Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

Answering Your Latest Travel Questions


I’ve been getting a lot of questions from my readers lately, and since I’m sure that some of you have the same questions, I’d love to share the answers with you!

All questions have been paraphrased; some have been slightly modified.

Here we go:

I’m going to Paris and it’s my first time traveling by myself.  I’m nervous because everyone says the people are rude.  Do you have any tips for me?

RELAX!  Paris is a fantastic city for first-time solo female travelers.  You will have a FABULOUS time.

The truth is that most Parisians are warm and welcoming.  At the same time, though, the stereotypes didn’t exactly come out of nowhere.  Here are some tips:

1) Learn as much French as you can.  Most of the time, Parisians are rude because people come up to them speaking English.  Get a free “learn French” podcast and learn a few phrases (basic greetings and common words, numbers and a few restaurant expressions like Je voudrais should be enough) and they’ll appreciate that.

2) Say, “Bonjour, Monsieur!” or “Bonjour, Madame!” whenever you enter a store.  That’s standard manners in France.

3) Dress neatly.  You don’t have to wear designer clothing — just take it up a few steps from shorts, t-shirts and sneakers.

I just started a travel blog!  Do you have any suggestions for me?

You bet.  If you are serious about your blog, hope to make any money off your blog, or intend for more people than just your friends to read your blog, go self-hosted with  I use BlueHost and I’m a very big fan of their hosting.  They also make it easy with one-click WordPress installation.

Beyond that, write what you know.  Don’t try to sound like any other blogger you know.  Just start telling stories about your travels and you’ll find your voice.

I read that you make your money online. Do you have any suggestions? I’ll be traveling for six months and it would be nice not to go completely broke.

Yes, I now make my entire income online, but it is the result of several years of hard work, careful study, self-promotion, constant networking, and reputation-building.  I spend much more time working than actively traveling.  This is not for the faint-hearted — you have to love what you do, and luckily, I can’t get enough of (most aspects of) it.

If you want to make money online, you definitely can.  But if it were easy and instant, everyone would be doing it.

Any tips for making money online?

For beginners, here is my advice:  Learn how to build sites with WordPress (nothing fancy).  Learn SEO.  Learn affiliate marketing.  That’s a great way to get started.

In terms of making money on your travel blog, 98% of my blog advertising is from people who approached me.  I never bought a guide or anything — I just did it by instinct.

Build a great blog and the advertisers will come to you.  This is an investment — don’t expect anything within the first year.

How do you meet people while traveling?

Hostels are a great place to meet fellow backpackers!  I always choose dorms over private rooms so I can meet more people.  I met most of my close friends from Asia in various hostel bars — primarily Hanoi Backpackers in Hanoi and Monkey Republic in Sihanoukville!

Beyond that, various day tours and group excursions (like canyon jumping in Switzerland, free city tours in Buenos Aires, or the Nha Trang party cruise) are another nice way to meet people.

You can also try Couchsurfing — it’s far more than just lodging!  I usually use Couchsurfing just to find people in town to hang out with.

For me personally, the travel blogging community was another great place — I ended up hanging out with around 25 different travel bloggers over the course of six months!

I have two weeks to see Southeast Asia and want to see it all! Is that enough time for Thailand, Cambodia, and possibly Vietnam?

WHOA!  Not even!

Travel in Southeast Asia is much slower than in the Western world.  You need to account for that time.  Plus, will you really be enjoying your trip if you’re running around like crazy the whole time?

If you’ve got two weeks,  I would recommend spending the bulk of your time in Thailand with possibly a side trip to Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

Do you know any travel bloggers who have been to Costa Rica?

Yep!  Check out The Globetrotter Girls.  They’ve done a lot of great, comprehensive Costa Rica posts.

I am a 24 year old corporate, cubicle hating zombie…who has a passion for travel.  I am thinking of getting my MBA in hopes to somehow getting an international business degree that will somehow change the world.  However, I’m also thinking of hitching a flight to any destination and actually enjoying my life. What should I do?

If you have your dream job lined up to start the moment you graduate, that’s still around two years from now.  Assuming you start grad school TOMORROW, that is.

Honestly, if you were driven to get this degree and have this career, I’d tell you to go for it.  But you don’t sound that enthusiastic.

