PADI AmbassaDiver Alex Baackes Takes You Along for her Journey Around the World

Hailing from upstate New York, Alex Baackes is a PADI Divemaster and travel blogger exploring the underwater world one country at a time. Her successful online journal, Alex in Wanderland, partners with some of the world’s top travel brands and draws hundreds of thousands of monthly readers to follow her adventures both above and below the surface. Whether she is jet-setting the globe to exotic locations or encountering magical marine life, this young 20-something inspires us to explore our inner wanderlust.

Q: How has scuba diving impacted your life or career?

AB: Diving brought structure to my travels and my blogging, introduced me to some of my closest friends and comrades, and inspired me to make more-sustainable choices in my day-to-day life.

Q: If someone is hesitant to try diving, what would you tell them?

AB: Water covers more than 70 percent of Earth’s surface. If you don’t start diving, you’re missing out on a pretty big chunk of this gorgeous planet!

Q: You dive and travel all over the world. What is your favorite or most memorable diving experience?

AB: While night diving with dozens of manta rays on the Big Island of Hawaii and swimming alongside a whale shark I was filming in Koh Tao both come to mind, I’d have to say my favorite dive was Silfra in Iceland. I couldn’t get over the airlike visibility, or the fact that whenever I was thirsty, I could pop out my reg for a gulp of fresh glacial water. But mostly, I felt proud of myself for tackling a new challenge like drysuit diving, which meant braving 35 degree F water in 75 pounds of dive gear. My Nordic dive buddies gave me a nod of approval as we packed our tanks in the truck for the drive back to Reykjavik, and it made every moment of near brain-freeze worth it.

Q: What most interests you about the sport of scuba diving?

AB: I believe that by getting people underwater and showing them this beautiful and intricate world, we can inspire them to live a more sustainable lifestyle and make more environmentally conscious choices. I always leaned a little green, but diving pushed me into being a full-blown ocean advocate. I love the idea of PADI waking up a whole generation of divers to the fact that our oceans are worth protecting.

Q: What is your dream dive?

AB: A liveaboard in the Coral Triangle.

Q: Do you have any tips for readers who are looking to start a blog?

AB: Whenever someone writes asking me for blogging advice, I tell them this: Make sure it comes from the heart. When I first started out, I took a travel-writing class, signed up for an online blogging course, and went to many photography workshops. I read every opinion I could get my hands on about how to create a successful blog. But in the end, I reminded myself that all the “must-dos” and the “never-dos” are just opinions. And I have one too. Put all the knowledge you can in your head, process it, and in the end, go with what your heart tells you is the right path. When I first started travel blogging, it seemed that all the experts were telling me to make things less personal, and more informational. I went the opposite way, and now I have a loyal audience who feels invested in my journey.

Q: Any future aspirations?

AB: To inspire even more people through my writing and photography, to travel and dive, to become a certified PADI Freediver, and to visit 40 countries by the time I’m 30 (I’m up to 32 countries, with four years to go!).

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