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Inspiration, Interviews

The Inspired Traveler # 18 – Michael Figueiredo

June 17, 2011 • By

Today is my final installment in the Inspired Traveler series. I appreciate all the support from the readers and the participation of some really great travel bloggers who generously shared their wit and wisdom in their interviews. Helping the fat lady sing is one of my faves, Mike Figueiredo, who quite by accident has found himself blogging about traveling in between his day job in La La Land. Mike shares his adventures in his travel blog Strux Travel and as the local guide/contributor to the Los Angeles Examiner.

Standing on a dolphin’s head in Punta del Este, Uruguay!  (not really)

1. What is it about traveling that makes you smile?

Just sitting at an outdoor café, sipping a cappuccino and watching the people go by. It doesn’t really matter what part of the world I’m in—it could be Paris or Istanbul, Buenos Aires or New York City. I really enjoy seeing how people go about their day-to-day lives.

2. What is your favorite place in the world?

That’s a hard one! If I had to narrow it down I’d say Barcelona, Spain. I love the lifestyle there—tapas bars, afternoon siestas, eating dinner at 10 p.m. Plus, the people are so friendly and the city is teeming with spectacular art and architecture. I love that it’s a very cosmopolitan city but at the same time it enjoys a relaxed Mediterranean vibe.

3. What place would have to pay you to come back and even then you’d have to think about it?

I have yet to go to a place that I disliked so much that I’d never want to return. I hope I never have an answer to this question!

4. What is the best piece of advice that you’ve been given about traveling?

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Inspiration, Interviews

The Inspired Traveler # 15 – Jay Jackson

June 3, 2011 • By

Today, we continue our series where we sit down to interview fellow Travel Bloggers and get them to give up some of their best travel tips for you, dear reader. Next up, we get to discuss the wonders of travel with Jay Jackson whose tagline is one of my favorite quotes “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” – Mark Twain. Jay is on a mission to see as much of this old planet that he can and he shares his exploits in his popular travel blog Jay Travel.
 

1)   What is it about traveling that makes you smile?

Learning new things, meeting new people and crossing something off of my Bucket List.

2)    What is your favorite place in the world?

Not sure I have a favorite place, the experiences I’ve enjoyed the most have been the most diverse.  The one that comes to mind was my trip to South Africa.  The big city-concrete jungle feel of Johannesburg felt drastically different than the safari environment of Kruger National Park which also felt a world apart from Cape Town’s laid back nature and extremely beautiful vistas.

3)   What place would have to pay you to come back and even then you’d have to think about it?

None really, every experience is valuable and gives you something – no trip is completely awful.  That said, my least enjoyable trip was to Rome, Italy.  Overall, I was fairly underwhelmed by the city due to the general filth and the so-so attractions.READ MORE


Inspiration, Interviews

The Inspired Traveler # 14 – Jeremy Branham

May 26, 2011 • By

Today, we continue our series where we sit down to interview fellow Travel Bloggers and get them to give up some of their best travel tips for you, dear reader. Next up, we get to discuss the wonders of travel with Jeremy Branham, who does double duty as the featured budget traveler blogger for the Sacramento Examiner and his own popular travel blog, Budget Travel Adventures.

 

Jeremy and his wife standing in front of the Biltmore House in Asheville, NC

1) What is it about traveling that makes you smile?

The answer to this question varies by age. When I was young, a trip to Disney World or my first baseball game to see the Atlanta Braves. In college, it was that first trip to Estonia as a wide-eyed kid from the South had his eyes opened to the world and his passion stirred.

As an adult, my perspective is different because my life has changed. Now, it’s a beautiful sunset on a deserted beach or a cabin in the mountains surrounded by trees, peace, and quiet. As a dad, it’s seeing things in this world that we often take for granted through my kid’s eyes and words. It’s those simple moments that you realize what a great opportunity we have to see the world and experience it with other people.

2) What is your favorite place in the world?

You want an honest answer or want me to mention some great place that I have visited and loved?

