Late last year I stumbled across a new up and coming travel blogger who really inspired me with her passion for travel and blogging. In a very short period of time she has become a highly respected and successful writer who helps and inspires others. So it is a great pleasure to introduce you to Mapping Megan.
What is your name?
Megan Claire Jerrard aka Mapping Megan
Which country do you come from/call home?
I’m an Australian girl through and through. I may spend more time travelling than actually resident within the country, but I’ll always call Australia home.
Are you a backpacker/long term traveller/business traveller/live and work abroad?
All of the above! We enjoy a good mix of backpacking and luxury when we travel – on our upcoming trip through Central and South America we have a range of accommodation options from all inclusive resorts, to rural B&B’s, to backpacker hostels and even a bit of camping in there. We’re all about travelling on a budget but spending big on luxury, once in a lifetime experiences.
We’ve just sold our home to hit the road “long-term”, and I’ve finally reached a point where I’m making enough money from my blogging to fund our travels so I guess you could also call us “business travellers”!
How do you fund your travel (savings/work whilst travelling/other)?
As I mentioned above, we’ve just started to make money from travel blogging. And the income from this goes a long way to keeping us on the road. The ability to work remotely from anywhere in the world has been a dream for a long time, and I’m excited about the possibilities and opportunities ahead.
Before our travel blog took off, however, we funded travel through sacrifice and hard savings. While we’re not rich, we are dedicated. I personally worked two full time jobs (with a few more on the side) while studying full time in order to finance travel. I would get up at 5am for a 6am shift at McDonalds, spend 2 hours at college/university around midday, and then head to a shift working hotel reception from 3pm-11pm. I would then go out to meet my friends for an hour or so and spend an hour studying before falling into bed and getting back up again at 5am!
It was a hectic routine, but I did what I had to do in order to get to where I wanted to be. One job wasn’t enough to make my dreams a reality so I got a second. And a third – it’s amazing what you can achieve once you set your mind to something!
What is the first trip you remember taking and how old were you?
My first trip was to Japan in 2003. It was a school trip with my Japanese class when I was 15, so I was incredibly excited to be heading overseas with 30 of my friends (I give HUGE credit to the teachers who chaperoned 30 teenage girls to Japan for two weeks!). It was one huge two week slumber party full of sushi, Tokyo Disney and a lot of culture shock!
Have you been anywhere which turned out to be totally different to how you imagined? If so, how?
I try to travel with no expectations, so can therefore appreciate a destination for what it is once we arrive. However the Vatican City was absolutely not what I was expecting. Growing up a Catholic, I had imagined the Vatican to be this amazing, grand, holy place which overwhelmed you with awe. I was instead overwhelmed by the crowds and herds of tourists running rampant around the grounds.
I’ve been to the Vatican twice now, but sadly it’s too touristy and commercialized, and it ruined my experience. That being said, the Vatican is one of those places you have to go to and see for yourself; the artwork is truly phenomenal, the basilica’s stunning; but it’s just very overrated and for me doesn’t live up to the hype.
Have you had any bad experiences whilst travelling?
Thankfully I’ve been fairly lucky to date. Never been mugged, arrested or harassed abroad. I have however had my fair share of delays, cancellations and missed flights; I was once stuck in the Helsinki airport for 20 hours while our plane underwent emergency repairs.
The door fell off – yes, fell off it’s hinges, after we had boarded, so we de-boarded, and got to sit in the terminal for 20 hours with the only food available being a little cafe stand. I ate a lot of cheesecake that day!
Do you have any funny travel stories?
Flying from Milan to Prague I wore 5kg of clothes onto the plane to avoid paying excess baggage fees. And I have the kind of friends who would prefer to video the process and post it to YouTube rather than help to unpack! Needless to say, me dressing myself in everything from pyjamas to towels in the middle of the Italian airport provided entertainment for the whole terminal – and I couldn’t stop laughing myself!
Which is the worst place you’ve been to and why?
Going to stick with the Vatican City on this one! I can’t stand crowds. I don’t believe in labelling a destination as “bad”, as every destination has its merits and has something to offer travellers, however I just can’t do crowds!
Once a destination becomes too touristy in my mind it’s ruined.
Where is your favourite place in the world?
Italy. Because between the culture, the scenery and the friendly, hospitable nature of the Italian people, who doesn’t love an excuse to eat pizza and gelato every day of the week!
Do you have a bucket list? If so what is on it?
My travel bucket list grows a little each day. I cross something off and two more items spring up in its place!!
Top of the bucket list is to climb to Base Camp of Mt Everest, swim with Whale Sharks, travel to Antarctica and attend the La Tomatina festival in Spain (a huge city wide tomato fight which takes place each year!). I also want to hike the Great Wall of China, get on a flight to the moon, explore New Zealand and fly first class – just once!
If you were not travelling what would you be doing instead?
Practicing law – one of the many sacrifices of travel I’ve come to terms with is not having a career. I have qualifications to practice law in Australia, and before I moved to the US worked as a paralegal in a top tier family law firm.
But I’m more drawn to the open road than I am to a corner office, so I’m happy trading a career for exploration of our wonderful world!
What is the name of your travel blog and the url?
“Mapping Megan” – http://mappingmegan.com
When did you begin your website?
