Travel Blogger Interview – Annette White

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In search of experiences noteworthy in her bucket list, Annette White takes us into her adventures around the globe. Follow her on Twitter, visit her on Facebook and connect with her on Google+. Meanwhile, let us know more about Annette and how her travel passion came to be. 

 

 1.     First, tell us a little bit of yourself…

I’m Annette, the owner of a Michelin recommended restaurant in Northern California, freelance travel writer and creator of the award winning blog Bucket List Journey. As an obsessed new experience collector, my writing centers around exploring the world in search of once-in-a-lifetime adventures.
 

2.     What gave you the inspiration to start your blog?
Initially, I was simply looking for a place to record my ever-growing bucket list and its progress. The pieces of scrap paper and random internet files were getting out of control, so I decided to condense my dozens of notes into a blog.

 

As time went on, the blog changed from being just a practical list-keeping spot to being a place for readers to get inspiration for their own bucket lists. My endless curiosity motivates me to travel the world in search of the best bucket list worthy experiences to share, and it is my hope that these stories will inspire readers to dream and do.

 

3.     How does being a restaurateur influence you as a traveler?
I can’t imagine traveling anywhere where food is not a huge factor, for me travel and food go hand in hand. When planning for a trip, I spend just as much time researching traditional dishes, cooking techniques and restaurants in the area as I do researching major attractions. It’s a running joke amongst my friends that more than 50% of my travel photos are food related.

 

Even though my restaurant specializes in Italian cuisine, you’d be surprised by how much I learn from other parts of the world. With a little ingenuity you can turn a Greek moussaka into a version of an Italian eggplant lasagna.

 

Plus, you will always catch me looking at the bottom of a restaurants dishware to see who the manufacturer is, snapping photos of unique ways guest checks are being presented and collecting paper menus. My passion for food and restaurants is a close second to my passion for new experiences.

 

4.     Have you experienced some challenges to becoming both a restaurateur and traveler?
Of course there has been challenges to becoming each one of these things individually, but owning a restaurant and being able to travel at the same time has been a continuous work in progress.

 

I spent over four years systemizing my restaurant to run without me and my husband. Things like an online payroll system, time clock and security cameras that could be accessed from anywhere in the world with internet were helpful in the process.

 

In the beginning our goal was to leave for an hour just to have dinner, this very slowly grew into an entire day and is now at ten days if both of us are gone and three weeks for just me. I also spend lot of time after returning from a trip analyzing what problems arose while I was away and coming up with solutions to the issues so they will not occur the next time I am gone. It has taken a lot of effort, but I am now seeing the benefits.

 

5.     I noticed you mentioned that there was a time in your life when fear makes your decision, how did you overcome it?
 When it comes to anxiety and fear, there really is no guarantee, so I not so much have overcome as much as I have learned to manage it. After much research, I realized that my fear was created by my negative thoughts regarding a situation. I have worked hard over the years to understand, challenge and change my thoughts. I now know that I have the tools to keep it under control, I just have to put them to use. Some days are harder than others, but at this point even the bad days are pretty good in relation to ten years ago.

 

At the same time, I realize that it is unrealistic to thing that all fear will completely disappear or can be controlled. So, I also made a promise to myself that I would not allow fear to make my decisions for me. If I am presented with an opportunity and want to say “no”, I ask myself if that negative response is driven by fear. If it is, I make myself turn that “no” into a “yes”. This promise has led to some of my most memorable experiences.

 

6.     What has been your bucket list experiences and what was your favorite among them?
I have had some AMAZING bucket list experiences: swimming with whale sharks in Mexico, bathing elephants at a rescue in Thailand, taking a helicopter ride into the Grand Canyon, watching wrestler’s practice at a sumo stable in Japan, nibbling on chicken feet at the cheapest Michelin restaurant in the world, etc…

 

I am thrilled any time I have an incredible new experience, but amongst my favorites was going on a four day African safari in Tanzania and swimming with thousands of jellyfish in Jellyfish Lake in Palau.

 

7.     How do you fund your travel?

There are two things that help support my travels. The first is my blog, Bucket List Journey. I make a teeny weenie amount of money by selling advertisements and earning commissions through affiliate programs. But, what has been most helpful in regards to blogging is that many tourism boards and other companies will sponsor my travels in hopes that I will find their activities bucket list worthy enough for me to write about. These “media trips” have been an important part to me being able to accomplish many of the goals on my list.
 
Secondly, my husband and I own a successful Italian restaurant in Northern California that gives me a degree of financial freedom. With that said, we have worked diligently for the past several years in order to set it up to fit around my traveling lifestyle.
 
