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.Read More
Travelling is fun but it can also be expensive. Whether you only go for as simple as enjoying a dinner and a day tour or as intricate as booking flights and hotels, you would see yourself caught in a dilemma of how to pay all the expenses you incur. Would it be cash, a check, or a credit card?
While, in fact, a traveler always needs cash, you can take advantage of using a credit card to make your travel abroad easier and simpler. Prepared with a card, you would get rid the hassle of having to find a currency converter center. Also, you will be safe of losing money from pickpockets. But you must remember that using a credit card while travelling overseas does not, in itself, cause you to spend cheaper. Here are tips and advices that you can follow to maximize and wisely use your credit cards while on travel.
Check if your Credit Card has NO Foreign Transaction Fee
Most of the bank cards usually carry additional fees for overseas transactions. Typically, 2-3% of the original price is added as an extra charge, resulting to you paying more for every purchase while travelling abroad. Hence, it would be wise if you check your credit cards before you depart for your trip. See if there are agreements in your cards that include transaction fees. If they do, better apply for a credit card that does not charge a fee for foreign transactions.
Inform Your Credit Card Issuer of Your Travel
Just like how you let your mom and dad know, when you were younger, that you were going out, you should also call your credit card companies that you are travelling abroad. Ring them over and give them essential information about your travel plans. There are credit card issuers that use a security software to their cards to avoid fraud. Consequently, when you use your card overseas, without informing them, chances are you would experience decline or worst card suspension. And you don’t want this to happen to you. So, make sure to ask your card issuer a phone number that you can easily contact when something comes up while you are on travel.
Ask Questions Before You Go
Before you leave, ask your travel agent, if you have any; or your card issuer if your credit card would properly work in the country where you are going. You can even check with your booked hotel if your card is acceptable. There are still countries, especially in Europe, that use magnetic stripe cards. However, small stores, restaurants and transportation mostly use chip-and-PIN. You may also contact your banks perhaps they issue a chip-and-PIN card.
Be Mindful of Dynamic Currency Conversion
Dynamic Currency Conversion means that for every transaction that you do, merchants charge you in dollars rather than in their local currency. This could lead to an exchange rate unfavorable to you. To avoid these costs, you should not sign any receipt or check that is not expressed in their local currency. Check the conversion rates as well.
See Credit Card Rewards and Benefits
It is true that not all credit cards offer similar benefits. So, there would be no harm in checking if your card also have travel perks. See if your cards offer car rental discounts, booking flight incentives, free breakfasts at hotels, medical travel insurance and other probable benefits. Pick a card that gives you rewards and points while travelling abroad.
Being knowledgeable in using your credit cards gives you a great advantage while travelling across the globe. You don’t need to stress yourself out as you go travel the world. At the end of the day, life is meant to be enjoyed wisely.
Do you have other advice in using credit cards abroad? Feel free to share in your comment!
Amazing Reads of the Week
Coffee Cherry Skins: The Superfood You Haven’t Heard Of – Epicure and Culture
Istanbul Sultanahmet Photo Essay – Traveling Ted
Mizen Head: Neither the most Southern nor most Western Point in Ireland – Everchanging Scenery
8 Unusual and Cool Things to do in Istanbul – Turkish Travel Blog
Discover New York: Central Park Through The Eyes Of A Local Photographer – Jessie on a Journey
50 Things to do in BERLIN! – That Backpacker
Cliffwalk at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park – Travelling Canucks
How to Travel the Caribbean Backpacking on a Budget (25 USD/day) – Cycling el Mundo
What is Glamourous to you? – Glamorous Traveller
A&Z: What it’s like to Travel in a Mlticultural Couple – Backpack Me
Bucharest Gara de Nord: A Mixed Bag – Passing Thru
10 Ways Travelling Will Change You – Be my Travel Muse
Eat at Tokyo’s ‘Kill Bill’ Inspiration Restaurant – Bucket List Journey
Why You Need Travel Insurance – D Travels ‘Round
She believes that life is an adventure and that it should be experienced to the fullest. Her mission is to inspire others to leave their comfort zones, see the world, immerse in different cultures and live the best out of life. Meet Jessica Festa, a.k.a. Jessie and follow her adventures on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram .
