Hi, I’m Emma, Australian travel photographer and blogger and owner of travel blog A Make Believe World . I initially started my blog while I was working at an extremely boring job – it gave me something to do when it was quiet at work and it allowed me to share my travel photos and tips with others. At the time, our friends were constantly asking us to help us plan and book their trips (and they still are!), so I thought I would be able to help others who were confused about where to start. Travel photography has always been my passion. When I was reading other blogs it would drive me crazy that they didn’t include many photos, so I always wanted to share as many photos as I could. These days I use the blog to not only share with my readers travel advice and different destinations from around the world, but also to show people that you can travel the world with a husband and a 9-5 job, you don’t always have to quit your job, sell all your belongings and travel solo to see the world (unless you want to of course!).
What plans do you have in the future for your blog?
Over the next 6 months we are travelling to the Coastal Islands and Tropical North Queensland in Australia. We are also travelling to Southeast Asia and visiting Singapore, Vietnam, Laos, Northern Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia and the Philippines at the end of the year. We have also started planning and working out the logistics for taking a year off to travel around Australia in a campervan. I am hoping that I can incorporate some more tips for money saving, photography and editing and balancing your work and travel life, as well as hopefully some more collaborations.
Do you have any travel tips or advice for our readers that might want to start a travel blog?
Just do it. The best way to get started is just to start! If you wait until it’s perfect there will never be a right time, and the more you do it, the more you understand what you like and what works for you. I feel like I am CONSTANTLY working on my blog, trying new things, creating new posts and pages, updating and changing the layout so that it’s the best it can possibly be. If you’re not a full time traveller like me, I choose not to blog when I’m travelling and instead spread out my posts over the next few weeks and months when I get home. That way I always have new and exciting content to share and I can spread it over all of the weeks and months that I’m just at home at work.
What are some of the highs and lows of travel blogging?
Securing my first sponsorships were definitely some of my highest moments, it really made me feel like someone believed in me and what I was trying to achieve. Also, whenever someone comments on a blog or social media post, or sends me an email asking for advice, really makes me so happy, I love to connect with people! Alternatively, the ever changing face of social media, such as Instagram and trying to figure out how to constantly better your unique views per month can be soul crushing and a little bit demotivating. I try not to take numbers too seriously, but I know how hard it can be!
What type of traveller are you?
I travel with my husband Thom, who I have tried to bring into the blog a lot more lately. We both work full time jobs in Melbourne, Australia that we need to work our travels around. Luckily, we both work for great companies, who are very lenient to our requested annual leave and time off. We normally take at least one big trip a year (4-6 weeks) and then a couple of smaller trips, either interstate or to a closer international country when we can fit it in. I’m definitely not a solo traveller though, if Thom can’t come on a particular trip I will often travel with my sister. I love to make memories and enjoy experiences with loved ones.
As someone who works 9-5 how do you fit in travelling around your work schedule?
As crazy as this sounds, I plan out our BIG trips (4+ weeks) very far in advance. I can usually tell you what our plans look like for the next 2-3 years. In my opinion, poor planning is the only reason for missing out on what you want to do. Since we both have jobs and we own a house, I like to plan far in advance so we can make sure we save enough, give our work enough notice and don’t miss out on anything! Sometimes plans change and things have to be moved out or booked for a little bit later, but it really does work for us and helps give us structure in our saving and spending habits.
What sites or other resources do you use to decide where and when you will go to a certain place or destination?
Whether is something I always check before making plans to go anywhere. I am a summer lover and for me there is nothing worse than travelling somewhere during their off season or when it’s going to be cold or rainy! After I have figured out when and where I’m going to go I always like to research destination information and activities on Lonely Planet. The LP guidebooks are also a huge resource for me. Other than that, I will often just type the destination into Google and read posts from other travel bloggers about each place. Learning from other people’s experiences is the perfect way to figure out the best things to do/see in each place, and important information you need to know!
Do you have any favourite travel books you read or use?
I always read the Lonely Planet guide for each destination we’re going to during the planning process, and then I will take the ebooks with me on my iPad while I’m travelling to save luggage room! One of my favourite parts of the guidebooks is the information section at the back of the guidebook, where it gives you a little bit of the country’s history and what’s been going on in their current culture.
What have been some of your favourite destinations (up to 5) and why?
Uluru in the Northern Territory of Australia – you should never underestimate your own country’s backyard. Visiting Uluru, the spiritual heart of Australia this year was life changing. We connected with Central Australia in a way we never expected and immediately started planning how we could spend more time there.
Japan – such a crazy place and so unlike anywhere else I have experienced in Asia. I don’t know exactly what it was, but I loved everything about Japan.
