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 stealthy travel blogger around. Everytime I ask how’s the place he’s living in now, he informs me he’s in a whole other country or even continent! He’s just about to return to Europe from his home country of Australia and later on this year, he’s becoming Oriental in Japan. What’s more, he’s going to tell you everything about backpacking in Europe…in fact he’s written a whole book about it! Without much further ado, I give you Tom of ActiveBackpacker!
Tom Summerfield & Trudy Florence
3. Facebook Fan Page:
4. Blog URL:
5. Where are you originally from and where are you now?
From a little town called Coffs Harbour in NSW, Australia. All the European and British backpackers who have conquered the “East Coast” route have surely passed through it! (Ed Note: I didn’t! Oops!) Trudy hails from a small country town in Queensland. She was living there when they got their first traffic lights installed. (Ed Note: Wait, you’re dating Mother Teresa?)
6. Describe yourself in 3 words.
Happy. Dreamer. Energetic.
7. Tell us about your blog. What makes your blog unique from all the other bloggers out there?
Trudy takes stunning photos, and I enjoy writing. We talk from experience and have a wealth of useful and entertaining information on all aspects of backpacking Europe on the blog. We also have a collection of “Cinemagraphs” which have been a lot of fun to make. A lot of people tell me they’re like “the photos in Harry Potter”.
We also have a ton of information about backpacking Europe, such as preparing and an average cost amount for new backpackers – you can read more about that here.
8. Why did you start writing a blog? And did you find it easy to set up?
I had been mucking around building websites. Finally the thought occurred to me to actually make something I was passionate about and had an intense interest in, I was living in The Netherlands at the time and I thought why not start documenting our adventures as we travel Europe and generally have a good time.
Setting it up was easy enough – the time-consuming part is creating content that is actually worth looking at and worthy of people’s time and attention.
9. If you had to travel with 3 other travel bloggers who would they be?
You, of course Rexy, (Ed Note: Aw shucks!) but wouldn’t mind hitting the road with Laurence & Vera over at FindingTheUniverse.com and Caz & Craig from yTravelBlog.com.
10. What’s the best advice you can give for new bloggers?
Keeping a site going can be an up and down rocky road, perseverance is key, especially in the beginning. Learn some basic SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) early, and focus on building friendly relationships with other people who enjoy talking about what you like talking about. Don’t overcomplicate it, and remember to write for others and not just yourself.
11. Other than a job, what’s the easiest way to make money for travels?
Hah, well it’s definitely not running a travel blog. You could offer hand jobs at the train station? I feel like this is a loaded question… zing! On a more serious note, I did some grape picking in France and that worked out okay. Looking for temporary seasonal jobs can sometimes work well.
12. Where have you been in the world? And which was the best, worst, funniest, most random and scariest?
Most of the time I tend to explore the Asian, North American and European continents, still on my to do list is South America and Africa. Europe has lots of “bests” for me, such as Barcelona, Ghent, Cinque Terre, Paris, Amsterdam. Worst place to go is probably Phuket in Thailand – we were there visiting family so THAT was nice, but the place itself is not overly worth a visit. (Ed Note: I totally agree, I didn’t like Phuket!)
Funniest would have to be Oktoberfest in Munich – I wrote an epic guide to the festival for others who might be thinking of checking it out.
Most random place was probably stopping in a place called “Taungoo” in Myanmar – it’s just a dusty little town on the road between Yangon and Inle Lake. Was an interesting experience though.
Scary (in a sort of exciting way) reminds me of when I was getting the night train through Eastern Europe by myself, after just being told multiple stories of people getting “gassed” so they pass out in the carriage and then having all their stuff stolen. Probably over-exaggerated backpacker tales of course, but I was in a four person carriage by myself and was only 18 at the time – so was having a fitful sleep.
13. Naughtiest experience on your travels?
Come now, Rexy, what if there are little kidlets browsing here? There were certainly a few experiences in Amsterdam… I remember a couple of mushrooms on a pizza slice. I tend to steer clear of that stuff nowadays though, you know, high on life and all that jazz! (Ed Note: I’m calling the cops!)
14. Luggage or Backpack?
It’s good to see my website URL answering my questions for me!
15. Top 3 items that you would save from your backpack if it was about to be sunk in shark infested waters?
My MacBook Pro, passport & my old pair of blue fisherman pants.
