My name is Alex, I am a 34-year-old backpacker from the UK, and I write the Story Every Day blog about my experiences:
I am lucky to have been able to travel a lot through my work as well as for pleasure. By the end of my current trip I will have been to 47 countries in total (if I have counted correctly!), covering all continents of the world.
I started the Story Every Day blog at the beginning of a one-year world travel in June 2017. I am travelling with my wife, Lisa, who also writes a blog at www.lisapool.com
My blog focuses on stories about the people and places we encounter on our travels, with some emphasis on travel philosophy and the experience of backpacking in your 30s.
The name ‘Story Every Day’ is actually taken from a line in our wedding vows! We promised to make a new story every day with each other, and travelling is a big part of that – so I thought it would work quite well for the blog.
What plans do you have in the future for your blog?
As I write this we have three months of our trip left. After that it might be a while before our next adventure, as we’ll need to get back to work! It’s likely we will travel in smaller chunks in future.
I plan to carry on writing the blog – the experiences from this trip are providing enough material to keep it going for months. I want to develop it further as well – I am hoping to broaden the content by doing more collabs, guest articles, interviews, starting a podcast, and writing about my home city, London.
I wrote an article about my post-travel plans: Travel Plans
Does your blog cover anything else other than travel? If so what?
Sometimes I cross over a little into history, politics and even book reviews, but it’s always travel-related. I am fascinated by geopolitics, and so for example, I wrote about the historical contexts of some of the places we visited in South America.
What can our readers find on your website?
You can find stories from my travels at http:storyeveryday.co.uk – I usually post a couple of times a week. At the moment I am mostly writing about our current trip, which covers South America, Oceania and South-East Asia.
Do you have any travel tips or advice for our readers that might want to start a travel blog?
Create a plan for your travels. You can always change it up and do something different, but if you have a provisional plan before you set off it will save you a lot of time in researching while you’re on the road.
When it comes to starting a blog, just go for it – there’s no obvious place to start, so just write down your experiences and go from there.
Perhaps think about a niche you could write about. I often find that the most interesting blogs are those that give very particular perspectives. I mean, there is no shortage of information on what to do in, say, Prague, but what about how to travel in Prague as a pregnant woman, a 40-something couple, a family with kids or an arty hipster?
Another useful habit is to write down notes whenever you can. Record those interesting micro-moments or ideas when they happen, because you’re likely to forget them later.
What are some of the highs and lows of travel blogging?
For me the best thing about travel blogging is that it enables you to think deeply about your experiences almost to the point where you relive them. When backpacking you spend so much time in transit, and if the scenery is dull there’s no better way to pass the time than to reminisce over your recent visits and write about them.
I also find it incredibly rewarding when other people find your articles genuinely useful. Now that we’ve finished our South America leg, I’ve met lots of people heading over there who have thanked me for sharing my experiences about it. When that happens, it’s a reminder that you’re giving something back to the travel community.
As somebody who loves writing there aren’t many lows, but the main one is that it can be very time-consuming. When I get the block (we all get it, right?) it can take me hours to finish an article, and occasionally that means I miss out on social time or another activity. But I try to keep a good balance, and in the long run I’m sure I will be glad that I’ve stuck with the blog.
What type of traveler are you? How do you manage to work 9-5 and travel?
I probably fit most neatly into the ‘work full time then travel’ category, but I also travel with my work a few times a year. For the current trip we just made a saving plan and stuck to it. It took us five years, but we did it and it’s been worth the sacrifices we made to get here.
I find the idea of becoming a digital nomad quite a romantic one, but the practicalities of it are difficult at my age when there are other big life decisions and considerations. It takes a lot of courage to commit to that lifestyle, and I have nothing but admiration for the people who do it.
How do you fit in travelling around your work schedule?
This is going to be the big question when we finish our year career break! I think it’s going to be a case of planning short breaks well – utilising long weekends and the festive holidays, for example. We have been talking about doing one big trip a year around Christmas and New Year, and then lots of small trips to explore closer to home.
What sites or other resources do you use to decide where and when you will go to a certain place or destination?
Aside from general research through the typical online channels, the best resources for learning about places to go are the people I meet while travelling. When you connect and spend time with people you really get a sense of whether you will like the same experiences they’ve had.
The travel blogging community has also been a go-to for me. For example, when we did our roadtrip in northern Argentina, we based almost our entire itinerary on a random blog post I found. Travel podcasts are another useful tool, and great for long journeys. I like listening to the World Wanderers podcast by Amanda and Ryan, who have been to all of the places on our current route.
