Breakfast Criminals has grown into something so much more than just photos of my healthy breakfasts. It is a movement, a community of people who care about health, listening to your body, living fully, and following your dreams. That’s why the “Superfood Breakfasts With Wildly Inspiring Women” series is very dear to me. In it, I interview women who have found what makes them feel alive, and turned it into a career, inspiring thousands of others along the way. Next up is the incredibly inspiring, Brooke Saward of World Of Wanderlust, who seems to be living a dream lifestyle without having to pay for it. What’s her secret?
With a whopping 110K followers on Instagram (more that the population of her hometown in Tasmania, Australia), the world-traveling, book-writing, blogging beauty Brooke Saward in person is not what one might expect. I had no expectations before I met Brooke in Central Park. She came wearing a pretty floral dress, and she blew me away with her rawness, openness, and inside out beauty. The more we talked (while indulging açaí bowls that I made), the more I realized that Brooke is a fellow old soul that has a special gift to share with the world… here are some things we talked about – including loneliness, dealing with criticism, following your passion, and her secrets to success, in the most revealing interview to date.
Follow brooke on worldofwanderlust.com (amazing travel resource!), Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Just for Breakfast Criminals, Brooke has shared a $7 discount on her book telling the full World Of Wanderlust story – get it here.
I saw your photos from the Pierre. The view is amazing!
It is! There is actually no one else on my floor, so it’s super quiet. There is one other residential apartment, but I was told that those renters are only there once or twice a year. Imagine who would be able to actually afford that year round and only be there once or twice a year?
That’s very New York, city of extremes.
Yeah, someone was telling me that people like Yoko [Ono] volunteer in Central Park. They don’t have a garden and live right around the Park, so this is like their garden that they take care of. Interesting.
“I have massive breakfasts. It’s my favorite meal of the day, because I think that if you have a good breakfast, you have a good day.”
I didn’t know that. So what do you normally eat for breakfast?
I’m a massive fan of granola and yogurt, as you probably have seen on my Instagram. The only food photos I have of breakfast are greek yogurt, granola, and honey. That’s pretty much all I ever eat, but I have massive breakfasts. It’s my favorite meal of the day, I think that if you have a good breakfast, you have a good day. You know what I mean? If you have a really big breakfast, you get going, and then you don’t get hungry during the day. You don’t think about it, and you just keep going and you can do everything you want to do without having to stop for food. So what do we have here?
This is a superfood açaí bowl.
I’m so excited! I haven’t had açaí since I was in Hawaii last year.
That’s where I got hooked on it! I had it in Haleiwa, and then I came to New York, tried it in a couple of places, and realized that it’s just not the same. In hawaii it’s prepared with a soul, everything there has a soul. And I was missing that, so I just started making my own açaí bowls, posting photos on Instagram, and somehow it took off.
It’s such a cool Instagram! Your heart bowls are really cool too. I love this idea that what you put into your body is what you get back out from the world. For some people, what you post on Breakfast Criminals is just a pretty picture, but it’s really about a deeper mind-body connection.
Exactly! Thank you. The heart bowl is an awesome reminder to give yourself love, and nourish yourself first thing in the morning. And you’re righ, when you have a satisfying breakfast, you feel so much better throughout the day. This açaí bowl is made with banana, peach, strawberries, mangoes, raspberries, raw cacao, coconut water, granola and coconut chips.
So pretty much everything good? Do you eat like this all the time?
“For some people, what you post on Breakfast Criminals is just a pretty picture, but it’s really about a deeper mind-body connection.”
I’m so jealous!
That’s something I need to work on. When you’re traveling all the time, you just can’t do this. Everywhere I go they’ll have welcome chocolates, they’ll give you gifts, and want you to go appear for afternoon teas, and it’s all sweets and treats. And you can never feel like you’re actually giving your body good stuff. It’s all just processed stuff, it’s so frustrating. I’ve put on 7 kilos since leaving home.
You’re perfect the way you are! So tell me, how do you take your photos? Do you ask passers by?
No, for most most of them I set up a tripod. I find that when I ask people, it never turns out how I want it. They won’t get me in the center, or they’ll do something silly. People just don’t see things the way that you see them.
