One thing that drew me to blogging was the huge network of amazing people that write about what they love and the amazing blogs they produce. Part of the joy of blogging is also being recognized for your work and virtually meeting a whole new group of people that become your colleagues and friends. Revati from Different Doors is one of those people. Both Revati and her partner have a wonderful travel blog that covers diverse destinations over four continents. She has sent me 10 questions that I must answer as part of the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers (“The Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award recognizes the unique voices of women bloggers around the world.”) and in turn I will nominate 10 other bloggers to answer 10 questions of my choosing – a lovely way for me to better know my friends and blogging colleagues and a great way for you to discover new and exciting blogs to read!
Q1: Tell us one random thing about yourself (that you think we don’t already know)!
When I started travelling I was obsessed with always buying a souvenir from wherever in the world I was visiting. After so many trips my bedroom was becoming very full with “travel junk” that had no purpose other than to serve as a memory of a particular trip. While I love reminiscing over my travels, when it came to moving house and then eventually moving abroad I knew my habits had to change. So instead I took to collecting postcards from every place I visited instead. Its lightweight, doesn’t take up much space and it inexpensive to buy. Each time I buy one I write down on that day where I was, how I felt and something that happened that day. I now have a collection of over 100 postcards from each city, place or country I have visited and reading all the things I wrote back is much more of an enjoyable memory than any magnet, t-shirt or snow ball ever could.
Q2: Knowing the local language goes a long way. Have you ever tried learning any languages on your travels?
I have a very strong opinion when it comes to speaking local languages when travelling. Being a native English speaker I believe far too many people become complacent when it comes to learning a language in the UK. After all why study for hours learning a language when so many people speak English these days? Why? Because it has huge advantages when you come to travel. I didn’t appreciate learning a language when I was in school. Learning French & German simultaneously was hard for me and my first experience of speaking French in France went rather badly. I remember being highly embarrassed in a bakery in Northern France when I asked for some bread in French only to have the woman rudely shout at me from behind the counter and tell me “Just speak English you silly girl, I don’t understand you!”. What a way to knock back a person’s confidence! While I later found out it had nothing to do with what I was saying, it was because they spoke a local dialect, I still had major problems after that event speaking any language I learnt in public. But when I met my Italian partner I put a lot of effort into learning Italian. Why? So not only could I communicate with his family members, but so that I could communicate with anyone that I met on my multiple trips to the country. It came in useful when I got lost in Rome, it came in useful when I sat in a restaurant alone and had to order my own meal, it came in useful when I needed a doctor and it came in useful to make new friends and learn more about the place I was visiting and get useful tips on the best places to visit. Non of which I would of been able to do if I hadn’t learnt Italian. So you tell me how valuable learning a new language on your travels is?
Q3: If you were allowed to travel to only one more place, where would you go?
This is a difficult question for me as I still have so many places to visit in the world. There are so many beautiful places on our earth that it makes it almost impossible to select just one place. However if I had to pick a country….Canada comes to mind. It’s such a diverse country with outstanding natural beauty. It has wildlife, mountains, lakes, beaches, interesting cities and it has snow! All things that I love!
Q4: Which place/trip has affected you the most/ changed the way you think. How and Why?
My trip to Myanmar in 2014 was a trip that affected me in many ways. It was the first country I had travelled to where I saw true and real poverty – and the images it left in my mind has shaped how I feel about poverty and how each person has a responsibility to completely eradicate poverty from our world. However my most recent trip to Spain to journey the 800+ km on the Camino de Santiago has left me a changed person. The 5 weeks it took me to walk those hundreds of kilometers gave me the space I needed to answer so many unanswered questions I had in my life, it gave me the opportunity to meet so many new fantastic people, each of them teaching me something new every day. It gave me the chance to visit parts of Spain that no one would ever see or know about had they not walked the Camino and lastly, it gave me a whole new sense of confidence in myself. Yes I am able to look after myself for 5 weeks, I am able to walk 800 kilometers and I am able to conqueror mountains! I feel I am a much more stronger and confident person then I was before I left. And it’s exactly what I had hoped I would find.
Q5: Bravest thing you’ve ever done on your travels?
