Welcome to Brainy Backpackers! My name is Linn Haglund. First of all, I want to say that I’m really happy that you are here because that means that you want to travel and make a positive impact.

I am originally from Norway but part Italian (and secretly part Finnish). For most of my adult life, I have been traveling or living abroad. It all started with a Bachelor’s degree in Tourism and Communication that included a semester in Spain and a year in England. In between, I spent a 3 month-long summer break volunteering in Madagascar.

I was bitten by the bug and needed to explore more of this amazing world. I slow traveled for a few years in Australia, New Zealand, and Asia before trying a corporate job in Norway for a few years.

I quickly figured out I had grown out of “the box” and needed to get abroad again. So, in 2014, I moved back to Spain for the third time, where the box isn’t as small.

There, I worked in customer service for more than 7 years while traveling as much as possible – before I went nomadic again.

Me hiking in Sierra Nevada with a big backpack and hiking poles.

In 2021, I quit 9-5 and took my blogging full time. I started full-time solo travel while running Brainy Backpackers and my niche blogs, Andalucia Hiking, Amused by Andalucia, and Amused by Algarve. I’m the writer, editor, photographer, SEO expert, teck-chick, Social Media Manager, (and everything else that comes with a blog.)

As a nature lover, I always seek natural wonders and outdoor experiences, but I also enjoy ancient cultures, learning about the local customs, and getting off the beaten path.

Traveling and spending longer time in different locations made me well aware of all the negatives of tourism. I don’t know how many times I did things while traveling with the naïve intention of making a positive impact only to find out later that the consequences weren’t as good as I had thought.

To mention a few, visiting a school in Cambodia to give away pens and books during class, riding elephants in “sanctuaries” in Thailand, and giving away sweets to children in Madagascar. Unfortunately, the ones that suffer from unthoughtful tourists are the locals, wildlife, and the environment. Traveling taught me a lot of things the hard way and that’s why I created this blog.

Brainy Backpackers is meant to help you responsibly explore the world so that you don’t have to regret anything later. This is the space where I will share everything I’ve learned about responsible travel so you can have a great travel experience without making the same mistakes as I’ve done.

Luckily, responsible tourism is more widespread these days and most travelers are aware of a lot more than when I started traveling. But in my experience, there is always something new to learn.

I am not striving for perfection; I am striving for constant improvement. And so should you.

There is no shame in making mistakes. We all make them. The important thing is what we do with what we learn from them. Hopefully, my mistakes can help you in not doing the same.

Are you ready to explore the world with me and make a difference?

Hiking the Colca Canyon in Peru

The Brainy Backpackers Team

Since 2022, I’ve been slow traveling full-time in my van Persistence (Persi among friends) exploring every hidden corner in Spain, Portugal, and beyond.

My “Ohana” (family) has slightly changed since then. I’ll introduce them to you here, so you know who else is on the Brainy Backpackers team and their roles.

Ayla – Our forever sustainably conscious Queen

Ayla passed away in 2022, at 12 years old. She was my first furry travel buddy and will forever be my Queen so she can’t be unmentioned as she started Brainy Backpackers with me in 2017.

She traveled to more than 10 countries without taking a single airplane (she was super-conscious about sustainable travel!)

She loved road trips and hiking in the mountains where she happily could run for hours! Her main tasks were to keep mummy safe on solo hikes, check out the wildlife, and sniff about every new city, town, and natural area we went to make sure we could bring you the best content. She was also a talented photo model.

My dog Ayla running happily towards the camera in a green park with palm trees.

Baby Atlas – AKA Baby Shark, Baby T-Rex, wreckless teen

Our new fur baby and rescue puppy Atlas joined us a couple of months after Ayla left us in 2023 (I swear he must be a reincarnation of Ayla and she now does everything she kept in during her past life like barking and being super social!)

He is still a Brainy Backpackers trainee and is eagerly learning new tasks every day like hiking, scrambling (he’s working on his vertigo), being a guard dog in the van, chewing everything that is in his way, smelling all the flowers, and helping mummy to write new content on the laptop. Besides, he’s working on his modeling skills, but treats are usually a fabulous incentive!

Baby Atlas swears he’ll visit more countries in his first 2 years than Ayla did in her entire life. He also barks out loud that he’ll go on any plane if it takes him to an exotic destination.

Atlas is still learning about responsible travel but is already getting the hang of recycling sticks that have fallen down from trees into chewing toys.

Baby Atlas is peaking up from behind a rock.


My now fiancée Mohammed bumped into my life just 2 days before Ayla and I were about to start our van journey to Asia in 2022. A lost passport, a week in the van, and he was in love with this simple lifestyle and with us. He decided to stay.

Mohammed is from Morocco where he had made a name as an artist and if I’m going to describe him in one word, Creative will be the one.

He is skilled in videography and social media so his main tasks are to manage Brainy Backpacker’s YouTube channel and create all reels for social media. Mohammed is also a talented photographer and supports me in photographing and editing for the blog.

Besides, he’s learned to cook kick-ass van food and is a dedicated chef on our adventures. But best of all, he’s found a love for hiking and is a fantastic hiking partner!

Mohammed is passionate about recycling and walks far and wide to carry our recycling waste to the right bin. He once carried a bag of recycling for a whole day while we explored a town since he didn’t find a recycling bin before we had almost returned to the van.

Mohammed hiking a steep mountain on a sunny day.

Persistence – (Persi the van)

Persi is our trusted van, a 2000 Ford Transit. She might be old and rusty, but her superpower is to blend in in any neighborhood and her main task is to keep us safe.

Whenever we want to be invisible for a night, she has us covered and turns on her working van shield so no one would ever think there is anyone living inside.

She always waits for us patiently whenever we’re out exploring, but also loves it when we have days inside, working and leaving the doors open so she can enjoy some fresh air. Especially with a view.

Persi is a rockstar and our greatest Queen which we love from the depth of our hearts which is probably why she is the one we make sure to have her beauty treatments, manicures, and facials regularly (aka oil change and other maintenance at the mechanic.)

Persi is persistent in helping the environment by reusing and not buying new, so she’s saying she will keep going as long as it’s sustainable for all.

Me and Atlas outside Persi the van in beautiful natural surroundings and mountains in the background.

Lisa – The Traveling Bonsai

Lisa the traveling Bonsai is our ambassador for green travel. She is also our Queen and also our money tree. It brings good luck to find a 1-cent coin on the ground so we make sure to make our offerings to her whenever we have 1-cent coins. Sometimes, we’ve gone all out and given large offerings of up to 5 cents and she loves it.

She enjoys sitting in the middle seat in the front when we’re driving to a new place. She loves the views of new landscapes and is super excited about traveling to new countries. Lisa is a fabulous listener and guards our belongings together with Persi when the rest of us are out exploring.

Lisa joined us on my birthday in 2023, just a few weeks after Ayla left us for eternal mountain goat chasing and endless treats. She brought life and light into our lives when we were in a bad place.

Me holding Lisa the traveling Bonsai in front of Persi the van.
Make sure you don't regret anything after your travels with these 40 tips for responsible travel!