What about this one on the Brooklyn Bridge?
I asked an Australian girl to take this one. She’s gone home now, but it was so nice having someone around for a few days.
Here you go [passing on the acai bowl in a heart].
Thank you. I need to take a photo of that!
So do I, it’s part of the ritual.
What are these?
They’re raw cacao nibs. I don’t eat anything without them anymore. So good! You know açaí bowls are huge in Australia, right?
Yeah, I think everything healthy s really popular in Australia just, because the climate is quite warm and it makes you bc it’s always feel like eating good. Whereas if you’re in the cold weather, you crave comfort food.
Comfort food can also be healthy!
True. I’m veggo and really love healthy soups.
You’d do well in Russia soup-wise!
Are you from Russia?
Yes! You’ve been, right?
Yes, I went there last year and saw Moscow and St. Petersburg, and it was the most amazing thing. I think Russia, Morocco, South Africa, are the really out of the way places that not many people go to, and I love introducing them.
“When you’re in a room of so many people, you feel so alone.”
Was there someone in Russia to show you around?
I had a boyfriend last year, and he traveled with me for 6 weeks. It was one of those make or break things, and after we got home, we weren’t going to deal with each other. When I travel, sometimes I prefer being by myself, and sometimes I just want someone there to talk to.
Right. With the amount of followers you have, you are kind of connected to someone in some way at all times. What has that given you?
There are two sides to it. When you’re in a room of so many people, you feel so alone. You feel like everyone’s watching, but there’s no one actually talking to you, even though I do talk back to fans and followers all the time. It’s hard because they they only see one side of everything that’s happening.
It’s not about having followers, it’s more about me showing them something. I’m showing my followers things they normally wouldn’t see, so it’s opening up their minds to something new. So I don’t really think that more followers means that much, I see it as me showing people a different way of living, and a different idea of how to follow their dreams. That’s essentially what it is: I love travel, that’s all I wanted to do. Now I’m doing it, and getting paid to do it. Every day I wake up thinking, “wow, what am I doing”?
There’s a downside to it, too. You come across a lot of criticism, and it gets hard because people are saying, “how come you went here and you didn’t do that”, and sometimes I did do it, but just didn’t upload a photo of it. People think that everything that you put out there is your life, but every day I do hundreds of little things that I just don’t post. When I got to Ireland, a few people had said, “how come you didn’t upload as many photos of Barcelona as other places?” It’s because I was so sick and couldn’t leave the hotel room. You feel like you’re disappointing people, when in reality they’re only seeing one side of the story.
Having a huge number of followers doesn’t come without criticism. How do you deal with it?
I used to take it to heart, but now when I read the content of the comments with criticism, I realized that it says more about them than about me. So I don’t really take it personally anymore. Sometimes it can be really harsh thought, and I just delete or block those.
Another thing with having a lot of followers, is that you go through a stage where you’re uploading photos for gratification. I went through it, and wouldn’t upload a photo unless it was perfect. Then I reached on a point where i was like, “hang on a second, I’m a person too!” And since then I don’t mind uploading more “real” photos – like riding in a cab, etc.
“I’ve learned to accept that at 22, I’m never gonna be a tall, slim supermodel, so why eat that way?”
And you’re only 22, correct?
I’m 22, turning 23 soon.
This is really impressive. You’ve already found the courage to do what you love and you’re living it.
Thank you. It’s a bit weird, I just graduated last year.
Did you decide to do this full time as soon as you graduated?
I was studying law and international relations, which in australia is a 5-year-degree. During my last year, at school, I started my blog and at the same time, I came to New York for a debating competition with Harvard with the Australian team… super nerdy. I did that for two weeks and after that, I was doing a bit of soul searching and thinking that I don’t want to be a lawyer. It’s not me, I don’t enjoy it.
I love traveling, and i just started my blog, so I decided to face my parents and tell them that I don’t want to do law anymore. So I dropped out and just finished school with a degree in international relations. I ended up finishing last year by distance so that I could travel and blog at the same time. I also had a part time job at that time. I was juggling all these really important things. My blog started taking off, so on the day I graduated, I booked a one way flight to London.
