The latest in our series of interviews with travel bloggers is d travels ’round. Some great answers and a real sense of what it is like to live the blogger’s lifestyle.
blog name and address:
d travels ’round
Where are you based?
I am currently based in Chiang Mai, Thailand
What does your blog cover? How did you decide on your specialisation?
My blog has morphed a bit since I started it more than three years ago. Initially, it was a blog about my 30-Life-Crisis and waking up and realizing the life I was living was the life I dreamed of, but no longer the life I wanted. So, I quit my job and went on a solo backpacking trip through Europe and parts of Africa. Then, the blog was about that and my experiences in the places I went. Then, I returned home and it was about the journey into the next path in my life — becoming an expat and moving to Thailand to help raise awareness about the realities of elephant tourism in Thailand with Elephant Nature Park and Save Elephant Foundation. So, I guess the best way to describe my blog is a personal travel narrative of life after 30, plus travel tips, reviews, location highlights and more.
How long have you been travel blogging? What do you like most about it? Any downsides?
I’ve been travel blogging for more than three years. I love the actual act of telling my stories, of finding those unique places that make the world even more beautiful and sharing them with my readers. Downsides? Yes! It is a lot of work! Until I moved to Thailand in July, I basically lived my blog. I was always checking stats, wondering how posts were doing. But, since I moved here, I’ve relaxed a lot about it. It’s far more fun just to live life and write about it than to constantly stress about blogging. Granted, I still do from time-to-time, but not nearly as much now.
How do you prefer to travel? Backpacking, alone, budget, luxury…? What do you like visiting? Art galleries, beaches, bars?!
I used to be all about backpacking solo. But, at some point in the seven months and 60+ hostels I stayed at, I got over it. Plus, at 33, I kind of feel I have aged out of the whole hostel thing. Now, I prefer to travel solo or with friends, but on a bit larger budget. I don’t need luxury, although sometimes I do stay in nice digs, but just a place where I know there are no bed bugs and some stranger rustling around in their backpack crumpling plastic bags and zipping won’t wake me up before sunrise. When I’m traveling, I prefer to head to places off-the-beaten path. The first day I am in a new place, I like to just put in my headphones and go for a good wander … often times without a map. I’ve been to so many museums, galleries, churches, fill-in-the-blank tourist attractions because I’ve felt a need to check them out. Now, if it holds a particular interest to me, I go there. I’m quite into recent history now, so I like go to places where I can learn about life when I was growing up or just before. I love beaches, I love the mountains and I love the bars. Always looking to mingle with the locals versus just hanging with other travelers.
To what extent are your activities dictated by the needs of the blog?
There are times when I let the thought run through my mind “I don’t know if I want to do this … but damn, it would make a great blog post.” Sometimes I let that little voice in my head win, sometimes I don’t. Lately, I’ve had some amazing opportunities that were no-brainers in terms of activities (like heading to Bali). In the past, when I was traveling solo, I did a lot in the name of enthralling content for my blog. Now, not so much. Which is probably why the posts have slowed down a bit. I don’t think readers really want to know what it is like to go to an office during the week. (Although it is seriously fun and awesome!)
How much time a day do you spend on the blog whilst travelling and when back home?
When I am traveling, unless I am visiting my family, these days, I don’t spend any. In SE Asia, the internet isn’t all that great and I am normally really busy and by the end of the day, I am so exhausted, I can’t even open the computer, let alone form words. When I am home, it is far easier to write. When I was doing my long-term travel, I tried to blog all of the time. I had a backlog of posts and tried to maintain posting three times a week, but was always writing, updating Facebook and Twitter.
Does your blog pay the bills? How do you afford all the travel?
Well, my blog pays some of the bills. I also freelance for print and online publications which allows me to travel. And, I get to travel quite a bit with my job, too.
Do you speak any languages? How does it help your travels to speak languages?
When I was in Spain, I could get by with very basic Spanish. The longer I was there, the more I learned and it definitely helped me. In Thailand, I am just beginning language courses since I have no intention of leaving here anytime soon. Knowing the language is a huge help. It not only shows respect for the place and people you are visiting, but also keeps you from getting taken advantage of.
What tech do you take with you on your travels? Do you prefer a laptop/tablet or phone? How do you access the net abroad? Wifi or local sims?
I travel with my iPhone and MacBook Air. When traveling abroad, I look for wifi. I used to do SIMs, but they got expensive and I got tired of my contact info constantly changing.
How much time do you spend away from home per year on average? How do you pick your destinations?
Since I just moved to Thailand, I’d say I’ve flown an awful lot — more than 30 times in 4 months — and maybe have been out of the country more than one month in four. I’ve settled down a bit since I have a job. Now, I pick destinations based on how long I want to be gone and the cost, plus if there are any story angles I can pitch.
Do you ever travel on holidays which you don’t cover for the blog?
Nah … people read my blog to know where I’m going and my experiences there. Unless I literally sit in a room for an entire holiday, I will write about it. And, I think even if I did sit in my room for an entire holiday, I’d probably write something silly like “That time I was totally LAME.”
What has been you stand-out trip or destination?
Croatia was magical. Madrid was so cultural. And Elephant Nature Park, by far, was the most fulfilling and eye-opening experience I’ve ever had.
What meals do you remember as particularly delicious/ unusual/inedible?
I had an amazing meal from a Chef Maria Jose San Ramon in Alicante, Spain. That was unbelievable. And then there was this little restaurant off of Pub Street in Siem Reap that was the best vegetarian food I’ve ever had — and I’m not talking stir-fried veggies, but seriously fantastic creations.
You must have gathered some amusing anecdotes on your travels. Can you share one?
I got on the entirely wrong bus one day in Croatia. I was supposed to be heading from Zadar to Split, but realized soon into the ride we were heading into the mountains and not going down the coast. I tried to talk to the driver, but he spoke no English. Fortunately, a passenger was able to explain a little. The driver ended up giving me the option to get off the bus and wait for him, or go with him to his house and have dinner (although I had no idea that was what he was offering at the time). He pulled into a drive way and got off the bus, gesturing me to follow him. Nearly in tears, I left my big backpack in the bus and followed him inside his house. So, I ended up having dinner at his house with his son, and then he drove me back to Zadar and made sure I got on the right bus.
What have you learned since you started travel blogging? Have you figured out any deep philosophical truths? or discovered the best blogging platform?
Since I started travel blogging, I have learned not to sweat the small stuff and to do what it is I love and not worry so much about what everyone else is doing. Some of the travel bloggers I have met have turned into some of my closest friends in the world. There is a comraderie and closeness I feel with them … it seems we identify far better with each other than we do with other people who don’t travel. As for blogging platform, I am so not technically inclined. I use WordPress and have a wonderful Webmaster to handle all of the things which cause me to stare blankly at the screen (which is most everything except writing).
Are there any countries you have visited In which you would like to live?
Spain and Croatia. For sure. And Thailand, but I live here now.
Any advice for wannabe travel bloggers?
Do it because you love it, not because you want to make money.
I am headed to Cambodia for four days later this week, Myanmar in the next few weeks and possibly Korea.
Thank you very much for answering these questions and enjoy Cambodia!