I get excited with every interview I prepare and the travel bloggers I connect with. Today, is something a little bit more special. The couple I’m interviewing provide some of the most beautifully written travel blog posts, humane stories and striking pictures you’ll find online. I am delighted to present to you an interview with travel bloggers Dale and France of AngloItalian Follow Us.
What are your names?
We are Franca and Dale.
Which country do you come from/call home?
Franca is from the South of Italy – from a little town called Alberobello – whilst Dale is from the UK, from a town in the Midlands called Leamington Spa. It’s difficult to say which country we call home especially after having been travelling for such long time. We are still looking for the perfect place for us.
Are you a backpacker/long term traveller/business traveller/live and work abroad?
We are long term travellers.
How do you fund your travel (savings/work whilst travelling/other)?
We hear this question very often. The answer is that we have been funding our travels with what we managed to save before we left our jobs and daily lives. Who knew we would have be going for so long?
What are the first trips you remember taking and how old were you?
Franca: My first trip abroad outside of school ones was to London when I was 18. Me and two friends of mine spent just over two weeks in the city, I totally fell in love with London and promise myself I’d return one day.
Dale: One of the first trips that really stuck with me was a family holiday during the 90’s whilst I must have been about 12 or 13. We visited the Forest of Dean on the border with England and Wales and spent a long few days surrounded by beautiful nature at a camp site right in the heart of the valleys. The walks and activities I can still recall now as being fun and with beautiful views, and after ten years or more I’d love to return and see them through more travelled eyes.
Have you been anywhere which turned out to be totally different to how you imagined? If so, how?
We were both absolutely astonished by Slovenia. We didn’t know much about the country apart from some mentions we’d heard about the national football team (we’re big football fans). Only when our friend asked us to visit her in Ljubljana did we finally got the chance to see the country. Slovenia is incredibly beautiful and breathtaking, it has amazing landscape and friendly people, its capital is a very vibrant city with a lot of alternative and interesting culture of which we are both fond of. We’d love to return one day to explore more of it.
Have you had any bad experiences whilst travelling?
We have been quite lucky so far – touch wood! – but we had some hard times too, like when we got robbed on a night bus in Thailand from Chiang Mai to Bangkok. They went through everyone’s backpacks stored in the luggage storage and managed to steal some money and a credit card we foolishly forgot to take out. That wasn’t a very pleasant experience and we felt incredibly silly for not remembering to take valuable things out our bags.
Also Dale had a few hard days whilst in Taiwan when he got food poisoning, he couldn’t even walk for the pain and had to spend several days in bed.
Apart from these extreme situations, we haven’t had any very bad experiences whilst travelling, good and bad days happen in every day life no matter if you travel or not.
One of you is Italian and the other British. What are the biggest cultural differences between each of you that you’ve had to overcome?
Franca: Being Italian I seem to get very passionate when I talk or describe something and very direct in expressing my opinions, sometimes that can come across like being impolite in the UK. I had to learn to contain myself sometimes and be careful to how and what I say, even with Dale.
Dale: Franca can really have that classic Italian stubbornness about her, whilst I will tend to fall into a more stereotypically British trend of being really quiet or reserved when things aren’t going my way. It’s really weird to see one of us being passionate whilst the other is more fierce, though who is being which can really depend on the day.
The biggest difference that took the longest to overcome was the language barrier. We both can say something yet add a tone of voice that would be typically in our own countries, but sounds awful in the others. It has led to some really awkward, and painfully funny experiences, but it’s much better now.
Do you have any funny travel stories?
I don’t know if we could describe it as “funniest”, but the part of our travel that was the most fun can only be our month volunteering with dogs at Elephant Nature Park in the north of Thailand.
Sharing our time with other animal loving volunteers and enthusiasts who put animals first before themselves was incredibly fun to be a part of. We learned so much during that month and it was because of it that we met with some of our favourite people in the world, people that inspired so many of our choices during the following months and years, including the inspiration to go vegan.
Which is the worst place you’ve been to and why?
