Category Archives: Traveler Interviews

Travel Interview: Call of Travel

Jure Snoj is the creator and editor at Call of Travel, a blog aimed at introducing readers to spectacular landscapes, cuisines from around the world and socioeconomic concern and aspects of places around the globe.

If not traveling, what is your 9-5 life like?
I’m currently enjoying an indefinite break from a 9-5 life :). My wife and I have just recently relocated to India, having worked and lived in Qatar for the past four and a half years. In Qatar, we worked for a business magazine, she as the editor in chief and me as the online editor & digital lead. We are currently figuring out what our next stage in life will be, so given the free time I (and I’m trying to drag my wife into this blogging thing as well) am focusing on my travel blog – Call of Travel. Our next travels will definitely be around India, as although I’ve been here eight times before, there are just so much places still to be discovered. The blog will therefore see quite a lot more material about the country popping up.

call-of-travel-interview

Who, or what, inspired you to travel the first time?
Honestly I can’t remember any particular enlightening moment that made me travel for the first time. What keeps inspiring me is the need to break away from the routine and go into the unknown. Also for me it’s the unexpected that makes travel special.

How have you changed your life to travel more?
Travel is always a priority for me, I’m addicted to it and just like any self-respecting junkie, I will do anything to make sure I get my fix :). I’ve gone through different stages in my life when it comes to finances. I’ve done extreme budget travel as a student – think 10 days of Costa Rica for 250 Euros, 14 days of Corse, France for 200 Euros, 7 days of Croatia for 70 Euros. Those are some of the best travel memories I have! Then I became a bit better off and my style of travel changed somewhat. Here I need to highlight that I come from Slovenia, so while it’s not a poor country, we don’t exactly enjoy Western standards of income. I could afford to travel somewhere far away once a year. I suck at saving money, so I usually took a loan and then gradually paid it back. It was still budget, just not to the extreme that I described above. Later on I moved to Qatar and salaries are quite high there, which afforded me with more flexibility and I started taking my sister and mother along. Currently I’m living off my savings, so naturally I’m again more careful with regards to how I travel.

How has travel changed your life?
It’s been an evolving thing, not a crazy revelation or radical change from one particular trip I’ve been on. Every time I go travel somewhere new, I understand more about various societies and places around the world and that changes me, to an extent, every single time. If I were to pinpoint a big change in my life connected to travel, it was moving from Slovenia to Qatar to live and work there. A higher income afforded me with pretty much unrestricted travel (apart from time constraints) and most importantly of it all, I met my wife Priya there. I wouldn’t be here typing these words if it wasn’t for me accepting a job offer, moving to Qatar and then eventually to Mangalore, India.

What is your main purpose/goal of your travel blog?
I’m still kind of finding my way with the blog, so you’ll find the articles can be categorized into inspirational, practical and informative categories. I’m mostly interested in spectacular landscapes, cuisines and socioeconomic aspects and issues of the places I visit. So sometimes you’ll find me straying into topics that might not be seen on your typical travel blog. One of those will definitely be the upcoming series about Qatar. Now that we have moved out of the country, a lot of things can be told without being worried about getting into the clutches of the authorities there.

unexpectedly-getting-to-carry-a-bride-in-a-traditional-budhist-wedding-in-mokpo-south-korea-1

This or That:
Backpack or rolling suitcase? Backpack
Cities or Open Spaces? Open spaces
Salty or sweet? Salty
Sandals or Snow Boots? Sandals
Comedy or Drama? Drama

You can contact Jure via social media or his blog.
Website: http://calloftravel.com/
Email: jure@calloftravel.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CallofTravel/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/CallofTravel
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/calloftravel/

Travel Interview: Places, People + Stories

Places People and Stories Travel Blog Interview

If not traveling, what is your 9-5 life like?
I have lived in Bolivia for almost 3 years now. For two years I was the director of a foundation working with street kids. At that time, my life was very hectic and I worked much more than 9-5. The last six months I have been working as a freelancer, and now my time is a bit more flexible. But usually during the working hours you will find me on my lap-top writing. After work, I spend most of the time with my husband. We like to see movies, go out to eat, or take a trip in the park with our little cute dog.

Who, or what, inspired you to travel the first time?
That has to be my parents. As a child we travelled a lot by car through Europe. Until a certain age, I did not appreciate the travels that much. But the older I got, the more I understood that I loved to travel, and finally got addicted. Later, when starting to study at the university, it was friends that inspired me, and I went on many trips with them in the holidays.