I am going to seriously cheat on this one and name a few. In my travels abroad, I have two places for two very different reasons. The first is Estonia because it was my first trip overseas and it had a huge impact on me. I can honestly say that I am not the same person now because of that trip. While those who have visited Estonia tend to visit Tallinn, my favorite place is Tartu – a college town a few hours from Tallinn in the southeast part of Estonia. My other answer to this is Portugal because I really loved my time in Lisbon. Maybe it was being there at the right place and time but I really enjoyed the city.

However, my honest answer to this question is home. When I am not traveling, there is no place I would rather be than home with my family. My kids are at a great age right now and although being a parent of two kids under 3 can be tough, it is rewarding as well. There aren’t three people on earth I would rather hang out with than my family. I am very much a homebody and just enjoy the simple things in life. It’s ironic that I even say this now – I’ve changed so much.

For me, it’s all about the relationships and quality time with my family. It’s probably the same reason why I value my experiences with people when I travel more than the places or sights that I have seen.READ MORE


Inspiration, Interviews

The Inspired Traveler # 12 – Monica Gonzalez

May 13, 2011 • By

Today, we continue our series where we sit down to interview fellow Travel Bloggers and get them to give up some of their best travel tips for you, dear reader. Next up, we get to discuss the wonders of travel with the very busy Monica Gonzalez, who created the Globe Diva Travels blog and runs the booking agency of the same name.

brussels, belgium

These vibrant colors are secondary to none! Way to go, Brussels!

1) What is it about traveling that makes you smile?

This is the question that really took me the longest to answer. I don’t want it to sound like a cop-out answer but EVERYTHING about travel makes me smile! When I get a great deal on a flight, I smile. When I think about the places I’m going to be seeing, I smile. When I think about the food I’m going to be tasting, I smile. When I get home and think about the places I’ve been and the people I’ve been fortunate enough to have met, I smile. It’s hard not to smile when I think about any aspect of travel.

2) What is your favorite place in the world?

Italy. I haven’t done vast traveling all over the world like some people but I know in my heart that no place will ever compare with Italy. I can’t, or maybe I don’t want to, narrow it down to any particular region. I just have a feeling of “home” when I get there that I haven’t found anywhere else I’ve visited.

3) What place would have to pay you to come back and even then you’d have to think about it?

At this point in my travels, I can honestly say that there isn’t any place that I would not visit again. I will say there are some cities I don’t have to visit again and London would be one of those. Even though I didn’t get to see everything I wanted to see and even though the trip was very enjoyable, there was nothing about London that struck a chord in me.

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Inspiration, Interviews

The Inspired Traveler – # 10 – April D. Thompson

May 6, 2011 • By

Today, we continue our series where we sit down to interview fellow Travel Bloggers and (hopefully) get them to give up some of their best travel tips for you, dear reader. Next up, we get to discuss the wonders of travel with April D. Thompson, who is the founding editor of The Absolute Travel Addict website.

1)  What is it about traveling that makes you smile?
One of the best things about travel is meeting new people. Despite language, cultural and geographical differences, making connections with people really makes my heart smile.

2)  What is your favorite place in the world?
I like so many places, but I would have to say South Africa, particularly Durban is my favorite to date.  I’m not really sure what it was, but I really felt at home.  It’s just a laid back and friendly beach town with a unique mix of Indian and African culture.

3)  What place would have to pay you to come back and even then you’d have to think about it?
Luckily, I don’t really have any place that I wouldn’t go back to, especially if someone paid me.  My only hesitation would be that there are so many places I haven’t seen yet that I would like to see before repeating some of the places I have already visited.


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Inspiration, Interviews

The Inspired Traveler # 9 – Bryan and Laurie

April 22, 2011 • By

Our next gracious guest in our Inspired Traveler series is a husband/wife team who run a blog dedicated to promoting the fiscally sound way of traveling, Budget Your Trip.

Bryan and Laurie in Tetouan, Morocco

1)   What is it about traveling that makes you smile?

The thing that makes me smile the most is when I meet someone authentic and proud of their home country. Sometimes these people don’t have very much, and unfortunately live close to poverty, but they are still happy, welcoming, and friendly. These are the great people of the world and the reason why I keep traveling.

2)  What is your favorite place in the world?

