Today I have great pleasure in introducing to you a wonderful travel writer. Please meet Andy Andersen of BackpackingDiplomacy:-
What is your name?
– Andy Andersen
Which country do you come from/call home?
Are you a backpacker/long term traveller/business traveller/live and work abroad?
– I am currently a backpacker working toward long-term traveler or working abroad.
How do you fund your travel (savings/work whilst travelling/other)?
– I think that every backpacker experiments with a variety of methods to fund their travels. For example, some of the top travel bloggers rely exclusively on sales. Others get occasional sponsorships, discounts, et cetera. I have been sponsored, but also try to find cheap or free accommodation via volunteering or working while traveling. I typically try to save as much money as I can before leaving, then make do when I am on the road.
What is the first trip you remember taking and how old were you?
– Since I was little I used to always go on little adventures with my family. Sometimes they were just down the street to local lakes or swamps, but they seemed so new and exotic to me during those times. I remember going to a ranch in Texas when I was around 8 to 10. That was fun. We rode horses, saw unique animals, fished, swam in lakes. It was a great outdoor adventure.
Have you been anywhere which turned out to be totally different to how you imagined? If so, how?
– Turkey. I imagined Turkey being a lot more “Middle Eastern”, like the stereotypical deserts and such. It was anything but that. Especially in the larger cities such as Istanbul.
Have you had any bad experiences whilst travelling?
– To date, I cannot say that I have had any “bad” experiences. More just, unpleasant or frustrating, but I try to look at every experience as a learning opportunity, so even a less memorable experience can still raise a positive lesson.
Do you have any funny travel stories?
– One of my more interesting stories was sitting in a train booth bound for Bulgaria with a guy who continuously spoke to me in Bulgarian even though I didn’t understand much of anything. The windows didn’t work well and he smoked like a chimney. The train ride was supposed to be 7 hours and it lasted 12 and they dropped us off outside of the city because of a strike. You sometimes just have to smile.
Which is the worst place you’ve been to and why?
– I once wrote an article about the worst place that I have been. I cannot label any place as the worst I have been. Don’t get me wrong there are some places that are not high on my list to revisit, but I firmly believe that a traveler can find something interesting about any place that they visit if they are open to it. Obviously, every person will have different places that appeal more to them, but every culture has something to give. I once wrote an article about the worst place that I have been.
Where is your favourite place in the world?
– I like cities with a lot of energy and activity. I have an appreciation for the slow life of the countryside and that has its place, but there is just something about the bustle of a thriving city that keeps me intrigued. Some of my favorite cities include New York City, Istanbul, Barcelona, and even Marrakesh to an extent.
Do you have a bucket list? If so what is on it?
– I do have a bucket list, but it is not inclusive of what most people would expect. I do have a few fairly normal bucket list items, but some more unique ones as well. One of my favorite bucket list desires is to meet and have a meaningful conversation with one person from every country in the world. I think that it is a very attainable goal, and I am well on my way to arriving at it.
Can you imagine life without travel?
– I can imagine life without travel, but that is not the life for me. I respect people that want to stay in one place and live the stationary life, and it may even be something for me in the future. At this stage in my life, I am a firm believer in personal experiences. I think that experiences are what make a life, and travel is a great way to achieve them.
If you were not travelling what would you be doing instead?
– If I were not traveling and had no ability to do so, then I’d likely be doing 1 of 2 things. First, I’d possibly be studying to finish my degree in Engineering. Second, I’d be working at foreign policy think tank. Both are not related, but I have interests in many things.
What is the name of your travel blog and the url?
Backpacking Diplomacy http://www.backpackingdiplomacy.com
How did you come up with that as a name for your blog?
– My method for coming up with my name was a process. I went through several weeks of thinking about different names, and running ideas by friends and family. I thought about generic stuff like “Traveling Andy” or adventurous this or that, but all seemed to be somewhat similar to other travel blogs and not unique. I have a degree in diplomacy from my university and I really enjoy backpacking so somehow the two merged to come up with my name. Additionally, I believe that personal interaction, the kind that some travelers get from backpacking, can be a great way to learn about different cultures and people even being in of itself a form of cultural, or soft, diplomacy. I realize that it is strange, but I hope that it stands out as being somewhat unique and different.
When did you begin your website?
– March 2012.
Why do you write (for money/connecting with people/therapeutic/fun)?
– To be honest, I started my blog because other people were asking me to post things and tips. I decided to look into blogging as a bit more than a hobby and am working to create a site that can be used as a resource by many more than just my personal friends and family. I enjoy writing as it can be a great form of expression, but I also hope that by writing and sharing my trips I will inspire others to learn other cultures, religions, and languages. In my mind, this applies even to those who never desire to leave home.
