the world where I spent most of my childhood backpacking to remote alpine lakes, travelling around North America and Europe on family holidays, and just generally developing a love for adventure.
After high school, I felt like I needed to write some excitement into my story— so I moved to Australia (read more in this post) to study Medical Science in Wollongong, a sunny beach town near Sydney that couldn’t be more different than my native PNW. (I originally planned to live in Australia just for 3 years, but spoiler alert: I’m still here 8 years later and just got my permanent residency).
During these first few years in Australia, I was exposed to a culture that emphasised, and even prioritised, international travel in a way I’d never experienced before, encouraging me to work extra hours during uni and save every possible cent towards travels of my own.
When I finally left on my first big backpacking trip through South East Asia in 2013, I already knew this was going to become a lifelong obsession.
Brooke Around Town
After starting Brooke Around Town on that first incredible trip, I continued to study, save, and travel about 4 months of every year, backpacking around Latin America, more of Asia, Europe, North America, and lots of Oceania before I finished my Medical Science degree in 2015.
I worked in Melbourne for a brief period, with the intention of saving for a multi-year trip or another big international move, but a scholarship offer that was simply too good to refuse eventually took me back to Sydney to do my PhD in Biomechanics.
Thankfully, I had as much freedom as ever to travel 4 months of the year, backpacking around Europe a few more times, Africa twice, North America, and lots of Latin America between conducting research and writing my dissertation.
Travelling and blogging became a real sanctuary during those years, where I just needed to unclench and actually enjoy the present moment instead of constantly fretting about the work that was waiting for me in the lab.
Seeing a sunrise over the desert or reaching a breathtaking summit after days on the trail was always the perfect re-grounding, a reminder that these experiences are far more real than the stress that seemed to rule my life at home.
Although I’m grateful now to have my PhD, I’m also insanely grateful that I’ll never have to be that stressed out again. AND that I can now buy airline tickets as Dr Brooke Brisbine 🙂
My travel philosophy
Over the last 7 years, I’ve travelled to nearly 50 countries on 6 continents and ticked some amazing things off my bucket list, all while living on my own in a foreign country and studying full time to get multiple degrees, including a doctorate.
People often ask me how I afford to travel so much (or ask my parents how much money they’re giving me), but the truth is that I’ve paid for every trip on my own by working multiple jobs with insane hours and prioritising travel over other expenses.
I don’t want to take my privilege for granted, but I also know that I’ve worked incredibly hard to build the kind of life where I can travel 4-5 months of the year. I’ve eaten instant noodles for months on end, I’ve sold everything I own on Gumtree more than once, and I used to walk an hour home from work at 4am every night so that I didn’t have to buy a car. I’ve never doubted for a second that it was worth it, even to spend just 1 more day travelling.
The point is, you don’t need a wealthy benefactor to see the world. I routinely share tips on my blog for DIY excursions, solo hikes, and other excellent ways to maximise adventure on a shoestring budget. Almost anyone can travel, you just have to want it badly enough.
For me, travel isn’t about escaping “real life”.
The sounds and smells and energy of a new country. The connections you form with people, regardless of background or language. The blood, sweat, and tears you sacrifice to reach beautiful, far-flung places. The understanding and compassion you develop for the world.
This is real life.
I’m also the most authentic version of myself when I travel, free from self-imposed stress or outside pressure to achieve all of the things I’m supposed to want but really don’t know if I do, and I want to share these experiences on my blog— to encourage others to go somewhere magical and feel the same kind of glow.
I hope to inspire other travellers to visit unique places without a guide or tour group whenever possible, to travel longer for less money, to seek authentic experiences beyond the perfect Instagram shot, and to really find themselves in the intoxicating chaos of a foreign country or on the unforgiving climb to an obscure mountain pass.
When you can’t speak the language, don’t know a single person (yet), haven’t washed your hair in a week, and don’t have any mobile reception, it’s a lot easier to separate what actually makes you happy from what looks good to other people. My blog is all about seeking those kinds of experiences when you travel.
What’s next for Brooke Around Town
After finishing my PhD in 2019 and moving to Melbourne (again), I actually got a big girl job as a medical research scientist and sessional academic at a university. It’s the perfect gig for me, because I can take several months off to travel or even do a lot of my data analysis and writing remotely (e.g. from a hostel in South America!).
Sadly, COVID-19 ended up cancelling all of my major travel plans for 2020, but I’m using this time to catch up on heaps of blog posts and save like mad for the multi-year trip that I’ve been dreaming about FOREVER. This crazy year even ended up being a secret blessing, as I was forced to stay in the country long enough for my Australian permanent residency to finally come through!
I can’t say for sure what’s to come next year or farther into the future for me, but rest assured it will be filled with adventure and that I’ll be documenting it all here.
xx Brooke (Around Town)
10 random facts about me
1. I’m definitely a crazy cat lady— my little kitty, Henri, is the love of my life and I am equally obsessed with big cats. I cried the first time I saw a leopard on safari in South Africa!
2. I absolutely LOVE nachos, and when I was little, I went through a several-year phase where I refused to eat anything but. I’ve since broadened my diet (and I’ll eat absolutely anything now, including weird local delicacies), but I still have nachos at every available opportunity.
3. I’m an only child, so I spent a lot of time one-on-one with my parents when I was growing up. We are still incredibly close, even though I live on the other side of the world from them, and we travel somewhere exciting together at least once a year.
4. I am REALLY not a morning person, so most of my blog writing happens after dark (and similarly, so does any data analysis or lesson planning for my job). Nighttime is when I feel the most alert and inspired!
5. My drink of choice is either a gin & tonic or negroni (because I am an elderly Italian gentleman).
6. I did my Advanced Open Water SCUBA Diver certification in Thailand back in 2013, dived a bit around Australia, New Zealand, and South East Asia after that, and then recently rekindled my love for diving in the Galápagos! I dream of becoming a Dive Master one day.
7. I have always loved medicine and science, and I’m motivated by the thought that I could someday help people live healthier, happier, better lives through my work. My PhD research focused on preventing injuries for female athletes and I’ve since been involved with a few awesome companies that are working on injury prevention strategies.
8. I’ll try anything twice.
9. I took a bit of Spanish in high school and still remember most of it, which was majorly useful both times I did long trips around Latin America— but I’m still a LONG way from conversational and that’s a goal of mine.
10. I’m probably the least athletic person in the world, and it’s just one of the many reasons why I love hiking— it makes me feel strong and capable (and requires very little hand-eye coordination).