Starting a blog is no easy feat, but the work is well worth the reward. Since I started blogging almost a year ago, I've met so many other really cool people that are also in the travel blogging industry. I'm very fortunate that the blogging community welcomed me with with open arms!
I was able to connect with Kallsy and Logan from Pages of Travel through the blogging community. Kallsy and I went to the same high school growing up and randomly got in touch again through Instagram, of all places! Her and her husband have been traveling around the world and took me under their wing. I'm so thankful and honored that Kallsy and Logan have nominated me for the Liebster Award!
What is the Liebster Award?
A Liebster Award is an award given to bloggers by other bloggers. It’s a way to get the name of other blogs out there and pay it forward! In German, Liebster means many things: welcome, endearing, lovely, valued, and kindest to name a few! We have come in contact with many amazing people that fit those words perfectly and are excited to keep spreading the love!
1. Who is the most interesting person you’ve met while traveling (or most interesting experience you’ve had)?
I think the most interesting person I met while traveling was my ballet teacher's sister, Sue, in Berlin. I had never met her before, but she heard I was traveling and opened up her home to me.
Sue had lived in Berlin before the wall came down. She took me on her own tour of the city of Berlin. It was unlike any other experience, because she told painted a picture of what Berlin looked like in the 80's. It was so moving to hear her real life story of sneaking a man out of East Berlin and both of them living to tell their tale.
When you travel, you start to realize how much you rely on strangers. Fortunately, I've had amazing encounters with people I've never met before who changed my experience for the better!
An interesting way to travel is with a ukulele. Bring it along for a fun conversation starter and strum a few ukulele chords.
2. What has been the scariest/ most intimidating thing that’s happened to you while traveling?
One word: Cairo. Before visiting Cairo, I had only traveled to first-world countries. Cairo scared me, but also opened my eyes to the world. I was completely overwhelmed by the chaos, the dirt, and constantly being stared at. Being a white female in Egypt isn't very common. I constantly had people cat-calling me and trying to take photos with me.
I remember we went to the famous souk (market) in Cairo called Khan el-Khalili. It was a cluster of beautiful things for sale, weird smells, and lots and lots of people. I was looking for a black cat statue to bring home for my sister. Before I knew it, I was in a back room of the owner's shop. As I was talking to a sales person, I managed to lose my Egyptian friend, Tarek.
I knew I couldn't panic, but deep down I was scared because I was in the mercy of a stranger in a completely different country with different customs. I continued to barter with him, but tried to creep towards the door so I could try to find my friend.
All of a sudden I heard a huge *bang*. It was Tarek desperately searching for me! That was a good life lesson and I stuck by him religiously the rest of the day.
3. Have you ever been disappointed by a place that you thought would be amazing, but really turned out to be a dud?
Honestly, not really. I usually don't do too much planning before I go to a city, which also means I don't have expectations. I think that your experience is so dependent on your mind-set.
If you have a pre-conceived notion of what a city is going to be like, you'll either be impressed or disappointed. I try to live life day to day and moment to moment. It does get me in sticky spots sometimes, but it's part of the adventure.
But if I have to answer- Rome. It's where every obese American tourist goes.
4. What is your favorite way to make it through a long flight?
Free wine, a melatonin, and an eye mask. I always make sure to have LOTS of snacks. Even though good airlines typically feed you well, you need something to do when you're bored. What better activity to pass the time than eat?
I am much more focused on getting shut eye on my way to a destination. I want to be as well rested as possible before I touch down. If I'm coming home or returning I'm all about the movies! You can watch some of the best movies on planes.
5. If you could only visit one country for the rest of your life (other than your home country) what would it be and why?
That's such a hard question, because I haven't been everywhere! I really want to go to India, and am planning a trip during Holi week next year. I'm fascinated with the Hindi culture and am excited to finally experience it.
Plus, India is so big that you would have so much to discover. But for the rest of my life? Man, I don't even know what I'm doing next week, let alone the rest of my life! Tricky one!
If you're interested in India too, read my favorite book, Shantaram. You'll instantly be lost in the amazing writing by a guy that escapes prison in Australia and flees to Bombay in the 80's. He finds himself completely penniless and when his bag is stolen and has to live in the slums. The book is filled with action, adventure, mystery, and of course love!
6. What is your favorite money saving tip?
Find places to stay with full kitchens. I love eating out, but it takes a toll on my wallet and my waistline. If I find a housesit, or a hostel with a full kitchen I can save so much money by getting groceries and cooking myself. Plus cooking in a hostel is a great way to make friends.
Part of traveling is trying new foods, so I don't recommend skipping the eating culture entirely. I'll try to eat out at a cool restaurant for breakfast, brunch, or lunch, instead of dinner. They usually have a cheaper menu.
I also carry instant coffee packets with me. $4/day for a coffee really adds up. I'll bring instant coffee with me so I can enjoy my vice, get a boost in the morning, and save some dough.
