Today’s interview features the sister explorers Emma and Michelle who have a love of Africa and a passion for travel. Find out why you should follow their site, Lets Travel Already.
What is your name?
Emma and Michelle
Which country do you come from/call home?
Are you a backpacker/long term traveller/business traveller/live and work abroad?
Not sure we belong under a specific term, since we tend to travel in various ways. Experiencing the world in different ways from backpacking to visiting friends and family. We try to do a little bit of everything, all in between having our pretty ordinary lives.
How do you fund your travel (savings/work whilst travelling/other)?
So far we’ve managed with our savings, but who knows what we’ll do in the future. It would be great to get a job that will allow some travelling, but otherwise it will probably continue to be our savings. We love to travel and do to some extent prioritize that, when it comes to spending.
What is the first trip you remember taking and how old were you?
Emma: That’s a hard one. I remember a lot of travels, but not really sure which was first. We did a lot of camping when we were kids around Denmark in the summer and also visiting friends and family in England and Ireland. However, I do remember one year when we went to northern Italy for the summer. We had rented a tent there, which seemed like a villa. It had individual rooms with beds and a little kitchen. For me it was pure luxury compared to the camping I was used to. That year there was a lot of rain and the lake we were camping by flooded and the people camping closer to it had to move. I thought it was great stomping around in my bare feet in all the water between the caravans and tents. It was also the time Michelle was more interested in eating the crust of the pizza, which resulted in us sharing a big (in my childish memory) pizza that I mainly ate.
Michelle: As Emma said, it is hard to remember your first trip as we were so young, but the first trip I remember quite clearly, must be our first trip to Africa, where I held my seventh birthday. All our life we have heard stories of Africa from our parents and their friends, so I think we both were excited when they decided to take us and show us all the places they had been talking about – so the first trip I remember, is our trip to the southern part of Africa, exploring the 5 countries South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Zimbabwe. I don’t remember the different countries as such, but remember different things from our trip – celebrating Christmas, new years and my birthday in a different country, going on safari and having to be quiet, peeing in the hot sand of the Kalahari desert and so much more.
Have you been anywhere which turned out to be totally different to how you imagined? If so, how?
There will always be something that surprise you and is different from what you expect. One that surprised us positively was Singapore. We had always heard it to be “just a big city”, nothing pretty and rather expensive with not much to offer. It couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes, it is a big city, but it has plenty to offer. For such a little country it has a lot of green areas and parks to explore, and they seem to make a big effort to bring in nature. We noticed plants planted near the roads, where there were space. They have parks and national parks, and walks along the treetops. There is also something interesting about the clash of east and west that melts together. We enjoyed walking around the China town area and eating the food from the foodcarts. For it being expensive, you can find the expensive places just like everywhere else. There is loads to see and do that doesn’t cost a thing, if you don’t have much money. It’s just about looking for it.
Have you had any bad experiences whilst travelling?
Not that we recall. Maybe it’s a bit unrealistic that we haven’t, but if so we don’t remember them. We have had some annoying and strange experiences, but nothing worse than they have become some of those funny/strange memories and stories to tell. Like having booked a room and paid online, only not seeming to be able to communicate that when we arrived and ending up paying again. They are minor things, that you just shrug off.
Do you have any funny travel stories?
We once stayed at a place in Bratislava, where you had to share the bathroom with another room. The fun part was that the door could not close. Literally. If you forced it as closed as you could, there would still be a gap big enough to easily get your hand through. It’s really hard showering or going to the toilet, while forcing a door closed. So it was just never really closed. It never led to any awkward moments, though we were prepared that it could happen.
Which is the worst place you’ve been to and why?
We wouldn’t say that there’s any place that’s bad. Sometimes places can disappoint a little, but then you discover a different side to it than expected. Athens was one of those places we visited, saw a lot of the things to see and then had a feeling of ‘was that it?’. We still enjoyed the trip, but it didn’t really call us back to explore more.
Where is your favourite place in the world?
Africa, though we know that it is a pretty big place. Our parents met in Africa, and we have heard stories about it since we were kids. At the ages of 12 and 6, we went and travelled the southern part of Africa with our parents. There was this campsite we stayed at somewhere in Botswana or Namibia (hard to remember), which was basically just this primitive site set up in the middle of nowhere. We’re not even sure we paid to stay. There was no electricity and the bathroom was made of bamboo with a modern toilet/shower hooked up inside. The best part was this little natural pool with a waterfall coming down into it, which we swam around in. It was always great to end the day with a swim.
Do you have a bucket list? If so what is on it?
Oh yes. A large part of it is about travelling. It includes experiencing Holi in India, doing a dog-sledging trip, seeing the northern lights, hike the inca trail and attend Octoberfest in Munich. It also includes things like paragliding, which is not as related to travelling, though we may do that on a trip too. We have loads of dreams when it comes to travelling, and may not do all of them. The point is to keep dreaming and maybe reach some of them.
Can you imagine life without travel?
If you were not travelling what would you be doing instead?
Eh, we couldn’t really imagine our lives without any travelling. But we don’t spend all our time travelling. Far from. When we are not travelling, we are just ordinary students studying. So we would probably be doing that. The point is that you can always find time and money in between everything else in life, to go on a little trip.
What is the name of your travel blog and the url?
