The Bondi based girls behind aspirational travel diaries Axel & Ash are Hanna Axelsson Sahlen and Ashleigh Powell. With divine journals, hand drawn world maps and a new range launching soon, we chatted to these creative entrepreneurs to get their take on wanderlust.

Was there a particular place on either of your travels that inspired the creation of Axel and Ash?

Sebastian Terry’s book 100 Things, where he put pen to paper and created a list of 100 things to accomplish with the aim to tick them all off, inspired the creation of Axel and Ash. One memorable afternoon on Ash’s balcony in Bondi Beach we decided to share our own crazy bucket lists. Filled with laughter and excitement, whilst indulging in fresh coconut juice we bonded over our passions for travel, adventure, photography, the art of journaling and a common bucket list goal - to start a business – and Axel & Ash was born.

It’s overwhelming being young and having the travel bug, especially when on a tight budget. What advice would you give to new generation travelers? 

Hanna: I have been travelling on a budget since I was 16, I love immersing myself in new cultures and hanging out with the locals and the best way I achieved this was working whilst I travelled. I have lived and worked in Norway, Spain, Thailand, US and Australia and I loved every minute of it. When you are young the prospect of travelling to another country and working can be very intimidating, remember there are always jobs going for people who are eager!

Ash: There is always a way! Today, there are so many different ways to travel on a budget. You can couch surf, work and live on site, find off the beaten track cute Air B&B places – or you can even stay with friends and family (who end up being amazing local tour guides!). Don’t be afraid to ask for help, you can get such valuable tips and tricks from other seasoned travelers, friends and family. A great way to achieve your travel goals is to start an ‘Adventure Fund’, try and put aside 10% of your weekly income so by the time you decide to conquer the world you have a bank balance that helps make it seem less intimidating.

Where is next on your travel list? 

Hanna: Being Swedish I am so excited for this winter - I have three weddings in Scandinavia and have planned a big Scandinavian summer road trip with my Bondi besties. I am so excited to show them the places where I grew up, the Norwegian fjords, swim across the lake whilst the sun sets and the fabulous shopping and nightlife of Stockholm and Copenhagen. We also have an extremely relaxing Fiji trip to visit the private Outrigger Hotel Island, a US road trip to launch our next book, and a trip to the jungle where I get to tick off one of my Bucket List items 'work with monkeys'.

Ash: I am off to India for a friends wedding and to visit the Taj Mahal. Then our relaxing and exotic holiday to Fiji in June. We have a big roadtrip around Europe planned for July and August this year. I can’t wait to visit Norway! And of course our trip to the US to launch our new books in September!

With a huge rise with easy to use app’s like Air B&B, do you prefer to travel staying in hotels or private accommodation?

 We love both!! We absolutely love the variety of accommodation that is available through Air B&B! On our recent road trip across the US we stayed at several Air B&B places, they are definitely a great way of gauging the vibe of a city and interacting with the locals. We had such cute notes left for us with tips, wonderful welcome presents and awesome hosts who accompanied us out for wonderful dinners. We actually just put together a list of our dream Air B&B properties on our site.

Hotels are always synonymous with relaxation which instantly make you feel like you are on holiday. Coming back to a perfectly made bed with fresh linen and the luxury of ordering breakfast in bed, is always a treat.

What’s always in your luggage?

Ash: Laptop, Camera, Swimmers and my Bambillo Pillow.

Hanna: If it was remotely possible, it would definitely always include roller-skates! But in reality it’s more along the lines of way too much clothes, my laptop and the latest Collective Magazine.

Favourite stay? 

Some of our favourite holiday escapes are The W Retreat & Spa Bali. Their fairytale property boasts the most amazing suites and villas all designed with the W signature chic and innovative touches, that we love, the pool is truly paradise! The Andaz in West Hollywood is more than a stylish hotel, it is the perfect mix of Hollywood glamour and alluring personal style, we particularly love the great rooftop pool. Another favourite is the funky and quirky Story Hotel in Stockholm, it is the perfect location right in the middle of everything great that the amazing city has to offer.


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