Tag Archives: travel blogger

Q&A with Abigail King: On Swapping Scrubs for Travel Writing and Photography

19 Jul
Abigail King

Abigail King

As part of our goal to make life easier for bus travelers, we keep in touch with travelers who have had firsthand experiences wandering the world. Last time, we featured Matt Long from LandLopers. Today, we’re happy to feature Abigail King from Inside the Travel Lab.

When Abigail decided she was going to leave her day-to-day life behind to pursue a career in travel writing and photography, she also left behind her career as a doctor. Now, she’s a successful lifestyle journalist and blogger who splits her time between writing travel stories and snapping photos that will leave you in a permanent state of wanderlust. Lucky for us, Abigail takes the time to answer our questions!

Beit Sitti Amman Jordan

Beit Sitti, Amman Jordan

1. Where are you now and where are you headed next?
Right now, I’m in Cardiff getting ready for a summer of festivals as part of the #MustLoveFestivals projects (16 digital storytellers heading to more than 40 festivals across Europe this summer). I’ll be covering festivals in Nuremberg, Puglia, Dublin, Malta, and Barcelona.

2. You gave up your life as a doctor to achieve your dream of becoming a travel writer. How did you make the jump and what was your biggest challenge?
I did what I always do and read a lot of books on the subject! Then, I saved up some money to cushion the blow and gave myself a one year trial period to find out whether I really wanted to write or whether it was just a fantasy. The biggest challenge was definitely getting that first commission. I think that’s easier now that there’s blogging to soak up your time and talent (and energy!) but those first few months of nothing but rejection letters were definitely the toughest.

3. You’ve been published in the BBC, National Geographic Traveler, Lonely Planet, and have won numerous awards. How do you balance work and travel?
It’s tricky! Again, blogging is slightly easier because you’re usually covering the place you’re currently in. With traditional freelance work, you can be, say, in a market in Hong Kong and get a query about a piece on a beach in Barbados that the editor wants feedback on ASAP. So, then you find yourself tucked in an Internet cafe writing about Barbados while the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong swirls around you.

Fish, Okinawa

Okinawa

4. You’re also a talented photographer; where did you pick up the craft and what is the most photogenic place in the world?
Well, thank you! Again, a lot of reading and a lot of practice – that’s my top tip for getting better at photography: Take more photos. Then, ask yourself whether you’d be happy sending those photos to a customer. That really sharpens up your skills.

Ah, there are so many photogenic places in the world. But the Namib Desert is exceptionally beautiful so I think I’d have to say that. Sossusvlei (Death Valley) has a jigsaw cream floor that spreads out across rusty red sand while dark skeletons of trees spike into the sky…it’s stunning.

Namib Desert

Namib Desert

5. At Busbud, our mission is to make bus travel information easy to find so that travelers can make better travel decisions. What do you think about this mission and do you think this type of service would benefit the travel community?
It’s a great mission, so in one word, yes!

6. Do you have a memorable bus story to share with our readers?
Hm. I was on an overnight bus in Mexico once near the border with Guatemala when soldiers stormed on and yanked out the passenger sitting behind us. That was pretty memorable.

7. Wow, that must have been quite an experience! Has it changed the way you feel about taking buses and do you still rely on them to get around?
Haha! No, well I’ve seen people marched off planes and trains too by the police so I think if you let things like that put you off you’ll never do anything and never go anywhere. Buses definitely still have a place in my travel toolkit – they have the advantage that they usually arrive in the center of town and they provide great views and chances for reading (and sleeping) that driving can’t match.

Landing in Madikwe Game Reserve

Landing in Madikwe Game Reserve

Thanks, Abigail!

You can follow Abigail’s adventures on her blog, as well as on Facebook & Twitter.

Photos by Abigail at Inside the Travel Lab

Q&A with Matt Long: On Being Bitten by the Travel Bug & Where to Find Good Eats

12 Jul
Matt Long

Matt Long

As part of our goal to make life easier for bus travelers, we keep in touch with travelers who have had firsthand experiences wandering the world. Last time, we featured Michael Glass from Backpacker Travel. Today, we’re happy to feature Matt Long from LandLopers.

When Matt caught a bad case of the travel bug, he decided to cure it by visiting over 65 countries on all seven continents. Now, sharing his numerous experiences and adventures with a large roster of daily readers, Matt writes on the best the world has to offer. Based in Washington, DC, he took the time to answer a few of our questions.