My advice: go travel now.  I know it’s hard when you don’t have much money, but after a few months of diligent saving, you should be able to afford a decent trip through Central or South America or Southeast Asia.  If you plan to Couchsurf, you can go even longer (and use your savings for pricier destinations, like Canaries holidays or other luxury beach escapes).

Long-term travel will transform you.  After some lengthy travel, you might decide that you’d rather teach English abroad or get a working holiday visa somewhere than spend money and time on a degree that might not pan out for years.

Have any more questions?  Leave them in the comments!


25 Responses to “Answering Your Latest Travel Questions”
  1. Priscilla says:

    Hi Kate,
    Wow, I just saw the link to this article via Twitter @RickGriffen and bam there you are leading with Paris the same day I wrote an entire post on novice travel to Paris! Great minds think alike! You have fantastic advice here Kate – thanks for sharing with your readers.

  2. Lauren says:

    Hello Kate,

    I am traveling with my husband for about 3 months. Going to NZ, Oz, then Southeast Asia and back to the US. We have NZ and Oz covered because I used to live there. My fiance and I leave in Oct., its our honeymoon. What would you recommend to pack for clothing etc.? I also would like to know if it would be better to use a frame pack or a small suitcase for traveling. I love the blog.


    • Congrats on your marriage, Lauren!

      The great thing about Southeast Asia is that you can replace clothing quickly and easily, with the exception of underwear (or if you’re plus-sized). You’ll want to bring lightweight clothing, a pair of sandals that are easy to slip on and off for visiting temples and homes, and deodorant (I could only find decent deodorant in Vietnam and Singapore). Having a thin, lightweight, long-sleeved cardigan is great for visiting temples, as is a sarong (which you can find anywhere).

      Try not to overthink your packing — in Bangkok, for example, you can buy anything you need at MBK. And you’ll probably be collecting hippie pants and beer t-shirts before long!

      As for luggage, if you plan on visiting a few different destinations and not just staying in one or two places, bring your backpack. The roads aren’t great for dragging rolling luggage around, and if you’re backpacking or budget traveling, people with suitcases get a LOT of scorn. Just a head’s up. 🙂

      And you are bringing a computer, right? WiFi is much more common than internet cafes. Not one person I met regretted bringing a netbook.

      Have a blast!


      • Lauren says:

        Thank you for the response! I think we all tend to overthink/overplan for when we travel. We are most definitely bringing a netbook! Is there anything I just can’t miss while in Southeast Asia?


  3. Hi Kate!

    I read all the answers, and just wanted to say congratulations on turning your blog into a full-time source of income!!! that’s really inspiring and what I hope to do some day. keep doing what you’re doing!

    • Thank you, Kinsey! Now…just know that full-time income doesn’t mean that I’m making what I was making before I left — or even close! 😉 I’ll get there within a year, I believe.

  4. Hi Kate

    I’m going to Sumatra in September, to play with the orang-utans 🙂

    What essentials do I need to think about lacking for a jungle trip? Someone mentioned leech socks to me and now I think I’m under prepared….

    Oh, and spiders??


    • Hi, GI —

      I haven’t been jungle trekking at all, so I actually can’t answer that question. If I can think of any blogger who has done that, I’ll let you know! Let me ask on Twitter…

  5. Leah says:

    Kate, I never thanked you privately for referring me to the Globetrotter girls for my Costa Rica adventure, so I’ll do it publicly! You were so generous for referring me to another travel blogger’s blog! And P.S. I had the best time thanks to their (and by referral your) suggestions. I thought things like ” what would adventurous Kate do?” (WWAKD?) every now and then. Lame? Maybe. But you should be flattered anyway 😉

    • Absolutely, Leah! What I love about the travel blogging community is that we’re not in direct competition with each other…well, most of the time! So I love to refer people to other blogs.

      And I LOVE that you thought that!! Hearing that is the highlight of my week! 🙂

  6. Hi Kate! Thanks for the great blogging tips. I’m just starting out in the travel blogging world and trying to figure out everything can be overwhelming. Your blog and travels are a great inspiration.

