Discovering the world with relentless curiosity

Tag: interview

Let’s Chat With: The Red Bohemia

A lot of us love to travel, but only a few take it to the next level of being a part time traveler. I had an interesting conversation with the gorgeous…

A lot of us love to travel, but only a few take it to the next level of being a part time traveler. I had an interesting conversation with the gorgeous lady behind Red Bohemia, a down-to-earth, heartwarming travel blog and got a low down on what it means to be a part time traveler (with a full time job) and why Kavitha started the Red Bohemia alongside her pursuit to see the world.

Ardent Traveler (AT): “Red Bohemia”. That’s a rather interesting name you’ve chosen for your site. Is there a story behind it?
Red Bohemia (RB): Believe it or not, I actually came up with it in the middle of a football match. I was watching my team Liverpool ( YNWA!) play erm, some other club when half-time came about and I thought I should incorporate “red” into my blog name – fire, passion, strength and all that good stuff. Bohemia or the bohemian-lifestyle has always been something I’ve loved for its freedom, creativity and wanderlust qualities. I already had the “bohemia” bit in mind for some time, but nothing seemed to gel with it, until “red” came along. That’s how Redbohemia was born and I’ve stuck with it ever since.

AT: So you have a regular job and you live to travel. That makes you a part-time traveler… why not go full swing?
RB: Yes, I am a part-time traveller – for now. I intend to make travelling a more permanent fixture in my life sometime this year. I have been working for the last 15 years or so and I think it’s about time I took some time out to do different things and for some much-needed slow travelling. Wish me luck!

AT: When you plan your travel journeys, are there specific things that you’re particularly interested to discover? Tell me a story of such a discovery.
RB: The architecture and design aspects of a city are usually something I fall in love with very easily. So many cities have impressed me in the past, but I have to go with the first one that blew my expectations out of the water – Amsterdam.

amsterdam_love

Love the charming ways of Amsterdam

It was the first European city I visited and I was duly impressed by how all the buildings by the canals were so full of character and charm – the quirky doors, the pretty windows, the colourful window displays, the cosy cafes.
Add in how organised the streets were (with trams, bicycle lanes and walkways co-existing), it sure was a wonderful feast for the design-lover in me.

AT: Why travel and write?
RB: I grew up reading Reader’s Digest and magazines such as LIFE, Time and National Geographic. Thanks to such stellar reading materials, I was constantly enthralled by tales of adventure and photographs of faraway lands.

natgeo_inspiration

Still getting inspired by National Geographic to this day

It seemed like a different world, almost unreal. Coming from a small town in Malaysia, I constantly dreamt of visiting those seemingly magical lands. I want to do for others what those words and photographs did for me – inspire them to see the world, learn from different cultures, to love and respect one another.

AT: In the flurry of travel blogs in the online space, have you found a few travel bloggers / travelers that you can connect to? Why and who are they?
RB: Flurry is indeed the right word! It was hard in the beginning, but I was a little more confident of myself once I met some amazing travel bloggers at AWE Asia 2013 in Kuala Lumpur (hey, that’s where I met you too).
That is where I met the awesome Jeannie Mark from NomadicChick.com. She may be one of the top travel bloggers around, but she was so down-to-earth and kind. I was scared to even talk about my teenie tiny blog, but she encouraged me to continue and keep reaching for my dreams.

Aggy from DEW Traveller is another blogger I met at the conference. We keep in touch often and I just love her positive outlook on life. And, thanks to her, I got connected to Vlad from Eff It, I’m On Holiday. He’s been such a great supporter of my blog and we plan to travel together someday *fingers crossed*

More recently, I connected with a lovely blogger, G. Maria from Travel With G. Her love for food, photography and travel inspire me. Not only is she a wonderful writer, she is kind beyond words.

travel_in_kindness

Kindness is a quality I find important in travelling

All these bloggers constantly inspire me to do better and most importantly, to be kind to one another. It can be very competitive out there in blog-land, but these bloggers prove that it doesn’t have to be like that.

AT: Do you have a travel buddy? Or do you usually travel alone?
RB: My travel buddies tend to change from trip to trip. But I usually stick to a pool of close friends, so I know what to expect when we eventually travel together. I tend to travel alone for shorter trips, but I’m sure that will change sometime this year.

london_travel_buddy

My close friend (and travel buddy) in action on the Tower Bridge

It’s nice sometimes to have that one other person – for company, to help carry your bag when you’re tired, get directions when you’re lazy or just around for some much-needed laughter and fun.

