The Rewards of Travel Blogging – The Liebster Award

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For me, travel blogging has been rewarding on many levels – personally, creatively, intellectually.  But today the reward comes in a different form.  As a newbie to the travel blogging community I am thrilled to announce that I’ve been nominated for the Liebster Award!  For those who don’t know, this “award” is a fun way for fledgling bloggers (like myself) to connect with other travel bloggers.  Think of it as a virtual meet and greet.  Since I started The Travel Lush a few short months ago, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed stumbling across new travel sites, following the antics of fellow travel fiends and scouring travel blogs in order to satiate my wanderlust.  This nomination is not only flattering but it also affords me the perfect opportunity to introduce a few of my favorite bloggers…but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Rules of the Liebster Award:

  1. Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you.
  2. Answer 11 questions posed to you by your nominator(s).
  3. Nominate 11 other bloggers with less than 1,000 followers (the rules are fuzzy on this).
  4. Pose 11 original questions to those bloggers.
  5. Tell your nominees so they can carry on the tradition and publicize some of the blogs they love reading.  

Thanks to all of my fellow travel bloggers who nominated me!  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading each one of their sites, so I encourage you to peruse their blogs.  Here’s a little bit about them:

  • Life To My Fullest – Currently living in Singapore, Sha is a dedicated writer who shares her zest for all things travel through her blog.
  • Jess Gets Around – Jess is a fellow travel addict who is currently living in Bogota, Colombia.  Through her site, she shares funny and informative stories of life on the road and how to work your way around the world.
  • From Shores to Skylines – Katie is a Kentucky girl with a serious case of wanderlust.  She travels every chance she gets and muses about the natural and cultural wonders of the world as she goes.
  • It’s a Hanoian Life – This site combines stories of an expat living in the beautiful and chaotic city of Hanoi, Vietnam, and a smattering of Southeast Asia travel tales.
  • Unexpected Wanderlust – This innovative blog is hosted by three friends who all share a passion for travel.  On their site Lucia, Hamilton and Amile take turns writing about their personal adventures as they each take their own journeys around the globe.

Here are my answers to the 11 questions posed to me by these wonderful bloggers (I created a mishmash of the questions I was given since I was nominated multiple times):

1. If you were forced to stay in one place for the rest of your life, where would it be?  Since I love to travel, the idea of staying in one place forever sounds kinda like torture.  But I’ll indulge!  As a California girl I’d probably want to be someplace near the beach.  And since Cuba is by far my favorite place on earth, I’d have to say either the amazing city of Havana or the charming town of Baracoa.  (If you haven’t been to Cuba you HAVE to go!)

2. What do you want, right this moment, right this second?  I want to go bungee jumping.  I’ve never done it!

3. What is the strangest thing you have ever eaten?  As a vegetarian I’m not the most adventurous eater.  I’ve traveled throughout Asia and have been presented with the opportunity to eat bugs many a time, but I’ve never had the guts to actually do it.  But I did drink “weasel coffee” in Vietnam.  The beans are digested by civets (weasel-like mammals).  Yeah, gross.  But apparently it’s touted as “the most expensive coffee in the world.”  Not sure if that’s true…I thought it tasted so-so.

4. What’s the best advice you have for planning and/or budgeting for travel?  When it comes to planning an actual trip, I’m pretty much the worst.  For example, I’m leaving in about two weeks for a 2-3 month trip and haven’t even decided which country I’m traveling to yet.  I’m proud to say I’ve narrowed it down to South or Central America.  Stay tuned to find out where I end up!  I should have an announcement very soon.

I am, however, a budgeting master!  Because I like to travel as often as possible I am always saving money.  Before a big trip I put a “trip jar” on the counter and I toss in all the money I would have spent on knickknacks.  For example, “Do I really want that cup of frozen yogurt?” “No.”  Well that’s $4 in the trip jar.  “How badly do I need that cute shirt from H&M?” “Not that badly.”  That’s another $25 in the jar.  You’d be amazed at how much these little purchases add up.  Last year I was able to take the money from my “trip jar” to buy a one-way ticket to Bangkok.

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When I am actually traveling I create a realistic daily travel budget and I stick to it.  During my 7-month trip to Southeast Asia I budgeted $40 a day and ended up spending $38.  The easiest way to stay on point is to keep track of all of your purchases when you travel.  It sounds semi-OCD but every time I purchase anything – from a hotel room to a bottle of water to a bus ticket – I write it down.  This tactic really helps me to stick to my budget.

