I’m pleased to introduce to you Carlo Cretaro. Not only is he a great blogger but he has some interesting travel tales including volunteering in Africa.
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?
I’ve just moved to Thailand three months ago to pursue some more travel ambitions as well as get myself set up in various online businesses.
I wouldn’t call myself a long term traveller as I haven’t been on the road continuously.
How do you fund your travel (savings/work whilst travelling/other)?
Up until this point in time I used to save hard for travel. Instead of going out at weekends and getting drunk, I’d save the money and put it towards the next trip.
For the past year however, I’ve been very fortunate to have started up my own freelance business online, which has opened a lot of exciting doors for me and has allowed me to take the jump into the location independent realm of a laptop lifestyle.
What is the first trip you remember taking and how old were you?
For some weird reason I can remember being on a plane when I was just 4 years old with my father and mother – going to my dad’s home place in Casalattico, Italy. It’s a vivid memory even to this day.
Have you been anywhere which turned out to be totally different to how you imagined? If so, how?
Yes – The pyramids of Giza! The pyramids themselves were just amazing, and everything I had hoped they would be, but the location was literally on the outskirts of Cairo. For some reason I had envisaged them to be in the middle of nowhere, miles away from any form of civilisation!
From the history books in school, it gives the impression that they are nowhere near cities. Or maybe that’s just my interpretation!
Have you had any bad experiences whilst travelling?
I never had any really bad experiences in terms of getting mugged or that, but I did have the unfortunate episode the last time I was travelling around Asia in 2011 – where I slipped a disc in my lower back. This ended up cutting our planned 8 month adventure in half, literally! It was a really difficult pill to swallow at the time, but coming home was the right decision, even though it felt like torture.
Do you have any funny travel stories?
A few of them for sure! A funny one looking back (wasn’t funny at the time), was when we were camping during a safari in the Serengeti on the rim of the magnificent Ngorongoro Crater.
Like previous nights, we were told that only to leave the tent in case of emergencies as there were plenty of Hyenas around, as well as lions. The guide also mentioned that if we had to leave the tent, then you peak out with a torch and flash it around 360 degrees, and if you see any red eyes then don’t come out!
Needless to say I had a bad bout of diarrhoea that night, I was beside myself with discomfort. There was no alternative option but to walk to the make shift toilet of a shed, which was about a minutes’ walk away.
My girlfriend and I peeped out of the tent and flashed the torch around, and we saw literally hundreds of white eyes looking back at us from various places. Even though we didn’t see any red eyes to indicate a lion, I was beyond scared at the thought of walking to the toilet. I would have gone right outside the tent, only for I’d have some explaining to do in the morning when the others woke up in their tents beside us.
Anyways, the two of us sneaked along to the toilet like two kids flashing the torches around. I kept thinking that we were going to be devoured by a hyena. If there was a video clip of us walking it would have been comical, as we really were petrified! As I said, it wasn’t funny at the time, but the next day we laughed about it.
Which is the worst place you’ve been to and why?
Personally, I found Kota Bharu on the East coast of Malaysia to be a very unattractive city, with little or nothing to do. We had heard about it as a kind of stop over for backpackers heading to/from the Perhentian islands. For some reason we ended up staying there for 5 whole days – waiting for a train to get us back to Kuala Lumpur. As you know, Malaysia is a very strict Muslim country, and Kota Bharu seemed even stricter than anywhere else we’d been to in Malaysia.
Where is your favourite place in the world?
I would have to say Las Vegas / Death Valley. Las Vegas is where I found my passion for travel (a weird location to suddenly realise you want to travel the world), so for me it will always be special. I ended up returning to Vegas on 3 separate occasions since that first visit there alone in 2005.
Do you have a bucket list? If so what is on it?
I do have a bucket list, even though I’m beginning to dislike that term a lot lately. In fact I might have to change the title of that post on my blog!
I have a variety of dreams and ambitions in it, from camping in the Amazon rain forests, to meeting Maradona, to going to a world cup match.
Coincidently, I’ve just booked my flights to head to Brazil in June next year, and I’ve applied for World Cup group stage tickets, so it looks like I will get to accomplish that childhood dream!
Can you imagine life without travel?
Of course. I had zero interest in travelling until that trip to Vegas in 2005, when I was 27 years old. So up to that point, travel wasn’t something I thought about at all.
Nowadays, I think about nothing else. But if for some reason I was no longer in the fortunate position to travel where I wanted to, then I think it would really get me down a lot.
If you were not travelling what would you be doing instead?
I honestly don’t know. For a good few years now travel has been at the forefront of my plans. I’ve wanted the chance to travel where and when I wanted, and luckily enough I’m now enjoying the opportunity to do so.
If I wasn’t so focused on travelling, then I’m sure I’d have some other infatuation.
What is the name of your travel blog and the url?
My travel blog is NextStopWhoKnows and it can be found at www.nextstopwhoknows.com
When did you begin your website?
I first started blogging when I went to East Africa on a volunteering trip back in 2009. I kept a diary style account of the trip and kept records of a few other trips since.
