I am going to interrupt my series on Asia and write about something that I feel very fortunate to have started-this blog. It’s been a little over an year since I had the crazy idea to share my travel experiences with family, friends and the world in this forum. Ok, maybe not the world, because I have a very small readership, but every month new friends come in and it makes me happy to share my explorations/tips with you and sometimes even connect in person. Hopefully I can inspire or help one person travel more or travel deeper.
One of the people I first met after starting the blog, awesome fellow blogger Gloria from Travel With G, has become a great friend and partner in crime. Others I only know virtually, but it’s a true testament of the connections and communities that the blogging and social media world can create. Once upon a time, I felt like the odd duckling. Most of the people I knew didn’t get my obsession with travel, now I am amazed of how many people do!
Recently Gloria nominated me for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award which is a huge testament of Gloria’s friendship- she actually reads the painful ramblings I put on this site. I LOVE a lovefest! Come on, don’t be shy! Bring it in!
This Award is very interesting, because there are no winners or your standard prize, just peer recognition of fellow women bloggers, which is much harder to achieve in my humble opinion.
So here are the 4 simples rules of the award:
Show some love to the blogger who nominated you.
If my chick-crush on Gloria is not obvious yet, go check out her blog. You will know what I mean!
Answer the 10 questions she has posed for you.
These questions were hard! I tried to be concise, but failed again! I would love to know your answers to these questions in the comments below!
1. Your first trip away from home was… where?
This is a hard one. What’s the definition of home? If it’s the place I was born, it would be when I was 5 years old when we moved to a small city close to the Amazon. It was also my first plane ride. The rest is history. The first time I travelled abroad without my parents was when I was 14 to Aruba (don’t freak out- I was a semi-pro at travel by then and we had adult chaperones- lol).
2. All my nominees are travelers… So I know you must have experienced down time – that is, dead time waiting for the next plane/bus/train/ferry/donkey? How do you entertain yourself while waiting to get to your next destination? (Other than sleeping)
Well, that depends. Does the airport have free wi-fi? If yes, I am usually watching a YouTube channel, getting lost in the black hole of the internet, updating Instagram… If not, I usually grab something to drink/eat and use the time to unplug if the layover is short or to catch up with planning/researching the next destination. When I am on the road, sometimes that is the only time I get to do these things.
When the down time is long enough, 6+hrs, I venture out into the city. But it depends on accessibility through public transportation and other factors. I am more likely to venture out to a place I have not visited before or that really left an impression. Also if there is amazing food, count me in!
3. Do you take spontaneous trips or are you more of a planner?
Oh. It depends. When I was younger, I used to have very spontaneous road trips, like a random trip to Amarillo and New Orleans. Back then all you had to do to convince me to take a road trip was throw the idea at me. I would just hop in the car with the clothes I had on and off we went. Now that I am a grown up (ahem), it’s a lot harder to be that spontaneous, but I do weekend day trips to places close to home I have not been before. Usually I have a general direction in mind, but I like to stop along the way and explore.
For International trips, I am much more a planner. I want to do and see everything, so without a plan, I feel like I am wasting time during my trip to plan, which can be very frustrating, specially if the country you are visiting has poor internet. However, I don’t plan every single moment of the day- I narrow down things I want to see and do and leave time for interesting things that come up along the way. Planning is important for budgeting the cost of a trip so I like to know at least what’s the ballpark of the largest costs (transportation, accommodation, activities). Also, you never really know how you will handle the trip itself until you get there, so being flexible is always important. On my recent trip to Japan, I had to give up on visiting Nara and Nikko, because Japan’s weather was way hotter and humid than I had anticipated and that took a toll on my body. By the time that part of the trip arrived, I wanted rest, so I did take it easier.
4. Have you ever met someone while traveling with whom you still keep in touch with today?
Unfortunately not as much as I would like. I am horrible about keeping in touch and I always end up loosing contact information or wait too long to reach out. Then I feel awkward to send a message and say “Hey, remember me?” I need to get better at this. I don’t even do a good job with my family, but that is something I have been working to change.