5. What’s your favorite spot so far?  Such a hard question.  Since I just returned from Southeast Asia, I’m going to say Boracay, Philippines.  All the guidebooks warned that this place is nothing but a tourist trap.  I completely disagree.  It was by far the most perfect beach I’ve ever seen.  It’s one of those places I could see myself living, and I am missing it desperately.  (Again, if you haven’t been to the Philippines, go!)

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6. How and when did you catch the travel bug?  I honestly don’t know.  I was lucky enough to travel with my best friend as a kid.  We would go to Maui every year!  I loved those trips.  I was also obsessed with National Geographic.  I dreamed of being a photographer for their magazine so I could visit all the exotic places featured on its pages.   I ended up studying cultural anthropology in college and that pretty much sealed the deal on my incurable case of wanderlust.  I just love being in new places.  Drop me in the middle of anywhere – and I mean anywhere – and I am happy to just people watch and experience something new.

7. One thing that you wish you knew before travelling.  That I would become completely addicted to it!

8. When was the last time you were completely overawed?  I was riding a scooter to the famous Chocolate Hills in the Philippines when I was suddenly caught in a monsoonal downpour.  I was stranded hours from my hotel, sopping wet.  After huddling under an awning for 45 minutes I came close to turning back.  Thankfully, I embraced the rain and rode on.  The rain cleared and I witnessed one of the most beautiful and unique landscapes I’ve ever seen – emerald green rice paddies and a sea of perfectly rounded hills.  And to top it off a rainbow appeared over the hills just as I arrived.  So, yes, I was overawed!

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9. If you could have any superpower, what would it be?  If you’ve ever seen the movie Limitless, then you’ll know what my ideal superpower would be.  To have the ability to learn at superhuman speed, to be able to read every book and see every movie.  To be able to retain information with zero effort, to learn languages at the snap of a finger, and to write novels in no time at all.  I think the point is that I LOVE learning.  I’m kind of a nerd, but this superpower would be the coolest!

10. One place that you still wish to visit.  Um, everywhere?  If I have to choose one I’d have to say Egypt.  It’s not the most original answer but it’s been at the top of my list since I was a kid.  I know I’ll get there someday!

11. Why did you start to blog?  I’ve been traveling for years.  It’s definitely my true passion in life.  But I also love to write.  I was a literature and anthropology major in college, hence my love for different cultures and the written word.  Travel writing just kinda makes sense to me.  I read other people’s travel blogs religiously when I’m on the road and it seemed long overdue for me to start one of my own.  And so far I really love doing it!

Here is a list of 11 amazing blogs I’d like to nominate for the Liebster award:  I love these blogs not only because they’re entertaining but they’re well-written, thoughtful and inspiring.  (If you’re nominated, please don’t feel pressured AT ALL to participate in this.  It’s all in fun and there is no offense taken if this isn’t your thing!)

Life as Vagabonds – On their site, Mike and Kirsty document their round-the-world journey.  It’ll make you want to pack your bags and buy a one-way ticket to…well anywhere!

This Beijing Life – Is all about a British girl named Joella who lives and works in Beijing.  On her blog you’ll find great stories about life as an expat as well as accounts of Joella’s travels through Asia.

Don’t Forget to Move – A compilation of the travel adventures (past and present) of Jules and Christine, a traveling duo who have been traipsing around the world together since they met in 2012.

Tammy and Chris on the Move – So this particular blog probably has far too many followers to even qualify for the Liebster Award but I included them anyway because I love their blog.  Travelers, volunteers and aid workers, Tammy and Chris really bring the culture, history and people of the countries they visit to the forefront of their writing.  Their outlook on the world is inspiring and I love their blog!

Hanwanderlust – Although Hannah’s travel blog is new, it feels like she’s been doing it forever.  Her posts are incredibly well-written, honest and funny.  She juggles a full-time job and a serious case of wanderlust.  She recently returned from Central America and is planning to visit Amsterdam next.

2 Tickets to Wonderland – Hailing from Slovenia this dynamic couple documents their recent trip to Indonesia.   Maruša’s stunning photography is framed perfectly by Gašper’s thoughtful writing – these two are seriously talented.