What makes your site so unique and why should people read it?
– In my site, I try to make articles that will intrigue both a seasoned traveler and a novice or homebody. I want to show the different side of culture while finding a healthy balance between travel tips, lessons stories, and reviews. For me, variety is the key and I try to provide my readers with a balance of different article types that I write. I hope to inspire others who want to travel, or just learn about something. Through my site, I look to build a community of people who love to learn about the world.
You recently took part in a blogger exchange project. Please tell us about it and how you managed to get involved.
– BackpackingDiplomacy.com was recently chosen as one of the sixteen winners of Hostelling International’s Big Blog Exchange. The competition started around March of 2013. Anyone could have signed up to get involved. I saw someone’s post about it and entered my blog into the competition. The voting period for the exchange took place over a month and a half, and then winners were selected from the top 100 blogs out of 1,183 from around the world. The exchange was about sharing cultures from different places focusing on the role that blogging has for cultural exchanging. Now more than ever, people can share their culture with those from around the world by simply writing about things that they see, hear, taste, smell, and experience. In moments, that can be sent to the four corners of the globe. In my case, I was paired with a girl from Spain. She came to the United States and I went to Spain. There were other more extreme exchanges such as Sweden and South Africa, Israel and Iceland, Germany and the Philippines, et cetera. Next year you can enter your blog for a chance to win. (and you should!) (www.bigblogexchange.org)
Do you have any products or services to offer?
– At the moment, I do not offer any products. I offer some services such as offering travel advice or tips, but I do not charge for them at this time. I am trying to work on getting some book material together as well as offering some other products and services through my site that will help travelers find better ways to travel by themselves. Hopefully, I will come up with something in the future.
What has been your most successful blog post to date and what was it about?
– So far I think that my most successful blog post was about the 25 lessons that I’ve learned by 25. The article was about travel lessons that I have learned and why I think they are important. Many people loved and praised me for that article, but I believe it was because they could relate to what I was saying because they had seen it before in their travels.
What has been your favourite article to write?
– One of my favorite things to write about are travel lessons that I learn from those I meet around the world. Some of my favorite articles that I have written have been personal to me, unlike my travel tips, reviews, or other articles. Articles like my Analysis of the Robert Frost’s Road not taken poem, or Life lesson from a Kenyan Boy really embody what I love about traveling. Those for me are seemingly effortless to write, but evoke my deepest thoughts.
When do you think you will go home and settle down?
– Well at this stage in my travels, I stop home periodically for different reasons. I don’t know if I will have a home for a few years, but I could see myself being more sedentary in roughly 5 years, but that might change. I do not plan serious things far in advance at the moment.
What is your favourite mode of transport? (plane/train/boat/car)
– I love to drive personally. Therefore, nothing beats a good road trip. However, I have found that the best way to get around it naturally with your own two feet. I walk a lot when I travel. You get to experience the world the way that it was intended to be seen. As far as dream vacations, I love the water so the idea of being on a boat never is unpleasant.
Do you have any advice or tips for aspiring travellers?
– I think that aspiring travelers should follow their dreams. Don’t listen to others who may tell you what they think you should do. If you have the opportunity, do what you want to do. If traveling is your passion, then travel. If working is your passion, then work. If flying kites in the middle of Siberia is your passion, then find a way to make it happen. At the end of the day, you’ll only have yourself to blame for your inactivity. You don’t have to be a millionaire to travel the world nor do you have to fit any cookie cutter personality. Be strong, believe in yourself, and you will go far. And if you get to travel, remember to thank your lucky stars every now and then, because there are several billion people out there that will not ever have the opportunities that you’ve had in life.
What has travel taught you?
– Traveling has taught me a lot of things over the years. I think that is one of the beautiful things about traveling in general is that it challenges you to learn, grow, and adapt among other things. I think that the most important things that travel has taught me is how many people are the same around the world. People just want to live. Be with their families, walk their children to school, have coffee in the morning. Whatever. People are people. Although I’ve heard other opinions, I think the majority of people in this world are good. Other things screw them up.
Quick fire questions:-
Favourite airline? Lufthansa
Favourite country? Spain
Favourite city? Istanbul
Favourite beach? Dubrovnik, Croatia
Favourite food? India or Thai
Favourite language? Russian
Please provide the following:
Website url? http://www.backpackingdiplomacy.com
Twitter handle? Www.twitter.com/backpackingandy or @backpackingandy
Facebook page? www.facebook.com/backpackingdiplomacy
Google+ profile/page? https://plus.google.com/u/0/100255764131072056943