7. What has been the best/worst food you’ve tried while traveling?
The best food I've ever had was in Ghent, Belgium. The chocolate, the beer, and my favorite Carbonade Flamande. We arrived at this restaurant and they wouldn't let us sit down even though they had tables. After trying to communicate with a little bit of my French and their scarce English, we found that they only made enough food for the amount of reservations they had for the day.
Fortunately, someone had cancelled and my friend and I were able to enjoy the best meal of our lives! I even tried to make Carbonade Flamande when I came home but couldn't achieve anywhere near their greatness.
The worst food: food poisoning in Cairo. I'll spare you the details.
8. If you could only pack five items in your suitcase what would you pick and why?
First, a good pair of shoes. Your experience walking around a city is ruined if you have blisters or wet and cold feet. I'd rather look nerdy than be uncomfortable.
Second, my eye mask. I can't function without a good night of sleep. When you're staying in hostels an eye mask does wonders. I can sleep through a lot of things with my eye mask on.
Third, a little black dress. You never know if you will go to the ballet in Prague or go out on a date. It's a lifesaver to already have a nice outfit that's versatile.
Fourth, a swimsuit. You may end up at a beach somewhere, or swim in the Blue Lagoon in Iceland! Plus, swimsuits aren't cheap to buy and take up little room.
Last but not least, my laptop. I work and travel, so I have to be able to jump online and work when I can. It's probably one of the most boring of the list, but it keeps the funds in my pocket!
9. What is your favorite travel app/website that you can’t live without?
GoEuro has saved me a couple times. Actually my life was much more chaotic before I had it. You can look up the cheapest or fastest way to get to your destination. This proved incredibly difficult when I was in Krakow, Poland. I missed not one but three buses trying to get to Prague. You can read about the full story here.
10. What is your favorite outdoor activity?
Hiking! I really wasn't an outdoor girl until I went to Iceland. I met two girls from Norway who pushed my limits. We hiked Reykjadalur mountain to get to a hot spring. Then surrounded in snow we got completely naked out in the open, put our swimsuits on, and got into the river!
I thought about giving up so many times, even with the blood and sweat (only a few silent tears). I'm so glad I didn't give up though, because it was an amazing experience that I would never have had sitting in the car.
Hiking is free and the hard work has been worth the reward, so far at least!
11. Where are you off to next and what are you most looking forward to at your next destination?
I got a flight for $150 from DC to London. It was such a good deal I couldn't pass up the opportunity. I'm going to then head over to India for Holi festival then hopefully South East Asia. I'm really looking forward to a cheaper cost of living in SEA. Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam are on my "Must Go To" list!
Now, it's my job to nominate the next bloggers for the Liebster Award.
1. Lusterville & Lobsters: One of my favorite people in the world, who happens to be a fabulous writer is Rachel Weeks. Her blog is amazingly well written. I find myself getting lost in her travel stories and feeling like I've actually been there.
2. My Road to Happyness: I met Yiti while we were both doing the corporate "thing" in Kansas City. I love that he has also decided to pursue his passion for travel and blog about it!
3. Springs Native: I met Meagan while at a wedding and in passing, she offered me a place to stay for the weekend in Colorado Springs! Her blog is full of delicious food and amazing pictures. Your mouth is going to water!
4. Short and Sweet Speech: I met Sarah on a bachelorette cruise to Aruba! Her story is truly amazing. She is so passionate about what she does and changing children's lives through Speech Therapy. Give it a read for a little inspiration!
5. The Walking Girl: While in Prague, I went on a free walking tour. I saw a woman drinking a can of beer at 10am. I immediately knew I wanted to be her friend. Priscilla is one of the bravest women I know. Originally from Brazil, she currently is pursuing her Masters and living in St. Petersburg, Russia!
Here are the questions you have to answer:
1. How do you answer when someone asks what your favorite place is?
2. What is your favorite book that inspires you to travel?
3. What advice would you give to someone that's interested in starting a blog?
4. Do you have something you like to collect from every place you travel to?
5. What's the one thing you would never leave home without?
6. What's an experience that really impacted and changed your life while traveling?
7. How do you afford to travel?
8. If you could have a dinner party with any 3 people in the world, who would they be?
9. What's your least favorite mode of transportation? Any crazy stories?
10. What is something you've done that really pushed you outside your comfort zone?
11. When you're on the road, what do you miss from home?
(I used the rules that were provided by Bassam & Lena who nominated Logan & Kallsy)
1. Thank and link to the blogger who nominated you
2. Create a post on your blog, displaying the Liebster Award logo
3. Answer the 11 questions assigned by the blogger who nominated you
4. Provide rules/instructions for accepting the award
5. Nominate 5-11 new favorite bloggers for the Liebster Award
6. Come up with a list of 11 new questions for your nominees
7. Notify the nominees
8. Post your Liebster Award blog post link in the comments of your nominator’s Liebster Award Post
Thanks again to Kallsy and Logan from Pages of Travel for nominating me! I'm truly honored :)