How have you changed your life to travel more?
Firstly, I have as long as I can remember been very careful with money. I tried to save as much as possible for use on travels. I never have the last model of mobile phones, expensive brand-name clothes or other material things young people might be interested in. Furthermore, I tried to live as cheaply as possible. For example, renting an affordable place and rarely eat outside. Besides this, I worked hard in the nights and weekends besides my studies, and I saved it all.

I also decided to take a master degree that was online, so that I could be anywhere in the world while working. I worked mostly in Norway, but took some weeks to travel now and then. In the summer holidays I travelled for 2 months.

Now, my husband and I try to not spend so much, and continue to live cheaply. It has been hard as we had to get a new place to live, and buy new furniture. There are many expenses and bills to pay every month. However, we manage to put aside savings every month for our travels.

How has travel changed your life?
Travelling has changed my perspectives in many ways. Now, I appreciate what I have so much more. When I was in Nigeria doing the research for my thesis, I found myself in an unsecure and armed conflict zone. Furthermore, I did not have access to water or electricity. However, I was still happy, and so where most of the people living there permanently. This made me understand that no material things in this world will make me happy. What will make me happy is being with people I love and that love me back.

What is your main purpose/goal of your travel blog?
The main goal of my blog is to make my readers aware of the “not-so-obvious” when it comes to travelling. I like to write posts about travel topics rarely discussed. Another goal of Places, People and Stories is to teach my readers something new. And there is nothing better than when you write a post with a topic that can really be discussed, and you get several comments with different point of views.

Wife with Baggage Travel Blog Interview with Places People and Stories

This or That:
Backpack or Rolling Suitcase Rolling suitcase – It is not as heavy to drag around as a backpack, and my things are better organized.
Cities or Open Spaces Open spaces
Salty or Sweet Sweet… mmmh I love everything that is sweet.
Sandals or Snow Boots Sandals. I love snow, but I grew up in a very cold country, and we are all very happy when it is warm and beach weather.
Comedy or Drama Nothing is better than a good comedy.

Website: http://www.placespeoplestories.com/
Email: placespeoplestories@gmail.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Places-People-Stories
Twitter: https://twitter.com/HellvikHanne

Traveler Interview: Localize J

Travel Interview with Localize J

If not traveling, what is your 9-5 life like?
I find myself lucky to be working irregular hours as a police officer. I love my job and all its challenges. I love to go into situations that turn out to be so different from what you expect. It takes a lot of flexibility and fantasy to get it to a good end sometimes. I never know what I’m going to do or where I’m going to be at in a day’s work. I love that about my work. It is something I can use while traveling also. You always get something that is not quite what you’ve expected; sometimes not at all what you’ve expected. But, within a couple of minutes (sometimes a bit longer) you see the positive side of it and start enjoying things in a different and new manner.

Who or what inspired you to travel the first time?
As a child we always traveled to surrounding countries as Germany, Belgium, France or England. At some point I started to enjoy other things and haven’t traveled for some years. As an adult, I went to Thailand with my dad and I loved it. In the years to come I took trips with my mom in Europe, Greece, Italy, Spain, Mexico and Guatemala. After that trip I really started to plan my own trips.

How have you changed your life to travel more?
It certainly has changed my life! I already wrote a blog about my life, but now I am writing about travel in English. When at home I write about my travels and search for new adventures. I work for traveling; before I lived for working 🙂 I love my life, love my job and love that it gives me the freedom just to go away for a couple of months every other year. I do not spend much money on things that are not important to me. I try to save as much as possible to spend it elsewhere. I still got the feeling that somewhere, somehow, somebody will say to me “But this is not how you can live your life. You have to do ‘XY or Z.’” But still – I am getting away with doing what I am doing. My near future includes a trip to South Africa, a cultural trip of 8 days to Turkey and a month to India. I was invited to a wedding in New Delhi. Isn’t that all great?

How has travel changed your life?
I am a person that respects other persons, other opinions and other lifestyles. I have lived in different layers of the society because of wrong decisions I made as a teenager. I know what it is to have no money. I know how it feels if nobody can help you. I got out of that situation and build my life to what it is now. I am still expanding my life and the world is getting smaller. Everything is possible. Everything is good. Nobody can tell you what you need to do. While traveling you see so many women and men who are traveling long term. If they can do it, why can’t I?

