It has been a while since I last conducted an interview with an awesome travel blogger but when Amar asked me if I would revive the series and feature his blog the opportunity was too great to pass up. Check out the interview I carried out with Amar below and learn all the tips and tricks it takes to become a great traveller and travel blogger.
If you have an awesome travel blog you would also like featured on the site, please just get in touch.
1: Why don’t you start by introducing yourself and your blog?
Hello! I’m Amar and have been running my Gap Year blog since 2009 which documents my eight year, seven continent adventures around the globe.
2: How did Gap Year Escape all begin?
Well it all started on a whim really. I graduated in the midst of the recession and I thought it made sense to go travelling rather than jumping straight into the job search. I was heading off to Thailand and a week before a friend suggested I write a blog and said “you never know it might make you some money”. Well 3 months later I started to monetise the site and as they say, the rest is history.
3: What advice would you give new travelers hoping to start their own blogs?
There are certainly a lot of travel bloggers out there and it is a crowded place but that doesn’t mean there isn’t the opportunity to shine. I think the key to starting now, as opposed to eight years ago, is to pick a niche and dominate that. Don’t try and encompass everything. The temptation is to be an “everything” blog so that you appeal to a large variety of PRs and companies but you end up spreading yourself too thin. Find a niche within travel and become an expert there and you’ll succeed with effort and hard work.
4: How do you find such amazing press trips and reviews to take part in?
It’s a mixture of them finding the blog and me putting myself out there. Some PRs have admitted that they have followed my social accounts for a little while first to see how I act before approaching so being consistent and professional at all times is key. I also routinely check in with PRs, just a soft touch, to see what they have going on. You may not hear back for 6 months but when they have something suitable they do get in touch.
5: What would you say to people contemplating the idea of long term travel?
I think preparation is the key thing here and not specifically about packing.
First thing is friends and family. Your leaving date creeps up on you sooner than you think so start planning ahead. Also, a leaving party might seem like a good idea to see everyone at once but you end up not talking to anyone properly. Spread out the goodbyes and do them properly.
Secondly, don’t leave the admin until last minute either. Things like travel insurance, cancelling direct debits, phone contracts, and subscriptions – think about all of this in advance as most will have a notice period.
If you don’t have one already and are carelessly wasting the opportunity at free points, get yourself a credit card that awards points that can get you free flights and upgrades. This isn’t about spending extra, this is about taking your current spend and making sure you put everything on the card to rack up points. Do this early enough prior to your trip and it will soon add up. The number one thing here is to always pay off your credit card in full! This guide will help you get started with points. Oh and finally, make sure you sign up to frequent flyer programs too!
Finally, if you’re on the fence or have any hesitations, just do it. It can seem daunting putting your belongings into a backpack and hitting the road and sure there are moments of homesickness but you’ll be too busy having a great time to notice. Whenever you go on holiday you always reach that point where you just start to get into it and then you have to come back. Well with long term travel, that return date is a long way off and you can really get stuck in!
6: What has been your most favourite country and why?
I mean how do you answer that? Every country is amazing and has something to offer. It may not be obvious or well known but it is always there. I like Italy and Belize for the food, Switzerland and Banos, Ecuador for the adventure sports and Slovenia and New Zealand for the nature. Even writing that feels too narrow!
I recently had the pleasure of visiting Sri Lanka which for me had the perfect blend of everything. The food as you can imagine is top notch. You can go on leopard safari, surf the beaches on the south coast, hike through tea plantations and get spiritual in the cultural triangle. It’s such a well balanced destination and to top it all off the people are some of the nicest I’ve ever met. My top tip would be to stay in homestays rather than hotels or hostels. It’s a great way to travel and get a more local experience.
7: Similarly, what country is your least favourite and why?
I think least favourite is a fair description rather than saying dislike but El Salvador comes to mind. I’m not sure why but it didn’t really gel with me. It’s certainly one of the least travelled countries in Central America which will appeal to many. I think I need to go back and give it another go.
8: What types of activities do you love to do when travelling?
I can tell you what I hate and this may come as a surprise but it’s hiking. I’ve done some tough hikes and I pretty much hate every minute of them. Over the last eight years I always “give it another go” and it’s still the same for me.
I’m rather keen on scuba diving and have been fortunate enough to do some epic dives in places like the Galapagos, Bay Islands, Maldives and Fiji. I also like rock climbing, white water rafting and canyoning. I don’t excel at any of them as I don’t do them often enough but I love them all the same.