Antarctica

Antarctica

1. Where are you now and where are you headed next?
I’m spending a lot of time at home this summer to catch up on work and get myself organized after a really active spring. I start all over again in late August though when I head to Alberta, Canada to explore the Cowboy Trail and a few of their beautiful national parks. This fall, I’ll also be visiting Milan, Italy, Malta, Jordan, and Sri Lanka!

2. How did you decide to make the switch from working a 9-to-5 job to becoming a travel writer, editor, and photographer?
Well, it wasn’t really my choice. I’d been working towards that goal for a couple of years when I lost my job. Rather than look for something else, I decided that it was a sign and used it as an opportunity to make the transition to full-time travel blogger. Two years later, I’ve learned a lot but so far so good!

Venice

Venice

3. Your blog’s Good Eats section is my personal favorite! If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be and which country would it be from?
That’s a really hard question. Food is such an important part of the overall travel experience and I have a lot of favorites around the world. My (current) all-time favorite is well-executed Peking duck. I had the meal of a lifetime while in Taiwan and have since tried it a few other times and as long as the meal is executed well, it’s my personal favorite. I’m already salivating just talking about it, in fact.

4. Finally, you mention that your blog caters to “everyone from the novice to the pro traveler.” What are your go-to tips and which do you think all travelers should have in their back pocket?
A few of my favorite tips include:
1. Don’t overplan your trip! Organize a few things, but keep the schedule loose and allow for the spontaneous.
2. Pack Ziploc bags to use them for everything from organizing your carry-on bags to storing dirty clothes.
3. Check out local grocery stores not only to see what the local area values in its food, but for the best deals on snacks, beverages, and food-related gifts and souvenirs.

Cape Town

Cape Town

Thanks, Matt!

You can follow Matt’s adventures on his blog, as well as on Facebook & Twitter.

Photos by Matt Long at LandLopers

 

Q&A with Lainie from Raising Miro on Travel and the Road of Life

19 Jan
Miro and Lainie from Raising Miro

Miro and Lainie from Raising Miro

As part of our goal to make life easier for bus travelers, we keep in touch with travelers who’ve had firsthand experiences around the world. Last time, we featured Nicole and Cameron Wears from Traveling Canucks. Today, we’re happy to feature Miro & Lainie from Raising Miro.

Lainie and Miro are a mother and son team who have traveled to 12 countries and experienced many personal changes, living an inspired possession-free-lifestyle, volunteering and learning naturally. They are blessed to be accidental unschoolers and have become advocates for “life learning” at any age.

1) Where are you now? What are 3 reasons why you picked this place?

We are currently in Cusco, Peru. We have been in Peru for over a year already, and the last four of those months we’ve spent here, high in the Andes, deep in the Sacred Valley. There are several reasons that have initially drawn us here, and several more that have kept us here. Briefly, both Miro and I are taken aback with the powerful energy of this country. It’s a cultural, historical, mystical and harmonious place. The people, although culturally diverse, are kind and welcoming. But mostly the landscape, ruins, history and countless mysteries inviting us to participate deeper keep us here. Peru has provided a fertile ground for all kinds of investigation and natural learning for both Miro and myself.

Miro and Lainie in Tambapata

Tambapata, Peru

2) What has been your favourite place so far, and why?

Miro and I both have different answers as we both have different interests. For example, Miro’s very keen on some of the adventure aspects of our trip. Ica, Peru was one of his favourite spots because of the vast sand dunes (and the ever-so-fast dune-buggies that bounce up and down with speed ), the deep amazon jungle for the wild adventures, sounds and the first hand experiences of animal and plant life not found anywhere else on the planet, and finally the capital, for so many reasons that remind him of the comfort of home and it’s wonderful sushi eateries topping the list.

For me, I am enthralled with ancient cultures, archeology and mysticism. I love the southern coast of Peru, including Nasca and Paracas for stretching my imagination and allowing ‘other worldly’ ideas to become a part of my vocabulary (yes, I’m talking “Ancient Aliens”). I loved the jungle too, having spent days and nights acutely aware of my surroundings, being invited to be deeply planted in each passing moment of presence. But at the moment, my heart belongs in the Sacred Valley, near the ancient structures left behind by the Inca and the mysterious pre-Inca cultures, temping my imagination with each new star-gate, elongated skull, megalithic structure and petroglyth I personally experience.