I don’t think I have done anything that I would consider brave. Sure I’ve jumped off rocks from a high point into the ocean, I’ve been parasailing which maybe considered brave for those who hate heights and I’ve gone scuba diving and come face to face with nurse sharks but none of these things I would consider brave. Brave for me when it comes to travel is venturing into a war zone or conflict area to help those in need or putting others before yourself even if it means putting your own life in danger. That to me takes far more bravery than any parashooting, bungee jump or cage dive ever does.
Q6: Most naive thing you’ve ever done on your travels?
I always try to look for the best in people when I travel. Sometimes this comes to bite my in the ass when the other person is genuinely just out to scam or rip me off. One thing I have had to teach myself on my travels is not to take people’s word for truth, especially when it comes to selling you something. I’ve been incredibly naive in the past when I thought I was buying genuine hand made items. In Myanmar I visited a stall that had a small, cute bracelet with an elephant charm on it. The woman claimed that the beads were stone and she made it herself. Minutes after purchasing it I walked further up the market to see another woman claiming she made an exact item herself too – truth is it was all manufactured somewhere and bought for nothing and sold to naive tourists like me for about 10x its worth. This is when I learnt not to be so naive and I since wrote about what not to buy in Myanmar so help others avoid spending money on fake items.
Q7: What made you start blogging about your travels? How has it changed the way you travel?
I have always enjoyed writing. It started really when I was employed as a travel copywriter and then it grew from there. When I travelled to Burma in 2014 there was a real lack of up to date information available for independent travellers such as myself to plan trips. So I set off to gather as much information as possible during my trip to post on my blog that I had initially set up as a way of remembering my thoughts and experiences. The information and the blog became popular with people searching for similar information and I decided to continue writing and posting useful information that other travellers may benefit from. I can’t say it has changed the way I travel other than I am more conscious of taking pictures and listening to stories then I ever did before, because its those special stories that make a great post!
Q8: The one thing you’d never travel without. (Apart from the obvious ones)?
Having recently walked the Camino de Santiago I can honestly say there is nothing I can’t travel without. My packing list was very small for my trip – after all everything I took I had to carry on my back for 800km so you adapt very quickly to having only the most important items with you. You no longer find the need for iPads, Kindles etc…and infact having so little really allows you to immerse yourself in the whole experience.
Q9: What’s your first ever travel memory?
My first travel memory is one that I hold quite dear to my heart. My family always saved every year when I was a child to ensure we had a vacation in the summer. Quite often our vacation was a camping trip to the west country in Devon or Cornwall in the UK. On one particular trip to Paignton my father took myself and my two sisters on a treasure hunt to find a box he buried as a kid. He knew the exact location of the box and we set off on a walk through the forest to dig it up. I think he was very disappointed to find the box no longer in the place where he thought he had buried it but non the less its a memory that stuck with me and a fond one memory too.
Q10: Has being a woman ever been an advantage (or disadvantage) on your travels? Share the story!
I don’t think being a woman has ever directly effected me in anyway that left me feeling sour. I remember in Vietnam and Myanmar that men would not directly speak to me, touch me or shake my hand when meeting them, instead they directed all conversations at my partner. Since I do not know if this is a cultural thing or not I wouldn’t jump to say that these men were being sexist or rude….maybe its just the way business is done in that part of the world. I do think however that the way solo female travellers are treated by other fellow travellers can suck sometimes. I’ve had discussions with people that tell me that travelling solo as a female is strange, that there must be either something wrong with me or that its either paid by my rich parents or I earnt it through prostitution or something….yes really this is what some people have thought and shared with me. Of course working your butt off for hours every day to pay for your travels in unheard of and being allowed to travel as an unaccompanied female well that is simply outrageous! But you know what, it really didn’t bother me. I guess there are just some cultures and countries that aren’t yet open to a world where females are free to travel and be independent.
Now it’s time to nominate other female bloggers and ask them 10 questions for them to answer!
Q1: What book have you read that inspired you to travel the most?
Q2: Are you the type to get excited about your next trip and start packing weeks in advance or a person who scrambles to pack just hours before their flight?
Q3: What place have you visited that left you less that satisfied or didn’t stand up to your expectations?
Q4: Where is your favorite place you have visited?
Q5: Are you an aisler, middle seater or a window person?
Q6: If you could attend any world festival or carnival which one would you pick?
Q7: Have you ever been treated differently on your travels for being a woman?
Q8: Which would you prefer, a holiday in the mountains or sitting on a beach?
Q9: What is it about travel that has made you so passionate about seeing more of the world?
Q10: What element of blogging do you enjoy the most?