That’s a tough question to answer, because I have a lot of favorite places. Cambodia was amazing and beautiful, with beaches, jungles, ancient ruins, and smiling children. Syria is another country at the top of my favorites list because of the friendly and welcoming culture, great food, amazing history, and vibrant cities. Ethiopia is another country that is often overlooked, but a true gem. Finally, Istanbul is probably the most amazing city in the world, and I always recommend it to everyone.

3)  What place would have to pay you to come back and even then you’d have to think about it?READ MORE


Inspiration, Interviews

The Inspired Traveler # 8 – Kelly Lewis

April 15, 2011 • By

Today, we continue our series where we sit down to interview fellow Travel Bloggers and (hopefully) get them to give up some of their best travel tips for you, dear reader.  Next up, the very busy Kelly Lewis, who runs Travel Bug Juice and Go! Girl Guides.

Kelly, looking like she has a secret that she’s contemplating sharing

1)   What is it about traveling that makes you smile?

The people I meet. I’m a huge people person anyway, and I love finding connections with relative strangers while traveling and having adventures that bond you in a way you could never imagine. It’s funny how some people we meet traveling, who we really only spend about a week or so with, become life-long friends. Traveling somehow speeds up the process.

2)   What is your favorite place in the world?

I lived for a year in New Zealand, where I worked for a year with a Lord of the Rings tour company, learned how to snowboard, discovered amazing music, partied it up until 5 am on a routine basis and had some of the best roommates and friends I’ve ever known. So, I’d have to say New Zealand.

3)   What place would have to pay you to come back and even then you’d have to think about it?

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Inspiration, Interviews

The Inspired Traveler # 7 – David Billa

April 8, 2011 • By

Today, we continue our series where we sit down to interview fellow Travel Bloggers and (hopefully) get them to give up some of their best travel tips for you, dear reader.  Next up, the multi-tasking, David Billa who runs a French and English version of Ogijima.

David Billa

Help! Get me off this graph paper!

1)What is it about traveling that makes you smile?

I don’t know. Does it make me smile? (I’m smiling as I’m typing this) I guess, the thing that I like the most about travelling is discovering new cultures, different people, different ways of life, different histories, and different aspects of what human kind is. I think this is why my favorite way of travelling is simply to move for a few years to the place I’m interested in. I’m not always sure if it still qualifies as “travelling” and it sure doesn’t allow for that many different destinations –although I haven’t done it nearly as often as I would like– but this is the way that allows me to really understand those other cultures.  Of course, I don’t exclude “normal” travelling.

2) What is your favorite place in the world?

Ogijima, the tiny Japanese island after which I named my blog.  Well, to be honest, I don’t know it that well yet, and it is not actually my favorite place in the world (although, it could become it one day). However, the area where it is located –the Seto Inland Sea in Japan- is one of the most beautiful and interesting places I’ve been to. Sure, it’s not as stunningly beautiful as many other places in the world; its charm is more subtle. It’s not just about being there and being in awe of the scenery, it’s really about many different factors, the people and their culture not being the least important ones.

I should also mention three spots that may not have anything special about them, but when I’m there, for some reason, I just feel good, I’m just happy, no matter what. They are the city of York in England, Paynes Prairie in Florida (a mini Everglades type of prairie/swamp in northern Florida) and my “secret” beach on the French South West Atlantic Coast (It’s not actually secret, but it is one of the lesser known ones in the area, which is otherwise a quite popular destination with European tourists).READ MORE


Inspiration, Interviews

The Inspired Traveler # 6 – Janice Robinson

April 1, 2011 • By

Today, we continue our series where we sit down to interview fellow Travel Bloggers and (hopefully) get them to give up some of their best travel tips for you, dear reader.  Next up, Janice Robinson of SkyChi Travels opines about traveling the friendly skies as a flight attendant.

Janice Robinson

Janice (Skychi) )at GGT Georgetown Airport, Bahamas

1)      What is it about traveling that makes you smile?

I smile all the time when I am on a plane. I love the sensation of flying. I enjoy looking at the clouds and creating wonderful experiences. Flying is inspirational for me. I dream when I fly.

The clouds to me are the “thinking stuff”.

