Travel Advice, Travel Tips

Travel Blog Q&A with TL Travel

We were delighted to be contacted by TL Travel, who interviewed us recently regarding our blog. Here is the Q&A, and you can read the whole article here!

TL TRAVEL: Have you always been interested in travel writing, or is this something that came about after you began your travels?

DANIEL: My interest in travel started very young. My parents moved to Malawi in the 80s and that’s where I was born. We moved countries a couple of times and I still remember wandering around England for the first time being fascinated by the little differences I saw between my old and new homes.

Rachel is the real writer between the pair of us and it is through her that my interest in travel writing has grown. Usually, when a family member comes back from holiday, jokes are made about having to sit through their holiday pictures and how boring it is. I, however, love this.

If I get any opportunity to hear about someone else’s travels and see what they saw and listen to their experiences, then I’m happy. I assume that some other people must feel the same so we try and write it down to share, and also to reminisce.

TL TRAVEL: What inspires you to travel & How do you choose where you will go next?

RACHEL: We are driven by travel. It is our priority in everything that we do, and that drive comes from a few places. Firstly, it’s the lure of adventure. We are not the sort of people to be happy staying in one place, and we dream of meeting new people, seeing new sights, and trying new foods. There is so much to see in the world and life is so short, we could not imagine being any other way. Secondly, we strive toward the beauty of unallocated time. Travel means treading your own path in life, and to wake up next to each other, share a coffee and ask ‘Where next?’ is our definition of happiness.

We decide where we will go next almost at random. It might be re-visiting one of our favourite places in the world (Bulgaria is high on that list) just to traverse those same streets, or it might be decided by a single photograph. We ended up in Malaysia because we opened a book and saw a photograph of the Cameron Highlands and felt compelled to go. We don’t always know where we are heading to next…but isn’t that part of the joy of travel?

TL TRAVEL: Where has been your favorite place to travel & why?

DANIEL: So far, for us, I think this has to be Kuala Lumpur.

Prior to going we spoke with a few people who’d been before and they said “There’s not that much to do in the city, you should plan a trip out to the islands as well.”

With this in mind, we did plan a few excursions out of the capital. However, this is nonsense. We could definitely have stayed in the centre for the entire duration. Kuala Lumpur is a beautiful city and exemplifies the hectic energy that makes many Asian cities so exciting and alluring for travellers.

The food is magnificent, the people are lovely and the wildlife and nature is incredible. If you get a chance to go (and we’d highly recommend it) make sure that you take yourself to Taman Negara national park and experience a bit of what the rain forest has to offer. Beyond its’ obvious natural splendor, the calmness of the forest juxtaposes the city so well that it is fascinating to find both habitats in such close proximity to one another.

We’ve been to Kuala Lumpur a couple of times now, and if we had the option we would go back in a heartbeat.

TL TRAVEL:  Do you plan your travel ahead of time, fly by the seat of your pants, or is it a mix of both?

RACHEL: It is a mix of both. We travelled Europe by the seat of our pants, deciding on our destinations on the day or at random. A lot of great adventures came from that spontaneity, from having to sleep on a beach in Ventimiglia, Italy, because nowhere was open, to visiting Milan at random and eating some wonderful pizza.

When I studied Chinese at Beijing Normal University, we planned ahead of time where would visit next. Daniel came out to Beijing also and stayed in a hostel – it wouldn’t have been fair to travel without him!

TL TRAVEL: Where do you still want to visit that you have not been? What’s at the top of your bucket list?

DANIEL: This is a very difficult question as the answer is basically, we want to visit EVERYWHERE.

As Rachel mentioned before, we don’t struggle in coming up with places that we’d love to visit and planning a journey can literally consist of picking a date and finding the cheapest flights we can that fit the schedule.

At the moment, very high on our lists are Central and South America, particularly Costa Rica, Colombia and Galapagos. There’s so much vibrant wildlife and culture to explore. I’d love to visit the Galapagos and scuba dive with turtles. It’s a little stereotypical but I can’t think of many things better than cruising through warm water and watching an alien world unfold in front of you.

Rachel wants to go to Hong Kong. I lived there for a year before Rachel and I met, and driven by my glowing reviews and her love of China, this is at the top of her list.

TL TRAVEL: Has being a travel blogger added to (or taken away from) your travel experiences & how to do you separate work from leisure?

RACHEL: A tricky question, because running the travel blog and Instagram does take a lot of time and energy. However, we do this because we love it, so I could never say that it has taken away from our travel experiences. It has added to it without a doubt, even though I now occasionally see life in photo opportunities! For us, travel writing is leisure, and not work.

TL TRAVEL: What advice do you have for someone who is just starting out as a travel blogger that you wish you had known before?

RACHEL: My advice for travel blogging is very similar to the advice that I give to anyone who wants to be a writer. There are two main tips. Tip number one: to be a good writer, you have to be a good reader. You should be reading other travel blogs, travel books, and travel writing wherever you can. This not only improves your vocabulary, but it gives you invaluable knowledge and insight. It helps you realise what you want to write about, how you want your travel writing to be. The next tip is: make time. It’s not always easy to make time to write, but it is vital to blogging. We have strict posting timelines that I ensure we stick to, at least two posts a week (one on Wednesday, and one on the weekend). The more you blog, the more enjoyment you will get from it.

Also, consider why someone would want to read your blog. What is in it for them? Stories about travelling are wonderful, but make sure that you are adding in something that drives your audience to read it. For us, we ensure that our stories are interwoven with helpful advice and tips, which is why our tag line is: Documenting our travels, helping you with yours.

You can read more travel writing tips here.

TL TRAVEL: In your opinion, what has changed the most about the way that you travel since you first started your adventures?

DANIEL: I think that we’ve found our rhythm. We’ve written previously that travelling as a couple produces its’ own challenges. We each have our strengths and over the past years we have identified our weaknesses as well.

So, when we get somewhere new, there no longer has to be a conversation on who will be reading the map because, we both know that passing that responsibility to me will end badly. When we do get lost, it isn’t a problem because we work well together and we can always make our way back. And we know that being lost together is actually part of the fun.

On a less soppy note, we have also learnt to pack properly. Our first long trip together resulted in us both carrying massive, heavy rucksacks for months on end. We arrived home only to unpack clean, pressed, unused clothing at the bottom of the bags that we didn’t even remember packing to begin with. Always start with only the essentials and really consider every extra item that you add because, when you’re tramping through humid cities beneath the weight of that extra pair of shoes that you thought you might need for a night out, you’ll wonder what you were thinking.

We wrote a blog post on travelling as a couple, that you can read here!

TL TRAVEL: What is the top tip or travel hack that you can give to world travelers today?

DANIEL: Dry bags and power banks!

Dry bags are great: drop one into your backpack for cameras, phones and documents. When the tropical rain storms hit and you’re miles from anything, you’ll be incredibly grateful that you don’t have to worry about your electricals dying or your passports turning to papier mache.

We’d always recommend that you carry about an extra camera battery because you never want to be in a situation where you can’t take a shot. Power banks are a fantastic option as you can use them to charge cameras, phones, tablets…you get the picture. It’s come in handy more than a few times.

For more travel hacks see our blog post; Handy Travel Hacks.

TL TRAVEL: Other than yourself, who is your favorite travel account to follow on social media?

RACHEL: We actually did a blog post on this recently (You can check it out here)  as we had so many accounts that we love to follow. Our current favorite has to be: @david.wein_

David’s Instagram account is a wealth of travelling photography that will inspire you to jump on the next flight. His photographs of India were what really drew us to his account; well shot, colorful and expertly framed photography.

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