Travel Blogger Tell All – Flights and Frustration
Ø Who are you?
Online I go by the pen name of “The Guy” or more appropriately “The Guy Who Flies” which is my twitter handle.
Ø Where are you from/Where’s home?
I’m English born and bred although both my parents are Irish. I grew up in West Yorkshire just south of Leeds. I am now living in East Yorkshire in a small village west of the city of Hull.
Ø What type of traveller are you? Backpacker, full time traveller, luxury traveller?
I’m an international business traveller and have been for the last 15 years. My travel remit is global. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve flown around the world or the number of flights that I’ve taken. What I can say is that I’ve earned Platinum Elite status for life on one frequent flyer scheme and currently have over a million frequent flyer miles which I haven’t redeemed yet. (I have redeemed many in the past but I accumulate them quicker than I use them.)
Ø Where was the first trip you took?
From a very early age I often went with my parents on trips back to Dublin to see relations, maybe once or twice a year. This was the norm for most family holidays as I was growing up. I have many fond memories of staying with grandparents, aunts and uncles as well as loving the sound of the Irish accents they had.
Ø Have you had any bad experiences whilst travelling?
I think I’ve had a few. My first trip abroad without my parents was to go for a month inter-railing around Europe with 3 friends. After taking an overnight train to the beautiful city of Prague I woke up to find my money belt had been stolen. Thankfully since they were travellers cheques (don’t see them much nowadays), I had enough paperwork to help me claim recovery of the monetary value that was taken.
Since that trip I’ve had various bouts of food poisoning, an unusual abdominal health scare plus suffered a broken elbow whilst slipping on a walk to a swimming pool. I also felt threatened once in Amsterdam when I thought I was about to be mugged.
Ø Do you have any funny or crazy travel stories?
Whilst on our inter-railing trip around Europe, my 3 friends and I were walking across the square in front of Notre Dame in Paris. We had our typical rucksacks and so on, plus one of us was carrying a carrier bag from a well know UK supermarket. This clearly marked us out as British for onlookers. One of whom noticed us and came up and said in a broad Scottish accent “Ere, have you got any soap?” He was at the end of his trip, short of money and needed to freshen up before returning home. We found the randomness of it all very amusing and often referred back to this for the remaining 3 and a half weeks of the trip.
Ø What is the worst place you’ve travelled to and why?
I must admit to not being a big fan of Johannesburg in spite of having a few personal friends there. It is the security issue that really bothers me. The locals and colleagues there always tell me not to take taxis or public transport. I am only arrange a lift with them directly if I want to go somewhere. Plus I’m advised not to leave the grounds of the hotel by myself.
I then hear stories of how the people I know and their families have been victim to car jackings, held up at gun point, home burglaries and so on. One colleague out there told me how his parents in-law were both murdered when their house was burgled.
From what I’ve seen of the city itself as well there is little which immediately appeals to me. Pretoria and other places have a lot more going for them. In the end I feel very restricted in my movements there and can never quite relax.
Ø Where is your favourite place in the world?
So many places have made a positive impression on me. However if I could live anywhere I’d probably opt for the beautiful Sunshine Coast of Queensland Australia. The tropical climate, beautiful beaches and entire way of life just gives me a real buzz every time I visit. If money was no object I’d probably look for somewhere on Bribie Island.
Ø How do you fund your travels?
I’m very fortunate in that I travel with work. Whilst this can be difficult when planning a home life and social activities it does mean that I am visiting somewhere in the world virtually every single month. (Whilst I can’t go into the specifics of my job I can say that I work for the Head Office of a global company. I’m professionally qualified and work in various areas of risk management and compliance.)
Another great benefit to this is that my employer doesn’t have a problem for us to earn loyalty points such as airline frequent flyer miles and hotel loyalty schemes. These certainly come in useful when planning holidays although they don’t always suit the location.
Ø What is your most fond memory from your travels?