In terms of timing, it’s good to explore whether you can coincide your travels with national celebration days and festivals. We missed out on Peru Day by a week, and we regretted that – it looked like so much fun. Other examples are the Carnival in Brazil and Chinese New Year – if you can be in the rights places for such events, it will definitely enhance your experience.
Do you have any favourite travel books you have read or use?
When it comes to travel books, I like to read about stories and anecdotes rather than itinerary and advice literature. Before we visited Patagonia, I read Bruce Chatwin’s famous travel tales In Patagonia, which not only gave me some bearings for the region but also a sense of the history and ideas about places to see, at the same time as being an entertaining read.
What’s been some of your favourite destinations & why?
This is the question people always ask, and it’s so difficult to answer! I usually say that Chile has been my favourite country. As it covers such a distance from north to south, flanked by the Andes mountains on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other, the diversity of landscape is like no other place on earth. To go from the astonishing night skies in the Atacama Desert and Elqui Valley in the north, to the vibrance and bustle of cities like Santiago and Valparaiso in the central region, to the lakes and mountains of Torres del Paine in the south is just incredible.
As I write this I am travelling through the Philippines, which has been my favourite destination in Asia so far. The islands of Cebu and Palawan are beautiful with their jungle-plastered mountains, and for a recently qualified scuba diver, they have some of the best sites to explore the oceans.
For food and drink, nothing has beaten Argentina yet. Travelling the wine route in the north-west has transformed me into a fully-fledged wino. I would also go back to Buenos Aires just for the steak – it beats anything I’ve had in London, New York or Paris.
I would give a final mention to Estonia. I’ve spent a lot of time in Eastern Europe on previous trips, and I love the cities there, but the old town of Tallinn has something extra magical about it. I would love to spend a New Year there in the old town square.
What equipment do you use to blog or for your blog.
Like many, I use WordPress for my blog. I am a PC guy rather than a Mac guy, and I do most of my writing on a cheap Acer laptop I picked up after my good gear was stolen in Argentina (see story below).
For photos I use a Nikon D5600 with a standard 15-70mm lens as well as a 70-300mm zoom lens.
Do you have any photography or making travel videos tips?
My favourite piece of travel photography advice is to always take the picture. Sometimes when you see a potentially good shot, it can be a hassle to get the camera out and set it up, but later you’ll be glad you did. This is particularly applicable when on long treks when you’re getting tired.
And of course, keep everything backed up as much as you can, as you never know when you’ll hit some misfortune. It’s a terrible feeling to lose your memories.
What’s the TOP blog post TOPIC’s on your page?
My categories are quite general. The one with the most posts is ‘stories’
Do you have any tips or suggestions one how bloggers can earn an income from blogging?
This is not my area of expertise as I am a recreational blogger right now, and don’t make any income as yet. But I would welcome any tips on this myself, so please get in touch if you have some!
Top 5 Bucket-list Destinations and why?
Japan – to visit Tokyo and eat a lot of sushi!
Canada – to visit friends, go hiking in the wilderness and hang out in Vancouver
Colombia – to drink coffee, trek in the Cocora Valley and experience Medellin and Bogota
Croatia – to chill in Dubrovnik and hop the islands
Norway – to roadtrip to the far north and see the Northern Lights again
Top 5 travel experiences you can’t wait to try out or do?
Being a Couchsurfing host
Do you have a money saving travel tips?
This can depend on where you are travelling, but there are some good habits that will save you cash regardless of location.
Plan a travel budget. The website www.planyourbudget.com is very good for establishing how much you will need to spend when visiting a new country – we’ve found it to be pretty accurate.
Shopping in markets and local shops for food has saved us money, especially in South America where we cooked a lot of our own food.
Finally, whenever you use a local service that does not have a clear fixed cost, make sure you agree a price before going ahead with it.
Do you have any funny or strange travel experiences to share? please state what happened.
When we were in New Zealand we hired a car on the south island, and during our drive up the west coast, we stopped overnight at Fox Glacier village. This part of New Zealand is extremely remote, with a small and sparse population, and no big towns or cities for many miles around.
We set up our tent for the night in a village campsite. We were soundly asleep when at 2am, we were awoken by a loud wailing siren coming from the village. It was the same type of siren used to alert people to imminent air raids in World War II – those slowly ascending tones that send a chill down your spine.
