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.
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?
I don’t know if this is advice per se, but being taught how to read a map and a train schedule was very important. Knowing the direction you want to travel, how and when to make transfers, and having an overall sense of where you are at all times is definitely a necessary skill. When you’re traveling, you want to be confident and comfortable in your surroundings and flipping a map around or taking a train or subway in the wrong direction won’t accomplish that. It will just cause unneeded stress.
5. How has traveling changed you as a person?
Traveling has had an enormous impact on who I am. Ever since I backpacked around Europe after graduating college I’ve wanted to see as much of the world as possible. I remember that first moment when I ascended from the Paris Métro at the Saint-Michel station in the Quartier Latin. It was dusk, and the first thing I saw was this huge illuminated fountain. People were everywhere, milling about and sitting at outdoor cafés. Everything seemed so bohemian—the street was practically glowing. It was so different from anything that I’d ever seen before back home. After three months of backpacking and hitting something like fifteen countries along the way, I returned home with a totally different perspective of the world.
6. Have you ever volunteered during your travels? If so, what did you do? If not, will you ever?
So far, I have not. Whenever I’ve traveled I’ve always jammed so much into my itinerary that I haven’t allowed any time for volunteer work. I’d definitely be open to voluntourism in the future, though.
7. What is the best piece of advice that you can give our readers?
Travel with no regrets. Don’t skip out on something you want to do or see because you never know if you’ll ever be there again. You don’t want to come home saying, “I had a great time, but I wish I had done ___.”
8. Since this is a budget travel blog, what is your best budget tip, bar none?
My best tip is to create a budget and stick to it! What I do is figure out exactly how much money I have for the entire trip. Then, after paying for airfare, I divide the remaining amount by the number of days I’ll be traveling. I keep one of those small spiral memo pads and make a page for every day and put that magic dollar amount at the top of each page. I then keep track of every dollar (Euro, Pound, peso, etc.) that I spend—whether it’s for lodging, food, transportation, souvenirs or even to use the restroom. I make sure I stay on budget by tallying up what I’ve spent every step of the way. It might seem like overkill, but it’s a great way to maximize your budget (and possibly even to afford a longer trip.)
9. Where do you plan to travel this year?
I am really hoping to go to Cuba. I wanted to go this spring, but things didn’t work out that way. Summer will be way too hot, so I’ll try to go in the fall. I’ll be doing some trips within California and will visit family in Miami at some point too. I’ve been talking about going to Peru with my sister next year, as well.
10. What are the three things that you could never do without during your travels?
Definitely my camera (I’m a total shutterbug), my Macbook (so I can Skype, write, and immediately upload my photos), and my iPod (loaded with my favorite tunes.) Oh, and a good book too!
About our Traveler
Michael Figueiredo aspires to own a wildly successful web-based travel service and figures all of this traveling is part of his…umm…..research. Check out his website, Strux Travel and be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook.