I’d like to thank my dogs, my 14th eyelash, the dust bunnies under my bed…
Wait, what? That’s right, we’ve been nominated for a Liebster Award! What on earth is that, you ask? Well, it’s an award that get passed from new bloggers to others who deserve recognition! That’s what the internet tells me anyway. Basically it’s an award for blogger from bloggers, which is super sweet. There’s a bunch of questions you’re asked by the blogger who has nominated you, and once you’ve answered them, you nominate others with your own questions!
We were nominated by the wonderful Melissa of High Heels & A Backpack, and I won’t lie… I squeed a little. Make sure you give Melissa some love as well, she has great tips for South Korea and Italy! Plus she’s planning her Mongolia trip at the moment. GOOD LUCK!
Now, she asked us eleven questions and here are our answers! S = Sora, K = me, Kristina.
What is your favourite dish you’ve discovered along your travels?
S: It was during the Mongol Rally that Kris and I tried out a soup that for a bit we weren’t sure what it was, only that it was warm, hearty and absolutely delicious. Eventually we learned it was Mercimek Corbasi, or Turkish red lentil soup, usually served in a small bowl or cup with a wedge of lemon you drizzle on just before digging in.
K: This is SUCH A HARD QUESTION. It may sound boring, but I’d have to say kimchi. I had never had it before I moved to Japan and took a weekend trip to Korea. It’s now a staple of my every day diet. I’m obsessed. It’s a problem. Did you know there’s a kimchi museum? I didn’t go. I should have gone.
What type of traveller are you?
S: I call myself a summer traveler since I’m always going off somewhere in the summertime when I don’t have uni. Overall though, I’d say I’m a “whim traveler” because it’s almost always on a whim that I decide to just go somewhere new.
K: Impulsive. I once decided on a Sunday that I wanted to go somewhere and on Wednesday was on a plane to Budapest. I take the leap, sometimes without really fully thinking things through. It doesn’t always work, but most of the time it does. This isn’t to say I don’t plan, I can plan a great deal, but whenever I want to go somewhere I make sure I do. I don’t wait, I don’t make excuses. If I have the means, I go.
If you could give one piece of advice to a travel newbie what would it be?
S: I still think of myself as fairly new to this whole travel game, I’m always learning things along the way, like how to save money, how to find your way when you get lost. Best advice I can give is: don’t be afraid of the unplanned journey, you’ll end up learning more about where you’re traveling and about yourself that way.
K: Dare to be adventurous. Get lost. Eat the local food (and carry charcoal tablets to help your body recover after doing just that). Buy from markets. Certain places are tourist attractions for a reason, and definitely give them a gander, but try and explore a place on foot and just wander. Also, wear sunscreen.
Have you had any negative travel experiences?
S: I don’t view it negative really, it’s more like lessons. I’ve had struggles in my travels, things that annoyed me, things that didn’t turn out well, or the ever looming lack of funds issue. Overall though, it was ok, I tap into my Californian soul and just go with the flow.
K: Yeah. I’ve called my mom crying while on a bus in Italy after being treated like shit, I’ve had things stolen, I’ve had guys try and take advantage of me, I’ve made stupid decisions. Those were bad, but the worst was when I got refused entry into the UK after my visa expired and I couldn’t prove I was going to leave the country (even though I truly was, I just hadn’t bought my ticket out yet). Five hours being grilled in Calais later, I was marched back into France and just left with nothing but battery drained electronics and my backpack. Awful things can happen when you travel, but awful things can happen when you stay at home as well. Don’t let that be a deterrent. You never know what can happen, but fear isn’t a valid reason to stop doing what you want to do!
What has been the most memorable act of kindness on your travels?
S: I’ve had many, but the Mongol Rally was full of moments of such pure kindness it reminded me that not everyone does something because they want payment. There were people who housed us after only just meeting us and people who prepared a whole feast for us then showed us around their city. What was more touching were the people who didn’t speak a single bit of our language, and we none of theirs, and they still tried to help us and when they did they’d just smile and give us a thumbs up which I took to mean “good luck on your journey”. People helping out of the kindness of their heart and not for profit, the Mongol Rally was full of them and all of them were memorable.
K: Sort of expanding on my answer above, with every tragedy comes beauty. The kindness of relative strangers helped me find places to stay in Paris in a week while I tried to figure out what the hell I was going to do. A mutual friend explained my situation and all these people came rushing to my aid; I had no idea who the majority of them were, but they were offering me beds and apartments to stay in. It was so overwhelming.
I stayed there for a week and then ended up staying five weeks with a friend in Germany while I sorted out visa issues. I cooked and cleaned for her in exchange of her taking care of me. People just came pouring into my aid; I had no source of income and was just stuck, but so many people helped. Kindness always win, remember that. I’ll never be able to repay all those people who helped, but I hope they know the depth of my appreciation.
Do you think travelling has an impact on your friendships and relationships back at home?
S: Oh definitely. I’m viewed as the “adventurous” one, in my family, even though I really don’t see myself that way. Among my friends? I’m just me, because they view my traveling exploits as another aspect to my personality. They all know that I’m always up for going somewhere, throwing my things in a bag and just taking off at a moments notice.