Let me also say that I believe that some of the reason I can afford traveling is because it is what I choose to be able to afford, it is what I am truly passionate about. I would forgo designer clothes, fancy coffee or a manicure any day of the week if it were in exchange for a memorable experience.
 

8.     Do you take advantage of airline credit cards to save on flights? If so, which card do you use?
I am a member of almost all the airline mileage programs, but my main airline credit card is the United MileagePlus Explorer. By belonging to their program and actively using their credit card my points accumulate more rapidly. I charge everything on it, even if its only a dollar.

 

What’s most important about using reward cards is understanding all the benefits to your card and knowing how to accumulate the most points possible.

 

9.     What experiences are still on your bucket list?
Even though I have checked off hundreds of items from my bucket list, there are still hundreds more. With so many incredible experiences in the world, it’s hard to limit myself! What’s coming up in the near future is visiting the Christmas Markets in Germany, seeing a Water Puppet show in Vietnam and eating scorpions in Singapore.

 

10.  Do you have any major travel regrets?
The only regret I have is that I did not start traveling earlier in life. But, I am certainly making up for lost time, last year alone I was in 5 continents, 13 countries and countless cities.

 

11.  What is your advice to young travelers who are still controlled by their fear against making their travel dream come true?
Besides challenging your fearful thoughts and living in the present moment, the best advice I can give is to take your goal and break it down into a bunch of tiny little goals. Some times when you are looking at the big picture of a dream it can seem completely impossible. But, by concentrating on taking baby steps you can celebrate each little victory and feel like you are making progress.

 
It doesn’t matter how slowly you are moving towards your dream, it just matters that you are taking steps towards it every day.

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5 Reasons to Take the Family on Outdoor Excursions

The great outdoors can offer a view of the world that many city-folk may be missing. Although electronics and computers help make the world more efficient, experiencing nature firsthand could create memories that will last a life time. Be honest, how much of the amusement park vacation can you remember as opposed to various vacations in the outdoors? This isn’t saying that the family can’t enjoy city life, but there is more to the world than that of the tall buildings and merchandised family entertainment of various theme parks. Why should you pack up the family and look towards the landscapes instead of the glamour of theme parks?

Creating a Bond Within the Family

Unlike amusement parks that are filled with people, staff and security, the outdoors offers the element of the unknown. It’s through this experience that prompts family members to be more reliant on each other for basic survival – even on a subconscious level. This reliance may assist in deepening the bond within the family as everyone contributes to making the most of the vacation. Without various diversions, more interaction between family members can be done helping each understand the other in ways that were never thought of before.

Unique Opportunities

Unlike visiting the same theme park and riding the same rides, outdoor vacations offer a unique aspect with each visit. As nature changes rapidly, each visit to the same location could be incredibly different than the time before. Fishing patterns, wildlife migrations, trails and even scenery can change from year to year offering a unique experience. After you’ve been on an amusement park ride once, you already know the outcome of each subsequent ride. However, nature has a way of changing things up on you in the outdoors. Visiting companies such as Outdoor Traveler, you can find a vacation perfect for the family to offer a sense of that uniqueness.

Exploring Unknown Territory

Humans are inherently curious and many enjoy a good adventure of discovering places they’ve never visited before. The outdoors offers the allure of exploration allowing you to see and experiencing situations that you may be unable to duplicate anywhere else. If you take the family to a locale you’ve never been to, then it becomes a vacation that nobody can predict.

Personal Experience

If a picture is worth 1000 words, then experiencing something first hand would be the equivalent of a novel. Although technology allows people to take stunning photographs in amazing clarity, the personal experience adds more to the story such as scents and sounds. A picture can remind you of the vacation, but the experience is what creates the nostalgia from within. Pictures on the Internet simply cannot add the benefit of four other senses used when standing in the presence of nature’s magnificence.

Stress Relief

The great outdoors offers something that inner-city vacation tourist traps cannot – enhanced stress relief. The air quality of various areas allows for the body to absorb a higher quality of oxygen. The physical aspect of the outdoors provides exercise which in turn creates endorphin in the brain for a more natural euphoric experience. All of this and more can create a less stressful experience especially when taking into account the lack of people hustling about the area.

The outdoors promote a great deal of interaction with those around you. Without the diversions of everyday city life, the family is more likely to engage on an intellectual and personal level. Explore nature with your family and create an experience that will be talked about for years to come.

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Travel Blogger Interview – D Travels ‘Round

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Life is not about living happily ever after, it’s about living. Diana Edelman brings us into her adventures as she travel solo and live as an expat. Keep in touch with her through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

First, tell us a quick background of who you are…

I am a travel writer and an expat living in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I run the travel blog, d travels ’round which highlights my solo female travel experiences around the world, responsible tourism, tips on being an expat, destination features, travel tips, reviews and more. I am the co-founder of the weekly responsible tourism Twitter chat (every Wednesday at 6 p.m. GMT), #RTTC, and a regular contributor to Thought Catalog and have written for numerous print and online publications.