Our site is called: Let’s Travel Already. www.sisterexplorers.com (we just bought the site, so still in the process of transferring from our old wordpress one).
When did you begin your website?
We started our blog in mid-April this year and are still getting into blogging.
Why do you write (for money/connecting with people/therapeutic/fun)?
So basically it was Emma that got the idea, and dragged Michelle into it too. It is mostly just for fun. We have several bags with notes, tickets and other things we have collected from holidays, intending to make a scrapbook. We just never seemed to get around to it, so this is also sort of a scrapbook, with some photos and stories included. We do it for us, but also because we’ve had many friends wondering how we can do it. It is a place to show that it is possible to travel, and you don’t need to be rich.
What makes your site so unique and why should people read it?
Our site probably reflects that we don’t have an overall travel style, apart from being a bit on a budget. We like trying new things and seeing new places. We want to show people that travelling is possible, even if you don’t have that large a budget. Hopefully we will inspire one or two to stop talking about wanting to travel, and actually do it. Of course, we hope people also enjoy reading our stories, and maybe get some ideas for travelling from our experiences.
What has been your most successful blog post to date and what was it about?
Taking in Japan: Sumo wrestling, sushi and dress up. We’re not sure whether it is the sumo wrestling or the dress up that catches peoples attention. It is one of those experiences that we would never have expected. However, getting the opportunity we just said yes. It was a fun experience, even if it included having to get up early (we’re not morning people) to watch guys practice sumo wrestling. Later that day we seemed to become the entertainment, when we were dressed up in traditional outfits (including wigs) to have professional photos taken. These photos are now in our parents’ living room, giving guests something to look at and wonder.
What has been your favourite article to write either for your blog or another publication?
Emma: It’s hard to pick one, but I really did enjoy writing Bath Assembly Rooms. Maybe it’s the Jane Austen fan in me that just soaked up the feeling of being there, that meant it had to have its own post. I got to nerd all out on that one a little bit. Sharing the interesting facts, I learned while visiting.
What is your favourite mode of transport? (plane/train/boat/car)
Though planes are nice because they get you over large distances, there is something about cars. Maybe it is connected with all those car-trips growing up, but we are pretty use to driving long-distance. We once had our summerholiday in the US, and drove Florida to California and back, with stops along the way in 3 weeks. You have everything with you and it’s more intimate. It also allows you to take detours and go see things you stumble upon by chance. You are not as tied-down by schedules and plans. There is a completely different freedom, and it goes well with not planning too much ahead.
Do you have any advice or tips for aspiring travellers?
Just do it. Everyone keeps talking about wanting to travel, but never seem to get further than that. You don’t have to go far or for long, and there is always a way of doing it on a budget. You just have to prioritise, and explore what options there are. Travelling doesn’t have to be for long or far away, it can just as well be exploring a different part of your own country for a long weekend.
What has travel taught you?
We have been travelling for as long as we remember, so it’s hard to say what we have learned. It has probably made us open minded to other cultures and ways of living, and hopefully a little less prejudice. We have also learned to be more independent and trust our own instincts and abilities. You find ways of dealing with language barriers.
Where did the passion come from?
Neither of us remember flying for the first time. With parents that love to travel and having family abroad it has just been part of our lives since we were young. Some have just been visiting family, and many have been packing the car with our tent and then driving with a general direction. We also grew up hearing stories about the time our parents lived in Africa and other travels, which might have inspired us without us really realizing. We tend to just say that it’s in our blood, with our entire family enjoying travelling the world.
How do you choose what to see/do when travelling?
We tend to do a quick google of where we’re going to see what there is. It gives a general idea, and always include those ‘must-sees’. We often do the ‘must-sees’ the first time we go somewhere (there’s a reason why they’re ‘must-sees’). Otherwise it is very much what we just stumble upon while there and recommendations we have got along the way. If someone recommends something, it is because they’re willing to put their name on that it’s good. Deciding what to do when you are travelling with more people can be a challenge. In our family we started a thing, where everyone gets to choose one thing they really want to see/do/go. Whatever is chosen we have to include, even if none of the others are that interested. It’s a good way to make sure everyone gets to do something they want, and enjoy the trip.
Planner or spontaneous?
Little bit of both. We like to have an overall plan of where we are heading and how much time we have. Some things we plan ahead, because you have to (like visiting the Statue of Liberty, which we didn’t do. We didn’t think about our plans for NYC until shortly before arriving). We like to have the freedom to decide once we arrive and take things a little as it comes. There needs to be room if you stumble over something interesting.
Quick fire questions:-
Favourite airline? Ryanair (for short trips). Otherwise Emirates
Favourite country? That’s a really tough one, but we do love Ireland. We’ve come there since we were little and it’s a beautiful country.
Favourite city? London is definitely a city we love, and can keep coming back to. There is always something that’s new and things to explore.
Favourite beach? Emma: Anywhere with sand and warm water.
Michelle: I would agree with Emma, but the beaches on Zanzibar were absolutely amazing!
Favourite food? We love trying new food, but the first thing we want when we come home is Danish ryebread and a cold glass of milk.
Favourite language? Emma: Zwahili.
Michelle: Again, I’ll have to agree with Emma – it’s a fun and bit strang language, but I really like the sound of it.
Please provide the following:-
Website url? www.sisterexplorers.com
Twitter handle? @Sisterexplorers