What is your main purpose/goal for your travel blog?
To share; sharing is multiplying. To inspire; do what you want, do what you like. You make your own life, live it and love it!

This or that:
Backpack or rolling  suitcase? Backpack – I do see people traveling like a backpacker with a rolling suitcase….but I like to travel with the backpack.
Cities or Open spaces? Open spaces – I do like cities also but I love to see the landscape of countries or the jungles or mountains.
Salty or Sweet? Salty – Sometimes sweet, but most of the time salty food!
Sandals or Snow Boots? Sandals – Because I love the sun!! I love Asia, going to Africa next month and want to go to South America also. What do I need to do with snow boots??
Comedy or drama? Comedy – Everybody needs some comedy in their lives; laughing is healthy!

Localize J

Follow Localize J:
Blog: http://jacomijn.heupink.com
Twitter: @LocalizeJ
Facebook: www.facebook.com/LocalizeJ

Traveler Interview: Country Hopping Couple

I always love meeting other couples who love to travel as much as me and Mike. Anu, from Country Hopping Couple answered the following questions on behalf of her other half, Sri.

Country Hopping Couple Interview Pictures

If not traveling, what is your 9-5 life like?

We both work full time, Sri as an IT Professional, and I work in Human Resources.   When we are not travelling, we are at home doing our chores, spend time with friends, playing board games or cards, or watching movies.  Recently, Sri started playing Table Tennis and I play Badmitton twice a week.

Who, or what, inspired you to travel the first time?

To me, it has to be my father, who inspired me to read books.  His interest in history and geography always amazed me and has deep imbibed in me too.  He has travelled a lot, and took our family to a lot of places within India. And as a grown up girl, I loved the freedom that travel offers and how independent it makes an individual. Sri has been travelling a long time too, and he simply loves the new atmosphere, seeing new places or doing some adventure activities.

How have you changed your life to travel more?

We chose an expat lifestyle to travel more, experience a country from close quarters and live like a local.  It has been our lifestyle ever since the two of us got together. Albeit, we miss our family, friends and home! We stay in rented apartments and we are always prepared to move location or even countries.  Since we do not have a permanent home, we make sure whatever we buy is small and something we can carry. We do not spend extravagantly on home decors, interiors or on a luxury car.  But we are not too calculative either.  We both are impulsive buyers and spend a great deal of money on gadgets. We spend, enjoy life for that moment, and save the little money to spend them on travel again. We are always very happy with our decisions and choices.

How has travel changed your life?

We are risk takers, and are not afraid of what life throws at us.  We have lived in three countries, and every time we move, we are only excited about the change and new place. We know however difficult the situation is, it shall pass on, and we will learn how to keep our heads cool during these times.  We are both spend thrifts and we are glad that travelling is making us cultivate the habit of saving money.  We now know that smiles, head shakes and gestures are sufficient enough to make new friends and language is not a barrier wherever we are!  We start appreciate cultures and different types of people we come across while travelling, and are amazed at their lifestyle. Be it the local fisherman in Malta, or the unknown man who helped us with directions.

What is your main purpose/goal of your travel blog?

We want to inspire and inform the world that travelling is possible with a full time job.  We want to give them the best tips and ideas on travelling, share the best kept secrets and hidden getaways. We want to help them understand that travelling is not about going far off exotic places and staying in expensive resort. It can be as simple as a weekend gateway to somewhere close to where one live. We want to persuade people to do what they love, and not just live a life to pay the bills.

This or That:
Backpack or rolling suitcase? Rolling Suitcase
Cities or Open Spaces? Actually both; we would love the combination of both.
Salty or sweet? Salty, always!
Sandals or Snow Boots? Sandals
Comedy or Drama? Comedy

Interview with Country Hopping Couple

Follow Country Hopping Couple:
Website: http://www.countryhoppingcouple.com
Email: countryhoppingcouple@gmail.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CountryHoppingCouple
Twitter: https://twitter.com/2CountryHoppers
Instagram: http://instagram.com/countryhoppingcouple
Google +: https://plus.google.com/+Countryhoppingcouple
Stumble Upon: http://www.stumbleupon.com/2countryhoppers
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/2CountryHoppers/

Travel Interview: Have You Packed the Camera?

HaveYouPackedTheCameraInterviewIf not traveling, what is your 9-5 life like?

I work in the exciting steel reinforcement industry as a Production & Transport Planner. I enjoy my work. I am not a career person, per se, but my job is my means to afford to travel and have fun. Out of work, I regularly play badminton and basketball and always try to keep in shape.