First of all, tell us a little bit of yourself…
Hey! Thank you so much for the opportunity to be interviewed. My name is Jessica (Jessie) Festa and I’m the editor of the solo and offbeat travel blog Jessie on a Journey as well as the online food, culture and responsible tourism magazine Epicure & Culture. I love getting lost in new places — preferably on foot or by bike — and having immersive cultural, active and atypical experiences. In addition to travel blogging, I’m a professional photographer, NYC tour guide and certified sommelier. In terms of hobbies, I play on a soccer team, take dance classes and could hike and bike everyday for the rest of my life and be happy.
What gave you the inspiration to start your blog?
I graduated from the State University of New York at Albany with a BA/MA in Communication & Rhetoric, with a plan to do nonprofit public relations; however, as I’d always been a backpacker I panicked at the thought of having an office job with two weeks of vacation a year. I’ve always loved to write, and when I stumbled upon a travel writing course I knew it was my calling.
What is it about travel that has you so obsessed about?
What I love so much about travel is it allows you to constantly be learning, opening your mind and changing. It also keeps life interesting, constantly offering novel experiences you wouldn’t find at home.
When was your first trip? Where did you go?
Probably Disney World or Sesame Place, as I grew up traveling with my parents every summer. Once I got older we started doing road trips to more adult amusement parks, and then from there graduated to Caribbean cruises. My first trip outside of North America and the Caribbean was when I was 20, studying abroad in Sydney, Australia. That’s when my travel bug really went into effect.
I noticed you mentioned about your one-on-one blog consulting service. Tell us more about it…
I get a lot of readers emailing me asking questions about how they can create a professional travel blog that allows them to travel and generate income. It’s really not something you can explain in an email. I decided instead of giving short answers that didn’t really provide the answer, I would work with those interested in professional blogging through one-on-one consulting sessions via Skype that go over exactly how to embark on this journey, with the material tailored to their special needs and blog brand. This way, every single person who was interested would be guaranteed to understand exactly what was necessary to create a blog that makes money. You can learn more about these services by clicking here.
How do you fund your travels?
I fund my travels in a variety of ways. For one, I’m lucky enough to have made a name for myself in the industry and am often able to find sponsors for my trips via my blogs. Moreover, I favor destinations that are cheap to travel through. For example, I live in NYC and many destinations in Latin America are both cheap to travel to and around, like Colombia (I’m going there in November!) and Guatemala, both about $400 round trip for the flight depending on the season.
Do you take advantage of airline credit cards to save on flights? If so, which card do you use?
In terms of travel credit cards I’m very loyal to Capital One, as I have their Capital One Venture Card and love it. I get two miles for every dollar spent whether it’s travel-related or not, no foreign transaction fees and the customer service is outstanding. Sometimes I even use it to erase my subway tickets getting around NYC, as the miles can be used toward any kind of travel.
Of all the places you traveled to, what was your favorite?
It’s very difficult to choose a single favorite place as there are many destinations I’ve loved for different reasons. This may sound snobby, but I’m from New York and still live here and it is by far my favorite city in the world. It’s just impossible to run out of things to do, and there’s so much innovation. I’m also a big fan of South America in general. I backpacked through it for three months in 2012, and the otherworldly landscapes, adventure opportunities, cultural experiences and, in many places, the prices, make this a top destination choice for me.
What places are still on your bucket list?
New Zealand’s South Island (I’ve been to the North), Indonesia, Uruguay, Nicaragua and Madagascar.
Do you have any major travel regrets?
Not that I can think of. I got started traveling solo when a group of girlfriends backed out of a trip to Europe. Instead of giving up the trip I went alone. If I hadn’t gone that probably would have been my biggest regret.
Additionally, one thing that’s constantly on my mind is the idea of living in a number of different countries before I settle down. I have a serious boyfriend with a good job in Brooklyn so this is a bit tricky, but we’re talking now about how to possibly make this work. I can’t say it’s a travel regret yet, though, as it can still happen!
What is your advice to young travelers out there?
I would encourage all young travelers to try traveling solo at least once. Even if you don’t end up enjoying it, it’s such a growing experience and really allows you to have ultimate freedom without compromises on your trip. It will possibly be the most nerve wracking thing you’ve ever done — at least your first time — but will likely become something you’re very thankful for.
Saving money while overseas shouldn’t always equate to scrimping (though finding great deals and discounts is always a surefire way to stay in the green). Sometimes, it also has to do with using the right currency.