I’ve had a travel blog since my European gap year in 2007, but back then it was more geared towards keeping family and friends updated on my overseas adventures.
I launched Mapping Megan in August of 2013 as I realized there was opportunity to take travel blogging to a more professional level. I haven’t looked back ever since.
What has been your most successful blog post to date and what was it about?
My most popular post to date has surprisingly been a list of the Top Travel Blogs to Read In 2014. After that, I’ve seen the most traffic on a gushing article I wrote about falling in love with the city of Savannah, Georgia. Seriously – I love the place!
What has been your favourite article to write either for your blog or another publication?
My favourite article is a collaboration of Selfies from Around the World. Loved putting that piece together. Next to that, I took great satisfaction in writing a scathing review of Hawaiian Airlines after they screwed my whole family on our way to my destination wedding. I still take satisfaction in this review being amongst the most viewed articles on my site! Spiteful, yes, but what else is a personal website for!!
Why do you write (for money/connecting with people/therapeutic/fun)?
I also have a degree in Journalism, so mainly, I write for the fun of it. I’ve always had an overactive imagination and used to write books and stories as a child. When I began travelling, my love of writing was a great way to keep a record of my adventures.
Now that I’ve travelled a lot, I write to inspire people. I want to spread the passion I have for travelling, and infect as many people as I can with it. I want my words to touch people and potentially change their lives.
Now that I’ve realized I can make money from blogging, I’d be lying to say I don’t write for the money, but it’s a combination of all of the above.
What makes your site so unique and why should people read it?
My brand is my personality. It’s very outgoing, very fun, doesn’t take life too seriously, and looks for adventure at every turn. I travel off the beaten path in search of adventure, and so my site presents some of the more unknown parts of the world and some of the more extreme forms of leisure.
Do you have any products or services to offer?
I’m a social media consultant and work with brands and bloggers to improve their presence on various social platforms. I also write freelance articles and do public speaking where and when I can.
You are very active on social media and particularly working with travel bloggers. Can you give us a little insight to how you are involved with other bloggers and any networks?
I quickly realized that networking is the key to successful blogging. The more contacts you build and the more relationships you create, the more you can learn from others and strategize together to succeed.
As a completely new member of the community I began forming relationships by commenting on other people’s blogs and emailing them introducing myself. Before long I was running a blogging support group on facebook, which has proven to be a great forum for intermediate and beginner travel bloggers to share ideas, network, learn from each other and grow.
There are a number of phenomenal community groups on facebook geared towards travel bloggers which are fantastic for both education and networking, and I highly recommend beginner travel bloggers start here to get a foot in the door.
You were good friends with the late Kimmy Hayes of Afterglobe.net. Can you please tell us a little bit of what she meant to you and how you helped each other?
Kimmy Hayes was one of my closest friends and meant the world to me. She was one of the first friends I made within the travel blogging community and we instantly hit it off, talking every day, excitedly chatting back and forth about our dreams for our blogs, swapping travel tips and dreaming of exotic destinations. We supported each other in our goals, encouraged each other, and mentored each other. We were both working towards living the life of our dreams, however sadly, her life was cut short.
She not only helped me, but countless others within the blogging community. Everything she learned about the business of blogging she shared with others. Together we created a number of facebook support groups aimed at educating, bettering and inspiring beginner bloggers. She was a mentor to many, and admired by many more.
Read my Tribute to Kimmy Hayes for more about this amazing woman.
For you, what is Kimmy’s legacy?
Kimmy’s legacy is to live the life of your dreams. She was a truly selfless soul who helped and inspired hundreds to live their dream. It’s a tragedy that she was so close to living her own before she was taken.
Do you have an update on Drew (Kimmy’s husband) and the future of Afterglobe.net?
In the wake of the accident, Drew’s mother set up a blog with updates on his recovery. After a fair amount of surgery and intensive hospital care, he is now recovering at home with the support of a phenomenal group of family and friends.
He is recovering from many surgeries, and still in a fair bit of pain, however is starting physical therapy and should make a full physical recovery.
Do you have any advice or tips for aspiring travellers?
Just Go! Stop telling yourself you’ll travel “someday”, because “someday” is not guaranteed – for anyone.
What has travel taught you?
So much! Travel has formed me into the person I am today. It has challenged my worldview and taught me that no single view is ever finite. It has taught me the importance of diversity, and to accept all cultures, races and people.
It has taught me that true adventure begins when you look beyond the ordinary, and that the journey is always just beginning – there will always be so much left to explore.
More importantly, it has taught me what’s important in life; relationships, connections, experiences; and taught me to place little value on trivial, material possessions. Travel has also taught me to be thankful.
Quick fire questions:-
Favourite airline? Qantas – Aussie Pride!
Favourite country? Italy. Pizza, Gelato and great Italian wine!
Favourite city? Savannah, Georgia.
Favourite beach? Big Beach, Maui, Hawaii.
Favourite food? Lasagne. See answer to favourite country.
Favourite language? Spanish. I can’t speak it but it’s sexy as hell!
Please provide the following:-
Website url? http://mappingmegan.com
Twitter handle? @mappingmegan
Facebook page? http://facebook.com/mappingmegan
Google+ profile/page? https://plus.google.com/b/101725843573396839914/101725843573396839914/posts