Today’s Newbie travel blogger interview is with Natalie of Girl and the World! Her blog is really great and has fantastic resources on solo travel especially for women. And of course, there are lots of great posts about South Korea (where she spent a year teaching) and Sri Lanka. And she’s now saving up for long term travel. Definitely, watch out for Natalie as she’s set to conquer to world!
Here’s my short interview with Natalie.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your travel blog?
I’m a English and Creative Writing graduate who discovered travel at the age of 18 and found herself totally addicted. I traveled as much as I could in my breaks from university, and then as soon as I graduated I left England and moved to Sri Lanka to take up writing professionally for a travel and tours company. I ended up running out of money and moving to South Korea to work as a teacher, where I’ve now been living for almost a year. I am currently saving up for my next big trip, which will be working my way across Asia over the space of a year. My blog is an exploration of places and cultures, trying to dig under the surface of what makes that country tick, and why it is worthwhile as a travel destination, specifically from a female point of view. I also run a series of interviews with women from around the world, trying to give voice to those who are so often globally silenced.
Why did you decide to start a travel blog?
I’ve been blogging for a while now for my friends and family back home, but I decided to create a commercial travel blog only last month. I’ve been rolling the idea around in my head for a while, but wasn’t sure what I could write about as I’m stuck in an office most of the time in Korea. Now that I’m finally about to don my backpack, say goodbye to the 9-5 and head off on a year-long adventure, I felt it was the right time to make a start on travel blogging, as I figured that people would be interested in reading about my experience.
What’s the most challenging part of being a travel blogger?
I found that setting up my blog initially was one of the biggest challenges. It took a lot of work to get it all up and running – buy the domain and host site, tweak the appearance with HTML, find the right plugins to get the layout I wanted, run the whole site through with SEO, etc etc. There were so many times in the first few days that I just wanted to give up! Once the blog was up and running there were other challenges (how to promote it? How to get followers on twitter? and so on…) but once I started getting kind comments and responses from other bloggers, it was so rewarding, I barely noticed the hard work I was putting in.
Can you tell us about your first travel experience?
My first solo travel experience, independent of friends and family was in Sri Lanka in 2006. I went over there as a naive 18 year old, with no idea of what to expect, barely even registering the fact that there was a war on at the time, just keen to do something different. I volunteered out there for two months and honestly felt like I came back a different person. That brief period of travel opened my eyes up to so many things, it was a truly amazing start to my travels.
What’s your favourite destination and why?
Sri Lanka is still my favourite destination. I’ve been back there three times now, and started studying Sinhalese (one of the three main languages of Sri Lanka) last year. Every time I go back I notice something new and wonderful about the country. I’m currently writing a novel set in Sri Lanka, which I hope to finish by the end of next year, and I will be returning there for a few months to continue my Sinhala studies this year.
If you can travel with a real or fictional character, who will you travel with and why?
What a great question! I’ve never really thought about it before. To be honest I like to travel alone, but if I could meet up with someone for a coffee along the way I’d chose real people over fictional characters. Perhaps Roma Tearne, the writer of Mosquito, a book about Sri Lanka. Or Bruce Parry, from BBC’s Tribe. I’d love to sit down and share a banana pancake on a beach somewhere with both of them!
What’s your favourite travel quote (from a book, film, TV show etc)?
“to travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries” – Aldous Huxley
If you have one flight ticket to go anywhere in the world tomorrow, where will you go?
Since I’m already going to be traveling across Asia, I’ll pick somewhere from a different continent and go with… Ecuador. I’ve never been to South America but a girl once told me she has spent a month studying frogs in the amazon rainforest in Ecuador. It sounded amazing and I’ve wanted to go ever since!
What is the strangest thing you have eaten, drank or experienced on your travels?
I’ve eaten a lot of strange things over the years – silkworm larvae, blood soup, live octopus and shark, just to name a few. I can’t say I’ve drunk many strange things though. Perhaps the most disconcerting drink I have ever tried was the dreaded Lao Lao in Laos. Sold in brandless plastic bottles on the side of the street, smelling like petrol, and tasting like ethanol, I can’t say it was the nicest drink I’ve ever had!
Advice to fellow newbie travel bloggers
Find a niche. I struggled to get the views when I was just writing broadly about travel, but when I started narrowing down the content my views went way up. Also network as much as possible. The travel community on twitter is a wonderful source of information with some truly fantastic people in it.
Girl And The World is a solo female travel blog looking to get under the skin of travel destinations and closer to the communities that make up those countries.
All photos in this post are Natalie’s property but are hosted on this blog’s flickr count. All rights remain with Natalie!
Do you want to be interviewed on our next session of Talk with a Travel Newcomer? The only requirement of course is that you have to be a newbie travel blogger. Contact me if you’d like to be featured!