Using your credit or debit card while overseas can result in some
exorbitant charges like transaction fees. Most banks make consumers pay a percentage of their total purchase, while others have a set minimum amount to be paid as a transaction fee. Even the use of ATMs entails a charge for every transaction made. Instead of incurring all of these unnecessary charges, it’s more advisable to use cash for any and all transactions made overseas.
You may think that getting cash from an ATM is the obvious choice – after all, ATMs can
take your money and convert it to the local currency, right? Well, unbeknownst to many, ATMs can be quite unreliable when it comes to currency conversion as well. The same goes for credit and debit cards which ask you whether you’d like to be charged in the local currency or your home currency – a decision that seems harmless enough, until you realize how arbitrary their exchange rates are. Instead, a great choice is preordering your currency, and collecting it at your destination.
The process of preordering currency is quite simple: you contact one of the many companies that offer such a service and buy the local currency from them using your home currency, and you collect it from a set point once you arrive at your destination. Most major airports now offer currency services as well, so you can secure your finances the minute you land. Gatwick Airport, which is described by Parking4less as the tenth busiest airport in Europe with 30 million passengers serviced per year, has secured the services of Moneycorp to provide preorder currency to their passengers. Passengers can avail of free exchange rate protection and even pay on collection, so they can rest assured that they’re getting the best deals on local currency.
Just make sure to make your arrangements for buying currency ahead of time. Moneycorp requires 24 hours’ notice, and most airports will also charge more for walk-in customers who haven’t made previous arrangements to buy local currency.Read More
Looking for a destination to add in your bucket list? You might want to consider visiting the Philippines next. Here are some of the great places that tell you why…
Located at the northernmost tip of the Philippines, Batanes is an island province in the Cagayan Valley region which is frequently ravaged by typhoon. Moreover, it has stood the test of time becoming more breathtaking as it was before. Batanes is a home of the Basco Lighthouse, stocky stone houses, endless rolling hills, white-sand beaches and stunning coasts where waves gracefully crash. You can rent a bike around the ancient villages that display the Spanish rule or just sit in one of those hills getting lost while viewing the dramatic scenery in front of you. Batanes has unique culture to discover and you should not miss it. A piece of heaven, it definitely is.
Underground River, Palawan
The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River or Underground Rives is a UNSECO World Heritage Site and one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature. It is said to be the longest navigable river in the world covering a distance of 8.2 kilometers. The river passes through St. Paul Underground River Cave and underneath a mountain range. There are also other islands in Palawan that is known for their gorgeous white sand beaches and snorkeling areas. Island hopping at Honda Bay, Coron and El Nido is also a must-try.
Crystal clear waters, fine white sand, fun water activities, romantic sunsets and amusing nightlife– these are the reasons why Boracay is one of the top destinations in the Philippines. With four kilometers of powder white sand, anyone would enjoy bathing under the heat of the sun. Because a lot of tourists across the globe visit the island every year, Boracay has variety of food choices that people can enjoy ranging from American, Mexican, Chinese, Indian, French, Swiss, Italian and Moroccan food. Various resorts are also sprouting in the island and whether you are a budget traveler or a luxury one, you would find a place that you can afford. Budget accommodation starts US $17 and you can go all the way to US $300 per person at primary resorts.
Heritage City of Vigan
Vigan is one of the top 21 finalists for the New 7 Wonders- Cities in the World. It has been one of the top tourist destinations in the country because of its Spanish-era architectural structure and rich culture. There are many things to do in the city which includes exploring Calle Crisologo, visiting Father Burgo’s House and the Syquia Mansion, cruising the Mestizo River, tasting local foods, climbing up the Bell Tower and riding the carriage which is a primary mode of transportation in Vigan. Learn more about how Vigan came to be by paying a visit to this place in your next travel.
Chocolate Hills, Bohol
Just hit by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake last year, Bohol remains to be a top destination in the Philippines. One of Bohol’s highlights is the Chocolate Hills in Carmen. This tourist spot covers more than 1, 268 grass-covered limestone domes that looks green in rainy season and turns chocolate brown during dry season. You can also tour the hills riding an ATV. Now, there are extreme adventures that people can enjoy in the site as well, including zip line and bike on air passing through the hills. Bohol is also the home of the smallest primate in the world, the tarsiers.
These are just 5 of the many travel destinations in the Philippines that you can discover, explore and enjoy. Indeed, true to what the country’s tourism industry promotes, “It’s more fun in the Philippines”.Read More