But then I moved it over from blogger.com to wordpress in September 2012, and established the name NextStopWhoKnows, as I think it encompasses exactly how I see my life.
You say you are half Irish and half Italian. Do you have dual nationality? If so are you selective as to which passport you use to enter a country?
Yeah my father is Italian and I do have dual nationality, but I don’t have an Italian passport – simply because I never applied for one. I was only talking about that with another travel blogger, Johnny Ward a few months ago, and he did suggest that I should get an Italian passport. I never really thought about it until then.
You spent 3 months volunteering in East Africa. Please tell us about that? What were you doing and what inspired you to go?
That trip was something that both myself and my girlfriend Florence wanted to do for a very long time. We wanted to go to Africa and help out those less fortunate in life in any small way we could. We did tons of research online and decided that we didn’t want others to have to pay for us to go volunteering by means of sponsorship – and give all that money to a “middle man”. What we did was we saved extremely hard for a few months and then booked our flights to Kenya and funded the trip ourselves. We strongly believe that you shouldn’t have to fork out thousands of dollars to companies just to be able to give a helping hand in third world countries. Most of that money never gets to the actually charity anyways – but that’s another story again!
Our idea was to land in Nairobi, Kenya and then travel overland to Arusha in Tanzania for 3 months and find volunteer work in an orphanage there.
We did do exactly that, but then we ran into visa problems (long story), which meant we had to leave and re-entry the country. So we decided to just move alone to other countries and find other independent volunteer projects that we could help out with.
In the end we worked in schools and orphanages in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda for just over 13 weeks.
The experience was out of this world in terms of actually witnessing first-hand how tough conditions are in developing third world countries. Some days were very emotional, as we saw new born babies just turning up at the front door of these orphanages in the morning, after being left there in the dead of the night by someone.
But it’s an experience that I will never forget as it taught me to appreciate the little things in life and to enjoy the comforts I have.
You are a self-confessed gadget geek. What gadgets must you have with you when you travel and why?
I’m definitely a guy who loves his gadgets! I’d be lost without some of them to be honest. Technology is just brilliant!. Nowadays, with running a business from my laptop, I obviously couldn’t do without that, a smartphone, and a camera. Those are the things I’d value the most while travelling.
You say that you run an online business. How do you manage that with your travel?
It’s pretty easy to be honest. At the moment I’m living in a cool apartment here in Phuket, so running a business from there is no different than anywhere else to be honest. But we have plans to travel around Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia in the next few months, so the only way things will differ somewhat is finding reliable internet along the way.
As with any online business, you need access to the internet to do emails and other stuff. Managing an online business from a laptop is a pretty cool experience and one that I’ll do anything in order to preserve.
Why do you write (for money/connecting with people/therapeutic/fun)?
A combination of all 4 really. Although the past year, I’ve been writing for money in a big way, and that’s one of my businesses that I work with online. My blog has shifted from those diary style posts early on its lifecycle towards more value driven posts.
So rather than writing posts about “what I did today”, I try and write with the goal of giving my readers an insight into a particular place I’ve visited or even some ideas about how to work online or build a laptop lifestyle. Because if I can do it, then most people can.
What makes your site so unique and why should people read it?
I don’t think my website is unique, when you compare it to every other travel blog out there. But what I can offer readers is my view on living a location independent lifestyle and what to expect from it, and potential pitfalls. In addition, I try and incorporate photos as much as I can in my posts – specifically on places that I think readers would like to see.
Do you have any products or services to offer?
At the moment no, however I do get a good few emails lately from readers asking how they can set up a similar business to the one I’ve created for myself. So maybe there will be an eBook or something similar down the line from that – you’d never know!
What has been your most successful blog post to date and what was it about?
The Pros and Cons of Running an Online Business which is a recent post that has received quite a few views. I think the reason why it gets a load of hits is because people are searching for “online business” among other things a lot more these days and maybe that post in particular is getting some traction.
Also, people are naturally curious as to how the whole working online thing fairs out.
What has been your favourite article to write either for your blog or another publication?
I enjoyed writing a day in the life of a freelance writer for my own blog.
What is your favourite mode of transport? (plane/train/boat/car)
I do enjoy travelling by plane as I bloody love the food you get served for some reason!
Do you have any advice or tips for aspiring travellers?
I would say travel to all the places you want to visit when you have the opportunity. Don’t keep putting it off for another day. That day may not come for one reason or another. Live life to the max when you’re able to enjoy it. If you don’t look after your own ambitions and goals, then no one else is going to.
What has travel taught you?
It’s taught me a lot about life and about myself. I’ve mellowed quite a bit over the past few years. By going to see how other cultures live and get by, you can learn to appreciate your own life that bit more.
I’ve also become more patient while travelling and less stressed out about life in general.
The way I look at it is; it’s my life and I’ve got to do the things that make me happy and not everyone else.
Quick fire questions:-
Favourite airline? Qatar
Favourite country? Thailand
Favourite city? Las Vegas
Favourite beach? Very cliché reply, but “Maya bay” from the movie The Beach!
Favourite food? Pasta
Favourite language? Italian
Please provide the following:-