5. Do you have a packing routine? What are some of the things you must have while traveling away from home?
I think I am getting much better at this. Planning is key. I used to be a last-minute packer and then I overpacked. Now I have a pretty good system for packing light, however, packing light does not always equate to fashionable, so now I am working on upgrading a few pieces so I am not wearing shorts and a top every day. Not that there is anything wrong with that, I just want to look better in pictures.
Here are some tips on packing light if you want to give it a try:
- Pack basic clothes that are light, can be mixed and matched and are similar in color for laundry. Allow yourself only one outfit that you will not wear throughout the trip- i.e. a dress up item. For a five-week trip to a warm place, here is what I would pack: 6 tops, 3 shorts, 1 pajama, 9 underwear, 7 pair of socks if you plan on walking a lot, 3 swimsuits and a cover-up if you are going to the beach.
- Buy compression bags and packing cubes. They are extremely helpful to keep things organized if you are visiting multiple places. I like compression bags for clothes and packing cubes for cables and knick-knacks. I also take an extra compression bag for dirty clothes so I can keep them separate.
- Downsize the shoes. Picking similar colors for clothes will help with that. One pair of comfortable shoes (i.e. sneakers), one pair of walking sandals and one pair of flip-flop is the most I will take on a trip and only if I need all three.
- Buy multiple small containers of toiletries. This way as you use them, your load gets lighter. Some people prefer to buy this at their destination, but I am picky about beauty products and have found that it’s really hard to find small-sized products abroad, so instead of buying a normal size bottle of shampoo and lug it around during my trip, I prefer to take 4 small ones from home.
- Take more medication than you think you need. Besides your prescription medications and vitamins, always travel with the basics: pain/fever reliever, motion sickness, anti-diarrheal, antacid and sleep aid pills. If you are going on an adventure trip, don’t forget to pack a first aid kit. Most of the time you will not need it, but in the event you do, you will be glad to have it.
The things I absolutely need in my bag are: camera, phone and accessories, credit cards/money, passport, wet wipes, and dental floss. Everything else you can buy on location. (You would not believe how hard it is to find dental floss in some countries!)
6. Have you ever gone to a place that was “highly recommended” and you thought, “Why am I even here?” ~ Where was this? Why did you not like it?
Yes. It wasn’t a recommendation from a close friend, but one year we decided to spend Christmas and New Year’s scuba diving and being lazy by a beach somewhere tropical. We had heard great reviews from other travelers and fellow scuba divers that Cozumel, Mexico was the place to go, so off we went. It ended up being a horrible trip. I wrote about it in this post.
7. We all know that traveling can take you out of your comfort zone. Can you tell us about an experience where you overcame a fear/anxiety/discomfort?
Oh boy! Hard to choose only one. I crave trips that will push out of my comfort zone, so that is the norm for me. I think the most recent trip to Asia was the one that took me completely out of my comfort zone. Traveling solo, proving biases wrong, being confronted by many things that are so different from I am used to and yet learning that deep down we are still very alike as human beings, was one of the most challenging and rewarding travel experiences I have had.
8. Are there any books – even movies – that have influenced you to travel to a specific place?
Under the Tuscan Sun is one of my favorite movies. It didn’t so much make me want to visit Tuscany, although it’s a breathtaking place and I wouldn’t say no to it, as it made me want to apply the same underlying messages of the movie to my life and travels. Take time to take in a place, meet the locals, find inner happiness, be independent, have self-worth, take chances, create new beginnings and build bridges before trains. I love this movie so much it’s probably the only one I own in DVD. If you have never watched it, you need to!
This year I read two travel books by women authors on sailing. “Boat Girl” by Melanie Neale and “Love with a Chance of Drowning” by Torre DeRoche. Both books made me want to sail around the world, even though I suffer from severe motion sickness. Torre is also the brilliant blogger behind the Fearful Adventurer.