“By thought, the thing you want is brought to you. By action, you receive it” – Wallace D Wattles

2)      What is your favorite place in the world?

I would have to say that is Istanbul, Turkey is my favorite place in the world. The people are so gracious. My experience living there for two years left me with a feeling of being accepted and appreciated by the Turkish people.

3)      What place would have to pay you to come back and even then you’d have to think about it?

I have yet to visit a place that I did find something that I like about it.READ MORE


Inspiration, Interviews

The Inspired Traveler # 4 – Mike Collins

March 18, 2011 • By

Today, we continue our series where we sit down to interview fellow Travel Bloggers and (hopefully) get them to give up some of their best travel tips for you, dear reader.  Today’s guest is Mike Collins, the founder of Exotic Visitors travel blog.

Mike Collins

Adventures with the family

1) What is it about traveling that makes you smile?

I grew up in a little fishing village in Maine. Every day we would head out to sea where the horizon was just an empty line. I guess the vanishing point had some sort of magnetic pull for me to see what was there. Traveling always makes me feel like I am fulfilling a childhood dream. It keeps me young and inquisitive.

2)  What is your favorite place in the world?

There are so many wonderful places across the globe but if I had to choose a favorite I would have to say Clonakilty Ireland. My family and namesake are from there. When I visit I feel a deep sense of home.

3) What place would have to pay you to come back and even then you’d have to think about it?

Colon, Panama. I love Panama but that city is the lowest place I have ever seen.

4)  What is the best piece of advice that you’ve been given about traveling?

No matter where you are in the world, never say “The way we do it back home…” . Learn from the culture by being part of it. Trying to fit in to a new location is so much more rewarding than comparing. I have learned to be comfortable in just about any conditions that way.

5)  How has traveling changed you as a person?

To sum it up in a single word I would have to say tolerance. Routine often leaves people with a single mindset. The way people have adapted to their environments creates cultural differences but deep down the basic emotions of people are universal. The same hopes, desires and fears exist in the hearts of people sitting in a London West End theater as they do in hearts of those sitting around a fire in an Amazonian rain forest.

Mike Collins

What makes it all worth it, my youngest, Hailey

6)  Have you ever volunteered during your travels?  If so, what did you do?  If not, will you ever?

I have done a lot of volunteering around the world. Everything from building sailing dinghies for disabled children to school houses for the Ngobe Indians. There is truly no better way to immerse one’s self into a culture than to contribute. The rewarding feeling cannot be put into words. It is like describing a sunset to a blind man; you have to experience it to understand.


7)  What is the best piece of advice that you can give our readers?

If you have a list of reasons why you cannot travel now but will in the future, chances are that list will always be there. Just go and see the world.


8 )  Since this is a budget travel blog, what is your best budget tip, bar none?

Live like a local. The cost of living is pretty low in most of the best places to visit. Shop where they shop, eat what they eat and be entertained by what entertains them. It is so much cheaper and far more rewarding.

9) Where do you plan to travel this year?

I am pretty lucky. I have six children. They range from 18 months to 28 years.  The oldest ones have sailed around the world with me and seen a multitude of wonderful places. Now I get to experience it all over again with my youngest through her eyes. I am starting at the beginning where I grew up in coastal Maine. We will be visiting a lot of islands and spend an enormous amount of time exploring the crawly things on seaweed strewn rocky beaches.

At dinner, enjoying the view

10)  What are the three things that you could never do without during your travels?

Ignoring the obvious camera etc… , I have to say with 30 years of exploring behind me, travel is kind of like vanilla ice cream. I love it but my wife and daughter are the toppings that make it a wonderful treat.  So family is my number one “can’t do without.”

The second is what I call my constant. I always bring a book from my childhood like Robinson Crusoe, Treasure Island or Moby Dick. When I start to feel a little out of place these books snap me right back to my comfort zone. It makes adjusting to a different culture quick and painless.

A wonderful little piece of technology has made my life so much easier, the digital pen recorder. Whenever I pass a restaurant, street or sight that I want to return to later I record it so that I can easily describe it to taxi drivers. When bombarded with so many sights of a new place it is easy to forget.

Thanks for sharing your unique point of view with the rest of us, Mike!

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