It is a great pleasure to introduce you to a fabulous travel blogger and author Savannah Grace.
What is your name?
Which country do you come from/call home?
Oh that’s a toughie. I am from Vancouver, Canada but currently live in Holland. If I am in Vancouver I call Holland home, if I’m in Holland I call Vancouver home. If I’m in the supermarket I refer to both as home.
Are you a backpacker/long term traveller/business traveller/live and work abroad?
I started off as a hard-core traveller/backpacker. These days I’ve hung up the backpack and am more of a vacationer or road tripper. Though, I do like to spice it up and go to more exotic/less travelled destinations. This year I visited Guinea in West Africa and Mauritius in Southern Africa.
How do you fund your travel (savings/work whilst travelling/other)?
I’m still trying to figure out how I lucked out on this one. When I started out travelling with family at age 14, Mom paid the bill because I was technically still “living at home”. When I got older I fell in love with an amazing older man who is equally as obsessed with travel (he’s in Brazil at the moment) and he funds our travels by working hard.
What is the first trip you remember taking and how old were you?
The first trip I remember taking was when I was probably 6 or 7. We did a 6-week family road trip from Vancouver to the Florida Keys. I still remember bits of that; trying to smash a coconut on the concrete from our camper, canoeing with the crocodiles in the Everglades and seeing manatees in the wild.
Have you been anywhere which turned out to be totally different to how you imagined? If so, how?
I suppose many places if not most are different than I imagined. Egypt unfortunately was a lot less magical than I expected. For some reason I was thinking I was going to end up in the ancient times but instead found myself in a smog cloud of pollution. The pyramids were smack dab in the middle of the city which surprised me. Sudan on the other hand, Egypt’s neighboring country to the south surprised me with the number of gorgeous, isolated pyramids we discovered while driving through.
Have you had any bad experiences whilst travelling?
After so long on the road I think you’re bound to have a bad experience. We had a few uncomfortable times; one of them was arriving at night in Kabul, Afghanistan. It was not our intention to arrive in the dark in the unfamiliar city. We were with 3 females, 2 males and being out at night as a female passing through a market was extremely uncomfortable and drew many unwanted stares and quite aggressive groping.
Do you have any funny travel stories?
In order to save space on a long train ride my dad rolled up and packed his underwear in our portable kettle. Later that day when he went to fill it he’d forgotten about it and ended up making coffee with his boiled up underwear!!! I shed a few tears of laughter when I opened up the lid and discovered why the coffee tasted so disgusting.
Which is the worst place you’ve been to and why?
Irkeshtam in Kyrgyzstan was one of the worst places I’ve been to. It was terrible because it was just a transit hub in the middle of nothingness. Super-hot, dry, we didn’t know where we were going or how long it would take and our whole group was nauseous and had diarrhea.
Where is your favourite place in the world?
I really wouldn’t be able to pick one. How can you choose between Nepalese Himalayas, Indian culture, Maldives tropical islands, Canada’s vast and wild nature, Suriname’s jungles? I loved China, Mongolia, Slovenia, Italy, so many places.
Do you have a bucket list? If so what is on it?
I don’t have an actual bucket list written down but I certainly “check” things off and add things to the imaginary list when I come across something amazing. Every day I’m discovering new and incredible things through the travel community on Twitter. I still really, really want to see lava, the northern lights and go to Japan.
Can you imagine life without travel?
Nope. I really can’t which is a bad thing because I become numb to a lot of things. I try to remember how I thought and felt having fresh views and a blank slate before traveling. I would love to have that feeling of never having travelled to Asia or Europe. Can you remember what it felt like before you ever traveled?
If you were not travelling what would you be doing instead?
I truly have no idea but I ask myself this question all the time. I often stop to think how I would have turned out and who I would have been without travel but I don’t question for a minute that I have become a better, more open minded person because of it. I am so happy with the choices I’ve made and how travel has influenced me from a young girl and even now as an adult.
What is the name of your travel blog?
When did you begin your website?
We started our blog as a family in 2005 and have been writing on it religiously, though now I am more focussed on my travel website www.sihpromatum.com. We are going to be doing a website/blog transformation in the near future so keep an eye out for that.
Why do you write (for money/connecting with people/therapeutic/fun)?
I write to inspire. I write because it’s my passion and I love it and I can’t think of anything more rewarding than hearing from others how my words and stories have influenced them. If I could make a living doing this, that would be a dream complete.
What makes your site so unique and why should people read it?
We have been a non-stop traveling family since 2005 and have hundreds of stories about hundreds of cities. There are thousands of photos from all around the world, with 100 different country photo albums. Each one of us has a different view and writing style. As of late, I have taken over the writing and update followers on upcoming events, travels and progress with my book.