Travelling to meet friends or spending holidays with partners are always going to provide fond memories and there are too many to mention. However I can recall my first experience of celebrating Thanksgiving in America (as a Brit we don’t celebrate this truly American tradition). I also recall the fortunate timing of being in Melbourne, Australia at the right time, shall we say. Over one long weekend I attended a feast of sporting events. It began with Australia v Ireland in an international rules match (compromise AFL / Gaelic Football) at the famous MCG. Then the next day we spent at the Melbourne Derby meeting at Flemington racecourse. We followed up that evening by watching a 2003 Rugby World Cup match (again Australia v Ireland). Then to round it all off I attended the world famous Melbourne Cup race a few days later.
Ø What would you be doing if you weren’t travelling?
Bored out of my mind with a dull office job, literally not going anywhere.
Ø Have you ever experienced any cultural faux pas?
A specific example of a cultural faux pas doesn’t spring to mind. However I do recall a funny tale due to misunderstanding by a Chinese person mispronouncing English.
I was at a work meal out whilst in Shanghai, China. There were maybe 6 of us in total and I was the only non-Chinese person there. Just as the meal started to arrive onto the table the young Chinese girl turned to me and said (as I understood it at least) “Do you want a fu#k?”
Naturally I was quite taken aback by this. I knew such direct proposals were made in some of the more shady bars of Shanghai but I certainly wasn’t expecting such an offer from a colleague.
She could clearly see I was a bit confused so she repeated herself, “Do you want a fu#k?”
“I’m sorry, do I want a what?” I queried.
“A fu#k, do you want a fu#k?”
This episode repeated for maybe four or five times.
Then the penny dropped as she indicated an action with her hands.
“No, I’m fine thanks” I responded, “I can manage fine with chopsticks.”
Ø What is your Favourite airline?
Oh that’s a tough one. I’ve always been a big fan of some of the Asian carriers such as Emirates, Singapore and Malaysia. However quite recently I was fortunate enough to upgrade to a first class flight with Air France which blew me away. I’m still not sure on my favourite airline but I am sure on my favourite first class (-even though it is a rare experience for me).
Ø Where are you off to next?
I have a trip planned to Norway coming up with work. Then in June I’m going to Zurich with my wife to celebrate our wedding anniversary. We’ll be seeing OneRepublic there which we are both extremely excited about.
Ø What is the name of your travel blog and why did you choose this name?
Flights and Frustration
My blog was actually initially an idea to be a book rather than a website as I explained here. As a frequent traveller I’ve taken a heck of a lot of flights. I also know about what it is like to travel in comfort versus discomfort. I am always struck though how rude and inconsiderate some fellow travellers can be, which becomes a massive frustration for me. I also felt it was an appropriate title to show people that my blog is not always going to be about the joys of travel but some of the negatives too.
Ø When did you start blogging?
I began my travel blog in September 2012. Prior to that I had a minor experiment with a couple of websites but wasn’t fully committed to them nor did I truly know what I was doing.
Ø Where did you start blogging?
At home actually. Since many of my trips last between 1-3 weeks I always return to my home base.
Ø Why did you start a Travel blog?
Whilst travelling alone you have so many experiences which you can’t share because nobody else is there that you know. So with the blog I wanted to document and share what it is like. It is a way of saying “well did you know what that was like?” or “this is why you must go here”. People often ask me what it is like travelling as I do or what it is like in the places I visit. Well now they all can see for themselves.
Ø What are you tips for new Travel Bloggers?
Unless someone was really passionate and determined I would probably advise them not to do it. The reason being is that to do it properly is an overwhelming commitment. The time spent writing articles, editing photos and videos is incredible and only the start of it. You have to learn at least the basics of website management and deal with unexpected problems. For example my site was hit last year with a Google penalty for a month. Google kept saying I had unnatural “do follow links” coming from my site. I reviewed every single link time and time again and kept telling them it wasn’t the case. It was only when a fellow blogger told me that the plugin (tool) I was using to make links unfollow was broken that I was able to solve the problem. That was a month of time lost and a lot of anguish. I can never get that time back and fell so far behind on everything else just fighting that penalty.