Who, or what, inspired you to travel the first time?

I have always been lucky enough to go abroad on holidays with my parents. Going away was something I looked forward too. As I grew older I loved watching travel and nature documentaries, particularly the BBC series presented by David Attenborough such as Planet Earth and Frozen Planet. I wanted to see these wonderful places and cultures for myself. Furthermore, I have undergone kidney transplantation and, unfortunately, this will not last indefinitely. Therefore, I try to make the most of my life and experience while I am healthy.

How have you changed your life to travel more?

Funding my travels has made me careful with my money, but never tight. I always make sure I buy something if I want it, and never pass an opportunity to go out with friends. Travel is important to me, but I would never travel at the expense of having an enjoyable day-to-day life. I have started staying in hostels when I travel too, to save on hotel costs. I find this makes a huge difference as hostels can be as cheap as £10 per night where a hotel might be £50 upwards.

How has travel changed your life?

Travel has, without a doubt, made me more confident and outgoing. I have never been an extremely talkative person, but travelling solo has encouraged me to make an effort to talk to strangers and step outside of my comfort zone. I am definitely more impulsive now (not sure if that’s a good thing or not). Before I really started travelling I would plan everything out. Now I will generally book a trip and then worry about the planning and details after.

What is your main purpose/goal of your travel blog?

I started Have you Packed the Camera as a personal journal and memory bank; a place I could store my stories, photos and memories from my travels, so I can look back on what I have done. I would like to think that people also enjoy looking at my photography and find the travel info I provide useful.

This or That:
Backpack or rolling suitcase? Rolling suitcase
Cities or Open Spaces? Open Spaces
Salty or Sweet? Sweet
Sandals or Snow Boots? Snow Boots
Comedy or Drama? Comedy

Taking a nap as you do!

Follow Have You Packed The Camera:
Website: http://www.haveyoupackedthecamera.com
Email: media@haveyoupackedthecamera.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/packedTheCamera
Twitter: http://twitter.com/packedTheCamera
Stumble Upon: http://www.stumbleupon.com/stumbler/packedTheCamera

Traveler Interview: The Talking Trails

Kanik from The Talking Trails

If not traveling, what is your 9-5 life like?

When people ask me what I do for living and I say I’m a Software Professional, they look with awe, seem fairly impressed and think I am some sort of geek. My usual day involves only 3 things: coffee, code and computer.  I live with my husband in beautiful city of Boston. Since the span of Summer is so short in North East, practically all of our weekends are pre-booked with new town excursions, biking or planning hiking in White Mountains.

Who, or what, inspired you to travel the first time?

I grew up in India. My parents were very protective and never let me go anywhere, alone. They used to arrange incredible trips for the whole family during our summer vacation which really got me hooked on to the idea of travel. This is also the reason why I find it impossible to do budget travels. They have truly spoiled me. It wasn’t until l moved to US that I started exploring the world on my own with my limited means. I met my husband while doing masters and we bonded over travel and photography. We fell in love and rest is history. Travelling is my true passion and I am glad to have a life partner who feels the same.

How have you changed your life to travel more?

It does get tricky to juggle between monotonous 9 to 5 job and travelling. With huge student loans, I cannot deny that a job is really important for me even though my true passion lies in travelling. To travel you need money and that makes the day job even more important. I put certain percentage of every paycheck in my travel saving fund. If you ever get to see my browsing history, you will find travel deal websites that I have checked to get a deal on anything or everything. Also, since me and my husband are vegetarians, we carry our food with us wherever we travel to keep the overall cost of the trip low. Lastly, I sometimes work over the weekends and nights to get more time off for vacations.

How has travel changed your life?

For starters, travel is the reason I fell in love with my husband in the first place and my life has been beautiful ever since then. Travel has taught me that not all things are in our control so it is OK to let things go at times. Travel has helped me be tolerant of others, appreciate minimalism and has given me courage to take the risks. I have started appreciating small things in life and feel myself better prepared for life’s complexities. I have become a money saver now, which I never was before. I have gained beautiful memories and experiences. More than anything, travel has helped me to appreciate home.

What is your main purpose/goal of your travel blog?

The Talking Trails was born out of my sheer desire to show world to my parents through my eyes. They took me to so many places when I was young and I missed them while travelling so I wanted to be with them virtually. Also I thought it to be a great way to keep track of my mistakes, my achievements and my learnings.  I hope it keeps evolving and turns into something more broadly encompassing with time. I really want to inspire people to travel and not let 9 to 5 jobs come in their way.

