Welcome to a new series for RexyEdventures!
Before I went on my RTW travels, I could be often found stalking other travel blogs but what really interested me was the person behind the witticisms of their writing. Who are they? Are they real? Are they fit? So hence, for a long time coming, I wanted to do some travel blogging interviews and crack them open for their rawness inspiration of travel inside. Think Michael Parkinson.
This week’s interview is no other than the most famous Travel Blogger Interviewer around. He interviews loads but has he ever been interviewed himself? His travel blog was amongst the first I discovered when typing in, on that fateful morning, ‘travel blog’ and he gave me a wealth of information about his time in New Zealand and SE Asia. I also have met him twice in person, once at the recent World Travel Market and once when he gave me such an emotional farewell in London hours before jetting off on my RTW Travels.
Taking Angela Lansbury for a spin on his travels, I give you Neil of Backpacks and Bunkbeds!
1. Name: Neil
2. Twitter: https://twitter.com/packsandbunks
3. Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/BackpacksandBunkbeds
4. Blog URL: http://www.backpacksandbunkbeds.co.uk
5. Where are you originally from and where are you now?
Born in London and back in London for the foreseeable future.
6. Describe yourself in 3 words.
Tall, Geeky and Pale … so really attractive!
7. Tell us about your blog. What makes your blog unique from all the other bloggers out there?
So, Backpacksandbunkbeds.co.uk started out with a focus on backpacking (duh!), hostel life and volunteering. Those focus areas still exist, but I’m now trying to branch out into other travel areas such as roadtripping and weekend breaks. I’m also trying to become more involved with photography , video and real time blogging.
Aside from writing about destinations I also run a fairy successful travel blogger interview series, am just starting a new travel industry interview series and I also try to help other bloggers out with my wordpress and blogging tips posts.
8. Why did you start writing a blog? And did you find it easy to set up?
After my gap year felt I needed something to quell my travelling blues and so I made the decision to go to night school and learn web design. Naturally I had to pick a subject on which to base my coursework, and the obvious choices were football or travel. My footy team is far too depressing to write about on a regular basis and travel is clearly more interesting so travel it was. It was a very different site back then, in no way a blog, just a hand coded html site that took an age to update, but it was a start I guess. Fast forward 4 years and I moved over to wordpress and started blogging properly.
I think blogs are pretty easy to set up now, much easier than they were 5 years ago. Most server hosts now have a one click install for wordpress.
9. If you had to travel with 3 other travel bloggers who would they be?
Ah man, only 3? That is tough! This shouldn’t be seen as a popularity contest, I’ve meet a whole heap of awesome bloggers online, but only a few in person. A couple of those i’ve met in person I would now consider good mates, so my chosen 3 would have to be those mates …
10. What’s the best advice you can give for new bloggers?
Create your site with wordpress and go self hosted from the word go! So many people start on blogger and then try move their site over to wordpress at a later date, and it’s just major hassle! The same can be said of starting on a wordpress.com and then later wanting to move to a wordpress.org (self hosted). If you’re serious about blogging for the long term, spend a little on a domain and hosting and save yourself a whole heep of aggro in the future.
11. Other than a job, what’s the easiest way to make money for travels?
Selling everything you own?
Unless you get some kind of sponsorship or have a huge inheritance, I can’t see past either working your ass off or selling all your worldly possessions. I did 10 months in 9-5 cubicle hell, which I obviously hated … but it got me to where I wanted to be so was worth the torture/effort.
12. Where have you been in the world? And which was the best, worst, funniest, most random and scariest?
Where: England, Scotland, Ireland, Spain, Hungry, Germany, Austria, Czech Rep, Croatia, Bulgaria, Poland, Greece, Latvia, Malta, Turkey, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, Hong Kong, Oz, NZ, Fiji, Grenada, Morocco and South Africa. Phew, I think they’re all in there.
Best: I always struggle to look past Sri Lanka when someone asks me this. NZ was also terrific though, and Croatia is emerging as a new fave.
Worst: I can’t lie and say I loved them all, even in Sri Lanka I had bad days, but to label any of the above as the worst wouldn’t be fair. They all have good and bad qualities.
Funniest: A combo of Austria, Czech Rep, Hungry and Germany – basically my inter-railing trip through Europe. Long journeys + late nights = delirium and lots of laughs.
Random: I found parts of India a little random at times, like when I visited the Ghandi Memorial Museum in Madurai with some fellow volunteers. All around the museum grounds were 6ft models of brightly coloured dinosaurs. I didn’t get it.
Scary: Poland, purely for a single 4hr train ride, on which we had to share our carriage with a couple of hundred polish footy hooligans. Squeaky bum time!