Ally Rambles – Live vicariously through Ally as he follows the “gringo trail” through South America.  The photos on his site are absolutely amazing!

Backpacker Lee – A prolific blogger and avid explorer, Lee has traveled all around Asia and the Middle East.  He is currently preparing for a trip to South America later this year.

The Lovely Nomad – Amie is a twenty-something traveler who is excitedly planning a 4-month trip to Southeast Asia and blogging all about trip planning, coping with wanderlust and all things travel as she prepares for her big adventure.

Latin Chattin’  Kate and Daniel strive to explore every nook and cranny of South America.  There site is not only wonderfully entertaining but amazingly informative.  And it makes me seriously want to visit Colombia, which is the country they’re currently writing about!

Terra Nondum Cognita – A California native, Terra is currently teaching English in Dali Yunnan, China.  Her site offers a thoughtful and honest glimpse into the ups and downs of living and working in a foreign country.

Here are my questions to these 11 bloggers:

  1. How and when did you catch the travel bug?
  2. Complete the sentence: I could not travel without… (something other than your passport).
  3. What is the last book you read?
  4. What is your biggest travel mishap?
  5. What’s your favorite food you’ve tried while traveling?
  6. If you could spend the next year in one place, where would it be?
  7. What is the number one item on your bucket list?
  8. What is the first thing you do when you get to a new country? (I usually just start walking, find a nice spot for a beer and people watch)
  9. What is your favorite travel memory?
  10. What is one thing you want to do while traveling that you haven’t done yet?
  11. If you had all the money in the world, what would your dream vacation be?

About Justine

Justine Lopez is a California native who always seems to take the unconventional route in life. She also suffers from a serious case of wanderlust. In 2013, she set out on a yearlong round-the-world journey and never looked back. Since then she's lived the expat life in both Jakarta and Phnom Penh. She's now living and working as a freelance writer in Beijing. As she meanders her way through Asia she's always seeking out great vegetarian food, budget travel deals and amazing new travel destinations.

16 thoughts on “The Rewards of Travel Blogging – The Liebster Award

  1. Thanks for the lovely description!
    Great to read your answers to some of these questions, always nice to know a little more about a blogger whose stuff I read so avidly!
    Can’t wait to hear what you think of Bogota!

    1. No problem! Answering these questions makes me realize I really need to write an “about me” page. I can’t wait to write about Colombia. I’m beyond excited and I still can’t believe I actually booked a flight!

    1. Thanks Lucy! I know your blog already received the Liebster nomination. And rightly so! I love your blog too 🙂 You should definitely check out the blogs I nominated. I read each and every one of them religiously. It’s pretty cool to see how many talented and amazing people are out there!

      1. Aww thanks 🙂 I always love blog recommendations from bloggers I already love reading – always feel like we have a lot in common. And you’re right, it just amazes me what incredible writers some people are, especially when it just comes naturally to them and they have never studied or worked as a writer 🙂

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed them! And thanks again for the nomination. I didn’t realize how much fun it would be to answer those questions. Yeah, I was totally flattered to be nominated four times!!

  2. Thanks for the nomination! Will definitely take a look, although I should probably tell you I’m a ‘he’ not a ‘she’! Enjoy Colombia, it’s ace…

    1. Oooops! I went back and edited my blurb about your blog. Sorry about that! Well, you definitely deserve the nomination. I’ve very much enjoyed stumbling across your site. AND I’m even more excited now because I see that you’ve written quite a bit about Colombia. I’m definitely going to scour your site for info. Do you have any recommendations about where to go?

      1. Ha, thanks, you’re not the first and won’t be the last! Yeah Colombia is a great country, loads to see and do. Recommendations wise – I’d say Cartagena old town is as beautiful a town as I’ve seen anywhere, Ciudad Perdida trek is worth the effort and Tayrona NP next door is great to rest your feet afterwards. Further South, Salento was lovely and Popyan and nearby Silvia on market day are definitely worth a look. Any questions let me know!

        1. Cartagena and Tayrona are definitely on my list. And I’ll be sure to look into your other recommendations. Thanks! Also, it’s good to hear there is sandboarding in Colombia. It’s something I’ve wanted to try for a very long time! I’ll be sure to let you know if I have any questions…which I’m sure I will 🙂

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