This or That:
Backpack or rolling suitcase? Rolling Suitcase, without a doubt
Cities or Open Spaces? Open Spaces any day
Salty or sweet? Is spicy an option?? But if I have to pick one, I’ll say salty
Sandals or Snow Boots? With over 6 months of snow period in Boston, I love to wear sandals for my vacation time.
Comedy or Drama? Both; you would be amazed to know how much television or movies I can watch in a day. My personal record is 18 hours nonstop.

The Talking Trails

Follow The Talking Trails:
Website: http://thetalkingtrails.com/
Email: kanikacse13@gmail.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheTalkingTrails?ref=hl
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TalkingTrails
Instagram: http://instagram.com/thetalkingtrails
Google +: https://plus.google.com/u/0/112313542715314689266/posts
Stumble Upon: http://www.stumbleupon.com/stumbler/kanikacse13

Travel Interview: Freelancers on the Road

Freelancers on the Road BeachIf not traveling, what is your 9-5 life like?

We are full-time freelance translators and work from home. We founded our translation business in 2011 after pursuing careers in marketing and finance. Our home base is Tyrol, Austria, where we own a little apartment. We generally travel about 4 months per year with additional day or weekend trips around Europe. When we are not traveling we focus on work (reliable internet, yay!), try out new (mostly vegetarian) recipes, go skiing in winter, grow veggies in our garden and cuddle the neighbor’s cat.

Who, or what, inspired you to travel the first time?

We have both been traveling from a young age with our families. Irene’s first international trip was to the Greek island of Rhodes, while Stefano visited Vienna (talk about a sign – he now lives in Austria). Travel has been part of our lives ever since we can remember, as we both grew up in Europe, where other countries are never far away.

How have you changed your life to travel more?

We actually changed careers! We were both working in 9-5 jobs when we decided to take 6 months off to travel the world in 2009. As soon as we returned, we started to look for options to work location independently, however it took us 1.5 years to figure out what we wanted to do – that is when we founded our translation company. In addition, we generally prioritize travel and don’t spend much on clothes, gadgets or furniture.

How has travel changed your life?

Travel educates and surprises us every day. There is never a dull moment when we are traveling and we enjoy getting to know other cultures and customs. We love to visit well-known sights, figuring out where to go, communicating using our hands and feet and dealing with (inevitable) mishaps. Travel makes us feel alive and provides life-long learning opportunities.

What is your main purpose/goal of your travel blog?

We aim to provide helpful tips and tangible information about the places we visit. As we get a lot of questions about freelancing (a concept that is not yet widespread in Europe) we also try to present our lifestyle and show how to make money while traveling regularly. And of course we also aim to inspire people to create the lifestyle they dream of.

This or That:
Backpack or Rolling Suitcase? Irene & Stefano: Backpack
Cities or Open Spaces? Irene & Stefano: Cities
Salty or sweet? Irene: Sweet, Stefano: Salty
Sandals or Snow Boots? Irene & Stefano: Sandals
Comedy or Drama? Irene & Stefano: Comedy

Freelancers on the Road

Follow Freelancers on the Road here:
Website: http://www.freelancersontheroad.com
Email: irene.jaindl@gmail.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/FreelancersRoad
Twitter: http://twitter.com/FreelancersRoad
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/freelancersroad

Wife with Baggage: Versatile Blogger Award

Versatile:

/ˈvərsətl/ adjective

1. able to adapt or be adapted to different functions or activities. 

    synonyms: flexible, all-around, multi-faceted; resourceful

 

Versatile Blogger AwardThe Versatile Blogger Award is given to bloggers who  “bring something special to your life whether every day or only now and then.” I was blown away with Liebster Award Nominations, and now nominations for the Versatile Blogger Award. Awesome!

Thank you from Lyn and Steve who write A Hole in My Shoe. WOW! Thank you for this compliment.

I also have to give a big shout out to The Talking Trails for their nomination. They are another couple who work to pay bills, but also to travel. You can actually read more of their story here on Wife with Baggage in the Traveler Interview section.

Here are the guide lines:

  • Thank the person who gave you the award and include a link to their blog.
  • Tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.
  • Select 15 blogs that you have recently discovered or follow regularly and nominate those 15 blogs for the Versatile Blogger Award.