  7. Thanks Kate, that would be great!

    Love the blog, by the way, started my own recently, don’t expect to make a living from it, but it’s fun, and yours is an inspiration. 🙂

  8. Betti says:

    Meant to ask this for ages in private email – how you deal with safety for all your stuff. For me it is the biggest nightmare when travelling alone, taking my small backpack with camera, passport money and stuff even to the wet toilet cubicles where I always pee on my feet and something always gets wet, having to leave it on the beach or in the boat when I go in for a swim, having to trust random people and safety boxes in weird places (though I always use my own padlock and key), or locking it all in the motorcycle seat….. always fretting something will get stolen (though hardly anything ever gets stolen, and I am usually more wary of drunk farangs than locals). That’s why I didn’t buy a mini laptop for the Komodo trip (saving myself quite a bit of money there). Do you leave stuff in the guesthouse? On the beach? In restaurants? Ask others to keep an eye on them? Try to find safety boxes? When I travel with someone from my family (have never travelled with friends), we can take turns keeping an eye on belongings (e.g. on the beach, which I think is the highest risk place of all for things going missing), which is such a relief. If I could come up with a good solution for these worries, I would feel so much happier. Thanks for any suggestions.

    • Nothing is ever 100% safe. If someone is determined to rob you, they WILL rob you.

      BUT — most robberies are opportunistic. So anything you can do to decrease the opportunity will help you.

      I use PacSafe products. In Asia, I used the PacSafe that covered your bag, and this time, I will use a portable safe. You put your products in it (I would wrap my tiny backpack in the PacSafe), chain it to a leg of the bed or something else sturdy and unmoving, and put a padlock on it.

      In hostels, I just leave my valuables in the locker with my own padlock.

      On the beach, I usually find someone sitting near me (can’t lie, usually a girl my age) and ask her to watch my bag, and in return she watches mine. I don’t bring much to the beach, anyway — just a little bit of money, book, towel, etc. BUT, one time in Senggigi, I was in a deserted area and swam with a friend, and I put my valuables in my drybag and kept it across my body. That worked.

      I also use a crossbody purse, which feels much more secure to me.

      Again, nothing is ever 100% safe. But you reduce the risk when you follow these tips.

  9. Kate, these are great tips, and couldn’t agree more with so much of what you say here, especially the blogging tips. Can’t wait to get a few tips in person about SE Asia from you next week 🙂 Thanks for the shout-out, too, by the way, we loved our time in Costa Rica!

  10. Amanda says:

    I really like this feature, Kate! A nice way to connect even more with your readers. And great tips!

  11. walkflypinoy says:

    really liked the making money online part! i’m starting to venture into this kind of project, too. a little daunted though that you said it took you years of networking and stuff before you got to where you are now. but i guess that’s my motivation now. more power, kate!

  12. Love this post! Thanks for sharing all the fantastic tips & tricks. My only wish is that the post was…longer! You should start a whole section where we can all just “Ask Kate”! In all of your spare time, of course 😉

  13. Elmarie says:

    Hi Kate:)

    I will soon be visiting the South American continent. I have never been there. I am going on my own and I cannot speak Spanish. My brother lives in Talca Chile, so I definitely will be visiting him. He suggested that I check out couch surfing?. And I then discovered you while researching this on the Internet. The plan is to fly to Buenos Aires, fly to Mendoza and then take a bus over part of the Andes to Santiego. He will meet me there and couch surf with me in Santiego for a week or so? And then I’m on my own! I’m a photographer, and have a need to visit more raw and rural areas, markets, people perhaps? And I’m not sure what there is that is worthwhile seeing and experiencing. I feel drawn to Peru, Brazil…and heard that Argentinia, Cuba and Columbia are really worth it? I love mountains and sea! What to do, where to begin….I’m not sure! Any good suggestions or advice? And must say I would prefer to have my own private room too? I’m in my 40’s, and I have never done this before. I want to see this world!!!;)

  14. Lauren says:

    Hi Kate!
    My sister’s friend, Shannon Sorenson, gave me your website months ago before I moved to Thailand! I have done some reading and now I just wanted a little input if you can! I am finishing up teaching then traveling for a bit. I have from March 5 – April 17th to do Thailand, Cambodia, & possibly Vietnam. I have already been up to Vang Vien. Just wondering what your reccomendations are for South Thailand. Going to Koh Phangon for Full Moon Party on March 26 and then up to Chang Mai and Pai on April 12th and on the 17th I head to Bali. So, basically just looking for suggestions in Cambodia and South Thailand! Let me know, please and thank you! I love your site!! So informational 🙂

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