 

What inspired you to start your blog?

I have always loved writing. One night after I had returned from a holiday in Croatia, my mind was wild with stories I wanted to write down. So, I turned on the light, bought a domain name and just started typing. Of course, since then it has morphed into something I never would have imagined. But, that initial inspiration just came from wanting to get the words out of my brain and onto my screen.

 

What is it being an expat? How was your life as such?

An expat or expatriate, is someone who lives in a foreign country. I am an expat in Chiang Mai and volunteer for Save Elephant Foundation to raise awareness about responsible elephant tourism.

 

What motivates you to promote responsible tourism?

I know that people read what I write, and if my words can help make the world a better place, then I need to do it. So many people go into their travels without taking the time to research what it is they are supporting, which harms people, animals and the environment. If I can make an impact or influence just one person, then I am happy.

 

I noticed you are an animal lover, how does this influence you as a traveler?

I love to get involved with animals while traveling. I first came to Thailand as a volunteer at Elephant Nature Park and I fell in love, hence my move here.

 

What are the advantages and disadvantages of solo travel?

I love not having to answer to anyone, but at the same time, it forces me to really get to know me. I used to have a hard time with that, and I think others can face those same challenges. Today, I like to split it up a bit, do some solo travel and also travel with others. I love my “me” time but also want to share experiences with others.

 

What places have you visited so far?

I have visited a lot of places — pretty much all of Western and Central Europe, parts of Eastern Europe, Morocco, Israel, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Myanmar and more.

 

Of all the places you have traveled to, what was your favorite?

I don’t have just one! I love Spain, Israel, Berlin, Slovenia … so many!!

 

How do you fund your travels?

I work. All of the time. I make money from my blog and largely from freelance writing jobs.

 

Do you take advantage of airline credit cards to save on flights? If so, which card do you use?

I just signed up for Chase Sapphire a few months ago and went on a charging spree to get the miles.

 

What places are still in your bucket list?

I don’t have a “bucket list” but there are a lot of places I would like to visit all over the world. It’s a big list!

 

Do you have any major travel regrets?

Not traveling and living abroad sooner.

 

What is your advice to solo travelers out there?

See everything you can. Soak up the culture. Meet locals. Say “yes” more than you say “no” and get some good sleep every now and then.

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A day in Amsterdam for 12 euro

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Meet eTramping crew – Agness and Cez – best friends and travel companions from Poland.

These two are sharing their budget travel tips on how to travel the world with $25 in your pocket. Since 2011, they have been travelling the world while teaching English in different Asian countries such as China, Thailand or Cambodia. They are both photography passionate obsessed with Chinese cuisine and culture.

 

Although Amsterdam is considered to be one of the most expensive cities in Europe (which I as an expat absolutely agree with), it still has a lot to offer for those who travel on extremely tight budget. You may ask: what can I do for only €12 in Amsterdam? Well, surprisingly a lot – from boat ride to exploring cheese museum and taking a selfie at I Amsterdam sign located at the back of the Rijksmuseum on Museumplein.

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#1 Boat ride – €9

Start off your day with a nice and relaxing boar ride. It costs only 9 euro and lasts approximately 45 minutes. The one me, Anna of Anna Everywhere and our guest from London went for was one of the cheapest we could find. It was located at 9 Damrak and the place was called Gray Line Sightseeing Canal Cruises. Sightseeing Amsterdam by boat together with your friends or relations is one of the best tourist attractions in the city. You can enjoy a boat ride through the famous Amsterdam canals.

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#2 Dutch style sandwich – €3

After your boat ride, it’s time to dig into a Dutch style sandwich. There is one cafe I always go to when I’m hungry and it’s called Singel 404. Sandwiches with salmon and goat cheese cost only 3 euro. They are filling and healthy so don’t forget to grab one when in Amsterdam. More info: Singel 404, +31 20 428 0154. Open daily 10.30am-6pm.

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#3 Cheese museum – free entrance

Often underestimated by tourists, cheese museum is a great place where you should definitely go if you’re a big fan of different sorts of cheese. Dutch cheese has more than 600 years long tradition so everyone can find something yummy there. You can see and taste not only the cheese, but also some Dutch stroopwafels and candies as well as take fancy pictures of you holding a big block of cheese! The museum is open daily from 10 am till 6 pm, it’s located at Prinsensgracht 112 nearby Anne Frank House (just the opposite).

