This travel blogger interview features someone who calls herself “one of the world’s clumsiest girls”. Please meet Claire Martin of Claire’s Footsteps.
What is your name?
Which country do you come from/call home?
I’m from London, but I call the South West of England home at the moment.
Are you a backpacker/long term traveller/business traveller/live and work abroad?
I have been a part time traveller for the last four years, but in July I will become a long term backpacker!
How do you fund your travel (savings/work whilst travelling/other)?
A mix of things! The last few years it’s been working when I’m at home, making sure travel is the only thing I spend money on, and once I’m on the road I’ll be working using my Australian visa and teaching English.
What is the first trip you remember taking and how old were you?
My obsession with travelling started at a young age! I can remember quite a lot of trips when I was really young; mainly camping in Europe and going skiing. I first went on a plane when I was 14 months!
Have you had any bad experiences whilst travelling?
Too many to count! My worst was when I had an awful reaction to my malaria tablets in Nicaragua. I was fitting, hallucinating and hearing things. I ended up in hospital on a drip – it was so scary.
Do you have any funny travel stories?
Loads of them as well! (I’m very accident prone). The funniest is probably when I fell over on the first day of a festival in Croatia and pulled my arm out of its socket. I then had to spend the entire festival with my arm in a sling!
Which is the worst place you’ve been to and why?
Panajachel in Guatemala. Guatemala was my favourite country that I’ve ever been to but everything that went wrong on my trip happened in Panajachel; someone tried to scam me into buying a private boat by saying that there weren’t any public ones going, a crazy dog chased me down an alley and I got caught in a huge storm with all of my belongings and everything got drenched. It’s also hugely over touristy. However, all of the other towns on Lake Atitlan are lovely!
Where is your favourite place in the world?
The rest of Guatemala! I fell in love with the country; the music, the colours, the people… It’s the most charismatic country I’ve ever been to. I’d really advise everyone to not listen to media articles about it being dangerous – if you keep out of trouble it’s perfectly safe, and absolutely wonderful.
Do you have a bucket list? If so what is on it?
I have a never-ending and always expanding bucket list! I want to do all of the typical touristy things like dive the great barrier reef, hike Machu Picchu and climb to Everest Base Camp. And so much more!
What is your number one country that you want to visit?
I’m obsessed with Bhutan. It sounds like a magical kingdom, made even more special by the fact that hardly anyone has been there. It’s expensive to go to- there is a $250 charge to pay per day you’re there, just to be in the country – although this goes into the environment, so it’s for a good cause! – but I’m determined to make it there one day.
Can you imagine life without travel?
Not at all, especially not the way I am now. I’ve realized I’ve changed a huge amount over the last two years and I can only put that down to travelling.
If you were not travelling what would you be doing instead?
I’d still be writing, probably about food (my other great love).
What is the name of your travel blog and the url?
It’s Claire’s Footsteps – eco-travel and anecdotes by one of the world’s clumsiest girls
The URL is http://www.clairesfootsteps.com
When did you begin your website Claire’s Footsteps?
I began it when I went to Guatemala last summer but it was only really to keep family and friends updated with what I was doing. Since the start of the year, I’ve been really focusing on establishing my blog and reaching a wider audience.
Why do you write (for money/connecting with people/therapeutic/fun)?
I do it for the love! I can’t even describe the enjoyment I get out of every single aspect of blogging. It’s actually changed my whole outlook on life over the last few months. I even love the boring and frustrating parts. It’s just amazing to have this little project and watch it grow and blossom.
What makes your site so unique and why should people read it?
I focus on eco-travel and how we can travel to make the world a better place, and ourselves better people. So I travel in an eco-friendly way and also learn as much as possible about the places I visit, read travel books, do lots of yoga and eat delicious local food. My blog is all about what other people can teach us about life, so it’s a one stop shop for anyone looking to broaden their mind through travel!
