This travel blogger interview features Heather Hopkins of Art Travel Eat Repeat. A traveller who was found out by Dutch staircases.
What is your name?
Which country do you come from/call home?
Born and raised in the United States. I’m a Southern California girl, having grown up in the Los Angeles area of Southern California, but I currently reside in San Diego.
Are you a backpacker/long term traveller/business traveller/live and work abroad?
Not currently, but I’m working on becoming a long term traveler and digital nomad. For the time being, my focus is on showing people that it’s possible to work a full time job and still spend quite a bit of time traveling and exploring the world. I want to show people that it’s possible to travel no matter what your situation.
How do you fund your travel (savings/work whilst travelling/other)?
I’m extremely focused on budgeting my life with the specific aim of funding my travels. I have a special savings account that I use for travel savings and I live a relatively frugal lifestyle most of the time. Any and all extra money I have gets funneled into the travel fund each pay period. I also look for opportunities to travel on the cheap- staying with people, following airlines on social media and purchasing tickets when there is a deal. The other thing I do is leverage weekends and holidays to get the most out of my vacation time.
What was the last trip you went on?
I just returned from ten days in the Pacific Northwest. My trip took me through the U.S. State of Washington as well as British Columbia in Canada. Seattle and Vancouver were both really lovely cities, and I got to go on some amazing hikes, see some beautiful waterfalls, and of course eat incredible food. I especially loved Canada. I didn’t want to come home!
What’s next on the horizon for you?
I’m currently saving up to spend two weeks in Japan sometime next year. Besides that, there are a lot of “domestic” adventures on the horizon to get me through the time. I have a weekend in Las Vegas coming soon, a camping trip coming up, and I’m thinking about spending the Labor Day holiday in Palm Springs. I’ll be on Catalina Island for my birthday in November and I also have three weddings on the East Coast coming up in Tennessee, Florida, and North Carolina. I may also spend a few weekends down in Mexico soon. I’m also trying to convince my family to do a trip for Thanksgiving or Christmas this year, but we’ll see if I can get them on board for that.
Favourite time of year to travel?
I love traveling in the shoulder seasons of Spring and Fall. There are usually so many great deals to be found and the weather is still usually fairly decent in a lot of places.
What is the first trip you remember taking and how old were you?
I remember my parents taking me to Cancun when I was 7. I spent the week snorkeling, exploring the ruins at Chichen Itza, floating down a river in an inner tube at Xel-ha, and marveling at the white sand beaches and warm, tropical water. I caught the travel bug right then and there.
Have you been anywhere which turned out to be totally different to how you imagined? If so, how?
I usually do a lot of research before I visit a location because I’m a big nerd like that and I find it enjoyable, so I’m usually pretty prepared for what I’m going to find. The only notable place where I had real, actual culture shock, believe it or not, was Texas. It was the little things…like ordering a cheese enchilada at a Mexican restaurant and getting an enchilada covered in beef. I thought they had gotten my order wrong, but when I mentioned it to the server, she just gave me a blank stare.
Me: “Oh, excuse me. I think you got my order wrong. I ordered the cheese enchilada.”
Server: “Umm…that is the cheese enchilada.”
Me: “But….there’s beef on it.”
Server: “Oh, that’s just the sauce.”
Seeing as though I live less than 30 miles from the Mexican border over in California, I eat a lot of Mexican food. Never in my life had I encountered beef sauce on an enchilada. It wasn’t a big deal, but it was just…different. There were a lot of little things like that which made me feel like I couldn’t be sure of any of my expectations. I enjoyed my time in Texas though, the people I met were really lovely and I had a lot of fun there.
Have you had any bad experiences whilst travelling?
Oh, of course. Who hasn’t? That’s part of traveling. I would say this: choose your travel companions wisely. Whatever small issues you might have with another person are going to be magnified when you’re on the road with them and dealing with sometimes stressful situations. You’re really going to find out who you are compatible with on the road. Don’t travel with somebody that you can’t spend long periods of time around without getting annoyed.
Do you have any funny travel stories?
