Before I went on my RTW travels, I could be often found stalking other travel blogs but what really interested me was the travel blogger 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 Bollywood Loving Travel Blogger around. With that in mind, it comes to no surprise she has been in India for a while and her travel blog goes into detail the unique encounters with the Indian culture that proves fascinating reading. From the Rickshaw Bro Code to dancing in the rain, her posts come at a time during a controversial debate whether female solo travelers should be in India. Without much further ado, I give you Rachel of The Penniless Traveler!
2. Twitter: @rachelynn17
3. Facebook Fan Page: facebook.com/ThePennilessTraveler
4. Blog URL: http://pennilesstraveler.com
5. Where are you originally from and where are you now?
I am originally from a suburb just outside of Boston, but I’m writing to you now from my bedroom in Pune, India (near Mumbai)!
6. Describe yourself in 3 words:
Optimistic, Spunky, Thoughtful
7. Tell us about your blog. What makes your blog unique from all the other bloggers out there?
A little over a year ago I started The Penniless Traveler to be an exclusively travel-related blog. Since I’m a poor college student and generally enjoy doing some of the more quirky and off-beat activities in the places I go, I tend to write mostly about those things. I’d say the blog has become half narrative and half tips for other travelers.
8. Why did you start writing a blog? And did you find it easy to set up?
I started out with a personal blog that was just post after post of random thoughts or experiences I was having. After a little while I noticed that my favorite posts to write and the most popular ones had to do with travel. Blogging is surprisingly easy once you get going! And I think it’s a great outlet for people to share their experiences.
9. If you had to travel with 3 other travel bloggers who would they be?
Oh, that’s a tough one. First I’d have to say Jody from Legal Nomads. She’s gluten-free like me and I would love to travel somewhere in Southeast Asia with her and have her show me around to different kinds of street food we can eat there. Second, would have to be Lesley Carter from Bucket List Publications. Her blog was the first travel blog I really got hooked on and I think it would be a fantastic adventure to travel with her. And third, of course, you! It would be a blast to travel with you and since you like Bollywood dancing, I know we would have so much fun in India. (Ed Note: Aw, you charmer!)
10. What’s the best advice you can give for new bloggers?
Remember who your audience is. If you’re writing for yourself, do it! Don’t care about what other people think and just write your heart out. If you’re writing for friends and family, think about what they’ll be interested in and write about that. And if you’re writing for a broader audience, listen to the feedback you’re getting from them and find the place where your interests overlap with theirs.
11. Other than a job, what’s the easiest way to make money for travels?
Freelance writing doesn’t pay very much, but writing an article about travel every so often for another website or publication can pay for a night out here and there. It is kind of difficult to make money while you’re traveling, I’m definitely a fan of saving up for a while before your trip to finance your adventures.
12. Where have you been in the world? And which was the best, worst, funniest, most random and scariest?
I’ve mostly traveled in the western hemisphere: all over the US, Canada, Mexico, Haiti, the US and British Virgin Islands and western Europe. Just this year I traveled to Asia for the first time. So far I’ve been to Nepal and India.
Best: One of my favorite destinations is the Bay of Fundi in Nova Scotia. You can walk on the ocean floor when the tide is out and when the tide comes in everyone has to leave the area. Someday I’d like to have my wedding there in the couple of hours when the tide is out.
Worst: Worst is difficult to say because even things that were unpleasant while they were happening ended up being great stories in the end. Most recently, I’d say that the first day of hiking in Nepal was pretty rough. I was huffing and puffing the whole six hours and seriously thought I’d have to bail from the rest of the trek because it was so difficult. But I stuck with it and figured out how to pace myself better and things turned around.
Funniest: I still have a vivid memory of a 24-hour road trip my family did from Boston to Florida to catch a cruise ship because our flight was cancelled. At 2:00 a.m. they woke up my sister and I (we were probably 8 and 10 at the time) to get out of the car and take a picture at South of the Border. I couldn’t figure out what the big deal was and as you can imagine the picture of sleepy-ten-year-old Rachel is pretty attractive. (Ed Note: Any picture of you is attractive 😉 ) And on top of that, at 2 in the morning there is almost nothing going on and it was kind of creepy. My parents joked that they saw zombies walking around. To this day I associate South of the Border with zombies. (Ed Note: Your parents sounds evil)
Most Random: When I was in Hawaii I was walking to a bus stop when I noticed a homeless man running straight at me from across the street. I started walking faster and his run turned into a sprint. It turns out he wanted to talk to me about how bad the Red Soxs were doing because he noticed my baseball shirt. I was so relieved!
