Collage of travel photos featuring Madam ZoZo

Duende is an inspirational lifestyle blog for travellers seeking unique destinations, cultures and experiences around the world.


Duende is a Spanish word with no direct English translation. It is soul and inspiration, which has the inexplicable power to evoke an emotional response. It is the thing that makes the hairs on your arms stand up, the chills run down your spine, and could make you smile or maybe even cry. The great 19th-century literary figure, Goethe, once described it: “A mysterious force that everyone feels and no philosopher has explained.”


Hi! I’m Madam ZoZo aka Zoë, an Australian expat, travel blogger and designer. Duende is where I document unique and inspiring stories, people, cultures and destinations that I come across in my travels. I hope by sharing them with you, you’ll find some Duende (soul + inspiration) of your own!

See my bucket list for more on the kinds of destinations and experiences I love to travel for.

Join me on social media for more travel stories!

You can also subscribe to my monthly virtual postcard for the latest posts and travel inspiration straight to your inbox.


You might be wondering about my travel style, in order to determine if this is the right blog for you. So let me share a little about how I travel, my budget and what I want out of the experience:


For the large part of my travel, I prefer the freedom of exploring independently. I tend to enlist some professional guidance if I’m taking to less charted territory or where language is a significant barrier. I always have an active role in determining where I go and what I do, even when working with a travel agent or tour company. You can learn more about my trip planning process in this international travel planning guide.


I’m not a budget traveller nor a luxury traveller — I seek out the best value, so I can see and experience more for my money. I’m willing to occasionally sacrifice comfort for a totally unique experience. For example, hiking the Inca Trail or staying in a indigenous longhouse in Borneo. On the flip-side, I will also splurge when I think the experience is warranted or it’s a special occassion, like say, a 10th wedding anniversary in Bora Bora.


My main travel companion is my husband. Therefore, you are more likely to find romantic getaways, than family travel advice here on Duende. As a couple, we have broad and varied interests. We are just as likely to be museum-hopping in Paris as hiking glaciers in Alaska. So you will find a good mix of things to do in our itineraries and city guides.


For me, travel is about seeing the world from a different perspective and discovering what is unique about a destination, whether it’s the food, music, art, history, landscapes or all of the above. Duende’s tagline is Seek the Unique! because we target what is most unique about a destination first–prioritising the things that can only be seen or experienced in that one place. See some of my tips on diving into cultural travel while minimising culture shock here.


I’m not a full-time travel blogger. I juggle trips between work and life commitments like most people. That means I need to be efficient at experiencing the best out of a destination in a short amount of time. If you’re a similarly time-strapped traveller, there are plenty of 1-10 day travel itineraries on Duende for you.


I’m passionate about the environment. In fact, I have a bachelors degree in environmental science. Travelling with minimal impact is important to me. That means not only looking after the natural environment, but people too. I try to support local businesses, eco-tourism ventures and always follow no-trace principals. Read my guides to reducing single-use plastic on the road; packing more sustainable travel clothing; and travel hacks using some basic items you already own.

Couple standing in archway at Tu Duc Tomb, Hue
Tu Duc Tomb
Madam ZoZo on Brooklyn Bridge, wearing beret, standingon Brooklyn Bridge at sunset with Manhattan skyline in background.
Brooklyn Bridge sunset, New York City
Madam ZoZo sitting on green milk crate with street art behind
Melbourne street art laneways

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