Answering Kate’s travel questions – in celebration of being a Liebster Award winner

Wow, this is pretty exciting! Less than two months after launching The Gap Year Edit, and I’ve been nominated for an Award! *calls friends, opens bottle of wine*

The Liebster Award.

Liebster Award winner August 2014 - Julie Sykes, The Gap Year Edit

This accolade has come my way from the lovely Kate from Kate Off Exploring, and is in recognition of new bloggers.

Thanks Kate!

In the spirit of sharing the love about all things travel, Kate’s asked me some travel questions.

If you’ve got a question of your own, leave me a comment and I’ll respond.

Here are Kate’s questions to me, and my answers.

1. What’s your favourite part of the travel experience?
I love exploring a new place by putting down the map and wandering. It can be a great way to find (albeit by accident) a city’s hidden gems. Locals’ temples and cat poo coffee and just two things I’ve found by doing this.

2. If money were no object, how long would you spend at home versus on the road?
I reckon about 5 months of the year on the road, 7 months at home. That’s about a month more than I’ll be doing this next year. I’d probably have some more extravagant experiences though! I wouldn’t be too fussed about fancy hotels, but I’d love to climb Kilimanjaro, see the Galapagos, spend more time in Western Australia; all those really cheap (cough) things to do …

3. Has any one writer or blogger influenced the way you travel significantly?
Not so much the way I travel, but there are styles of writing I admire. For humour, “Round Ireland with a Fridge” by Tony Hawks was laugh out loud funny. On the fiction front, I HAD to read “Our Man in Havana” by Graham Greene when I was in – you guessed it – Havana.

4. How big is your backpack when you travel?
It’s 65L and usually weighs between 10-13kg. I try not to fill it up – I leave a bit of room for souvenirs, so it’s more like 15kg on the journey home.

5. What’s your biggest travel related fear?
Losing my passport and/or my ATM card – they’re my means to get myself out of most situations. Of course I’d be annoyed and upset if my backpack and everything in it went missing, but with a passport and ATM card at least I can sort things out.

Travelling always gives me a stark reminder – particularly when I’m at border crossings with locals – of how lucky I am to have a British passport and the privilege and freedom that brings.

Delicious homestay food near Sapa, Vietnam

Delicious homestay food near Sapa, Vietnam

6. What’s the best meal you’ve had on the road?
The setting and experience can turn a good meal into a great one. Experiences that stick in my mind are a sumptuous steak on Easter Island, and a communal meal at a homestay near Sapa, Vietnam. The food was great in both places, but it was everything around the food that made them both infinitely memorable.

7. Have you ever had a travel friend come visit you at home?
No, I haven’t. I’ve met a couple of interesting guys who’ve wanted to visit me at home though. I’ve always passed on that particular “opportunity.”

8. What’s your favourite bit of advice about travel?
Keep an open mind, and practice understanding before judgement.

9. Which countries have been the easiest and most difficult to travel in?

Easiest: Mexico. Frequent buses of a decent standard, friendly people, easy to get food en-route, value for money. Happy days.

Difficult: Trying to travel anywhere where there’s an event, festival or holiday going on. I include Lake Windermere, England, on weekends in August (traffic is horrific), the East Coast of Malaysia at the end of Ramadan (inter-city public transport is booked up for days), and Moorea, French Polynesia (“Le Truck” is infrequent and unreliable, making hitch-hiking a necessity).

10. Do you stick to your itinerary, or change it up often?
I typically only ever have half an itinerary when I arrive in a country – it consists of a couple of places I definitely MUST see; and then a big long list of maybes. I make sure I do the must-sees, and take advice on the ground from locals and fellow travellers about the maybes and alternatives before picking out a few of them. Not all of them, otherwise there’d no time for wandering!

11. Why did you start traveling?
I’ve always had that wanderlust in me. Heaven only knows where it’s come from, as neither of my parents have ever left the UK. Maybe I’m just a rebel? From the age of 13 I had a desire to go to Nepal, a dream I finally fulfilled more than (eek) 20 years later.

I’m now sharing the warm and fuzzy love of this Award by nominating five other new bloggers – it’s a pay it forward thing.

So, a big shout out and a Liebster Award goes to:

@cmcnally11 @The_BohoChica @dontremainatadp Katie Gard @domestiphobia
Kate Capelli @ALostLondoner

Firstly, congrats! Yay! Make yourself a brew and / or pour yourself a glass of wine.

Then – write a blog post! Use it to share some useful info about your travels and:

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you, and include a link back to their blog.
  2. Share the travel knowledge love by answering the 11 questions below.
  3. Nominate 5–11 new bloggers who you think are awesome! The idea is that they have a smallish Twitter following at the moment. Some say up to 500, others say up to 2000 – I’ve mostly gone for those with < 1000 followers.
  4. Get creative – write 11 questions for your nominees.
  5. Display the Liebster Award logo on your page.
  6. List these rules (1-6) in your post


Here are my questions. Look forward to reading your answers.

  1. What’s your first travel memory?
  2. If you could pick any country to revisit, which one would it be and why?
  3. Beach or mountain?
  4. Bus, bicycle or boat?
  5. What’s your favourite city, and why?
  6. Where have you found it easiest to interact with locals?
  7. How do you push your comfort zone when you travel?
  8. How do you decide which country you’ll visit next?
  9. What’s the longest you’ve been away from home for?
  10. Which three items in your backpack/suitcase that you just can’t travel without?
  11. What’s your favourite travel quote?

Do you have your own travel question for me? What would your answers to Kate’s questions, or my questions, be? Share your thoughts below.

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