This travel blogger interview features Erika Bisbocci of Erika’s Travels. Erika has access to a wide range of free travel but has been known to hitch a ride on a cement mixer.
What is your name?
My name is Erika Bisbocci
Which country do you come from/call home?
I’m from the beautiful state of Oregon in the USA.
Are you a backpacker/long term traveller/business traveller/live and work abroad?
Despite traveling as part of my job as a flight attendant and often staying in nice hotels for short periods of time, I’d say I definitely prefer backpacking and budget travel. But it’s hard to define my travel style, since I am a mix of many of the above. I lived abroad in Jordan for six months and Namibia for a year. Now, I usually use my flight benefits from work to backpack the world in my spare time.
How do you fund your travel (savings/work whilst travelling/other)?
I prioritize travel. Whenever I get a paycheck, I save as much of it as possible in order to finance my adventures. As a flight attendant, I have very generous travel benefits that essentially allow me to fly anywhere for free. I really only have to pay for day-to-day expenses like accommodation and food. And since I mostly stay in hostels and rarely dine in fancy restaurants, traveling can sometimes end up being just as expensive as staying home on my days off (depending on the location, of course).
What is the first trip you remember taking and how old were you?
When I was six months old, I got on an airplane for the first time and traveled to Italy for the summer to visit family. Of, course, I remember nothing of the experience from the time. Over the next few years, I would return to Italy every other summer and I traveled a bit domestically as well—to places like Seattle, Florida and Hawaii. I remember bits and pieces of some of those trips, but the first trip I really remember more vividly from start to finish was one that I took with my family to the British Isles when I was eleven.
Have you been anywhere which turned out to be totally different to how you imagined? If so, how?
To some extent, each place I have visited has turned out to be different from what I had imagined. And I think that is the beauty of travel. As much as we gear up our expectations by reading travel blogs, watching videos and scouring forums, traveling has a way of surprising us, dispelling our misconceptions and revealing the intricacies of the cultures and places we visit.
Have you had any bad experiences whilst travelling?
Honestly, I’ve been pretty lucky throughout my travels and have yet to visit a place that I haven’t enjoyed. Sure, sometimes I’ve found myself in sticky situations (getting dropped off at an intersection in the middle of the night in Malawi after the minibus driver misinformed us about our destination) but things have pretty much always worked themselves out.
Do you have any funny travel stories?
Living in Namibia—in an environment that is totally different from one that I was accustomed to—came with a slew of funny experiences. Randomly receiving frogs and turtles as gifts from my students. Sitting packed in a minivan with about 15 people and a barrel of dried sardines that would fly around the van every time the driver hit the brakes and hitching a ride on the back of a cement mixer, to name a few.
Do you have a bucket list? If so what is on it?
I don’t exactly have a bucket list, but I do have an intense desire to go everywhere. High on my list of regions I would like to visit, are Central Asia, East Africa and Patagonia.
Can you imagine life without travel?
Sure I can. I realize that I am one of those fortunate enough to travel and I do not take it for granted. I come from a family that has always prioritized travel and understood its importance. Each year growing up, my family would forego dining in restaurants or buying new cars so that we could take one big vacation every year. Yet, living and teaching in Namibia exposed me to a world where people rarely leave the city they are born in. Most of my students never had the opportunity to even visit their home country’s capital, let alone another country. So, while I can imagine a life without travel, what I cannot imagine is a life in which one has the means to travel, yet no desire to see the world.
If you were not travelling what would you be doing instead?
Thinking about traveling.
What is the name of your travel blog and the url?
My travel blog is called Erika’s Travels and the url is www.erikastravels.com
When did you begin your website Erikas Travels?
I began my website while studying abroad in Jordan in 2011, but I didn’t really become serious about it until I moved to Namibia in 2013.
Why do you write (for money/connecting with people/therapeutic/fun)?
I write primarily to collect my thoughts on the various places I visit and to ensure that, someday, when I have nothing but faded memories of the places I once visited, I will be able to bring my memories back to life with a collection of stories from life on the road. I also write to try to inspire others to step out of their comfort zones and see the world.
What makes your site so unique and why should people read it?
On my site, you will not find SEO friendly blog posts touting the 5 best places to eat in Barcelona or the top ten hotels in Amsterdam or the best beaches in Thailand. Since I am not using my blog to make money, I can focus more on the content of my posts rather than where they will land on search engines. My blog highlights the history of the places I visit, the scenery of some of the world’s lesser known countries and the cultures I come in contact with while on the road.
What has been your most successful blog post to date and what was it about?
My most successful blog post to date is called “Why We are Here” and is about why my friends and I decided to pack up and move to Namibia for a year and what we learned while there.
What has been your favourite article to write either for your blog or another publication?
I loved writing about my trip to the South Pacific—especially my post on snorkeling in French Polynesia. The underwater world is so incredible that anyone with the chance should try to see it for themselves.
What is your favorite mode of transport? (plane/train/boat/car)
My own two feet. Seriously.
Do you have any advice or tips for aspiring travelers?
I would advise aspiring travelers to do their own research on places rather than relying on other peoples’ fears and misconceptions about the world. Some of the most wonderful places I have visited are locations that much of the general public would deem “unsafe” or “risky.” Pack light, scope out things you’d like to see, but keep your daily itinerary open-ended. Make sure the trip is spontaneous.
Why did you decide to become a flight attendant?
My decision to become a flight attendant surprised many people, including myself. I honestly never expected my life to take the trajectory it did, but I am so glad it has. I went to university in Minnesota and got a degree in International Studies. I hoped to work for a non-profit doing development work. But then when I moved to Namibia and experienced the beauty of living off the grid, I realized it would be difficult for me to return to the US and work a 9-5 job. I wanted a job that would give me the time off to see the world, the flexibility to dictate my own schedule and the means to finance my travels. And, of course, being able to fly for anywhere free or next to nothing is a big help in allowing me to realize my dreams.
What is one fear you’d like to overcome?
I am absolutely in awe of the underwater world and would love to scuba dive. But first, I have to get over the fear of popping my ears underwater.
How many countries have you visited?
I’ve visited 66 countries in my life, some more than once. I do not count airport stopovers or places that I visited when I was too young to remember. Also, for the sake of simplicity, I have not counted territories or disputed countries (Palestine, Tibet, Scotland and Hong Kong, to name a few). I realize that deciding what constitutes a country can be quite tricky and knowing where to draw the line is almost impossible. For this reason, I’ve only included UN’s official list of 195.
What has travel taught you?
Travel has taught me that the world is not nearly as scary as it appears and that, even though there are areas of the world that I would be wise to avoid due to political unrest, people are pretty much the same everywhere.
Travel has also taught me how to budget my money and make priorities in life. It has taught me not to spend carelessly on things that have little meaning to me, like clothing and gadgets.
Quick fire questions:-
Favourite airline? I think that, as an employee of a particular airline based in the South, I’m a bit too biased for this question.
Favourite country? Namibia or China or Iceland or Peru. Honestly, there are too many to choose just one.
Favourite city? Cape Town or Rome or Damascus or Portland, Oregon. Again, there are too many to just choose one.
Favourite beach? Probably Playa Fronton in the Dominican Republic. Or one of the beautiful white sandy beaches in Panama’s San Blas Islands.
Favourite food? Pad Thai
Favourite language? Arabic
Please provide the following:-
Website url? http://www.erikastravels.com
Twitter handle? http://twitter.com/erikastravels
Facebook page? http://facebook.com/erikastravels1