One of the best things about traveling is stumbling upon an unexpected gem. Whether it’s a small town you never knew existed, a perfect view that no one else seems to have captured or just a tiny café with the best food EVER, the surprises are what can make a trip memorable. I feel the same way when I find a great travel blog.
I found Amanda’s blog, A Dangerous Business, a few months ago and have been hooked ever since. She’s just a regular girl, with a journalism degree and a serious obsession with New Zealand. She writes about balancing work and school with her love of travel, an idea all of us non-independently-wealthy travelers can definitely relate to.
So, without further adieu, meet Amanda:
1.) What is your first travel-related memory?
I remember the first plane ride I ever went on. I was in 5th grade, I think, and my parents were taking my little sister and me to Disney World for the first time. I remember being so in awe when the wheels of that plane lifted off the ground. I think I must have been hooked from that day.
2.) What’s the best (or most memorable) day you’ve ever had while traveling?
That’s nearly impossible to answer! I’ve had many memorable days – all memorable for different reasons. There was the day I conquered the highest bungee jump in New Zealand. There was the day went up in a hot air balloon with my sister in Monument Valley, Utah. There was the day I hiked on a glacier. The day I nearly died in a jeep in Iceland. The day I played a marching band concert on the Great Wall of China. … The memories are endless!
3.) What inspired you to start your blog? And what was your original intention? (Was it a way to record your travels for yourself/family/friends? The first step in world domination?)
I started what I call my “Dear Mom” blog when I was studying abroad in New Zealand in 2008. It was a day-to-day type diary where I posted photos and filled friends and family in on what I was doing. This was before everyone and their grandmother was on Facebook. Once I graduated college and got a job as an editor at a newspaper in 2009, I found myself with very little opportunity to write – which is something I’ve always loved to do. So, in early 2010, I started a travel blog as an outlet for some of my adventure-related writing. I had no idea then that it would grow into what it is today, though!
4.) What’s your dream vacation?
Jumping on a plane to New Zealand with my boyfriend, disconnecting from the Internet, and road tripping around the country for a few weeks.
5.) Favorite place you’ve been?
New Zealand will always have my heart, I think. It’s such a special country.
6.) Least favorite?
I don’t necessarily have a “least favorite” place. I generally try to concentrate on the positives wherever I go, which usually means I don’t ever hate a place enough to say I’d never go back again.
7.) Name one thing you haven’t done yet (travel-wise) that you want to.
Cage diving with great white sharks in South Africa. It’s VERY high up on my bucket list!
8.) How about something you’ve done and would never do again?
Go hiking in Arches National Park in 100-degree weather on a cloudless day. Yes, the scenery was pretty, but it was difficult to truly appreciate when I was sweating my face off and convinced I was going to pass out with every step.
9.) Who are some of the travelers who inspire you?
I can’t think of any specific names off the top of my head, but I’m always inspired by travelers who do some good when they travel – whether it’s volunteering their time, or simply telling the stories of the amazing people that THEY meet once they return home. I’m a sucker for a good story. Which perhaps explains why I read so many travel blogs!
10.) What are your top 5 don’t-leave-home-without-them travel essentials?
1. My camera, because I love taking photos. To me, they are the best sort of souvenir.
2. Good walking shoes, because I feel like the best way to explore a new place is on foot.
3. Dramamine, because I am prone to motion sickness.
4. My Kindle, because I love to read almost as much as I love to write.
5. Business cards, because you never know who you might meet!
11.) So many travel bloggers quit their jobs and take off for the open road. How do you balance your passion for travel with your 9-5 job?
It’s not easy. Right now, I’m actually back in school, working on a Master’s degree, so I often feel like it’s even MORE difficult to strike a balance when there’s always an assignment to finish or a paper to write. It’s hard to come up with the funds when you have student loans to worry about. When I was working a full-time job, the main challenge was coming up with the time. Two weeks of paid vacation is tough to work with!
But, as I always tell people, when you are passionate about something and make it a priority in your life, you will find a way to make it happen; to make it work. When I had a full-time job, I took advantage of holidays and unpaid vacation days to take trips. Now that I’m back in school, I travel closer to home when classes are in session, and then take advantage of longer breaks to go further away. And, of course, careful budgeting and nursing a savings account are a must!
12.) Where do you hope to be in 5 years?
Hopefully employed in the travel industry – and preferably on my own terms. While I don’t think I’ll ever be the permanent-nomad type (I really like having a home base), I do love the idea of working for myself and having the freedom of being location-independent. And I definitely want to be involved in travel in some way.
13.) What’s your #1 piece of travel advice?
To stop making excuses, and just do it! It’s not as scary/dangerous/difficult as some people think. And those people who put traveling off until “later” often never see that ambiguous time arrive. Don’t be one of those people.
Thanks to Amanda for sharing her thoughts on travel!
Photo Courtesy of Amanda at A Dangerous Business