I love it when y’all send me questions here via comments or email, or through Instagram Stories (@yalewanders). Often, I get the same travel q’s time after time (which I never tire of answering), and thought it’d be fun to share what they are, as well as my responses.
What inspired you to start a travel blog?
I’ve always loved writing and travel- even as a kid, I remember checking books out of the library about places I’d only seen on a globe- India, Egypt, Russia, Japan, Brazil. I was fascinated by reading about other cultures, traditions and lifestyles. When I started traveling on my own, I had the idea of documenting and sharing my tips and experiences for years before I actually put it into action.
Three and a half years ago, I started working for VaynerMedia. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a digital agency led by serial entrepreneur, Gary Vaynerchuk. Long story short: Gary produces a lot of content that discusses business advice, all of which is inspirational in nature. In one Q&A that was recorded on a podcast several years ago, someone asked him what motivates him, and he responded with three simple words: “You’re gonna die.”
Those words really sunk in, and a few weeks later, I finally started writing my first posts. Even though this blog has only been in operation for two years, I already can’t believe how gratifying it’s been- I love looking back at my adventures now and can’t wait to do so years from now. And, of course, every time a friend or follower tells me how much they enjoy what I’m doing, or how helpful a particular post was for them, it’s the ultimate feeling.
When do you find time to blog with a full time job?
There’s never enough time, but prioritisation is critical. I usually designate 1-2 Saturdays or Sundays a month to spend the majority of the day working on the blog. I used to try and write 1-2 posts a week, but inevitably, life got in the way weeks when I’d need to work late or be traveling.
Having designated days to write forces me to focus on which posts I want to produce that month. Admittedly, I need to get better at promotion of those posts and partnerships, which are two areas I’m focused on this year.
And, the question of ‘how I’m able to travel so much with a full time job’ is the one I get the most often- you can see my answer here.
What’s your goal for the blog?
This answer fluctuates, depending on where I am in life. Right now, it’s to inspire others to explore the world around us, and meet others in the traveling and blogging communities.
At this point, monetisation isn’t my core focus. I’m fortunate to have a job that I really enjoy and one that allows me to take a few holidays each year so I can pursue a passion project without dependence on personal income.
Are all of your photos really iPhone only?
Yep! I’ve circled the notion of buying a DLSR many times, but never gone through with it for several reasons. In December of 2017, I upgraded to the X, and now truly don’t see a DSLR being a future purchase anytime soon.
If you’re shooting with an iPhone, these are my top tips for taking better travel pics.
Do you have a favorite airline or hotel chain?
Nope! I fly some distance carriers (United, Delta) for points but will always book on another airline if the cost difference is significant enough. Instead, I have two travel reward based credit cards that help make me feel less guilty about flying different carriers if I need to.
And, hotel wise- I love a few chains when I’m in the mood to splurge, notably Scandic properties (Haymarket in Stockholm is gorgeous), The Hoxton for London/Paris/Amsterdam, and Citizen M (one of their Amsterdam hotels is literally a 5 minute walk from the airport terminal/train station, which makes it the perfect hub if you’re visiting Amsterdam, but want to explore other parts of The Netherlands). I love visiting Anantara properties, but would consider a stay there to be quite the splurge.
9 times out of 10, you’ll find me at an Airbnb. Great deals are to be found all over Europe, and I love experiencing life like locals.
What’s the one travel app you couldn’t live without?
Just one?! My top five are below, but Custom Google Maps are a total game changer in terms of finding your way around a city / making the most out of a city break or holiday.
- Custom Google Maps (read more about how to make one here, but these are essential- I make one for every trip)
- XE Currency (quick currency exchanges)
- Google Translate (type text or scan a photo to easily translate, you can also download languages ahead of time so they’re available if you don’t have wifi)
- WhatsApp (essential for international check-ins with family and friends)
- Foursquare/Yelp (the best for finding quick restaurant/coffee/drink recos on the go)
It seems like you’re always on the go, where do you find the energy?
The basics are important. I strayed away from them in 2017, and it really impacted my health. What do I consider to be a ‘basic’? Drinking enough water, working out 5-6 days each week, getting 7-8 hours of sleep every day, eating as clean as possible the majority of the week, allocating enough ‘me’ time, & starting every day with meditation and from a place of gratitude.
And, the other thing I try to always remember- tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. That in and of itself is all the motivation I need most days.
How do you stay inspired?
Inspiration is all around us. Sometimes just walking down the street inspires me to write a post or plan a trip somewhere. Traveling makes me better as a person and at my job. And, sharing that with my friends and followers inspires me even more.
If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
London! In all seriousness, living in London was a dream of mine for nine years (since my first visit).
Amsterdam, Austin and Hong Kong are all places that left a lasting impression on me, and cities where it’s easy for me to envision living. And, even though I never wanted to move to New York, I did enjoy life there for so many years- it’s a city whose energy is unmatched, except for Hong Kong (in my experience).
Favorite trip you’ve ever taken?
Hmmm, so hard to choose!
My first solo trip to Europe (London, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam) ranks pretty high on my list because I grew so much during it.
Tulum is another favorite, it was the first time I’d taken a true beach holiday, where the only things on the agenda were relaxing in the sunshine, yoga and swimming.
And, my first time in Asia was incredible- Hong Kong quickly became one of my all time favorite cities and Japan exceeded any expectations I could have ever dreamed.
Got a question? Drop me a comment or reach out on social, you can find me on Instagram.
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