Do you have any products or services to offer?
I have the first book in my travel memoir series “Sihpromatum – I Grew My Boobs in China” available on my site and on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Sihpromatum-Grew-Boobs-China-ebook/dp/B008YZ0184/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1383067878&sr=8-1&keywords=sihpromatum.
The first book documents my family’s backpacking adventures through China, Mongolia and the procedures we took to pack up and leave everything behind to travel.
What has been your most successful blog post to date and what was it about?
There are too many to go through, but this is a recent one example. It is about our travels back to Africa after a couple of years. http://watkinstravel.blogspot.nl/2013/02/conakry-life.html
What is your favourite mode of transport? (plane/train/boat/car)
I love trains and cars. I really am terrified of flying (something you could never relate to, I’m sure). I love to be able to watch the scenery go by and really see the landscape of the countries I’m traveling through. I love to see how locals travel within their own borders.
Do you have any advice or tips for aspiring travellers?
If you’re doing extended travel my number one advice would be don’t be too restricted by a schedule. Be open and free to new things and go with the flow because travelling shouldn’t be a quest or mission, it is a journey. Let all of your worries go and enjoy every second. One of my biggest regrets would be not living in the moment.
Oh, and spend more money than my older brother Ammon!!
A few others:
– Do your research on the country, visas and vaccinations
– Plan around the weather such as when the wet and dry seasons occur
– Take breaks when you get burnt out
– Bucket list. Have some personal highlights in mind so you feel enthusiastic
– Be respectful of the culture (clothing, etiquette)
– Try new things and don’t be afraid to get down and dirty
– Meet the people
– Start somewhere you have a genuine interest
What has travel taught you?
Travel has taught me to be more open minded, and to be appreciative of the things I have. People are nice everywhere in the world, and we all have the same basic wants and needs. A world considered to be wrought with hunger, despair, corruption and danger turned out to be one full of love, family values and respect. Ironically, it seems that the less people have the more willing they are to share. I think it takes travel to learn and see that.
What does Sihpromatum mean?
Sihpromatum means a blessing that initially appears to be a curse.
In your first book you talk a lot about going to the toilet. Is the lack of toilet facilities the make or break factor for a good trip?
Nah! You get used to it after a while and I don’t think toilets get worse than China. So if you’re afraid of toilets, just avoid cheap places in China. I really don’t mind toilets now, in fact I’m an expert at that. It just depends on the kind of holiday you’re on. If it’s a 5-star resort and the toilet is bad…well it should be good. But if you’re on a cheap budget and getting down right dirty I think it’s a nice adventure to have horrendous toilets.
You spent years travelling with your family. Was it tough being so close together and reliant on each other for so long?
Yes and no. It was hard being a teenager, period. And being glued to the family sometimes made it claustrophobic but considering how long we were together, we got used to it. It’s like being in a marriage. There are amazingly rewarding things and the harder challenges you go through together the more you trust and love one another. But of course, it doesn’t come without its challenges.
Where will you travel to next?
I am actually on holiday now. I’m in Vancouver, my hometown, for nearly 2 months to promote my book and do signings. It’s a very exciting time. After this we are planning to go on a ski trip in Switzerland and in February we may go back to Guinea, Africa to work on our project.
You have been involved in a project in Africa. Please tell us about it.
Last year my boyfriend decided to buy a piece of land on an island off the coast of Guinea’s capital Conakry in West Africa. We’d both been there and it’s not a place I would say “Hey, let’s build our tropical getaway resort here!” but once we started meeting the people over there and starting the project I was sooo excited! It’s a wonderful place that I never would have expected we’d be building a vacation house.
You now live in The Netherlands. Was it a big challenge to adjust to Dutch culture?
Currently in Vancouver, I start to see some of the major cultural differences. After 4 years I start to understand the mistakes I was making when I first went to Holland, now that I’m used to the Dutch culture. On a big scale, Dutch is very similar to Canadian, though when you really zoom in and analyze all of the small things, there are a lot of things I had to adjust to and learn. Locking my bike was one of them. Every small child knows how to lock their bike but I’d never even seen a bike lock before in my life. Learning any language is difficult but is so rewarding. I am not yet fluent but would love to be one day.
Quick fire questions:-
Favourite airline? Emirates.
Favourite country? Canada
Favourite beach? Any in Maldives
Favourite food? Sushi
Please provide the following:-
Website url? www.sihpromatum.com
Twitter handle? @sihpromatum
Facebook page? “Sihpromatum – I Grew My Boobs in China”
Don’t forget that you can buy Savannah’s great book from here.