16. Skydiving or Bungee Jumping?
Skydiving (although I STILL haven’t tried Bungee Jumping) – I feel like free-falling is more fun than getting your legs ripped off.
17. Best travel idol (aside from me, of course) that you would want to sit next to on the plane?
Definitely Captain James Cook – and any of the old school travellers who did it on clipper ships (I have this unfathomable love for ships with sails) and discovered new lands. Not sure he’s around to sit on a plane these days though! Also the guy that navigated the globe in a hot air balloon by himself is a legend (Steve Fossett).
18. What’s your party trick to show to other backpackers in hostels?
I can juggle three balls, but I normally just resort to drinking and singing songs about Jesus on the hostel guitar. (Ed Note: Uh-oh)
19. Hostel, Guesthouse, Hotel or Couchsurf?
I’m a combo sort of guy, they’re all awesome for different reasons. Hostels tend to be my staple dish, however I do like throwing in the odd CouchSurf & Airbnb adventure.
20. Day Trip, Backpack or live? UK, Australia or Vietnam?
One to three-month backpacking trips are the best I think. Living is fun, if you’re willing to adapt and immerse yourself completely in another environment. Day trips are for touring your own area only.
And I’m sure I’m biased, but if I had to choose between those three it would be Australia.
21. Lonely Planet or Rough Guide?
I like both actually (I know, what a copout answer). (Ed Note: I’m shaking my head at you) Lonely Planet is a great reference point for tons of things, but I do feel they’re trying to write for EVERYONE these days. Rough Guides is a nice change if you’re feeling like something different.
22. Will you go out with me, a sexy, tall, dark and handsome god?
Ya, duh. I feel like you’re wasting valuable interview questions by stating the obvious. (Ed Note: But I like having my ego boosted time to time)
23. Did you find love on your travels?
I met Trudy at a bank in Australia. I know, so romantic. Does travelling to the water cubicle count?
We have had many beautiful travel adventures all throughout Europe together though – that’s gotta count for something!
24. Would you go on I’m a Celebrity and eat pig’s testicles?
25. And possibly, the most important question…Neighbours or Home and Away?!
NEITHER! You crazy Brits are keeping those dreadful shows alive by buying our B-Grade exports. (Ed Note: How can you NOT like them?!)
26. Which 3 songs have you played the most on your ipod on your travels?
Songs that spring to mind are Alt J – Breezeblocks whilst touring the Northwest of USA, some David Guetta dance track when partying in Croatia (that I can’t even remember haha) and a Dutch song called “15 Miljoen Mensen” (15 Million People) whilst living in The Netherlands.
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?
Yeah, if you’re willing to put yourself out there just a little bit and are staying in hostels – it’s easy to make new friends. Often you’ll team up together to hit the next city or maybe group up for a night out or museum foray. The hostel kitchen and common room is a great spot to meet other solo travellers and swap tales and recommendations.
28. What are your next travel plans?
At the moment we have some weird plan that consists of roaming Scotland, dropping in at Amsterdam to visit friends, flying across to check out Iceland and then doing some trekking in Nepal. Not sure how that’s gonna pan out. Other things high on the list are Japan and Sri Lanka.
29. What’s the best advice you can give to first time travellers?
It’s normal to feel a little bit nervous or scared before your very first trip, this is because you’re about to go way outside of your comfort zone. Overcoming it is as simple as getting on the plane, the feeling will pass quickly to be replaced by pure excitement as you travel for the first time!
30. Finally, tell us a funny travel story..
Funny travel story, hey? Well there was the time we were riding in a public bus from Inle Lake to Bagan in Myanmar (Burma), they started off the bus trip by playing a DVD of “Gangnam Style” on repeat really LOUDLY. This went on for about one hour. It was literally different versions of Gangnam Style over and over again, so the official version, multiple live versions, a remix dance version and on it went. On the same bus trip they were bringing in huge bags of what smelled like dried prawn flakes, like massive sacks of them and then wedging them under the seats. On the windy road, a woman started looking a bit ill. Great, I thought, as she was sitting right next to me. She suddenly raised one hand to the bus driver’s assistant and started throwing up into her other hand – it was leaking through a little bit. So you can imagine the combination of smells, it took everything I had to not start hurling myself. I don’t remember it being that funny for me (actually, worse bus trip of my life), but other people find it amusing! (Ed Note: Vomiting Stories are pretty funny!)
Thanks Tom for doing this interview! If you would like to know more about his 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!