There isn’t a very horrible place we’ve been that we wish we hadn’t gone to, but if we have to pick one country then Laos is probably the one we enjoyed the least. We didn’t spend a lot of time there and saw very little of the country, but at that time all we wanted to do was to return to Thailand to volunteer with animals. We didn’t give Laos a chance, we weren’t there mentally and left only after two weeks of entering the country, that’s why even if we didn’t enjoy our time in Laos we’d like to return one day to see more of it and finally decide if we like it or not.
Where is your favourite place in the world?
Franca: that’s a tough question, every place I’ve been to has something special that I liked about it. If I have to choose though, even if I travelled a lot, Italy my home country is still pretty special for me and not only because it’s beautiful, but because the people and pets that I love are there.
Dale: Italy. Though Franca and our Italian friends have made it more than clear to me that the country really does have several faults, there’s too much about it that pleases me to scratch it off the top of my list of favourite places around the world.
You recently wrote a fantastic guide on house sitting. Can you tell us a little bit about your best and worst house sitting experiences?
Thanks, we are happy you found the guide useful. It’s hard to choose the best house sitting, because every time we looked after someone else’s house there have been always pets too, and they are all adorable. The best house sitting experience has to be in Berlin though, simply because of its location, in fact we love the city so much and we had the chance to explore it even more whilst house and pet-sitting.
The worst sitting experience happened recently in London. For the very first time we got locked out the house we were looking after, and after taking the dog for her daily walk we couldn’t get back in the house, the key simply didn’t work for some reason and there was no other way we could have entered the house. Finally we had to call the locksmith to open the door for us, the lock wasn’t working properly and he had to change it. It all ended fine, but it’s not the best situation to find yourself in when you are in someone else’s home and you are responsible for their pets!
Can you imagine life without travel?
In all honesty, no we cannot. It’s like saying can you imagine your life without family or friends. Travel has become our lifestyle and incredibly important. We aren’t sure how our future will plan out, but we will always try to travel as much and as long as we can.
If you were not travelling what would you be doing instead?
Franca: I’d probably be still stuck in my 9 to 5 job, I’d have made progress in my career and have a great salary too, but I would be pretty miserable because I’d be dreaming about a different life, the one I decided to have when we started travelling.
Dale: The reason I chose to travel was that I was heavily depressed and scared with where my life was going. I’d been in retail for 10 years and couldn’t take any more, so there’s no way that I could ever have stuck with that. If we were to stop travelling tomorrow? I’d have to work a flexible job that would allow us both to still travel as much as time and our finances would allow. It’s THAT important.
What is the name of your travel blog and the url?
Our blog is called AngloItalian Follow Us http://www.angloitalianfollowus.com/
When did you begin your website?
We started our blog in February 2012, few months before we started travelling. But we started posting more frequently only when we actually were on the road.
Why do you write (for money/connecting with people/therapeutic/fun)?
When we started the blog we wanted to keep track of our travels and also keep our friends and families informed about our whereabouts. With time though we started to realize how we could connect with people through the blog and we’d like to think we can be an inspiration for others out there that want to travel too one day.
What makes your site so unique and why should people read it?
There aren’t many travel blogs out there which highlight both the slow travel and vegan travel lifestyles as we hope we’re doing. We’re aiming to not only inspire people to travel in the same way that we do (because we love it so much), but also help to explain how and why we do it that way.
What is your site about?
It’s about slow and vegan travel. We like to talk about our travel experiences, the things we love doing the most whilst travelling, and we try to always give some tips about the vegan food options we found in each place we go too, because we know it’s something other vegans would like to know about.
How is it to travel as vegans?
We turned vegan only recently and we thought it would have been incredibly tough to keep to our new diet whilst on the road, but we still challenged ourselves anyway. We soon realized our fears were just myths. Travelling as vegans is not as hard as everybody thinks and it doesn’t have to be. Of course there are some countries where it’s easier than others, but there should always be something to eat, no matter what.
What tips do you have for vegans that want to travel?