Here are a few facts you might or might not know about me:

1. Mr. Wife with Baggage and I are about to celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary.
2. My first passport stamp came during our honeymoon to Belize.
3. I own exactly two purses. (I guess I do not have that much baggage after all!)
4. The texture of food is more important than the taste for me.
5. I do not like beer, try as I might!
6. On the other hand I absolutely love tequila and wine – but not together. That would be very, very bad.
7. I have a Master’s Degree and get paid to talk, listen and play with kids all day! There are worse things!

I love Wine!

I would LOVE to pass along the compliment, happy thoughts and feel-good feelings to these deserving and versatile blogs. I feel that these bloggers are all-around great writers. They are resourceful in their travels and encourage readers to have flexible thinking. I also love that they a multi-faceted approach to travel, blogging and life.

1. A Brit and A Southerner – I love weekend warriors!
2. Legging It – Who doesn’t want to retire early?
3. Globetrotter Mom – Traveling moms are pretty darn versatile!
4. Two Weeks in Costa Rica – Flexibility at its finest…two weeks turned into years!
5. On the Luce – Another traveler who works a typical 9-5 – gotta love it!
6. The Blonde Nomad From one blonde chick to another …
7. Do Something Cool – They’re not a travel blog, per se, but I LOVE their message.
8. Pink Carry On – I want pink baggage too!
9. Nomad Girl – She travels AND volunteers – kudos Jasmine!
10. Crazzzy Travel – These lovebirds are crazzzy about each other and traveling.
11. Wander The Map – I love how this couple integrates travel into their life, even with a career.
12. One Girl: One World – This girl is fierce!
13. The Travel Accessory Store – A blog with versatile gadgets and good information!
14. The Caffeinated Day Tripper – Another gal trying to fit travel in when she can!
15. Homeprenuer Helper – I did not realize I was an entrepreneur – until reading this blog!

Don’t forget to to check out all of these blogs! They’re definitely worth your time!

Travel Interview: Magical Mystery Tours

I absolutely love surprises. The good kind; the fun kind. The “I just found a five dollar bill in my jeans” kind or the “Hey! We’re going to The Keys this weekend!” kind.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered a company that marries travel (another one of my, more obvious, obsessions) with surprises. Yes! I know, it is a match made in heaven! Magical Mystery Tours offers vacation planning with a twist. Think travel agent meets Bob Barker on the “Price in Right.” But, instead of hearing “It’s a neeeeew car!” as a curtain opens, you read “Denver, Colorado” or “Costa Rica” as you open a sealed envelope moments before you depart. That is a surprise I would love.

Are you curious to know more about Magical Mystery Tours? Yea, thought so.

Magical Mystery Tour Red Envelope

Denise Chaykun, President of Magical Mystery Tours, answered the questions for this interview. I hope the Q & A session will shed a little light on this up an coming travel company.

1. Start from the beginning; tell us the story behind the idea and company. Who and/or what inspired you to create Magical Mystery Tours (MMT)?

“We never exactly set out to start a travel company.  Both Stephanie (my cofounder) and I love to travel and discussed great deals and dream destinations all the time.  At some point in 2009 I was chatting with a friend who was really busy and needed a vacation, but was lamenting over the fact that he didn’t have time to plan it.  On a whim, I offered to plan it for him, though as we got into the planning, I started to joke that I wasn’t going to tell him where he was going–he actually went for it!  Stephanie and I planned that first mystery trip together and it was a hit!  When others started to inquire about doing mystery trips, we figured we might be on to something.  After lots of research, paperwork, and learning about the travel industry, we ended up with Magical Mystery Tours where it is today!”

2. What demographic do many of your customers fall under?

“We have a few main groups of mystery travelers.  Couples are definitely are largest demographic (including honeymooners!) of mystery travelers, though we also have a lot of solo travelers, girls’ trips, and families.”

3. Your site lists minimum costs for weekend trips, which include airfare. However, what are customers’ options for “staycations” or road trips?

The vast majority of our trips do include airfare, though we’re happy to work with folks looking to do something closer to home.  For customers willing to drive a few hours or take a train, we can usually cut the starting cost for a mystery trip by a few hundred dollars.

