Welcome to my blog! My name is Louise Southerden and I'm a travel writer with a passion for nature, sustainability and low-impact travel. On this page, I'll try to answer a few questions I'm often asked about No Impact Girl and about my travel writing.

Why the superhero name? 
No Impact Girl was inspired by eco-warrior Colin Beavan, aka No Impact Man (which he meant tongue-in-cheek, just as I do with No Impact Girl) who lived for one year with no environmental impact - in New York City. For more on my No Impact Girl experiment, which spawned the blog, see Why "No Impact" Girl?

One of my happy places:
California's Sierra Nevada mtns
Who is Louise Southerden?
Beyond being defined by my work as a travel writer - because I love what I do - I'm happiest when I'm outdoors, preferably in water; I love surfing, swimming and sea kayaking, but also trekking, camping and just being outside. I'm always trying to find ways to live simply and more sustainably.

Originally from Sydney, I'm currently living in northern NSW, Australia, when I'm not living out of a duffel bag on the road (for clues as to my whereabouts, see my latest posts!).

Where can I read your travel stories?
You can read many of my travel features at Traveller (just search for my name), the Fairfax website for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Sun-Herald, which are the publications I write for most regularly.

You can also read here the stories that have won me a few Australian Society of Travel Writers awards, including the prestigious Travel Writer of the Year award, which I've won four times, most recently in 2013.

How did you get into travel writing?
I'd love to say I have a journalism degree and a Masters in Travel Literature, but the truth is I stumbled into travel writing through a side-window (or maybe it was fate). At university I studied zoology and psychology, then worked in social research for six years, which funded my first solo overseas trip where I fell in love with... photography.

Elephant encounter in South Africa
I bought a second-hand SLR camera in London (all manual, and you had to wind on the film using that very cool sideways thumb action - this was almost 20 years ago) and taught myself how to use it on a three-month trip across Africa in the back of a truck.

On returning home to Sydney, I tried to get some of my Africa photos published (I wanted to be a photojournalist, mainly to avoid writing) and discovered that the best way to do that was to write words to go with them. Darn. (Only later did I remember that English had been my best subject at school and I've been keeping a diary since I was 12.)

I still remember the thrill of seeing my first travel story in print. A Day in the Life of an Overlander, in an obscure weekly magazine that existed mainly to advertise secretarial jobs.

Ever written a book?
I've written three books, so far. First, there was Japan, A Working Holiday Guide, after I spent a year and a half living and teaching English in southern Japan. Next came the world's first surfing guide for women, Surf's Up: The Girl's Guide to Surfing (first published by Allen&Unwin in 2003, with a second edition in 2008, it's now available on CreateSpace). Click here or the Books tab at the top of this page for more about all my books.

My latest venture was to publish my first ebook, in 2014. Adventures on Earth is an interactive collection of my best-ever adventure travel stories and images from dream destinations around the world (Madagascar, Kamchatka, Bhutan, Antarctica...), designed to be viewed on an iPad, iPhone or Mac with iBooks. Check it out on iTunes. Here's a video preview:


What's your favourite place in the world?
Arrgh, the toughest question of all. People love to ask travel writers this, and we're probably the best people to ask. It's just difficult to pick favourites.

Let's see, of all the 67 countries I've visited (but who's counting?), my favourite is Norway-Mongolia-Antarctica-Portugal-Galapagos-Australia-(to be continued)? My other answer is: Adventures on Earth (see above) which was inspired by this question actually; it contains 20 stories from my all-time favourite places.

Happiness is being on a beach
(this one's in Bali)
Why this blog matters to me
Climate change is an undeniable reality, one I'm increasingly aware of when I travel and see the world changing with my own eyes. I do my best to reduce and compensate for my impact as a traveller - by staying longer in each destination, for instance, and by using my writing to promote low-impact travel (treks, kayaking trips, ecolodges) and responsible travel. A couple of examples: Destinations that need usThink big, start small and a story on charitable tourism in Cambodia.

No Impact Girl is an extension of this, a chance to write about what I most care about: experiencing the wonders of the world, big and small, in a low-impact way.

What does it mean to have "no impact"?
"No impact" is a paradoxical name, and it's meant to be. On one hand, there's no such thing as "no impact". If we're alive, we're having an impact on our environment. And that's ok. Because it's not about absolutes; it's about doing the best we can.

And we can have a positive impact on our surroundings. I strongly believe in the power of travel to make the world a better place, when we respect the people, animals and places we visit.

Thank you!
Thanks for following me (if you haven't yet, just enter your email address in the Follow me box on the home page). You'll also find me on Twitter (@noimpactgirl) and my No Impact Girl Facebook page, and through the Contact page.

I'm going to sign off with possibly my all-time favourite quote, by nature writer Edward Abbey, author of Desert Solitaire, among other inspiring books:

"May all your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view... where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you - beyond that next turning of the canyon walls." Amen to that.


  1. Hi Louise. I recently stumbled on an article in the Norther Star featuring you in it. I've never heard of your blog but so glad that I know about it now. You're an inspiration. I will definitely be reading your blog more often.

    Also I hope you don't mind, but I also featured you on my blog: http://rheacollections.com/2015/02/24/motivation-monday-experience-the-world-in-a-low-impact-way/

    1. Thanks Ailene, for the kind words and the link - that's lovely. Love your blog!

  2. Hi Louise
    I lost your card but that made me look for this blog and that is a bonus!! Great to get to know you a bit better last night. My email is shauneastment@gmail.com