Do your research beforehand, see what is available for vegans where you’re going. Use online communities like Facebook groups to ask tips, especially if you don’t know the area you are going to or there isn’t much information available online. Always carry some snacks with you, and if all else fails and you cannot find a place that offers vegan food options you can always go and raid the local grocery stores and supermarkets.
As a long term reader of your site I love your writing style. Is this your natural style or did you take writing classes? How many times do you proof read articles?
Thank you so much, we are both humbled! We haven’t taken any writing classes (even though sometimes we think we should) and as proof reading method we read each others posts only once, we know we should give them another read before publishing them but the reality is that we don’t. We’ve given some thought to bringing in an editor or proofreader, but at this stage it’s an extra expense that we’re going to hold off on for the moment.
Do you have any products or services to offer?
After three years of travel blogging and running our own social media channels we’re both free and open to working for others in helping them with their own blogs, brands, or social media profiles.
We’re also happy to mentor people in how to run a blog in the same manner as we have in return for their interning for us. In return for 5 hours a week (interns choose their own schedule) we’ll have a weekly Skype meeting and answer any question on any subject.
What has been your most successful blog post to date and what was it about?
To date the most successful blog post has been “Why ‘Couchsurfing is free’ Is A Myth”. The title is pretty self explanatory, but I guess people liked our opinion about Couchsurfing and how we think it’s not about a “free bed” but about connecting with the locals and getting to experience their culture in a very different way to if we would stay in a hotel instead.
What has been your favourite article to write either for your blog or another publication?
The most interesting article to write was probably about the Soviet Memorial in Treptower Park in Berlin. Dale wrote it at a time when Russian and Ukraine were at their most violent. Standing at the base of a monument to the Soviet dead of World War 2 whilst knowing about the horrific history of rape by the same Soviet forces on the women of East Germany made for a really interesting piece of reflection.
What is your favourite mode of transport? (plane/train/boat/car)
We both love train trips, in Europe though trains can be quite expensive sometimes so we ended up a lot of times using buses and car sharing instead.
Do you have any advice or tips for aspiring travellers?
Don’t wait, if you want to travel just do it. There will always be things that will make you think you aren’t ready yet like not having enough money, the fear of leaving your comfort zone, not having the right travel companion, and we could go on and on. We made those excuses too until we decided we just had to do it and take it as it’d come. The only way to know if you’re ready to travel is to get yourself on the road and try it. You’ll be amazed at the results and what you’re capable of.
What has travel taught you?
Franca: Travel made me more compassionate, responsible, flexible with myself and the choices I had to make in certain situations. It helped me to believe in myself more, it simply showed me how people are incredibly welcoming and helpful even when they have very little (or nothing) to offer.
Dale: Travel taught me that connections and bonds with both people and animals are the most important foundation of happiness. A connection you have yet to forge with someone could be the catalyst to a change in your life that brings you eternal happiness. Franca travelling to the UK ended with our meeting and becoming the happy couple we are today, and meeting with so many of our friends on the road over the past 3 years has taught us to be more compassionate and mindful, as Franca previously mentioned.
Quick fire questions:-
Favourite airline? Tiger Airways. For some reason our flight from South Korea to Taiwan was one of the most colourful and pleasant from our travels. There was no fanfare or particular moment that made it amazing, just bright smiles and a great atmosphere on the plane.
Favourite country? Japan for its uniqueness and Thailand for the special volunteering experiences we had there.
Favourite city? Berlin
Favourite beach? Any, just as long as we’re there for the sunset and sunrise.
Favourite food? We both love Indian food a lot and we appreciate it even more since we become vegans.
Favourite language? Franca: I love Spanish even if I still have to learn it properly.
Dale: Italian. There’s something about sitting in Franca’s family home in Italy and listening to her family and friends that I’ll always adore.
Please provide the following:-
Website url? http://www.angloitalianfollowus.com/
Twitter handle? @AI_FollowUs
Facebook page? https://www.facebook.com/angloitalianfollowus
Google+ profile/page? http://plus.google.com/+angloitalianfollowus