Today’s travel blogger interview features a fellow Brit who has a soft spot for souvenirs and is an excellent resource for all things hostel. Please meet The Hostel Girl Katie Dawes.
What is your name?
Which country do you come from/call home?
Are you a backpacker/long term traveller/business traveller/live and work abroad?
A long-term backpacker who sometimes lives and works abroad – as and when it is needed!
How do you fund your travel (savings/work whilst travelling/other)?
I make a little from the blog through advertising of high quality independent hostels and when my funds are running low I stop in a destination and work jobs to save up for future travels. Much of my work includes hostel reviews, which helps keep accommodation costs down.
What is the first trip you remember taking and how old were you?
The first trip I remember vividly is the first time my family and I rented a farmhouse in Gharb, Gozo. We quickly fell in love with the island and it’s people and now return as often as we can… although it’s been too many years since the last trip!
Have you been anywhere which turned out to be totally different to how you imagined? If so, how?
Berlin. I was visiting for business with a company I was working for at the time and stayed a few extra days to hang out with travel bloggers there. As I hadn’t expected much but work I was blown away when I accidentally stumbled on the cities incredible alternative culture and intense history.
Have you had any bad experiences whilst travelling?
I’ve been very lucky and not been in any situations that really scared me. Probably one of the worst was when one of the infamous Moroccan ‘guides’ bumped in to a few of his friends who all put us in a corner of the medina demanding money. Luckily my friend spoke Arabic and after a very stern “shame on you” they shuffled off embarrassed to have been caught out.
Do you have any funny travel stories?
I have a tradition of buying those really embarrassing tourist hoodies that say things like ‘Athens University’ and ‘I love Amsterdam’ because I always get caught out by cold weather and am forced to buy the cheapest and warmest item of clothing available. The first time this happened in Athens my friends made me walk a few steps ahead all the way back to the hostel until I changed.
Which is the worst place you’ve been to and why?
I wouldn’t say it’s the ‘worst’, but I was really unimpressed by Brussels. I found some great new friends to explore the city with and we had a good laugh, but I didn’t think the city had much to offer – especially when we moved on to Bruges, which blew my mind.
Where is your favourite place in the world?
I recently spent my first week away camping with some friends. I’d never really slept outside before, and the place we found to camp was so beautiful I would give anything to be able to put up a little writing cabin there and make it my base.
Unzipping the tent to a view of the rising sun sparkling on the river I would swim in every morning… it’s the most beautiful location I’ve come across. It’s tucked away in the South of France but if I told you I’d have to fight you for it…
Do you have a bucket list? If so what is on it?
I actually don’t have a bucket list – but my ultimate dream trip would be to go to Patagonia. If I had a bucket list that region of South America would be at the very top.
Can you imagine life without travel?
Not at all. I recently tried to settle in Amsterdam for a work contract of seven months. After two I had quit and I was packed up and on a flight after three months.
If you were not travelling what would you be doing instead?
Writing. I would find a small cabin somewhere beautiful and just write. I’d also love to return to university and do a masters in literature or history, this time outside the UK. And if I wasn’t on the move all the time I would definitely have a dog!
What is the name of your travel blog and the url?
The Hostel Girl – thehostelgirl.com
When did you begin your website?
January 2014 from the top bunk bed of my hostel’s staff dorm.
Why do you write (for money/connecting with people/therapeutic/fun)?
Working in a hostel really opened my eyes to the amount of international discussion that went on between guests from so many different countries. Encouraging others who are nervous to stay in hostels, or don’t know which ones are good or bad, to become a part of the hostel community is my favourite part of writing the blog.
What makes your site so unique and why should people read it?
My readers know that I’m always available for tips on hostel life; where to stay, how to stay safe, what essentials you need to get by. Whilst I write about general travel and destinations, my tight focus on hostels means that even if I don’t know the answer, I know someone who will.
Do you have any products or services to offer?
I wrote a guide to Budapest – 101 Things to do in Budapest – based on my experience of living there. Budapest is where I started my hostel journey and I worked and lived there for seven months. I also wrote a guide to Road Trips and both can be found on my eBooks page.
Newsletter subscribers also get access to a whitesheet titled ‘How to Start a Self-Hosted Blog in Under 30 Minutes’.
What has been your most successful blog post to date and what was it about?
Whilst I would love my most popular post to be about hostels(!) it’s actually part of my Travelling Europe by Bus series – Travelling Europe By Bus: Eurolines vs. Megabus. In fact, the success of this post has inspired the series to continue, which is easy for me to do as most of my travels are done via budget bus companies!
What has been your favourite article to write either for your blog or another publication?
I wrote a post titled ‘What is a hostel?’ and this was so much fun because instead of writing about small sections of hostel life like I do usually, I was able to compile a guide that covered almost everything! Covering the history of hostels was my favourite part.
What is your favourite mode of transport? (plane/train/boat/car)
Definitely train! I actually get really fed up with flying as the process in airports is just so long. If I could get the train everywhere I would, but due to the cost my second favourite mode of transport is definitely the bus as connections are so cheap in Europe.
Do you have any advice or tips for aspiring travellers?
Save, save, save! I still kick myself for the amount of money I made working whilst at University and then wasted on clothes and nights out. If I’d known then what I know now I would have saved so much more.
Essentially, travel can be so cheap these days that if you have good savings behind you, you can keep going for a very long time.
What has travel taught you?
To be myself. I have met so many hundreds if not thousands of people on my journey along the hostel travel path that it’s impossible to try and be someone you’re not. You just don’t have the energy to try extra hard to be cool or funny or smart when you’re meeting new people day in and day out. I learnt that I get on just as well with people just by being myself.
What is your favourite hostel?
I get asked this question a lot and it’s always so hard to answer! There’s a surf hostel and camp on the west coast of Portugal called The Paintshop and this will always have a special place in my heart as it was the first hostel I stayed in alone during my first solo adventure!
But if I was considering design and commitment to travellers I’d have to mention Die Wohngemeinschaft in Cologne. Each room was designed by a local artist to really quirky themes, and their bar is fantastic to meet other travellers and locals!
Where do you stay when you’re not in hostels?
Most of the time I stay with friends – people I have met in hostels across Europe! I would love to try AirBNB as I think it would be lovely to have a quiet apartment to work in every now and then but I find it difficult to find places that suit my budget, so if I can’t stay with friends and want a break from hostels I couch surf.
Are you ever worried that you will want to stop writing about hostels?
I’ll admit that some days I do wonder if I have closed myself in to too small a niche. Especially after my recent camping adventure which has inspired me to write more about getting outdoors and out of the cities! But when this happens I usually end up staying in a hostel that blows my mind and I remember all the reasons I love the industry so much!
I also know I could never write about hotels… no matter how luxurious a private room with a bathtub can be, I always get so bored and lonely after a few hours!
Quick fire questions:-
Favourite airline? Ryan Air – shocking I know but they’re cheap and quick!
Favourite country? France.
Favourite city? Budapest, Hungary.
Favourite beach? Praia de Cabedelo, Figueira da Foz, Portugal.
Favourite food? Indian.
Favourite language? French.
Please provide the following:-
Website url? http://thehostelgirl.com
Twitter handle? @the_hostelgirl
Facebook page? https://www.facebook.com/thehostelgirl
Google+ profile/page? https://plus.google.com/u/0/+thehostelgirlblog