K: Whenever I’m back home in the states people will see me and exclaim, “You’re back in America?!” It’s a rarity. My mother has finally come to terms with the fact I am not meant to stay in one place for long and we figured it out that since graduating college, I’ve never stayed longer than 6 months in the country. My family groans every time I say I’m leaving again, but if anything they’re now use to it and it encourages them to travel more themselves! I have friend groups scattered around the world, the biggest in NYC and London, and not being able to be with them all the time really sucks. I won’t lie. I lived in London for three years and having to leave was the hardest thing I’ve had to do.
Because of all of this I don’t get to regularly see people, and that does have an effect on relationships. I know that, and it’s a sacrifice that sometimes I’m OK making and other times I really regret. Life is full of give and take and finding that balance it tricky, I still haven’t. At the same time, I have friends all over the world, and some who I only see once every few years, but it’s like there’s been no time apart at all. You make different sorts of friendships when you travel.
What’s your number one tip for travelling on a budget?
- Bargain with people, don’t always accept the price your given, try a little haggling. You may end up getting something a bit cheaper.
- Shop for food in the markets and make something back at your hostel/camp/car/lodging.
- Keep your eye on travel blogs, many other travellers spot great deals and let others know about it, it’s a fantastic network to be apart of.
- Talk (as best as you can) with the locals, many are very kind and will help out.
- Try and have a savings just for travel. I’m always jumping off at a whim, but having a savings where there is just a bit of extra cash can and will come in handy.
- Get away from the tourist spots, sometimes the best experiences are those you can discover on your own.
K: Sora kind of covered it above, but I’d add check out Couchsurfing for free accommodation (or at least hostels, they’re grand). I have a few friends and travelers I follow that swear on hitchhiking. I don’t think I’ll ever be quite that brave, but many have done it to grand success. If you’re looking to really immerse yourself, check out WWOOF, where you work on people’s farms and such in exchange for room and board. Also when booking flights, use incognito windows. Many flight sites track you and up prices if you’re checking numerous dates and such to scare you into buying tickets before they go up even higher.
Where to next, traveller?
S: Wherever the wind takes me? Kristina is moving to South Korea, so I might visit there, but I’m looking at going somewhere tropical like South America or maybe head over to Thailand, Cambodia, or Vietnam. No idea really, and that’s the fun part.
K: You better come visit me Sora >:(! But yeah, I’m moving to South Korea in Mayish, so I’ll be over there for at least a year. I never got to Thailand the last time I lived in Asia, so I definitely want to hit it up. Laos too. And Tibet! SO MANY PLACES!
Where has been your favourite place so far?
S: Turkey, I loved every bit of it as we drove through and I really would like to go back and explore a bit more. But I really loved Busan in South Korea, it was laid back like a beach town but still vibrating with a neat night life.
K: Impossible question really. But I’ll say my fav destinations have been London, Vienna, Venice, Siem Reap, Kyoto, and Miyajima. I’m a history buff, so places entrenched in tradition with lots of historical buildings and culture are my jam. Also places on the water, there’s little I love more.
What is the most ‘can’t live without’ item in your backpack?
S: The Life Water bottle I got for the rally. Have only questionable river water to drink? No problem! The filter in the bottle with get rid of the nasty things.
K: It’d probably be a cop-out to say my glasses, because I’m legally blind without them… it’s so shameful, but my phone. I like sharing my experiences, but it’s useful for things like directions, translation, etc etc.
Any recommendations on handy travel apps or websites?
Rome 2 Rio will show you how to get anywhere by ALL the modes of transportation.
Citymapper is the BEST map app for cities. It’s only available for a select few, but it beats GoogleMaps 10-to-1.
Happy Cow lets you know where veggie friendly places to eat are in any given place. This is particularly helpful when you’re in a decidedly carnivorous country.
OANDA is the best and most up-to-date currency converter. Super useful when you’re dealing with an unfamiliar currency or are going through a bunch of countries in a relatively short period of time.
WHEW! Hope you all learned a bit more about us and what we do here. And now it’s time to pass on the torch!
Our nominations aaaaaare…
Susanna, Wandering Chocobo
Let’s be real, she has Chocobo in the title of her blog, that should be reason enough. Susanna is a nerd like us and a fabulous traveler to boot.
Kate, The Toronto Seoulcialite
We met Kate on instagram after cooing over her pics in a hanbok. She lives and teaches in Korea, which is where Kristina is heading, and has been super lovely.
This dude was our teammate during The Mongol Rally and is a magnificent photographer. He just started blogging and we’re so excited to see where he goes with it!
Rhiannon, In Travel We Trust
All of her posts on Japan make Kristina homesick! Beautiful blog with lots of lovely stories, guides, and photographs!
Miriam, Wake Up Stoked
Miriam is kite surfing around the world! What other reason do you need to follow her?!
Fran, La Vida Nomade
Fran has lots of honest travel tips that we’ve enjoyed going through. She also worked on a few cruise ships and her anecdotes and guides on that are fascinating and a must for anyone of thinking going for the crew life.
And your questions are…
- Why do you travel?
- What’s the best piece of advice you could give someone who hasn’t traveled a lot?
- Which is your preferred method of transport? Air, Land or Sea?
- What is your most memorable meal abroad?
- What’s the first thing you do when you visit a new place?
- What is the luckiest thing that has happened to you while traveling?
- What has been your scariest travel experience?
- What’s your favorite way to travel blog? Writing? Photography? Vlogging?
- Share your #1 favorite photo from your travels. What is the story behind it?
- What travel destination most exceeded your expectations?
- What’s your most embarrassing travel story? Give us the cringe worthy details!