I know you talk about this in your ebook, World Of Wanderlust Story (which, by the way, is really great!)
Thank you! My book explains the process of becoming a full time travel blogger step by step. I started the blog in December 2012, when I had just got back from a trip with to Thailand with my mom. I went overseas when I was 13, 15 and 17, so prior to the book, I’d already done quite a lot of traveling. I always worked part time to pay for my trips.
I’m the kind of traveler who would rather save more, and spend more on a better experience, that’s why I’ve always stayed at 4 or 5 star hotels and worked more for them. After I came back from the school trip, I went to LA and and reached out to a few hotels introducing my blog, saying something along the lines of “I’ve got this blog, and I’d really like to interview you about your hotel and write about you”. So in the beginning I wasn’t staying at these hotels, and I never asked them to stay for free or to be paid. In a sense, I had to work for free for a while.
There were two properties that had me for lunch, and then I would write about the hotels and what I liked about them. After a while, the tables turned and I started getting requests from hotels that wanted to host me. I don’t get paid for this, but I do get complimentary stays.
So my money comes from other avenues, such as advertising and ebooks. My lifestyle pays for itself (since everything at the hotel is taken care of), and the rest of revenue comes from advertising and ebook sales.
Out of all your travels, where did you find the people to be the most hospitable?
The Irish! I went to Ireland after I got really sick in South Africa. I was admitted to the hospital and was really worn down, I caught a flu and was really out of it. I was by myself in Ireland, and I just hired a car and went around the countryside for a week, and it was the most amazing thing I’ve ever done. I didn’t have anything booked, I just stopped at a B&B and went in, asking for a room. That was really cool, and everyone I met was just so lovely and so friendly.
And then Thai people as well, they are the happiest people in the world.
I agree! I went to Thailand in 2010 by myself. As I was finishing grad school in San Francisco, I was really stressed out with my thesis and personal relationship drama, and I thought to myself, “ok, i just need to get away.” A friend of mine, @myhungrymonster (crazy traveler and foodie) was in Bangkok, and she posted on my Facebook asking me out for a pad thai lunch in Bangkok. A week later, I had a ticket to Thailand. It would have cost more to fly to Mexico on a yoga retreat, than all the way to Thailand. So I just flew to Bangkok and then to Koh Yao Noi, a small island near Phuket, for a yoga retreat. It was magical – the small island, the people, the food, the beach… it’s just one of those places that you look back at get that warm fuzzy feeling inside (I reviewed it here).
Ok, back to you! What’s the craziest breakfast you’ve eaten?
Mmm probably this [points at Breakfast Criminals acai bowl]. Really, really healthy! Everything else is very standard hotel breakfast.
I remember I had granola and yogurt at the hotel that you’re staying at once. It’s huge and so good!
It was good, but they didn’t get the ratio of Greek yogurt to granola right. I had this massive bowl of granola, and this small bowl of yogurt, and I’d much rather have it the other way around, with a bit of crunch. It’s funny, I end up comparing all these hotels around the world, and how they do granola. I get really upset when I get to a hotel that doesn’t have granola, but you kind of get tired of it, too. When I’m at the breakfast buffet, I have to stop yourself, because you can’t go for croissant or pain au chocolate every day!
I hear you! When I’m at home, I eat so many greens and vegetables, but when I’m on vacation, I don’t limit myself in anything. How do you stay balanced when you’re kind of on vacation all the time?
It’s really hard! I think it’s one of those things where everyone’s body is different and I’ve learned to accept that at 22, I’m never gonna be a tall, slim supermodel, so why eat that way? I’m just going to eat however suits my body. However, I don’t eat meat, or rice, pasta or potatoes (they don’t sit well with me). I’m always up for trying new things though, I think that’s the most important thing when you travel.
What will be the first thing you will do when you come home after this trip?