4. Has MMT had any repeat customers? If so, why do you think they’ve come back?

“Yes!  As Magical Mystery Tours goes into our fourth year, we’re thrilled to be working with some of the same folks that took some of our first trips.  We have a mix of people who just really enjoy the mystery trip experience and want to go on additional trips without having to do the planning on their own.  And we’ve also been pleasantly surprised by folks who enjoyed their mystery trips, and really enjoyed the freedom of having someone else do the planning.  Some of these folks have specific destinations that they want to see, and we’re happy to plan those non-mystery trips, too.”

5. Toot your own horn. What are you the most proud of when it comes to MMT’s successes?

“Knowing that we’ve helped people take vacations that otherwise never would have happened is such a great feeling.  We love planning trips for everyone, though having a customer tell us that they just have no idea where to start and to trust us with a 25th anniversary trip or a trip to celebrate retirement or other huge life event is really special.  We love getting to play a part in people’s big events!

I’m also really proud of our team of travel planners.  Collectively, we’ve covered an awful lot of ground in our own travels and are really committed to finding whatever it is that’s the right destination for each traveler we work with.  It would be much easier if we were just planning a bunch of trips to Vegas or Paris or Disneyworld, but we look at each traveler with a set of fresh eyes and really try to use our background to figure out what they’d love—and often that’s a destination that they may not have on their radars or might not have ever even heard of before!”

Magical Mystery Tour Honeymoon Packet

6. Bad news is tough, but helpful too. What customer feedback struck a chord and became the catalyst for change within MMT?

“We invite all travelers to take a survey when they get back home, and that really helps us with fine tuning and to be sure we’re on the right track.  We’ve also learned that the anticipation of a mystery trip isn’t for everyone, so if we start working with a traveler who seems very apprehensive or seems to have a very specific trip in mind, we offer to scale back on the mystery and come up with a few options for them to chose from, or maybe to work with them on the destination, but keep the destination a surprise from the rest of their travel party.  It’s all about building amazing vacations that our clients love—if they don’t want a full mystery, we’re happy to work with them and find something that they’re a little more comfortable with.”

7. Safety is a very big factor for many travelers. Given the political climate of some regions in the world, what safety and refund policies do you have in place for your travelers?

“You’re hitting on some of our worst nightmares here!  For starters, we never send mystery trips to locations that are high risk.  Of course, the political climate can always change once a trip’s been booked, though we really try to stay away from areas that are high-risk.  On more than one occasion, weather has posed some safety concerns, and we’ve been able to work with the travel providers to regroup and rebook clients to another location that provides a safe and fun vacation.”

8. What advice or tips can you give readers who want to travel while keeping the balance between their full-time careers and growing families?

“This could be a post in and of itself!  When you’re planning a trip, you really need to know what you’re comfortable with and what balance you need to be able to relax and make the most of your vacation.  Do you need to stick to a certain budget?  Do you burn out if you’re on the move for 10 hours straight checking off every tourist attraction on your list?  Do you have health or food concerns that you have to manage while you’re away?  Before you even start planning, you should really think through what you (and the rest of your travel party!) want to get out of your vacation.  If you honestly want to relax, you probably don’t want to plan an excursion through 5 different European countries, though at the same time, if you want to explore a new culture, maybe an all inclusive resort in the Caribbean the place for you.  Thinking through what’s fun for you matters for all travelers regardless of other work commitments, family status, or other concerns.   Knowing this will shape your decisions on how long you’ll be away, your budget, your choice of activities, everything!”

9. OK, now it is your turn to tell us what your dream vacation would like! What three travel parameters would you give MMT if booking your own magical mystery tour?” 

“For one, I’d definitely want to go somewhere new!  Even though there’s lots of destinations I’d love to revisit, there’s something special about discovering a new destination.  Secondly, I’d want a place where there’s both an opportunity for both checking out local culture and still an opportunity to relax.  For instance, I just got back from Tokyo.  It was an amazing experience, but I think I needed a vacation to recover from that trip!  I find places like Tokyo and NYC overwhleming, so I’d want a bit of balance—not an all-inclusive resort that you never have to leave, though not a HUGE city, either.  Third, I really appreciate staying right in the middle of things—somewhere where you can just walk outside and start exploring.  Despite all my traveling, I’m pretty awful with directions, so I really appreciate not having to study a map (and likely get lost) each time I go out!”

Wife with Baggage: Liebster Award

Once is just not enough! Wife with Baggage keeps getting Liebster Awards … and we’ll take ’em!

So far, here are the fantastic blogs who’ve nominated us for this award.