13. Naughtiest experience on your travels?
You gossip whore Rexy! (Ed note: I wouldn’t use it against you…for a price) Well this one time I ****** in a **** with ***** … twice! 😉
14. Luggage or Backpack?
Easy one – Backpack. I can’t pull off the case with wheels look.
15. Top 3 items that you would save from your backpack if it was about to be sunk in shark infested waters?
Travel diary, camera and passport. Basically all those things associated to memories and the ability to travel further and create new ones.
16. Skydiving or Bungee Jumping?
Ooh tough one. A sky dive is probably more enjoyable and obviously last longers, but I think I got a bigger adrenaline buzz from bungee as it was something I did all by myself i.e. no instructor strapped to my back.
Tough one to call, I love them both, but will plump for Sky dive.
17. Best travel idol (aside from me, of course) that you would want to sit next to on the plane?
I really want to write Dr Who here, but as the Dr is a fictional character I don’t think he qualifies L. David Attenborough would have to be the one then, I don’t think I need to explain why.
18. What’s your party trick to show to other backpackers in hostels?
I don’t have a trick as such, but I have a nice collection of scars that people always seem pretty interested in. Not sure what the attraction is personally, although the one of my arm does look like an extra large zip and I guess there’s some half decent stories behind a few of the others.
19. Hostel, Guesthouse, Hotel or Couchsurf?
I haven’t actually tried couchsurfing yet, but it’s on the list of things to do. From the remaining 3 I would choose a hostel if I was travelling on my tod, but a guesthouse if I was with the Mrs.
20. Day Trip, Backpack or live? UK, Australia or Vietnam?
Day Trip – UK. Cambridge, Oxford and Brighton are all greats days out
Backpack – Vietnam. I NEED to visit Halong Bay!
Live – Australia. I could easily live in Sydney or along the Gold coast.
21. Lonely Planet or Rough Guide?
I can’t say I really use travel guide books that often, I prefer to research destinations through other peoples travel blogs. I did however recently receive a few complimentary versions of Frommers guide to Croatia, a few of which I gave away in a competition, and they were pretty useful in helping out with my trip to Zadar,
22. Will you go out with me, a sexy, tall, dark and handsome god?
If I were drunk and you were lucky mate!
23. Did you find love on your travels?
Yeah, I met a great girl in Sydney who I then travelled up the east coast of Oz and through NZ with. We had an amazing time together and continued to see each other once back in the UK, but found the distance difficult and eventually went our separate ways. We’re still mates though.
More recently, during my inter-rail trip around Europe in 2010 was when my now gf and I started to fall for one another. (Ed Note: It all started with a Vienna Icecream!)
24. Would you go on I’m a Celebrity and eat pig’s testicles?
I very recently met Jerick of @25travels for a few drinks in London, and after hearing about his experience of easting a testicle and how it exploded in his mouth I won’t be in a rush to try one any time soon. I like trying new things, but I draw the line at exploding testicles. Sod that!
25. And possibly, the most important question…Neighbours or Home and Away?!
Ekkk … erm neither. Back in the day I would watch snippets of both, but nowadays I can’t say I watch either. Anyway, if we’re going to talk about Aussie soaps, talk to me about Heart Break High … no one remembers that one then, shame.
26. Which 3 songs have you played the most on your ipod on your travels?
The Killers – Mr Brightside
Two Door Cinema Club – Undercover Martyn
Bernard Fanning – Wish you well
27. You travelled on your own, how did that go for you and did you find it easy to make new friends on the road?
I quite like travelling on my own, I like my own company and believe that travelling on my tod means I make a lot more effort with new people. On my gap year I cheated a little and started with a 3 month volunteering placement in Asia, but those 3 months helped build my confidence and I sailed through the rest of my gap year meeting some awesome new people and learning lots about myself.
28. What are your next travel plans?
So I’m off to Laos and Cambodia in April of next year, and have weddings in both Ireland and Turkey next summer. Those 3 are booked. I’ve also got a few other plans in the pipeline though, like snowboarding in Bulgaria next Jan, and hunting down the northern lights in both Scotland and Iceland next March … I just need to book them. (Ed Note: Woah woah woah! You’re going north of the Watford Gap?!)
29. What’s the best advice you can give to first time travellers?
Embrace hostels and hostel life, they’ll be the source of some awesome friends and amazing times. Private rooms are cleaner yes and maybe safer in terms of your possessions not being tea leafed, but they’re way less fun in my opinion and cost a hell of a lot more.
30. Finally, tell us a funny travel story..
I once fainted whilst having my ear pierced in Oz. I hate needles, but really wanted it done so took the plunge … but it all went pete tong. This was only days after I’d got together with the girl I referred to in Q23. No wonder it didn’t last. #manfail
Thanks Neil for conducting this interview! If you would like to know more about his Backpacks and Bunkbeds, please click here.
If you would like to have an interview, please drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get you featured on here!