Today’s guest offers a word of warning about when you are offered cake, it might not be the cake you expect! Yes, it is time for a travel blogger interview with Samantha Bilkey of Samantha En Route.
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?
Right now I work as a travel agent, so for my job I often travel to Mexican/Caribbean destinations so I can see the resorts to where we send our clients. I lived abroad in Spain working/studying a couple years ago and now I’m trying to start a career in travel so I can use it as a platform to see more of the world.
How do you fund your travel (savings/work whilst travelling/other)?
Right now by working and saving up.
What is the first trip you remember taking and how old were you?
My mom is from India and her family is still there, so from the time I was nine months old she’s been taking me and my sister back there. I’ve been there about six times and we’re finally heading back this December after several years. I have a lot of memories of India from my childhood and I’m excited to experience it as an adult.
Have you been anywhere which turned out to be totally different to how you imagined? If so, how?
I thought I would love Madrid more than I did. It’s a fun city but it’s so commercialized and touristy. The Starbucks on each street corner really take away its authenticity. I would recommend some of the surrounding towns or cities on the coast.
Have you had any bad experiences whilst travelling?
Yes but not too many. I remember on a small plane from New Jersey there was so much turbulence that I felt like I was going to spew at any second, and from that time on I always take Dramamine. That’s honestly been the worst so far!
Do you have any funny travel stories?
When I was visiting my roommate’s family in Spain (who don’t speak almost any English), my roommate asked me after dinner if I wanted to try some cake (and he said “cake” in English). Assuming it was dessert, I took a bite and nearly choked – it was tuna! “Yes,” he said, “tuna cake.” I had to explain that in English, “cake” pretty much always means dessert. Definitely something I won’t forget!
Which is the worst place you’ve been to and why?
Hmmm I guess Madrid? Not because it was bad or anything. I just didn’t fully connect with the city like I did with many others. So I suppose I don’t have a worst place yet.
Where is your favourite place in the world?
LONDON! I loved the energy there. I would drop everything and move there if I could.
Do you have a bucket list? If so what is on it?
Machu Picchu, Taj Mahal (being fulfilled this year – can you believe we haven’t seen it yet?), and Edinburgh.
Can you imagine life without travel?
I’ve been traveling my whole life. I think nothing of long plane rides, malaria prevention vaccinations, and trying the “weird” foods. To me a life without travel isn’t living.
If you were not travelling what would you be doing instead?
In a recent but past life I wanted to get my PhD in psychology.
What is the name of your travel blog and the url?
Samantha En Route – http://SamanthaEnRoute.com
When did you begin your website?
I began when I was studying abroad in Spain to keep everyone at home up to date.
Why do you write (for money/connecting with people/therapeutic/fun)?
It was so much fun publishing my thoughts and pictures after each city I visited, so I figured, why not continue? I’ve connected with quite a few people from the travel blogging community and love it. Plus it’s easy to find something to write about when you have a passion for travel.
What makes your site so unique and why should people read it?
It’s unique because it’s by me! And there’s no other me out there 🙂 Really, though, I’m exploring all my options that I can use my website for and having a lot of fun with it. I’m trying to come up with creative content on a weekly basis and have found my readership growing. It’s my baby!
Do you have any products or services to offer?
I will be eventually. I’m a novice right now but I always review the hotels I stay at and travel-related products, and I’m currently taking a course to improve my travel journalism. Those are services I’m going to be offering in the near future, if not already.
What has been your most successful blog post to date and what was it about?
My main successful blog posts have been about other bloggers – I have a weekly series called Featured Bloggers. Otherwise a recent post that did very well was about whale watching in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
What has been your favourite article to write either for your blog or another publication?
I’ve really enjoyed writing a few articles for Matador Network – you can find them here: http://matadornetwork.com/author/samanthabilkey/
What is your favourite mode of transport? (plane/train/boat/car)
Plane! Next would be train. I’m not a fan of traveling over the water so I don’t care for boats, and I don’t have much patience for long car rides.
Do you have any advice or tips for aspiring travellers?
Pack lightly, pack smart, stay organized, try everything, take great pictures, and keep an open mind.
What has travel taught you?
Travel has taught me that everything that I worry about in my life is much less important than I think it is. There are millions and millions who would drop everything to live my life instead of their own. Travel has taught me patience, not only with others but with myself. It has taught me the world is so much bigger than my own backyard, but quite small at the same time. Most importantly I’ve learned much more about myself, such as how to travel alone and how much I enjoy it.
What is your favourite memory while travelling?
I loved my spring break in Italy while I was studying abroad in Spain. I went on my own for the entire week and ate, saw, and did exactly what I wanted. As an introvert and a planner, I had so much fun in the weeks preceding organizing my daily activities and thinking of just being on my own.
Which is one often overlooked city that you could recommend?
Porto, Portugal seems to be somewhere that a lot of travel bloggers don’t have information on. I spent a weekend there and highly recommend a visit to this fabulous city. Another is Santiago de Compostela, Spain, where I lived for nine months. Those coastal cities on the edge of Europe seem to be lesser known.
Can you tell us a little more about Santiago de Compostela?
It was my home away from home for nine months in my last year of college! It’s a medieval Spanish city in the northwest corner of Spain (where the rain mainly stays). It’s also a big university towns and has one of Europe’s oldest universities. The tourists that come there are either foreign exchange students or pilgrims trying to imitate the famous “camino de Santiago” or “way of St. James”. Legend has it that St. James started his pilgrimage in the Pyrenees Mountains and trekked through northern Spain preaching the word of God. His bones are apparently kept in a crypt below the main altar in the church, which anyone visitor can see. I would highly recommend a trip there!
Quick fire questions:-
Favourite airline? Domestically, Southwest. Internationally, Qantas or Aer Lingus.
Favourite country? England!
Favourite city? London!
Favourite beach? Mindil Beach, Darwin, Australia
Favourite food? Butter chicken and naans
Favourite language? German
Please provide the following:-
Website url? http://samanthaenroute.com
Twitter handle? @samanthaenroute
Facebook page? http://facebook.com/samanthaenroute
Google+ profile/page? https://plus.google.com/u/1/+SamanthaBilkey/posts