Scariest: The scariest memories for me are always when I am traveling by myself at night and I’m not 100% sure where I’m going. Most recently, it was on a rickshaw ride back to my house in India. When the rickshaw drivers see that I’m white sometimes they drive me in circles to make extra money and it was getting dark pretty quickly. I was nervous the driver wouldn’t take me to my house after all…but we got there eventually, although it cost a little extra for all the circles he drove me in!
13. Naughtiest experience on your travels?
Hmmm…I like to think I usually play by the rules when I travel. Probably the closest thing to naughty I’ve gotten was when I tried to order a Mai Tai in Hawaii when I was 20. When the waitress asked for my ID I had to say I left it in my hotel room and ordered a virgin Mai Tai instead. (Ed Note: Aw, should have come to the sunny shores of Britain where the legal age is 18+)
14. Luggage or Backpack?
Depends! If I’m staying somewhere for a while: luggage. If it’s more of a trek or a journey with many stops: backpack.
15. Top 3 items that you would save from your backpack if it was about to be sunk in shark infested waters?
Whatever book I’m reading, my journal and billikin (my eskimo good luck charm for travelers)
16. Skydiving or Bungee Jumping?
17. Best travel idol (aside from me, of course) that you would want to sit next to on the plane?
Nicholas Kristoff. He’s an op ed journalist who goes to the most interesting and dangerous places and isn’t afraid of anything as far as I can tell. I imagine he has some of the most incredible and inspiring stories to tell.
18. What’s your party trick to show to other backpackers in hostels?
Usually something involving yoga or dance. On a good day I can still do a split and headstands tend to be pretty impressive when making new friends.
19. Hostel, Guesthouse, Hotel or Couchsurf?
Hostel or guesthouse. Hostels are great for meeting other travelers and guest houses (or home stays) are the best for really getting to know a place and its people. Depends on my mood.
20. Day Trip, Backpack or live? UK, Australia or Vietnam?
Always live. I love spending as much time as possible in a place, otherwise it’s so hard to get a grasp on things.
Out of those three places I’d have to pick the UK–specifically Edinburgh. I just love that city and could easily see myself living there for a few years.
21. Lonely Planet or Rough Guide?
Lonely Planet all the way.
22. Will you go out with me, a sexy, tall, dark and handsome god?
If ever our paths cross, I’m not one to turn down the opportunity for good food and conversation! (Ed Note: Great! You’re paying!)
23. Did you find love on your travels?
Lots of it!! …but not in the romantic sense. I’ve fallen in love with a lot of places and I’ve experienced tons of love and kindness from strangers.
24. Would you go on I’m a Celebrity and eat pig’s testicles?
Nope! I love food, but not that much…
25. And possibly, the most important question…Neighbours or Home and Away?!
I’m embarrassed to admit this but I had to google this one. I haven’t actually seen either show! But point me to a website where I can watch them and I’ll let you know. (Ed Note: You’re missing out!)
26. Which 3 songs have you played the most on your ipod on your travels?
“Leaving on a Jet Plane” by Peter Paul and Mary, “Cecilia” by Simon and Garfunkel and “Sing Together” by Train. I’m usually in a pensive mood if I’ve got my headphones in.
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 love traveling on my own in some ways and not so much in others.
It’s great because people are more likely to approach you and strike up a conversation than if you’re with a group. You get to know a place and the people there more easily when you travel alone, I’ve found.
On the other hand, traveling alone as a woman can be a little scary at times. I went to Hawaii on my own and that was never too dangerous, but being in India now I have to be a little more careful about where I go and at what time. I can’t stay out too late here, I have to dress very conservatively and even smiling at someone I don’t know might give them the wrong idea! I’m always smiling, so that’s something that’s hard for me to get used to.
But, as I said, traveling on my own has made it surprisingly easy to make friends.
28. What are your next travel plans?
After I get back from India in December, I’m going to Texas with my family for the first time and we’ll do a little side trip to Mexico while we’re at it. After that, I’m hoping to get to Argentina in May if I can!
29. What’s the best advice you can give to first time travellers?
Plan ahead like crazy, but when you get to where you’re going stop worrying about the plans and the prep work. Have fun and do what scares you.
30. Finally, tell us a funny travel story..
When I went trekking in Nepal with my friend, we followed our guide into some very strange places, but we trusted him pretty thoroughly and generally didn’t argue. One day we came up to a barbed wire fence and he motioned for us to climb over it. We asked him if he was sure it would be ok and he said he was positive. So with our ponchos and huge packs we wiggled under the barbed wire and out the other side. A few more minutes down the path we were stopped by Nepalese men holding huge guns and shouting at us in a language we didn’t understand. As it turns out, we had unknowingly wandered onto a Nepali military base. Oops. We questioned our guide a little more after that incident. (Ed Note: Uh-oh!)
Thanks Rachel for doing this interview! If you would like to know more about her journeys, 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!