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 rough guided on a lonely planet (pun pun pun!) travel blogger around. With his love for travel and inspiring prospective travellers to hit the places he’s been, I confess that I know him from a time before my Rexy Travels started. A good brother to a teacher of mine, he surprised me when he stumbled upon my website and got in contact with me again. Without much further ado, I give you Mike of The Rough Guide To A Lonely Planet!
2. Twitter: @TRGTALP
3. Facebook Fan Page: N/A
4. Blog URL: http://roughguidetoalonelyplanet.blogspot.com/
5. Where are you originally from and where are you now?
Hull and now living in Leeds!
6. Describe yourself in 3 words.
Amusing, Serious and Sensible (an ASS) (Ed Note: Wow…perfect description)
7. Tell us about your blog. What makes your blog unique from all the other bloggers out there?
The Rough Guide to a Lonely Planet (TRGTALP) is aimed at solo travellers; particularly those on a budget. The blog’s main objective is to help and advise the solo traveller, but also to inspire them to make journeys even if it means going it alone. A lot of what I try to do is remove the fear many people who do not travel solo have; telling them how great it is to travel and what to expect when they journey alone. TRGTALP is not a blog for reading travel reports about trips I have taken. Much of what is written is rooted in these trips, but it isn’t driven by them. One of the nicest aspects of the blog is the guest posts (which I would like to see more of) – where I invite people to write about their travel experiences and what they have enjoyed about a particular trip that will be of use to all travellers.
8. Why did you start writing a blog? And did you find it easy to set up?
I started to write the blog as I felt that I wanted to simply inspire people to travel, but particularly those who may be forced (for whatever reason) to travel solo. I remember how scared I was committing to my first solo trip and relying on only my friend, Louise, for guidance on what to expect and how I would feel journeying alone. As for setting the blog up. I found it very easy. I consider myself quite tech-savvy, but without any web design knowledge, I plumped for using Google’s Blogger program and I am happy with how straightforward this makes it for me to focus on writing great content for my readers.
9. If you had to travel with 3 other travel bloggers who would they be?
I think travelling with other travel bloggers would be a nightmare! (Ed Note: Seriously?!) We would all be thinking of blog posts we could write on our blogs, be tweeting all the time and probably not make the most of each other’s company, the trip and the sights on offer.
10. What’s the best advice you can give for new bloggers?
For bloggers in general…update your content as regularly as you can. For travel bloggers, my particular bugbear is a lack of interest in reading the minutiae of someone’s trip. It is the modern equivalent of being trapped in a room with Auntie Doris guiding you through her two-week trip down the Rhine via the medium of a 3 hour slide show. I can find reading about other peoples’ trips a bit dull. (Ed Note: Including mine? Well…takes one to know one!)
11. Other than a job, what’s the easiest way to make money for travels?
I bought rare books and sold them on eBay to pay for the flights on my first solo trip.
12. Where have you been in the world? And which was the best, worst, funniest, most random and scariest?
I have covered Europe the most, travelled from Sydney to Cairns, conquered Thailand with a hint of Cambodia and have taken four trips to the west and east coast of the United States. Africa, South and Central America remain large travel black holes for me.
The best moment…realising, on during my first solo trip to Australia, that I was having the time of my life with a host of brilliant people in an amazing country!
The worst…paying for a meal, in the French resort of Nice, only to be shouted at by the waiter for paying the full amount in coins. Put me off the town, forever! I did, at least, get to show off some of my coarser French-speaking skills.
The funniest…too many to mention, but meeting the bewildered foreign tourist away from home (particularly the American) is always amusing!
Most random…bumping into an old school friend in Croatia…this summer, in fact.
Scariest…walking through Poipet in Cambodia…scary stuff!
13. Naughtiest experience on your travels?
It all happened in a different postcode, so I don’t have to tell you! That’s all you are getting! 😀 (Ed Note: Spoilsport!)
14. Luggage or Backpack?
15. Top 3 items that you would save from your backpack if it was about to be sunk in shark infested waters?
My passport, wallet and my dirty laundry. The latter item should be pungent enough to keep any ravenous sharks at bay!
16. Skydiving or Bungee Jumping?
I haven’t done either, but would rather skydive than bungee jump.
17. Best travel idol (aside from me, of course) that you would want to sit next to on the plane?
Magenta de Vine. The former presenter of a fantastic travel TV series called ‘The Rough Guides’ on the BBC. She would have so many good stories to tell…plus I could borrow her enormous sunglasses.
18. What’s your party trick to show to other backpackers in hostels?
Unfortunately, my encyclopaedic knowledge of the female Grand Slam winners of the French Open since 1976 has never had an airing in a hostel environment. (Ed Note: And shall continue to do so…)
19. Hostel, Guesthouse, Hotel or Couchsurf?
Hostel. I am keen to try to CouchSurf; the CouchSurfing community seems really nice.
20. Day Trip, Backpack or live? UK, Australia or Vietnam?
21. Lonely Planet or Rough Guide?
I like and have used both! Probably more Lonely Planets than Rough Guides, though.
22. Will you go out with me, a sexy, tall, dark and handsome god?
Do you have a mirror?! 😉 (Ed Note: Plenty!)
23. Did you find love on your travels?
24. Would you go on I’m a Celebrity and eat pig’s testicles?
No and no!
25. And possibly, the most important question…Neighbours or Home and Away?!
I am more a ‘Neighbours’ man, but have visited Palm Beach in Australia, where they film ‘Home and Away’. The stories I have heard about Harold Bishop (Ian Smith) at the backpacker ‘Neighbours Nights’ the soap holds are legendary!
26. Which 3 songs have you played the most on your iPod on your travels?
Bernard Fanning – ‘Wish You Well’, Jack Johnson – ‘Taylor’ and Kelis – ‘4th of July’.
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 found the whole experience unbelievably liberating; having the choice to do what I wanted, where I wanted, when I wanted, with whom I wanted was such a revelation and is one of the most illuminating and enjoyable times of my life. It changed me for the better! As for meeting friends…this is a common fear for many people who are thinking of hitting the road on their own. I consider myself a gregarious person and found it very easy to meet and make friends. It even came to the point that I was dodging certain people just so I could get a bit of ‘me’ time on my Australia and New Zealand trip.
28. What are your next travel plans?
I am a strange point – for the first time in four years, I have absolutely no travel plans on the horizon. Iceland, Vietnam, the Greek Islands and a return to Australia all appeal quite a lot, but I need to look at my finances and see when I am able to travel before I get booking anything.
29. What’s the best advice you can give to first time travellers?
Enjoy it! It is easy to say, but you really must savour every moment. I have never been in a position where I have come back from a trip disappointed. I really make sure I make the most of the all the activities and sights on offer in my destination. There is no point looking back and regretting that you did not visit all the things you wanted to see or do all the things you wanted to do. For most of us, we usually only get one chance to visit a certain place…so whether it is a weekend break to Paris or a long haul trip to Japan – enjoy every moment!
30. Finally, tell us a funny travel story..
After being warned about the pickpockets in Barcelona, I apprehended an elderly man in a supermarket queue thinking he had stolen my wallet. I looked in my pockets…no wallet…all the while the man is shouting loudly at me in Catalan and then, I look to my left hand…I had removed the wallet to pay for my food and it was there the whole time…GROUND SWALLOW ME UP! (Ed Note: Trust a Leeds man to do this!)
Thanks Mike for doing this interview! If you would like to know more about his journeys, click here.
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