I’ve been traveling for 6 months now, and i won’t go home for another six months. The longest trip I’ve taken before this was six weeks, and the first thing I did when I came home was see my big dog, who’s usually out in the backyard. I really miss him. Six months without seeing your dog is a long time. Then, I will go to my local sushi place. And then I will go to my local burger joint that does a really good vegan burger. Sometimes I just want to go to my local place where I know what to order, I know the person who will bring the food, and they will bring me the extra sauce that I want without asking. It’s those little things… I can’t wait to for that feeling of homeliness, and be with my family. I’m really really close to my little brother, he’s 11. When I’m at home, on Friday nights, l’ll stay in and watch a movie with my dad. Family is everything, they’ve supported me from the beginning.
What about friendships?
I feel like I’ve reached that age when everyone’s starting to follow their own direction. People couple off, then they start buying houses and having kids – at least where I live, because I came from a small town. Everyone’s gotta settle down early and find someone because they feel like they’ll be left alone if they don’t. All my friends either have a husband, fiancee, or a kid. I feel like because of traveling, I never had that small town mentality. When I talk to people back home, it’s still the same but, you do drift different ways.
“Being 100% committed to what I do, following it, and seeing where it goes, that’s what led me to this amazing life.”
Do you feel like you have the support from your community back home?
I come from Launceston, Tasmania [which has less inhabitants than the number of Brooke’s followers]. It’s a funny thing, I’ve done interviews for the Croatian newspapers and for other countries, but there’s not much support from back home. There’s a thing in Australia called “tall poppy syndrome.”. Have u ever heard of it? It’s when people don’t want to see other people they know being successful. It’s massive in Australian media, and the papers will tear down local celebrities if they can. Then, alternative publications will come out and write about it as the “tall poppy syndrome.”
“I never twerked or got drunk on camera so it could be worse than a picture of a horse in Central Park uploaded to Instagram. I’m still a wholesome grounded person that’s just living a life and doing these amazing things.”
Do you sometimes feel like you need to “switch off” and take a break from social media?
Yes, sometimes I just want to be present and actually enjoy the moment without being on my phone or laptop. I remember I was sitting on the edge of a cliff overlooking the ocean in Ireland, and it was just stunning. I just sat there for an hour without talking to anyone and doing anything, and I had all these emotions come through me. It’s always unplanned, I feel like that when I need it, my body does it for me.
Do you believe in synchronicity? And what do you think your keys to success have been?
I believe that we all have a purpose in life and everything happens for a reason, so I never question anything. If tomorrow something happens back home and I need to go back, I’ll go without thinking. If a big job comes up and I have to fly to Antarctica, I’ll do it. I think being 100% committed to what I do, following it, and seeing where it goes, that’s what led me to this amazing life. It’s about having faith in everything you do. I have no fears or expectations. For example, I never had the fear of being turned down by a company. It’s actually funny, a few companies I would have liked to worked with in the beginning that turned me dow are now approaching me and willing to spend a lot of money to work with me. I’m not the kind of person who won’t do it just out of principle, so I go with it. I think this attitude of not taking everything so seriously is key.
“Do what you’re passionate about. Go with the flow. Have no fears or expectations. Don’t take yourself too seriously.”
When you do what you’re passionate about, you just can’t go wrong, because you’re always going to enjoy it. You’re never going to look at it as work. I love every single of what I do, and then I look back and realize that I haven’t had a day off in 6 months. But I don’t even realize it. That’s why I didn’t want to be a lawyer in the end – when I started school I was very idealistic and felt that I could really help people, but then realized that the profession is not what I envisioned. Is that how you feel about fashion?
In a way. I’m lucky to work for a company [Visual Therapy] mission of which is to help people be the best version of themselves through aligning their image and identity. So it’s not fashion in its superficial sense. But I’m definitely don’t have the passion for fashion that I had before I started working in it.
I like that idea. It gives more purpose to fashion. I always get the question, “What are you wearing?” But I don’t really care or tap into it. It’s not that important. To me, you can use fashion to represent what you believe in, or even how you feel about yourself. If you wear a skimpy little going out dress, then obviously you’re not valuing yourself as much as if you wear wore something more wholesome.
“You can use fashion to represent what you believe in, or even how you feel about yourself.”
Want more? Follow Brooke’s adventures at @WorldWanderlust.