Travel Blog Liebster Award

Girl vs Globe: She has great taste in travel blogs (obviously) and writes a pretty darn good one herself. My favorite post of her’s so far is How To Fly and Be Fly. As a walking fashion no-no, I appreciate this post. Anywho, thank you Sabina for saying that I make you laugh, following along and taking the time to nominate Wife with Baggage.

Legging It: This Australian couple cracks me up! They describe themselves as a “youngish” couple and just could not wait to start their big adventure until retirement.Can’t say I blame them! Read about their couch surfing (Yes! It’s what it sounds like!) and all of their latest posts to see where their 200+ days on the road have taken them!

Ticking The Bucket List: This couple loves to travel and share great advice. I love that she and her husband travel to places that I know (knew) nothing about like Oman and Bhutan! Thanks for the nice words and this award guys!

Backpack with Hubby: Love their name and their passion for travel! I enjoyed their stories on Bangkok and Chiang Mai, as my “hubby” and I really love Thailand! Thank you for the nomination and Liebster Blog Award!

Now, before you continue reading you need to know (if you don’t already) that the Liebster Award has rules. (Yay! I love following rules!) They are:

  • Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link to his or her blog.
  • Answer the 10 questions by the nominee before you.
  • Nominate 10 of your favorite blogs and notify them of their nomination.
  • Come up with 10 questions for your nominees to answer.

These questions are from Sabina at Girl vs Globe. She was the first to nominate me, so I”ve posted her questions and my answers here. Let’s get to them….

What was the first place you ever traveled to and how old were you? I had to consult with my dear parents for this question. They let me know that Port Charlotte, Florida was my first trip and I was an infant. See, you can travel with kids ( …says the woman without kids)!

J. R. R. Tolkien once wrote that “not all those who wander are lost”. Do you ever travel to escape your life back home? I want to say “no” to this answer because I am sincerely and honestly, in love with my life. My husband, Michael, and I are blessed in the truest sense of the word. We have nothing to escape from but palm trees, a comfortable home and great friends. That being said, we do “get away” at times. From what? I have no idea. Maybe routine? We travel because we want to, not because we have to.

What’s the one thing you could never travel without? My baggage! Duh!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Is there a place you’ve traveled to you’d rather not return to? Bangkok, Thailand. I was too overwhelmed with the size,scope and number of people and cars. I am a “wide open spaces” kinda gal, not a big city girl. I loved the jungles and islands of Thailand, but not Bangkok.

What’s the most important thing travel taught you?  Travel is a great teacher! I’ve learned so much from travel. I even have an entire page dedicated to lessons we’ve learned from travel on WwB.

Casa Morada Pool Area

Personally, I think videos capture my trips most accurately. What’s your favorite way of documenting your travels? I journal when we travel. Re-reading those entries instantly takes me back to that day and moment and memory. Photography is a hobby of mine as well and I find pictures of road signs, meals we ate and sites we saw help to document and preserve the big and little details of trips.

Music is an important part of my life and I always associate certain songs with certain destinations. What’s your number one travel song? Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now” played practically every hour during a summer road trip we took a few years ago. It’s not a song about travel; it is actually a kind of sad song. But now, every time I hear the song I am back in the passenger seat, feet up on the dashboard (which Mike hates!), nodding my head to the beat while cruising down the road.

Do you still live in the country you were born in? Do you see yourself moving away from or back to it in the future? Yes. No, not unless we win the lotto and can buy a summer home in the Swiss Alps. I should start playing the lottery.

If you could wake up tomorrow and be fluent in a foreign language, which one would you pick? Spanish – for professional and personal reasons. Professionally, being bilingual in South Florida is a highly sought after skill. If you’ve ever visited Calle Ocho in Miami you comprehende what I am saying. Personally, Mike and I seem to gravitate towards Spanish-speaking countries when we travel. It would be nice to have less of a language barrier.

Where are you going to travel next? The land of fire and ice – Iceland!

I nominate the follow blogs for the next Liebster Awards:

Have fun answering these questions!

  • Do you consider yourself a part-time or full-time traveler?
  • What one travel disaster do you hope never happens to you?
  • Besides five dollar lattes, what luxuries do you forego to travel more often?
  • If you could time travel to the future or the past, which would it be? Why?
  • Which area/part of blogging is the most rewarding? Challenging?
  • What is the story behind your blog’s name?
  • What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received (either travel related or not)?
  • How would you pass the time if stranded at an airport for 24 hours?
  • What is your happiest memory from the last 12 months?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?

LIebster Award