I interviewed Heather, better known as the Nomadic American! Read on for her thoughts on traveling solo, blogging on the road and the future of travel blogging.
So to start, tell us a bit about yourself and your travels. When did you first start travelling seriously, and how did you get into traveling?
Let’s see. I’m Heather. I hate starting introductions with my name because a name is just a name. I could have any name, but this is my name and how I’m identified, so now you know not to call me Bob or some other equally male name. Moving on… I lived in the United States for the first twenty-four years of my life. During college, I moved away from Maryland and I lived in four different states. I was an online student at that time, so it was great to be able to live anywhere while still going to university.
At the age of twenty-four, I knew it was time to hit the road. I had finished college and I had attempted the nine-to-five rat race. I was bored. I became good friends with another travel blogger and I followed his life via the internet. I watched as he taught English abroad and traveled through Asia. I wanted to do what he was doing, so I did.
I finished a TEFL certification and I looked online for teaching jobs in Asia. Within a few days, I was offered a teaching job and asked to move to China within two weeks. I wasn’t ready to leave so quickly, so I asked them to give me one month before I made this major life change. I was sad, happy, nervous, and excited all mixed into one smiling, crying mess, but I knew that I had to take this step.
After teaching English in China for eight months, I traveled through eight countries in Asia (Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Vietnam, Japan, and South Korea) for five months. Currently, I’m back in America recovering from the holidays and preparing for my move to Australia. I recently made it a goal to live on every continent (sans Antarctica) for a year. Two down, four to go!
Lots of people are weary of travelling solo as a female, do you think it’s right for people to be cautious or have you had a relatively smooth experience?
Aside from two incidents that were a little bit uncomfortable, I would say that I’ve had a relatively smooth experience as a female traveling (sorry, we only use one L in that word in America) solo. That doesn’t mean that females shouldn’t be cautious when they’re traveling solo, but it also shouldn’t stop solo females from taking on the world.
There are some places where I just wouldn’t travel alone as a female. These countries have consistently been given a bad reputation for female traveling alone. But, as you can probably guess, these countries aren’t the safest for those traveling in groups either.
Do you have any advice for female travel bloggers who plan to travel solo?
My best advice is that you should do research about a place before you visit. Look up caution advisories, talk to other travelers, and be aware of your surroundings. If you have a bad gut instinct about a place, don’t be afraid to change your plans and leave.
What made you decide to blog your travels, and what advice do you have for new travelers thinking about doing the same?
I decided to blog about my travels after reading several travel blogs and being told by family and friends that I need to share more of my travel experiences. People were always asking about specific places and wanting to see pictures. While I’d love to be able to give each person full details on my adventures, that’s just not feasible when you’re actively traveling. It’s easier for them and easier for me to have a place where people can come to read about my nomadic lifestyle.
My best advice for new travelers considering travel blogging is that you should decide your future plans for the blog before you create the blog. Are you writing to keep family and friends informed? Are you writing to give advice on specific places or travel topics? Are you writing to “build a brand”? This makes a huge difference in the beginning steps of creating your blog.
Travelling is a pretty saturated niche in some ways, do you have any advice for travelers hoping to create a unique travel blog in 2014?
It’s ironic that you asked this question. After answering the last question about travel advice, I thought about explaining the important of creating your own unique travel niche. It doesn’t particularly matter which topic you choose (specific places, working abroad, food, travel tips, etc.), but don’t be afraid to choose one. Make sure that it’s not too focused or you’ll really limit your audience. Make sure that it fits into your plans for the future of your blog. And most importantly, make sure the topic is interesting to you!