Mexico – when we visited Mexico for the first time we loved it so much we always knew we would make it part of our honeymoon, so it was amazing to visit again this year and experience different places. I can’t even tell you what I love so much about it – the people, the food, the culture, the natural beauty – I would visit again and again, I love Mexico!
South Africa – I have such a giant soft spot in my heart for Africa. I love it in a way I can’t explain. It makes me feel complete, like I am more myself than anywhere else I have travelled internationally. Spotting wild animals on safari will always be one of my favourite experiences, and I can’t wait for my next one!
Malta – Last year we travelled to Malta with my WHOLE extended family (that’s more than 20 people) and it was just so much fun. Experiencing your heritage, where your grandparents grew up and the culture with your whole family is just such an incredible experience.
What equipment do you use to blog or for your blog?
I always write and create my blog posts on a laptop or computer (no tablets) to make sure I’m getting the most accurate view of it before publishing. I use a Nikon camera with a big zoom lens (18-300mm) for all of my photos and normally just use my iPhone to edit them (I use professional apps like Photoshop and Lightroom). Phone apps like Canva and Over are also great to create Pinterest images and Covers for different posts and pages. I also have a Mavic Pro drone, which is my new favourite toy for aerial photography and a GoPro Hero 5 Black for underwater photos, that I like to pull out as much as possible!
Do you have any photography or making travel videos tips?
You should ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS take your photos on a real camera and edit them before posting. I’m sorry, but in 2017 no one wants to see pictures taken on a phone, especially if you have tried to zoom in on something. It looks terrible and unprofessional.
What’s the TOP post on your page? What made this so popular in your opinion?
Surprisingly, the most popular post ever on my blog is The Pillars at Mount Martha – in the Mornington Peninsula, in Victoria Australia. I think it’s because there isn’t much information about it on the internet, so my post comes up quite high in Google and Google Images when people search for it.
Top 5 bucket list destinations:
Destinations that we haven’t already booked or planned :
Africa (Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana and Namibia are all top of my list)
Bora Bora in the French Polynesia (saving this one for our babymoon one day haha)
The South Pacific (including Samoa, Fiji and Rarotonga).
Top 5 travel experience you can’t wait to try out or do?
Safari from Nairobi to Cape Town (absolutely dying for this one)
Road tripping through the Kimberly in Western Australia
Hot air ballooning over Bagan, Myanmar
Spotting polar bears in the wild – Churchill, Canada
Walking along the Great Wall of China
Do you have a money saving travel tips?
When we’re at home we try to save super hard by prioritising what we want to buy and setting ourselves weekly budgets. I try not to go overboard on buying clothes or things for home and save as hard as I can. We also avoid spending too much money going out on the weekends and doing extra stuff dinners and movie nights. You can’t save hard without making some sacrifices.
Was there a place you visited that did not live up to your expectations and why?
Paris was extremely disappointing for us. We were visiting during the Euro Soccer world cup unfortunately, which meant for us that the gardens around the Eiffel Tower were all closed for pop-up game fields and there were screaming drunk soccer fans all over the city. It was also incredibly cold for summer, with torrential rains every day – and the day we wanted to visit the top of the Eiffel Tower it was closed for a workers strike! By the second day of our visit we just couldn’t wait to leave and get out of there.
Share a link to your favourite photos on your Instagram page:
Here are three of my favourites: Uluru at sunrise: Cheetahs in Kruger National Park, South Africa:
What’s in your travel bag?
My camera is the only thing that I can never leave without. I will always throw a little camera pack into my bag which includes my SLR, a back up battery and memory card and a connecter to put photos from my memory card straight onto my phone. Apart from that, sunscreen (I cdo come from Australia), my iPhone, a hair tie and a good lip balm are always part of my everyday travel bag – for when I’m exploring different places!
What travel apps do you use and why?
Skyscanner – to find the cheapest and best flights.
Hotels Combined – to find the best deals on hotels around the world.
Lightroom – for photo editing on the go.
Trip It – to keep all of my travel plans and bookings in one place.
Lonely Planet Guides – for city guides right in your pocket.
What are three things travelling has taught you?
The information we are told about particular countries in the news and media definitely does not represent the whole country. For example, countries like Mexico, South Africa and Guatemala that are considered “dangerous” in Australian media have felt like some of the safest places I have been. The dangers on the news are not a depiction of every single part of the country, just the conflict ridden parts of it. You should never take what you have and your opportunities for granted, we are so lucky to come from extremely privileged first world countries and we should give back as much as we can.
Travelling can change your thoughts, your perspective and your life. It is true when they say that travelling is the only thing that costs you money that will make you richer. It will open your mind, expand your thinking and simply show you that people from around the world are all the same. I would highly recommend travelling and exploring the world or your backyard, to anyone considering it. You will never be the same again.
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