Essentially, it is an initiative amongst travel bloggers to introduce newbies in the travel blogosphere to the rest of the world. It’s not the Oscar’s but a cool way to get to know new bloggers and spread the word about the newbies on the block.
Plus, we all love a good challenge, right?
Accept or reject the nomination.
If you accept, thank the bloggers who nominated you on Twitter and make sure to link back to them in your post too.
Answer the 11 questions.
Nominate 5 other bloggers to answer yours.
Ask them 11 questions.
Inform them of your nomination on Twitter. Include your post & hashtag it with #LiebsterAward.
Here are my answers
1. What is the strangest item you pack for your travels?
Hmmm…now that had me thinking for a while – as I don’t consider anything I take with me as ‘strange’. I would say the most unusual travel item (unusual because I have never heard of anyone else carrying it with them), is my Yak Wool shawl that I purchased in Nepal at the beginning of my trip back in 2014. It is also my favourite possession ever. I could not imagine my life without it anymore – really!
Why? Because I’m always cold! Especially on planes, busses and any other air-conditioned spaces. I love the fact that it is big enough to use as a blanket and packs small enough to not take up too much space. It is also incredibly lightweight. My beloved shawl has even turned into a bit of a running gag between Ben and me. I repeatedly ask him on our travels ‘Have I ever mentioned how much I love my Yak Wool shawl?’ which is usually followed by a ‘sigh’ and a smile.
Buying this shawl also let’s me remember one of my favourite travel moments: I wasn’t looking to buy anything like it – but couldn’t resist when I wandered past this Nepali woman’s stand in the middle of nowhere on the Annapurna trail. She was weaving one of the shawls by hand and I stood there watching her for a while. I decided to buy one and she was so immensely happy and thankful – her reaction really warmed my heart.
It has also completely re-designed the way I think about, something so seemingly insignificant like, buying a clothing item. ‘Somewhere in the world, someone has produced this for you’ I repeatedly think. This encouraged me to be more aware of where I buy my clothes and to rather support local communities than buying at big retailers.
Amazing what a shawl can do, hey?
2. What is the one food from home you wish you could bring everywhere you go?
Ah…now, as a ‘rootless’ person who doesn’t consider herself to really have a home, I’m not sure which country I should pick. But, I would probably say that, since London is the only place I ever felt ‘at home’, I’d have to pick an item which I always used to buy during my six years in the UK. No scrape that! I just realised something I really miss from the days when I still lived in Namibia: ProNutro breakfast cereal (chocolate)! Yum! Or chocolate-covered Marzipan from Switzerland, where I was born. Or wait…Tulli cream chocolate spread from Portugal (where I spent a big and significant time of my childhood). Yes…I do love chocolate!
But to be honest, usually I miss the foods I’ve discovered on the road when I’m back ‘home’. I don’t really crave any familiar foods, really.
Because…look at what you get out here!
3. What have you learned about yourself through traveling?
I learnt that conversations with locals is my most favourite part of travelling and makes me learn a lot about myself.
Every story I heard has had an effect on me, in some or other way. Be it, Reetha, the Brahmin woman who is a successful business owner, despite heavy initial resistance from her community – who taught me to follow your passion and never give up;
Arvind, the ex-army boss who is now a Yogi who taught me that I’m just a drop in the ocean who needs to find her voice;
Guddu the Brahmin who opened my eyes to the realities of forced marriages in India and made me realise how lucky I am to be able to chose who I want to be with;
The little Laotian girl in a rural village who has touched my heart forever when I gifted her with a book – and who has thus taught me to appreciate the small things in life.
All these people have taught me something. Travel truly changes who you are – if you let it.
4. Traveling can be tough, both mentally and physically (most often the latter). How do you stay healthy on the road?
I learnt during my travels that i’m tougher than I thought I was. I’m not easily swayed, even by the most uncomfortable of situations. 30 hours by bus from Kathmandu to Delhi? Tick. Sleeping in the wild under a bamboo tent? Tick. Doing a 15-day trek despite no experience? Tick.
However, what is my strength, also turned out to be my weakness. I have the tendency to ignore my body’s warning signs. The trek, in Nepal for instance, led to a full-blown pneumonia – I had not treated my body with respect. But because this happened at the beginning of my travels, it has also set my intention for my adventures around the world: to practise self-love.
