Today I am thrilled to be featuring an interview with a Sardinian travel blogger. I first started following her blog over 2 years ago when I saw her hilarious blog post with pictures, explaining Italian gestures and expressions. Please meet Clelia Mattana of Keep Calm and Travel.
What is your name?
Which country do you come from/call home?
I come from a beautiful Island in Italy: Sardinia (I am a very lucky girl!)
Are you a backpacker/long term traveller/business traveller/live and work abroad?
I’ve been all the types mentioned above, and more! I think I have multiple personalities as I equally enjoy living out of my backpack for months in a row and then treat myself with the most expensive luxury places whit a sweet spot for SPA’s and a glorious Jacuzzi .
I’ve also been an expat in London for years and I’ve been a business traveler when I worked for Burberry. A long as I’m on the road, I’m happy, so I’m simply a traveler, no labels for me please ☺
How do you fund your travel (savings/work whilst travelling/other)?
When I quit my job in London in 2013 to travel the world indefinitely, I used my savings and I reinvented myself as a ballet teacher in Thailand for a little while.
Now my blog is my full time job and it allows me to move independently whenever I want. It’s not easy but it’s definitely worth it.
What is the first trip you remember taking and how old were you?
Easy question! Coming from a very poor family, traveling was obviously seen as an unnecessary luxury. The words “where do we go on holiday this year” were replaced by “you need a pair of new socks” or “ We need the money to buy your books for school”.
This didn’t stop me from being a traveler inside. I had my geography books and the Atlas to keep my imagination and motivation alive. At age 12 I started saving 50% of the money my parents gave me to buy my snacks. I did it every single day for 4 years until I was able to finally buy my first flight to … hold on to your seats… Torino! (a mere 1 hour flight from Sardinia) ☺
I spent the summer with my cousin in a small village near the big city and had a great time. That was my first trip, it wasn’t a super fancy destination, but considering that it took me years to get there, I’ll always remember it as the most exciting vacation of my life!
Have you been anywhere which turned out to be totally different to how you imagined? If so, how?
It happens pretty often actually as I don’t read any travel guide, so whatever idea I have of a specific destination, I’m always surprised (usually in a good way). The only time I knew exactly what to expect was when I visited Maya beach in Thailand. Well, I thought I knew because I had watched the movie a thousand times, daydreaming of that place. Unfortunately the reality was a bit different from the movie.. c’est la vie!
Have you had any bad experiences whilst travelling?
Who hasn’t?! But nothing too dramatic.
I was robbed twice, kidnapped by a crazy taxi driver in London, almost ended up in jail in Thailand and touched inappropriately in a sauna during a “swing night” (is that how is it called?!)
But, hey.. I’m still alive so I can’t complain. Misadventures are nothing but great stories to tell to your friends, to show them your “Indiana Jones” spirit (in my case is more of a Bridget Jones side, but who cares?)
Do you have any funny travel stories?
Well.. the word “funny” it’s actually my trademark. All the misadventures I mentioned above, are actually pretty funny!
Which is the worst place you’ve been to and why?
There is no place I visited that didn’t leave me something. Even when I saw streets filled with trash in Yangon-Myanmar or during my visit to the slums in Manila.
They were probably the worst places I’ve ever seen but they turned out to be the most important ones for my personal growth. Traveling is not just about beauty, it’s also about learning and understanding.
Where is your favourite place in the world?
Usually where my heart is.
I’m more attached to memories than sights, so there are many destinations in the world that hold a special place in my heart. One above all is the Philippines.
Do you have a bucket list? If so what is on it?
Oh my, my bucket list is so long that I’d need 3 lives to complete it. But visiting Africa is very high on the list. Probably on top right now, together with visiting the Seychelles to scuba dive/snorkel with turtles and mantas.
Can you imagine life without travel?
Life without travel is a synonymous word for surviving.
If you were not travelling what would you be doing instead?
I’d probably be a professional photographer . I’m definitely not a pro now, but I have an insane passion for photography and considering that I always follow my passions, that is what I would have ended up doing.
What is the name of your travel blog and the url?
Keep Calm And Travel www.keepcalmandtravel.com
When did you begin your website?
It was the 22nd of August 2012 in Stockwell, South London. I remember that day as if it were yesterday. I didn’t have any idea on what I was getting myself into! But I’m glad I did it nonetheless. It changed my life completely.
Why do you write (for money/connecting with people/therapeutic/fun)?
I started writing for fun, my first blog posts are…ridiculous to say the least, but I leave them as they remind me to always stay true to myself (maybe writing in better English would have been better!).
Now being this my full time job, I also write for money, but I’d never sell my soul for it. I rejected several partnerships and some good money for the sake of remaining authentic.
Writing in English is not an easy task for me, and almost each post is like a baby to me. I put all my effort, honesty and passion in everything I write, no matter if I’m ranting or writing a post for a client.
What makes your site so unique and why should people read it?
Because everyone is unique and has it’s own way to see the world. Mine is mainly through my adventures, misadventures dreams and pictures. There will always be people who love what you do and others who couldn’t care less.
I simply write about what I love without filters and let the people decide whether they are in tune with what I have to say or not.
Do you have any products or services to offer?
Yes I offer consultancies on how to monetise a blog and create personalised itineraries for people who want to visit my beautiful Sardinia. I’m also planning on writing a few e-books on these topics but not in the immediate future. I’m a very slow writer (in English).
What has been your most successful blog post to date and what was it about?
There are 2: Comment wise, my most successful post is “top 10 Sardinia beaches for low budget holidays”. If I have to consider the social shares, I had a post that was shared more than 11K time and it’s “Siargao on a budget” (people love traveling on a budget to beautiful destinations don’t they?!)
What has been your favourite article to write either for your blog or another publication?
Since I only publish once max twice per month, my archive is not packed with too many blog posts, but I’d have to say my that my favourite so far is… my last one: “what being a travel blogger really means to me”. It’s the most honest piece I’ve ever written about what I’m doing with my life.
What is your favourite mode of transport? (plane/train/boat/car)
Boat! Coming from an island it’s probably pretty obvious. I love standing outside on the deck staring at the ocean, it relaxes me more than anything else in the world.
Do you have any advice or tips for aspiring travellers?
Don’t read too many travel guides before visiting a new destination. Set aside the safety information, allow yourself to be surprised like a 4 year old kid seeing the world for the first time! As an added bonus, you won’t have too many expectations, which is always a good thing.
What has travel taught you?
A million things! But most importantly it taught me that watching TV at home is the most dangerous way to form your opinions on how the world works out there.
Quick fire questions:-
Favourite airline? Etihad
Favourite country? There is no place like home… Italy! Excluding my home country, I’d say the Philippines.
Favourite city? Rome ☺ (ah Italians! So proud of their roots!)
Favourite beach? Cala Mariolu in Sardinia and hidden beach in El Nido.
Favourite food? Guess?? Pasta of course! (such a boring, narrow minded traveler, huh?)
Favourite language? English.. it gave me the opportunity to be able to follow my passions. I owe everything I have to this – almost- universal language!
Please provide the following:-
Website url? http://www.keepcalmandtravel.com
Twitter handle? https://twitter.com/KeepCalmkle
Facebook page? https://www.facebook.com/KeepCalmAndTravel
Google+ profile/page? https://plus.google.com/u/1/+CleliaMattana