AT: What are your travel plans for 2015?
RB: 2015 is going to be the year I finally venture out solo. I have a shiny, new Lonely Planet guidebook to Great Britain, so I might as well put it to good use 😉

Actually, I’ve wanted to explore this part of the world for the longest time – get to know the people, how the cultures differ from one country to another, try Haggis (I hope I don’t chicken out at the last minute), immerse myself in the moors of Wuthering Heights (pretending to be Kate Bush), educate myself on organic farming and drink tea all day long. Seems like a tall order, but I intend to go for it. If not now, then when, right?

AT: All the best, Kavitha! Stoke that you’re following your dreams and taking a route that’s often seen as against the grain. Happy travels babe! 

*Follow the Red Bohemia as she takes the leap to make travel a constant in her life on her website, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter space. 

Let’s Chat With is a new series of light hearted, down-to-earth, personal interviews with people I’ve met or connected with along my journey as a traveler. These are people who have piqued my interest and have an amazing tale to tell. I hope that my conversations with them will inspire you, challenge your perspective on life and feed that wanderlust within you.
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Two Year Honeymoon Around The World… Really?!

Planning the ideal round the world trip (RTW) is no easy feat. Those who have done it will tell you that it takes longer than imagined, more than they budgeted…

Planning the ideal round the world trip (RTW) is no easy feat. Those who have done it will tell you that it takes longer than imagined, more than they budgeted for and it’s harder than just booking flight tickets. Those who have done it will have a list of travel hacks and lessons to share on how to reduce expenses, stretch the dollar and get the most of a destination.

Lovebirds, Anne and Mike Howard have traveled 6 continents, over 32 countries and 302 places, and they chose their honeymoon for their RTW. While most honeymooners don’t think twice about booking a holiday on an idyllic beach and spa-worthy destination, Anne and Mike decided that it was too “normal” and instead they went for the unconventional. They planned a 2-year long honeymoon around the world to celebrate life together. I checked in for a quick chat with them and got some travel tips from the globetrotters.

MikeAnneHoneyTrek

Ardent Traveler (AT): You guys are probably the only people I know who spent 2-year honeymooning around the world with no break in between. Who’s idea was it?
Mike & Anne (M&A): A German friend-of-a-friend told us he and his girlfriend just returned from a one-year journey around the world. The concept seemed unfathomable yet it affixed itself to our brains. In thinking about where we wanted to spend our honeymoon we didn’t have enough paper to list all the places we wanted to visit and this couple’s RTW kept crossing our mind. Then about six months before our wedding we started seriously talking it out. “We’ve got some money saved, we don’t have kids, there’s a lot of world to see, and we’re only young once…maybe we turn our honeymoon into the greatest excuse to quit our jobs and travel…” Then we set the dream in motion.

AT: You also made a really bold step by quitting your jobs to travel the world. Was it hard for you? Is it workable?
M&A: It was a little scary leaving stable jobs, but the risk of not following our dream seemed far more frightening. Travel is the greatest learning experience imaginable and it can also be a resume builder. Immersing yourself in other cultures and throwing yourself into new environments sharpens your skills from communication to negotiation, problem-solving to global thinking…a good employer will definitely value those skills. Imagine the stories you will have for your interviews when you return home!

OriginalHoneyTrekRoutemap

AT: Where did you start when it comes to planning a 2-year trip? Which countries to go to:
M&A: Our travel philosophy has always been to go places too far to visit while we have jobs and too rugged to tackle when we’re old. That meant skipping Central America and most of Europe and focusing on all the places we’d dreamed of visiting in South America, Africa, Asia and Oceania. Here is the country by country breakdown:

  • South America: Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Bolivia and Peru
  • Africa: South Africa, Lesotho, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Kenya
  • Asia: Nepal, China, Japan, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines and Indonesia
  • Oceania: Australia and New Zealand
  • Europe: Scotland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Wales, England, Norway and Turkey

Norway_Hopperstad Stave Church Norway

AT: How much time to spend in each country?
M&A: We aim for 3-4 weeks in each country and 2-3 nights in each location. This is a fairly fast pace in each town but the fact that we get to experience so many regions within each country keeps us energized and excited to keep exploring every single day. With 675 days to travel it actually would have been easy to visit more countries, but we like to stay close to a month in each country so that we can get a stronger sense of the people, customs, and character of a place.