I make sure to listen to my intuition and that it is ok to say ‘No’ sometimes. Trusting my gut instinct is what protects me on the road. One day, in Vietnam, I felt very weak and decided to stay at home for one day – despite wanting to go exploring so badly – thankfully I rested, because apparently I had just escaped a bronchitis (i’m prone to fall ill with respiratory tract infections which develop quickly – unfortunately).
The same goes for mental exhaustion: I remember one day when I wandered through the streets of Jaipur, feeling completely overwhelmed by all the hustle and bustle going on around me. We returned back to our guesthouse and spent the afternoon on the balcony, reading.
The bottomline is: Slow down whenever your body tells you to. Respect what your body is trying to tell you!
5) If you were to travel during another era, when would it be and why?
Great question! I would love to hop on a time machine and travel back to the 70s when traveling was seen as something the mainstream society would not generally do (counterculture) – but where travel also started to become more popular and affordable (especially in Asia).
The babyboomers started to explore the world and went to places that their parents never dreamt of going. They were rebellious like that!
Tony Wheeler once said “All you’ve got to do is decide to go and the hardest part is over. So go!” I couldn’t agree with him more. I think you had to have one hell of a lot more courage to escape what was seen the ‘norm’ and just go travelling back then! An RTW trip, nowadays, is easily organised.
Imagine traveling without Internet – no cell-phones etc. We will never really experience what that feels like – unless we really put an effort into shutting ourselves away from an ever-expanding digital age.
And well…we travel bloggers wouldn’t exist. Which would be a real shame, don’t you think?
6) What is the first thing you do once you get into a new city?
Go to a supermarket. Yes, I’m one of those odd people that loves exploring the aisles. Food fascinates me (especially Vietnamese food…yum!) and I love learning about what locals buy on a day-to-day basis to create their meals. I believe you don’t understand a culture properly unless you learn about their meals – their favourite ingredients – their eating habits.
My motto is: If I don’t know what it is, I want to try it.
I also make sure to always chose a different dish every time.
Other than that, I’m always on the look-out for new recipes for my Food blog.
7) Coffee, tea, or juice? Choose one.
Chai Tea. This recipe, was passed on to me by a chai wallah in Kathmandu, Nepal.
8) Who is the person who has inspired you to travel the most?
I don’t think anyone really inspired me to travel to be honest. It wasn’t like my parents were avid travellers themselves as we usually always went back to the same place for holiday, every year: Portugal (my mother’s origin).
I remember flying as a small kid and being super excited about take-off and landing – every time. Some kids would fall into a panic state the moment they set foot in a plane. Not me. I was completely fascinated by planes and the ability to wake up in a different country to where you found yourself a few hours ago.
I think I was born with wanderlust and thirst for adventure.
I always loved it.
9) What is one destination you felt was overrated?
I almost feel embarrassed to say it. But, so far, Laos was my least favourite country. It is a great country to do lots of active pursuits. But the landscape, even the famous Luang Prabang that everyone raves about…, just didn’t blow me away to be honest.
Having said that: I experienced some really cool adventures there, like building my own bamboo tent and sleeping in the wild and staying at a rural village and meeting some incredible people along the way.
But as you can see – I had some incredible moments in Laos!
10) What is the best travel advice you’ve ever been given?
Every person you meet is a window to your soul. Treat everyone as if they were your teacher on this journey. Treat everyone with respect. And always trust your gut instinct.
11) Where is your happy place?
The Philippines. White sandy beaches, turquoise blue waters and incredibly friendly people around you guaranteed to make you smile every day.
THAT is my idea of happiness.
1) Do you think people who travel run away from something? Why? Why not?
2) What is your least favourite travel blogging task?
3) Which destination surpassed your expectations and why?
4) Which country do you want to visit but never had the courage to?
5) If you could offer one advice to someone who wants to start a travel blog, what would it be?
6) I can’t live without…?
7) “We travel, some of us forever, to seek other places, other lives, other souls.” – (Anais Nin) – What are YOU seeking?
8) Luxury or Budget Travel? Why?
9) Tell us about your favourite travel encounter.
10) How do you keep fit on your travels?
11) When was the last time you did something that scared you?