If you follow the travel blogging community, you will have found it hard to miss the awful news that Rachel Jones, author of the popular women’s travel blog Hippie in Heels, recently passed away unexpectedly (May 2019.) Her free-spirited nature and long-running India-centric blog are incredibly well known within the worldwide travel community, and if you’ve ever researched backpacking in India, you’ve probably read it. Although Rachel had a lot more destinations to discuss, India was her main muse and a country that she shed an extraordinary amount of light on for female travellers, myself included.
Death in any form is heartbreaking, but this unexpected tragedy feels incredibly poignant. Rachel was due to be married this August to her British fiancé Ben, however (as I understand it) suffered a fatal medical emergency while on her bachelorette weekend in Florida, where she was gathered with friends and family. And just a few weeks shy of her 30th birthday. The circumstances are truly devastating, and I can’t imagine how her loved ones are coping at this time. Her family broke the news in a heartfelt post to Hippie in Heels Facebook page showing appreciation for her many readers and mentioning that they would like her readers and community to come together to contribute travel stories, reviews and memories to continue the blog in her honour.
I never met Rachel personally, but I’m an avid lover of India, and subsequently a frequent reader of her blog. I first travelled to India as a solo woman several years back at a time when backpacking India was still very much a question mark, with little information on how to survive such a crazy, colourful land. So a few years later, I was pleased to come across Rachel’s blog as, quite frankly, it was desperately needed. It goes without saying that Rachel has probably been the driving force behind many a butterfly-stomached ticket purchase to the subcontinent. It also goes without saying that her blog will continue to be a precious resource for years to come. Thankfully, things don’t seem to change too fast in India – as you can read from any of her humorous posts on daily life in Goa – so much of the information will remain relevant for some time, I’m sure. And even more so if we as a community come together to keep adding new content to it.
You can read in detail about the path that took Rachel to India here. But, for the condensed version, Rachel was an American nurse who quit her profession to travel India where she subsequently met Ben by chance and decided to call Goa home for five years. Recently the couple had moved to Merida, Mexico, where she had begun unravelling the secrets of the Yucatan peninsula. I think for all girls who travel there’s always a subdued hope that they will find the person of their dreams on a beach, preferably over rum cocktails served in hollowed coconuts, and it always seemed quite magical to me that Rachel and Ben had found each other in this elusive way. True modern fairytale stuff.
For me, what I particularly admired from Hippy in Heels was Rachel’s realness. Although she looked the part of super-chic influencer, her writing was thoughtful and down to earth. She wasn’t pedalling dreams; like is all too common these days in the blogosphere. I enjoyed her openly discussing how she has the dietary habits of a seven-year-old as she would survive purely on frozen corn dogs and spaghetti hoops, while back in the States. Hopefully, Goa encouraged her to deviate from this “nutritious” lifestyle, as I’m pretty sure the corn dog hasn’t made it there yet, thank goodness. However, it’s grounding to hear bloggers talking frankly, and not trying to whitewash the mundane details of life or filter them to be blissfully rose-tinted. Her advice was practical and relatable, yet reserved that little sparkle of glamour; which is why I suppose the name “Hippie in Heels” fit so well because she was at heart a budget backpacker, but one who still wanted to rock a cute crochet crop top with class, style and a little pizzaz.
If you’re a reader of Rachel’s blog and know how to string a sentence together, please consider submitting some contributing content to assist Rachel’s family in keeping the blog alive. I’m not entirely sure the best way to do this as of yet, as I’m waiting to be updated, but I will update this post as soon as I have the official word on where submissions should be sent.
In the meantime, please take a moment to check out Hippie in Heels, there’s a vast collection of destinations beyond India and Mexico; something for everyone – especially if you long for the seductive call of the wild, but still want to rock a pair of killer boots. You can also support Rachel’s legacy by purchasing either of her two ebooks on India, which I’m sure will be extremely helpful to those of you hoping to plan an upcoming Indian adventure.
If there is anything to be taken from such a tragedy, it’s undoubtedly that nothing in life is guaranteed. So take all the chances, buy all the tickets, wear crop tops, follow dreams and chain-eat corn dogs, if you like. But most of all, live the most authentic life you can conjure and appreciate the present, as the assumption of “tomorrow” could turn out to be sorely unfounded.
Thank you for all your words, Rachel.
Please refer to her obituary for further information.
Rachel’s family released a further statement that should clarify many of the details of her passing and what to expect from Hippie in Heels in the future. You can read it here.