Any new travel bloggers should have a passion for blogging, learning and staying committed to the cause. There will be some tough days ahead. Yet for the connections you can make I feel it is worth it, for me at least.
Ø What do you wish you did differently when you started out?
Even more than 2 years in I am constantly learning with blogging and the rules keep changing and becoming one of the top lifestyle blogs. I guess I wish I was more knowledgeable and about photo and video editing. They are things I’m trying to improve upon now yet my time is not as free now as it was before I was blogging.
Ø What has been your most successful blog post and what was it about?
Massage in China – Since publishing this article over a year ago it still seems to score highly for search visitors on a daily basis from Google. The article is a 10 point guide on what you should look for when you are choosing to go to a massage parlour in China. Many of them are above board and you’ll have no problems. However there are tell tale signs of places which might be looking to offer you a service other than a massage.
Ø What do you do to help make your articles successful?
I’m not sure I’ve ever mastered making an article successful. I do a fair amount of keyword research before writing or completing the article. I’ve been using a paid program called Market Samurai and I can certainly attribute the success of Massage in China to that article. Apart from that I try to share articles across various social media platforms, Hootsuite is a big plus for this. I’ve also in recent months got into designing a Pinterest image specifically for each article.
I then try to connect with other bloggers as much as I can. Through e-mail communications, sharing their articles and commenting on them. Showing support for others often sees them showing gratitude by supporting you too.
Ø What social media platform is the most helpful for you and why?
For me it is Twitter. I find it quick and easy to use. Also using a resource like Triberr is a bonus since many other influential bloggers can quickly and easily share my articles. I consistently receive my highest social media traffic from Twitter.
I find Facebook totally demoralising and only set on wanting you to pay them money to promote your post. If I don’t pay them then there is little chance my article will appear in the timeline of the people who “Like” my page. It is not very nice to post an article and attach an appropriate picture to then see it has hit the timeline of maybe 3% of your followers.
Ø Have you worked with any “big name” sponsors, if not who would be your dream to work with?
I’ve never gone out looking for a FAM trip or tried to get lots of freebies for travel. Travelling is what I do anyway. I am signed up for a few affiliate schemes so that is more my connection with them. However a few months ago the IATA did ask me to submit an article to them on my flying experience.
Ø Do you have any tips for new bloggers who want to work with sponsors?
I’m probably not the best person to ask about this. Although I’ve been blogging for over 2 years I barely have any income at all from it. What I can say is that when people contact you to place an article on your site don’t let sponsors place articles for free (and don’t allow “do follow” links in the article or you could end up with a Google penalty like I did). If companies want to place an article on your site then agree a fee and hold them to it. If you let them post for free you are underselling yourself. You are giving away valuable website advertising (and links) which other people will pay for. You’ve devoted an incredible amount of time to create your site, you deserve some financial compensation for people/companies jumping onto the back of that.
Ø Which travel bloggers do you admire?
I follow so many one way or another it is hard to select a small few. On Bloglovin’ alone I think I’m following 100+ travel blogs.
To narrow it down though 2 travel blogs in particular spring to mind. When I first started I almost immediately followed the etramping.com website of Agness and Cez from Poland. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting them in person and they are more wonderful off site than on site (if that is possible). Cez has become a very good friend of mine and a true blogging mentor. They both have an incredible work ethic which may astonish some people.
The second one I’d like to mention is Dale and Franca of AngloItalian Follow Us. Every time I read their site I’m in awe at the high quality of their writing. It is so engaging, well thought out and is how a high quality blog should be. I hope that one day I can write as well as they do.
Ø Do you have any advice or tips for aspiring travellers?
Get a TSA lock and put it on all of your luggage bags (checked and carry on). If not get bags with pre-fitted TSA locks. Theft from luggage is still an issue so you need to protect yourself. I even know of someone who had their computer stolen from their carry on bag so you can never be too careful.
Instagram: https://instagram.com/theguywhoflies/ (- although I’m not a big user of Instagram)
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