For a few moments we froze in terror, wondering what on earth was going on; after all, New Zealand is a country renowned for its natural disasters. Was this siren alerting us to an earthquake or tsunami threat, perhaps? After a few minutes I got up and looked outside the tent. Apart from a couple of the other campers peering warily about, nothing seemed to be happening.
The next morning I found out that the sirens are used to alert the local volunteer fire service to an incident. It could have been anything from a traffic accident to a domestic fire, and apparently barely a week goes by without the sirens blaring out in the night. I wish I’d known that before we heard them!
I wrote a bit more about the incident here: New Zealand
Was there a place you visited that did not live up to your expectations & why.
This is difficult, but perhaps Australia is a little overhyped as a travel destination. My friends from the UK who have visited have always raved about it, as did lots of travelers we met on the road prior to our visit.
When we made it there we had just spent five months in South America and three weeks in New Zealand. After that, stepping into Australia was like being back in the UK, but with better weather. As we travelled up the east coast there seemed to be more Brits than Australians, and the hostels we stayed in were overrun with long-term stayers and partyers who did nothing but sleep and drink. We definitely felt a pang of reverse culture shock, and the scenery we saw just didn’t compare with the likes of Patagonia and the south island of New Zealand. It’s also one of the most expensive places we’ve visited.
Having said all of that, we still had a great time there. Melbourne and Sydney are brilliant cities, and we had lots of fun touring Fraser Island, Whitsundays and the Great Barrier Reef.
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What’s in your travel bag? Name 5 travel essentials always in your bag?
I am actually writing a blog post about this at the moment! Five things I couldn’t travel without are:
Clothes packing cubes
Water camel pack
Ocean pack (dry bag)
Sleeping bag silk liner
What travel apps do you use?
For hostels, HostelWorld – an obvious one, but it’s the best thing out there for booking travel accommodation.
For banking, Revolut – a pre-paid card that offers 0% on cash withdrawals up to £200.
For navigation, Maps.me – enables you to download maps for specific locations that can be used offline.
For communication, Google Translate – the app version allows you to download different languages, which has saved a lot of hassle in language barrier situations.
In New Zealand and Australia we also used Campermate to find campsites, which provides information on facilities, pricing and customer reviews.
What are 3 things travelling has taught you?
1, The people you meet will shape your experience more than the things you see.
2, No matter where you are, taxi drivers will try to rip you off.
3, It’s much better to travel long distances by night than by day.
Have you encountered any travel mishaps or scary moments if so what happened?
We were robbed by a deception scam (the bird mess trick, a very common one) within an hour of arriving in Buenos Aires on a Sunday morning. Among other things, we lost our passports, laptop, cameras, travel mementos, and lots of our photos.
The incident nearly ended our trip and meant that we had stay in Argentina for weeks while we waited for new passports, spend a lot of money on replacing our gear, and miss out on several of our planned destinations. But in the end, we managed to take a lot of positives from the experience and move on from it. Six months later, we’re still going!
I wrote about the robbery and how we got over it here: Buenos Aires
Do you have any recommendations for cities and beach places that you have visited and loved?
La Paz in Bolivia isn’t a city that is often talked about, but it is one of the very best I have visited. At over 3,600m it is the highest-altitude capital city in the world, and its colourful buildings spread over the slopes of hills and mountains look stunning as you enter.
Bolivia is relatively unwesternised and so La Paz is full of bustling markets, independent local shops and street vendors. The people are among the friendliest I’ve encountered. There’s also a great variety of things to do and see, from cycling death road, to exploring the nearby mountains, to watching a cholita wrestling show. And the nightlife is superb.
For beaches, I would say the Philippines has impressed me most. The island of Palawan has some beautiful coastal areas, in particular around El Nido, where you can take inexpensive island hopping tours.
Where do you see your travel blog in two years?
I am quite new to travel blogging and at the moment it’s a recreational thing for me, so I don’t have any major long-terms goals. As I mentioned earlier, however, I have some ideas on how I might develop it after I return to the UK.
If I can cover a greater diversity of destinations, integrate a podcast with the blog and steadily grow my audience, I will be happy with that.
I would also like to get more involved in the travel blogging community; I would like to start attending conferences or networking events at least once a year.
Please share ONE travel quote you love.
One of my all-time favourites is a lyric from the 1970s song by Harry Chapin, W.O.LD.
“You can travel on ten thousand miles and still stay where you are”.
For me, this means that travelling is not a substitute for living. If you’re doing it to escape something, it probably won’t work. You will get the most out of travelling if you embrace it fully, set out to learn, and be willing to exit your comfort zone.
Story Every Day