AT: Budgeting?
M&A: We did our 675-day trip around the world for just under $40 per person per day, including flights, ground transportation, food, lodging, activities, gear…the works. This is an average of the pricier countries like Japan, Australia, and Norway (~$75+ pppd) with the less expensive places like Bolivia and Southeast Asia (under $20 pppd). We learned all sorts of ways to save money with mileage hacking, homestays, and tons of other travel tricks to to keep our budget low and fun levels high. You’d think we were millionaires (far from it!) but traveling around the world turned out to be less expensive than just the mortgage on our apartment.

HoneyTrekCappadociaTurkey

AT: I’m sure you stored a million memories from the epic trip. Was a particular event or destination that you would call “life changing”?
M&A: I think the overwhelming kindness of strangers impacted us profoundly. Like the time our motorbike broke down in rural Thailand and a family picked us up and took us into their home for two days, making us a bed in their living room and cooking us three meals a day. Or when we asked a local guy directions in Hangzhou, China and when he couldn’t explain it in English, he took the bus 20 minutes in the wrong direction to make sure we got to our destination safely. Incredible instances of kindness happened to us in ALL 33 countries and these experiences always remind us to be open-hearted and pay it forward.

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AT: Tell me a funny story from your travels… One that you will tell your friends over dinner and have a good laugh:)
M&A: We were driving in the mountains above Colca Canyon, Peru when we see a big group of locals all in traditional garb throwing a party in the middle of the road. We creep forward thinking they’d move to let us pass but instead this lady knocks on our window and says in Spanish, “Come dance! You can’t pass until you dance!” The next thing you know Anne is being pulled out of the car into a circle of elderly ladies doing a Peruvian jig. Mike is being poured mystery shots from a communal jug and sent to play in the band. We rocked out with our new best friends well into the evening…it was the best traffic jam we’ve ever been in.2-peruvian-dance

AT: After your 2-year honeymoon, did you settle back into a regular job? What happened after the big trip?
1-htlogosmall21M&A: Well…we may not be done with our honeymoon just yet. We are currently planning a road-trip honeymoon to all 50 states…as an interactive travel show. We are actually in Hollywood right now pitching the show, and continuing to focus on HoneyTrek. Basically it’s a one-on-one service (via skype) where we share our best tips and takeaways from our 675 days on the road. From how to save thousands of dollars on flights to backing up a terrabyte of photos from a Vietnamese internet cafe. We want to give more people the confidence and skills to mobilize their own epic journey. Even if you are even remotely thinking about long-term travel, please reach out to us at TripCoach@HoneyTrek.com.

AT: As a frequent traveler, share with me some tips or travel hacks that will help reduce travel costs.
M&A: School yourself in the art of mileage hacking. We read books, blogs, and even signed up for a course to learn how to maximize our miles and we were able to earn 430,000 frequent flier miles in the eight months leading up to the trip. It was no small task but considering it saved us more than $9,000 in flights, it was well worth it! One thing that can help keep your miles organized is AwardWallet.com (paired with a detailed excel spreadsheet)…and we have tons of tips on the topic and actually offer a Trip Coach mileage hacking course specifically for if you want to know more!

Bhaktapur Nepal

AT: Can travel be sustainable? What are your thoughts after visiting 6 continents, 33 countries and 302 places?
M&A: We know people who’ve been traveling for as long as 18 years! There all sorts of ways to travel affordably or make a living on the road; plus, the cost of living in the vast majority of the world is cheaper than the States– so if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere! With an open-mind and an adventurous spirit, long-term travel is entirely possible and a pretty amazing way to live.

Special Discount
Planning a RTW soon? Thinking about it? Get the best advice for that ideal trip. Honey Trek is giving a special discount to all Ardent Traveler followers. Get a 10% discount off on any of the Trip Coach courses. Simply write this code: “ArdentTraveler10%” when registering for the course and you enjoy the discount.
Let’s Chat With is a new series of light hearted, down-to-earth, personal interviews with people I’ve met or connected with along my journey as a traveler. These are people who have piqued my interest and have an amazing tale to tell. I hope that my conversations with them will inspire you, challenge your perspective on life and feed that wanderlust within you.
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