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#4 Tulip museum – free entrance

Conveniently located in the heart of historic Amsterdam, near many fine shops, galleries and cafes, the museum features exhibits and films devoted to the tulip, the unofficial national flower of the Netherlands. Here you can explore the tulip’s history and discover the remarkable journey it has taken from the wilds of the Himalayan highlands to a garden like yours for free. Definitely must see place!

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#5 Photo at I Amsterdam sign

This large sign that lies in front of the Rijksmuseum has become an iconic symbol of the city. You will also find many people sitting in or on the letters and getting their photo taken.

Which attraction of those 5 would you find the most interesting when visiting Amsterdam?

Travel Blogging: Build Audience, Improve Rankings and Earn Money

Agness Living in Amsterdam

 

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Travel Blogger Interview – A Luxury Travel Blog

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Meet Dr. Paul Johnson. He has worked in the travel industry for more than 25 years and he has traveled the world extensively. Hence, when it comes to knowing what travel is all about, he has something to say. Get to know him better and follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+.

First of all, tell everyone a basic background of who you are…

I am Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog which is the leading blog for the luxury travel industry, with more than 225,000 likes on Facebook and over 425,000 followers on Twitter. My background is in online marketing for the tourist industry and I am a Director of The Dedicated Partnership Ltd. as well as of a holiday accommodation business, Kendal Holiday Cottages Ltd.

What motivated you to start your blog?

First and foremost, a love of travel. I love seeing different places in the world, exploring different cultures, trying different foods, etc. In my student days, I would do it on a budget, but when we went on honeymoon (a safari in Tanzana followed by some R&R on a private island), we splurged and I suppose I got a taste for ‘luxury travel’ then which sparked my interest.

What to you is a luxury travel?

I get asked this one all the time! To me, it all hinges upon service and exclusivity. Forget the fancy chandelier in the foyer or the gold taps in the bathroom… it’s not about the material things, it’s about the personal touches and nothing being too much trouble. It’s the people behind an establishment that define whether it is luxurious, not the establishment itself.

Have you ever experienced any challenges to blogging as a team of various writers and guest bloggers?

It’s always a challenge! To date, we’ve had more than 400 contributors on A Luxury Travel Blog. Trying to convey what you are looking for from your writers isn’t always easy to get across.  That said, we do lay out some fairly clear guidelines which, if read (and that’s often not guaranteed!), should keep them on the right path.

I noticed you mentioned about the travel blogger database you created. Tell us more about it…

Sure… to start with, the details can be found here:

Increasingly, clients working with me were asking me to suggest other bloggers to work with.  They might say they wanted to work with other bloggers who were big on Twitter, or other bloggers based in the UK, or bloggers serving more than 50,000 unique visitors per month. After quite a number of these kinds of requests, I was finding it quite laborious to try to find a blogger – or bloggers – that best matched their needs, hence the creation of the database.

I was amazed at the response and had over a thousand bloggers sign up in the first month, and that number continues to rise to this day.  The information we hold is really extensive so now if we have someone looking for bloggers with travel blogs in Spanish, or bloggers who have a big readership in the US or Canada, we can pull up that information much more easily.  As a result, we’ve already successfully matched up a number of travel companies with exactly the kinds of travel bloggers that they were looking to work with. It’s a win-win for all concerned.

What has been your favorite places that you’ve visited so far?

That’s a tough one… I’ve been lucky to go to so many wonderful places. I’ll choose three (but I could choose many more!): Mnemba Island off Zanzibar in Tanzania, the Shamwari Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape of South Africa and remote parts of West Greenland.

How do you fund your travels?

My travel is also my work, so my trips are funded by the clients that I work for.

Do you take advantage of airline credit cards to save on flights? If so, which card do you use?

In the UK I prefer to use credit cards that give me cashback rather than airline credits, but I am a member of a number of frequent flyer schemes such as British Airways’ Avios and Virgin Atlantic’s loyalty programme.

What places are still on your bucket list?

Australia and New Zealand. I have still yet to make it there.  I’d also like to go to Iceland some time soon…  I’ve spent quite a bit of time in Greenland, but never Iceland… I’d love to go there, too.

Do you have any major travel regrets?

Not ‘taking the plunge’ to go full time with my blog sooner. I’ve been running it since 2005, but didn’t go full time until 2012. Since doing so, things have gone from strength to strength… I just wish I’d done it sooner.

What is your advice to people who want to experience a luxury travel?

Do your research. Know what it is that you are looking for, and then do as much ‘homework’ as you can. The internet is an amazing resource and the chances are that there’s someone who’s already made the trip (and written about it) that you are aspiring to do yourself.

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