I’m also painfully clumsy. I’ve embraced it, and part of my blog is about how I do all the above despite disaster often occurring! So there’s a good amount of laughs in there too, and I’d definitely recommend reading a few posts when you need cheering up 😉
Do you have any products or services to offer?
Not at the moment no, but this is definitely something I’ll be doing as the blog expands.
What has been your most successful blog post to date and what was it about?
Without a doubt ‘Ten Things Guatemala Does Best’. It went hugely viral and I had hundreds of Guatemalans messaging me thanking me for my words about the country! I was so touched by it all. It’s Guatemala who needs the thanks for the most amazing experience I had there.
What has been your favourite article to write either for your blog or another publication?
The article I wrote called ‘Maybe I lack fulfilment, but I travel to be the best possible version of myself’ was great fun to write. It was a comeback to a bitter article written about travellers, and I think I captured the reasons why I travel perfectly in it. It got republished on Thought Catalog, too!
What is your favourite mode of transport? (plane/train/boat/car)
I’ve wrote a few times on my blog that I’m trying to take the plane as little as possible, as it’s so bad for the environment. I took a ten hour megabus (http://www.clairesfootsteps.com/megabus-london-to-amsterdam/) from London to Amsterdam last month and actually quite enjoyed it. I’m taking some crazy train routes through China in the summer too (one is 40 hours!) I’d probably say my favourite method of transport is train – good for the environment but no traffic and the chance to take in lots of scenery!
Are you planning to work on the road?
I hope so… My purse probably won’t get very far if I don’t! I’m going to Australia on a working holiday visa so I’ll be working there. I’ve also just got a TEFL certificate, so am able to get teaching jobs abroad. I’ll probably also be doing odd jobs on the side to earn some extra cash.
What are your travelling goals?
I basically want to overland everywhere. I’m plotting a big trip from somewhere in South East Asia all the way back to the UK… without flying! I’ll take trains and buses up to Beijing, where I would take the Trans Mongolian Railway to Moscow (stopping over in Mongolia, naturally!) and then travel from there back to the UK. I also want to do a similar trip in the Americas – journeying from Ushuaia to Alaska with no planes involved.
Where do you see your blog in ten years’ time?
Well, I’m hoping by doing the above, I’ll have enough material to turn it into a book! That’s the ultimate goal. I want to share the crazy plans I get into my head and how I execute them, and to encourage people all over the globe to do similar things.
I hope one day to maybe run an eco-travel company, and teach English in my spare time.
What are your essential items that you take on a trip?
As few clothes as I need, flip flops, trainers, my laptop, kindle, normal electronics and minimal toiletries (mainly my Lush facewash and a mascara, just in case..) I try to pack as light as possible!
What’s your top tip for people wanting to travel responsibly?
Take a reusable bottle and shopping bag. These are things that you use every day, and not throwing away plastic items has a huge positive impact on the environment!
Do you have any advice or tips for aspiring travellers?
Don’t take the media too seriously. If I had, I would have never gone to Guatemala. When researching a place, it’s always better to talk to people who have actually been there and listen to their first hand experiences. Try to gage whether a country is actually dangerous or if danger happens when people are doing silly things. It’s probably the latter – most danger can be avoided. I wrote this post called ‘Is Guatemala Safe?’which has some sound advice about Guatemala and safe travel in general.
What has travel taught you?
Always be open minded. Pack light. Smile at everyone you see. Chat to people wherever possible. Ask lots of questions. Imagine what life is like on the other side of the world. Be kind!
Quick fire questions:-
Favourite airline? Emirates
Favourite country? Guatemala
Favourite city? Bristol, UK
Favourite beach? Starfish Beach, Bocas del Toro, Panama
Favourite food? Nothing beats British roast potatoes!
Favourite language? Spanish
Please provide the following:-
Website url? http://www.clairesfootsteps.com
Twitter handle? http://www.twitter.com/clairefootsteps
Facebook page? http://www.facebook.com/clairesfootsteps
Google+ profile/page? https://plus.google.com/u/0/+ClaireMartinsfootsteps