Tons! I’m super clumsy, so I have all these stories about embarrassing myself while abroad. There was the time I fell down the stairs inside a shoe store in Amsterdam. Dutch stairs are really, really steep, which I found out the hard way. You can read all about that incident in a blog post I wrote: https://arttraveleatrepeat.com/2016/04/01/dont-mess-with-dutch-stairs/
I also dropped a bottle of red juice in a convenience store on that same trip and it shattered. Glass and red juice were everywhere. I was so ashamed and tried to help them clean it up, but when they refused, I ended up running out the store and down the street in shame.
Like I said…I’m clumsy.
Which is the worst place you’ve been to and why?
This is probably one of the toughest questions you can ask me. Generally, if I’m exploring a new place, I’m probably having a decently good time. That being said, I’m going to have to pick somewhere and that place is going to have to be Tijuana, Mexico. (I’m so sorry, residents of Tijuana!). The thing is, it’s a border town and they mostly cater to drunk Californians. It’s right over the border from San Diego but all that is really there are a bunch of drunk Americans who aren’t 21 yet (Mexico’s drinking age is 18). Sure, it’s fun for a day of shopping in the markets and maybe having some tacos in the sunshine, but other than that it’s just a slightly seedy town catering to drunk Americans. What you really want to do is go slightly South of Tijuana. Even 30 minutes South in Ensanada is lovely.
Where is your favourite place in the world?
I’m going to be a walking stereotype for a moment and say Paris. Yeah, yeah. It’s everybody’s favorite place. I know. Still, it really is one of the loveliest places I’ve ever been and walking around those beautiful iconic streets and seeing those gorgeous sights feels like I’m walking in a dream. J’adore Paris!
Do you have a bucket list? If so what is on it?
Well…sort of. My bucket list is anywhere and everywhere I haven’t been yet, so it’s quite large. My goal is to travel to as many places in my lifetime as I am able. To give you a more manageable “coming soon” list, my upcoming destinations over the next few years are going to be Japan, the U.S. East Coast, Costa Rica, Africa (haven’t decided which country yet), Thailand, and Iceland. I’m also wondering if I can fit Croatia in there. I also have a goal of visiting all seven continents in my lifetime (yes, even Antarctica).
Can you imagine life without travel?
I can imagine it, but I don’t like what I see.
If you were not travelling what would you be doing instead?
Exploring closer to home? I’m not sure. I’ve always been an explorer. From the earliest age I can remember, I always wanted to be on the move, investigating the unknown.
If I wasn’t traveling, I probably wouldn’t be that happy.
What is the name of your travel blog and the url?
Blog name is Art. Travel. Eat. Repeat.
I came up with the name because I’m a working artist (graphic designer), I have a passion for travel and food. So, this blog title is basically my life in a nutshell.
When did you begin your website Art Travel Eat Repeat?
It’s relatively new. I started it in April of this year. I’ve travel blogged in the past and kept hand written travel journals before that, but this time around I’ve become serious about establishing a presence in the travel blogging world and becoming a part of the community. I realized that travel writing has always been my true passion, so I started this blog.
Why do you write (for money/connecting with people/therapeutic/fun)?
First and foremost, I write because I have a passion for writing about travel. Plain and simple. You can’t do something like this and put as much time and effort into it as I have if you don’t have a passion for it. Currently, I do not make money from my blogging, but I’m hoping to change that over time. Who wouldn’t want to travel blog for a living?
What makes your site so unique and why should people read it?