Raising-Miro-Chan-Chan

Miro at Chan Chan

3) How do you decide on your next destination?

Two factors determine our ‘next destination’. First, depending on where we are geographically, we normally decide to go where is next (I know, very Zen.) Second, our destination depends on our budget. If we are inspired to go farther than where the next bus will take us, if we can afford to go, we will.

But how we decide is equally important to two other factors. First, Miro and I are partners in our journey. It’s based on a conversation between the both of us. If Miro feels strongly about one way or another, we talk about it. And vice-versa for me. Sometimes it’s about giving and taking, for example our 8 month stay in Lima was because Miro was very comfortable and wanted to be there. After a period of time, I was inspired to be closer to the archeological sites and that was my preference to move to Cusco and the Sacred Valley. Yes, we are partners.

Next, we both are keenly in touch with our inspiration and our intuition. There had never been a case where Miro and I disagreed about a destination or moving on since our inspiration and intuition are finely tuned within ourselves and with each other. Being guided by inspiration is a blessing and we both listen.

On the way to the Ballestas Islands

On the way to the Ballestas Islands

4) I really enjoyed reading your perspective about unschooling and learning math, and I agree with you that ultimately, it’s up to the parents and their children to decide. But what about learning social iterations? I’m sure that by travelling together so much, you and Miro must meet a lot of people. What are some valuable social lessons that you’ve acquired and can’t be learned in a classroom environment

I’ve been told by many, the answer to this question should be the basis for a book. Maybe it will someday, since I’m certain I could fill many, many pages. But for now, would like to present a question to you, and your readers. When is there a point in our lives that we are NOT learning? It a matter of framing the experiences we are having as such.

You are right in assuming we meet people of all walks of life, all ages, all interests, all social and economical status. As humans we are social creatures and function within social structures. The difference between a child educated in the world, the world being his classroom, is that he / she interacts with a cross section that more represents life, because in fact, it is life! Children in traditional school systems are put in a classroom to socialize only with those of their same biological age. To me, that’s arbitrary and not conducive of learning social lessons. As for curriculum, math, other ‘educational’ topics, I invite you and your readers to visit our web site, as we talk a lot about learning, as in ‘natural learning’ which is also known as ‘unschooling‘.

In fact, you can read about my unschooling too.. (remember my question above about ‘when are we not learning?’ This also applies to me. )

5) What is a great anecdote you have about a bus ride you’ve taken in your travels?

Both Miro and I don’t mind bus rides, even like the long ones from time to time. We have been on two 40 hour bus rides at different times on our journey. And once in Guatemala, we were caught in a shuttle bus for 30 hours in a bad storm where the roads were literally washed out. In this case, Miro and I got to observe the best and the worst of ‘creating your own reality”. We were both patient, wide-eyed and accepting of what was happening. On the other hand, we were in the company of a couple of travellers who choose to experience the situation in a very negative manner. Both Miro and I were observers, and choose to learn in every experience, reflect and grow than making the choice to suffer, judge, or condemn what is happening. (Again, very Zen, right?) I wrote about that experience in detail here.

Miro with an Alpaca

Miro with an Alpaca

6) At Busbud, our mission is to make bus travel information easy to find so that travelers can make better travel decisions. Have you ever had difficulty going around to places due to language barrier? How do you manage communicate when you don’t speak a local language?

At this point, we’ve been traveling for the last 3 1/2 years in Latin America. My Spanish is embarrassing, but Miro’s is fluent. We’ve both learned what we’ve learned through listening. But there have been times and will continue to be times where we cannot communicate accurately with others. But I can say, the most important aspect of communication is tapping into your own humanity, recognizing that in others, and of course SMILE all the time!

Lainie and Miro at Machu Picchu

Lainie and Miro at Machu Picchu

7) Finally, do you have some advice for those who are seeking to be nomads like you?

I would say, fear is the most common reason people do not embark on a lifestyle like ours. If you are interested in a travel lifestyle and are frozen with fear, here’s my most valuable piece of advice:

First take your own journey inward. Learn to listen to what fears are coming, up, learn to decipher the difference in your fear voice or your inspiration.