9. Do you prefer to travel solo or with someone else?
It depends. Both have incredible value.
I loved my recent experience of solo travel in Asia. When you are by yourself, you are a lot more approachable. People tend to reveal more of themselves in a one-on-one situation. Locals wanted to ask me things, interact. There is also a lot more time for internal discovery. There were days during my trip to Asia in which I didn’t speak a word all day and that would drive some people insane, but for me it was great, it allowed me to be present and observe the destination and its people from a very different perspective.
On the other hand, I LOVE traveling with my husband. He is the only human being I know with whom I could share the road with indefinitely. Some couples don’t share a love for travel or they have trouble handling the stress that travel can sometimes cause, but I am really lucky, because we complement each other so well. We would totally win Amazing Race!
10. Right now – what are your 5 top places (or experiences) you want to see/do?
Does travel around the world for one year or two count? There is something really appealing to me about living out of a suitcase, discovering a new place every few weeks. There are too many places I want to explore, some that I don’t even know about. It seems like every couple of months I stumbled upon a new destination on Instagram that I need to put on my list, but if I had to pick short-term ones, it would be:
- South Africa for a Safari
- Patagonia for icebergs and wildlife
- Red Sea or Micronesia for a diving
- New Zealand or Nepal for amazing hikes
- Bhutan because it’s the happiest place on Earth
Return the love and nominate 10 other women bloggers.
Oh this is hard! Some of you have already been nominated, but you are THAT good!
- Amy Hayes from Creatice Mondial– artist, designer, journalist and traveler, Amy does it all and does it really well. I drool every time I visit her site or see her pictures on Instagram.
- Vicky from Buddy the Travelling Monkey– she is not only funny, she is extremely helpful and a great networker. I recently met Vicky through a Google hangout and was blown away by all she has going on and her ability to still blog.
- Melissa from Footsteps on the Globe– Melissa has one of those personalities you just want to be friends with, plus she has an awesome British accent. I swear it makes everything cooler! Anyway she also just started a new vlog series on YouTube so go check her out.
- Bruna from Buna Tenorio Blog– so you know when you look at magazines and you wish you could know what is like to be like a drop dead gorgeous supermodel? Well, now you can. Want to stay on top of fashion trends and get to see the backstage of the fashion world? Visit her blog.
- Mrs. Emchumbao– She and her hubby are world travelers and an international couple who are on the path to Financial Independence, aiming to retire in their late thirties/early forties. Their blog is about money and this fire-pistol is also high on life.
- Adriana from Live Laugh Cook– the first ever blogger I have met in person, back when I was a stressed out, boring corporate manager. Adriana whips out fabulous recipes, provides cooking lessons and has even participated on cooking shows on her spare time. One day she will be on Food Network folks!
- The lovely lady behind Where to Peanut?– I have to admit that until recently we had interacted over Instagram, but I had never visited her blog. Right away I knew that our travel styles were very similar. Visit her site for amazing tips on Fiji and California.
- Diana from Dreamers Diaries – Relatively new blogger, but she started with a punch!
- Gloria from Travel with G– no need to do this again, but would love to know your answers to these questions. Plus if this award had an actual prize, you deserve an extra nomination.
- If you are not listed here, but are a fellow blogger, please insert yourself here and leave me a comment below. I would love to check out your blog and read your answers to the questions below, independently of gender. Let’s share some hard-earned knowledge!
Ask 10 questions of your nominees.
Since this is a blogging award, let’s focus on blogging.
- What is your 1 sentence about your blog?
- Do you blog while on the road?
- How do you come up with your inspiration for a post?
- What is your writing style? (i.e. journal, informative, long-form, editorial…)
- What is your writing process like?
- What is the easiest and most difficult part of blogging?
- What do you wish you knew about blogging when you started?
- How has blogging changed you?
- What is your goal for your blog in 2016?
- Any tips for new bloggers?
Oh, if you have already been nominated, you don’t need to do this whole process again, but I would love to hear your answers to the questions above. Thanks ladies!