My site is about inspiring people to get out and see the world, no matter what their situation in life. There are a lot of travel blogs out there by people who have managed to quit their jobs and travel the world, or have become location independent and work from a cabana somewhere in Southeast Asia. That’s surely inspirational for us all, but for a lot of people that’s a tough thing to achieve. Not everybody is able to do something like that. Everybody’s situation is different. What I want people to know is that they can travel even if they don’t make a lot of money, even if they have to work full time in an office. I’m all about providing inspiration as well as practical tips for people like myself who work full time and want to actually travel. So many Americans (and people all over the world, really) think they can’t get away ever and that they are lucky to get away for a few days even. I’ve been working in U.S. office jobs for ten years now, and I’ve managed to travel to England, Scotland, Ireland, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Australia, Mexico, Canada, Kauai, Oahu, the Big Island of Hawaii, and all over the United States on many trips during that time. These days, I’m out of student loan debt and ramping up my travels even more as a result. I have big plans in the works and I’m on a mission to see the world. I’m not rich, but through careful planning I’ve managed to do these things. If I can, anybody can. I want to help people realize that.
Do you have any products or services to offer?
Not at this time. I do work from time to time as a freelance graphic designer, so there’s that, but I don’t have any specific products or services currently on offer through my blog. I would like to change that in the future, but at this time the answer is no.
What has been your most successful blog post to date and what was it about?
It’s a near tie between two Inspiring Traveler interviews I did. The first one was with a blogger called Liliia from Bring Baby Abroad (https://arttraveleatrepeat.com/2016/08/22/inspiring-traveler-interview-liliia-from-bring-baby-abroad/). I think this post really resonated with a lot of people because Liliia is a parent who travels with her baby in tow. That’s what her blog is about and I interviewed her about her travels and her tips for parents who might want to follow in her footsteps. It just goes with the theme that anybody can travel, even the parents of young children. The second post is another interview with a blogger called Janae from Skidding in Broadside (https://arttraveleatrepeat.com/2016/07/20/inspiring-traveler-interview-janae-from-skiddinginbroadside-com/). This was a really special interview as Janae actually works and spends a large part of her year at the McMurdo Research Station in Antarctica. I asked her all about her life down at the bottom of the world and she gave some fascinating insights. I love interviewing other travel bloggers almost as much as I’m enjoying being interviewed.
What has been your favourite article to write either for your blog or another publication?
Apart from the Inspiring Traveler interviews, which I love, I love writing travel tips. This one about how to travel when you work full time is one of my favorites. https://arttraveleatrepeat.com/2016/03/31/on-traveling-while-working-full-time/
What is your favourite mode of transport? (plane/train/boat/car)
Depends on how far I’m going! I love how planes can get you anywhere relatively fast, but they are pretty uncomfortable and airports aren’t much fun these days. Trains and boats can be such a delight for shorter journeys, but anything more than a half a day of travel I would probably rather just take a plane.
Do you have any advice or tips for aspiring travellers?
Yes. Just do it! I know that sounds like broad strokes advice, but hear me out: the biggest obstacle is yourself. Write down your travel dream. What is it that you want to do? Do you want to walk the Great Wall of China? How about a road trip to the Grand Canyon? Whatever it is, write it down. Do some research and figure out what it costs, and start saving for your goal. Even if it takes you 5 years, you’ll eventually get there if you stay diligent. I can promise you that it’s a worthwhile goal. Don’t give up!
What has travel taught you?
People all over the world are largely the same. We all want happy lives. We all want what’s best for our families. We may come from different cultures and our governments may often fight one another, but people everywhere just want the best life for themselves and their families. Travel helps erase borders and prejudices in your mind. Most importantly, the world is a big, wonderful place and it is so enriching and fulfilling to learn more about it firsthand by going places and meeting the people who live there.
Quick fire questions:-
Favourite airline? Southwest Airlines. They only fly in the U.S. and a few international destinations, but they are my airline of choice if I’m going somewhere they fly.
Favourite country? So far…Australia! I loved it!
Favourite city? Paris! Also London.
Favourite beach? Fort Walton Beach, Florida. The Florida Panhandle is so underrated.
Favourite food? Mexican food! I’m from California, after all.
Favourite language? French. I’ve been studying it for 2 years now. Still not fluent, haha.
Please provide the following:-
Website url? https://arttraveleatrepeat.com/
Twitter handle? https://twitter.com/ArtTravelEat
Facebook page? https://www.facebook.com/ArtTravelEatRepeat/
Pinterest? N/A- I have it, but just for personal use.