This focus will keep you grounded when your rational mind is cycling through the giant to do list, feeling stressed and fearful, and experiencing self doubt. Yes, it’s all part of the experience, (and it’s magnified once you are on the road) unless you have tools to keep the surface noise in check.

Just what is that spark of inspiration that led you to this place? Let’s look at the ‘spark’ itself. Like any living thing, it needs attention to stay activated, to remain alive. Simply, give it attention. Give it attention often. Feel the feelings associated with your inspiration and just sit with it. With a little practice, you’ll be able to access that feeling at a second’s notice, and it’s there with you when you need it. And that connection will keep you safe and your journey fear-free. Then, you can get back to enjoying and appreciating all the ups and downs of travel, even those occasional 30 hour shuttle bus adventures!

Thanks Lainie! You can get in touch with her on Facebook. And follow Lainie and Miro’s adventures on Raising Miro.

Photos by Lainie Liberti at Raising Miro

Miro in Lima

Miro in Lima

Q&A with Andrew Evans from National Geographic: An Epic Bus Ride from Washington to Antarctica

7 Dec

Andrew Evans from National Geographic (@WheresAndrew)

As part of our goal to make life easier for bus travelers, we contact travelers who’ve had firsthand experiences around the world. Today we’re happy to feature an interview with Andrew Evans,  digital nomad and correspondent for National Geographic. Andrew is speaking this Wednesday about his adventures at the National Geographic headquarters. For event details, check out: Digital Nomad: Bus to Antarctica and Beyond

In 2010, Andrew embarked on an epic bus journey from the National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C. to Antarctica. In total, he traveled 10,000 miles on 40 buses through 9 states and 17 countries. We’re grateful that he took the time for this interview and we’re happy to share his answers with you today.

1) What were your goals, expectations and fears when setting out on this adventure?

My goal was to get to Antarctica traveling as much as possible by bus. I expected that it would take a long time and that I would need to be flexible, but I also expected that I could make it, as long as I kept traveling South. My biggest fear is that I would get to the end of one road and find my way ahead closed, forcing me to backtrack. Luckily, that didn’t happen.

Bus in a salt flat in Bolivia
Photo by Andrew Evans for National Geographic

2) How did taking the bus change your perspective on the countries you visited? (as compared to taking the plane for example?)

Traveling overland by bus shows you the heart of a country and the breadth of its physical landscapes. Winding up and down the mountains of Guatemala and crossing the vast deserts of Peru offered me much more vivid experience of their unique geographies than even a small plane flying overhead. I now appreciate the size of each of these countries so much more. For example, Colombia is a huge country while Argentina is simply endless.

Passing by wonderful swirled sandstone hills in Argentina
Photo by Andrew Evans (@Bus2Antarctica)

3) Bus travel across of South and Central America can be very different from country to country. How would you contrast the different types of bus experiences you had across the 40+ buses you took in 17 countries?

I think I had the best of the best and the very worst, too. I rode “chicken buses” where I literally had chicken sitting on my feet. Then I rode first class buses where I had my own flat screen TV to watch whatever movies I wanted. Greyhound in America fell somewhere between those two extremes. Across my travels, some buses were too hot, some were far too cold, some were very bumpy and some allowed me to sleep all through the night. Honestly, I liked the diversity of it all. Each time I boarded a new bus, I new I was embarking on a totally new adventure.

Photos by Andrew Evans (@Bus2Antarctica)

4) Finally, what’s the most rewarding thing you experienced from your travels? And if you have one piece of advice for people considering traveling by bus rather than the train or plane, what would it be?

Traveling by bus drops you into the arms of the locals–the people I met on the bus made my journey so much richer. You can meet people on a plane, too, but it’s not the same as traveling with someone for 30 hours where you form a bond of trust and help one another out along the way. My advice is TAKE THE BUS! No other form of transportation offers such an intimate view of the destination you’re visiting. Find out which buses and routes the locals take, and follow suit. But don’t be afraid to be spontaneous–hopping on a bus to a place whose name you can’t even pronounce is one of the greatest adventures out there.

Thanks Andrew!

You can follow Andrew Evans’s travels on his blog, National Geographic’s Digital Nomad, as well as on Twitter and Facebook. If you have suggestions for bus travelers you’d like us to interview, please contact us.

Finally, check out this Bus2Antarctica video: Riding Guatemala’s Colorful Buses

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