Thursday, December 8th, 2016

Ask Kate Anything!

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After being asked the same questions over and over, I decided to do a massive Q&A session on my site called Ask Kate Anything!

On my Facebook fan page, people submitted questions about anything from Southeast Asia to solo female travel.  Here are most of the (appropriate) ones.  A few have been condensed or reworded.

Here we go…welcome to the first session of Ask Kate Anything!

About Kate

What’s your craziest adventure? Stateside or not–just pure, uber, uninhibited craziness.

Well, adventures that can be discussed publicly?  Probably the time I hit on Jon Stewart and got subsequently mocked on The Daily Show!  How many people can say they did that?

Where’s the best place you’ve ever been?

On this trip, I would say Koh Lanta, Sihanoukville, Kampot, Vang Vieng and Hanoi lead the way.

They join my all-time favorites: Paris, Las Vegas, Capri, Buenos Aires…

How do you think this trip will affect your life in the future?

My ultimate goal is to become location-independent and travel indefinitely.  I’m not there yet, but I’m working on it!  This trip is laying the groundwork.

Imagine that you got offered a new job: you will be very rich but working all the time and unable to travel. Would you accept it?

Absolutely not.

About My Trip

Whatever happened between you and the Bradley Cooper lookalike?

This amazingly hot guy who looked just like Bradley Cooper sat down next to me and my friends while at dinner in Bangkok.  This guy was so good-looking, I was practically drooling.

I attempted to make small talk, made an ass of myself, and my friends proceeded to take the piss out of me for the rest of the night.

How did you pick your first city to go to on your trip?

I narrowed it down to Bangkok, Hong Kong and Singapore — major transit hubs that have great tourism infrastructure.  Bangkok was my first choice, and I was happy that it was cheap enough for me to start there!

Which camera do you use?

I have a Canon Powershot — a simple model that gets the job done.  I also take iPhone pictures and use the Photoshop Express app to make them their best.

While I’m no photography pro, I do a lot of photo editing to make them look their best.  I just use the free software that comes with Windows!

Did you bring a laptop with you?

Yes, I brought a Toshiba NB 305 Netbook.  While it works adequately, it’s pretty slow, and I’d really like to get a Macbook at some point.

I haven’t met a single person who regretted bringing his or her laptop — and everyone who didn’t bring a laptop wishes that he or she did.  No exaggeration.  Bring it.

What’s the one silly thing from home that you can find no replacement for abroad?

Venus razors and Degree deodorant.  Not so silly when you think of the implications!

What do you miss most?

I miss Oscar season.  Every year, I try to see all the Oscar-nominated movies and I make predictions.  It seems like all my Facebook friends have seen Black Swan and freaked out about it!

How do you budget your money?

$30 a day. But I’ve definitely been doing my share of overspending, especially during my time on Thailand’s Andaman Coast.  To be honest, I may have to cut my trip short — or turn the advertising WAY up.

What have been the two or three nominees for “song of the trip” so far?

Ooh.  I love that question so much, it’s going to become a separate post!  Stay tuned!

Have you left anything behind or do you regret taking anything?

The only things I’ve left behind intentionally are books, which I give to fellow travelers or sell at used bookstores.  A few items have gone missing.  (I blame the laundry ladies in Ao Nang for taking my cute pink shirt!)

Before Hanoi, I hadn’t worn my leggings, sneakers or even socks.  But it’s so cold here that I’ve been wearing them every day!

How are you managing your schedule in regards to work, play and travel time?

Some places have been easier than others.  In both Koh Lanta and Sihanoukville, I got into good, balanced routines — I’d work into the early afternoon, then spend the rest of the day on the beach or exploring.

I didn’t work the entire time I was in Koh Phi Phi or Siem Reap.  When I do that, I try to churn out a bunch in advance and schedule them for the next few days.

Do you ever miss any facets of a scheduled, recognizable everyday?

And after being on the road three months, I’m thinking of taking a break and spending a few weeks somewhere cheap for awhile, which would allow me to get into a routine again.  After the chill of Hanoi, it will be someplace warm, for sure!

Does working on your blog ever feel more like work than fun?  What do you do about that?

Occasionally, it does, especially when the writer’s block kicks in.  I often work on several posts simultaneously, which keeps things fresh.

Still, I know I’m in the right business — I absolutely love working on this site.  It’s my passion.

Have there been any scary moments?

There was one time when I thought I was about to be chased by some stray dogs in Kampot, Cambodia, but that was as scary as it’s been.  I feel much safer here than at home in the States.

Are you ever tempted to stay forever?

Very.

Are you jealous that you’re in the tropics and Boston is digging out from 18″+ of snow?

Ha.  Are you kidding me?

About Southeast Asia Travel

What vaccines did you get before leaving?

I got vaccinations for Hepatitis A and typhoid and got a tetanus shot as well.  I had been vaccinated against Hepatitis B when I was a teenager.  I also brought antibiotics — ciprofloxacin for everywhere but Thailand, and azithromycin for Thailand, as they have some strains of bacteria resistant to cipro.

When you landed in Bangkok did you have any problems with their proof of onward travel requirement?

I’ve entered Thailand three times, both overland and by plane, and nobody has ever asked me for proof of onward travel.

Before I first arrived in Thailand, however, I booked an onward flight from Lufthansa that cost $20 to cancel.  100% fully refundable flights are quite difficult to find.

My goal was to at least make it to Asia without being turned away, which I did!  From here on, I just plan on risking it.

What are public restrooms and toilets like?

In tourist areas, they’re usually normal Western toilets, though you can’t flush the toilet paper.  They have a small wastebasket next to the toilet for that purpose.

Some toilets flush manually, which you do by filling a bucket with water and pouring it down the toilet.

And then, of course, there’s the dreaded squat toilet.  The quality of squat toilets varies widely, from spotless porcelain bowls to grimy holes in the ground.  Some of them flush.

Soap and toilet paper are often not present, even in some guesthouse bathrooms.  I always carry toilet paper and hand sanitizer in my purse.

How do you get your laundry done?

I either get it done through my guesthouse or go to one of the laundry ladies, whom you’ll find on every block in some cities.  I usually pay around $2.

Do you ever crave a hot shower?

ALL THE TIME, especially when it’s chilly out.  I love my super-hot showers!  Most showers in Southeast Asia are lukewarm and only one was ice-cold, but occasionally you get a great hot shower.

I need to give a shout out to Reggae Guesthouse 2 in Kuala Lumpur for having the best shower in Southeast Asia: modern and clean with scaldingly hot water and incredible pressure.  I could have stayed in that shower for days!

Do the heat and humidity get to you?

Honestly?  Not at all.  I thrive in this climate, as does my hair!

As an American, how were you perceived in Vietnam?

I haven’t been in Vietnam very long, but I’m pleasantly surprised.  The Vietnamese who hear that I’m American have been quite nice.

Which accommodations have been your favorite?

Definitely Monkey Republic in Sihanoukville.  A very fun and social hostel with a beautiful, brand-new dorm, a great bar, sweet chill-out areas, a full menu, and a perfect location.  I made so many friends at Monkey Republic, including my friends with whom I traveled for a few weeks.

About Long-Term Travel

What advice would you give to a broke college student on how to start funding long-term travel?

Wait tables or bartend.  I’m serious.

You will make a lot of money fast.  In a summer of waiting tables, I saved enough for my semester in Florence, including tons of travel and eating out.  In another summer, I saved enough to last my entire senior year of college, including a concert tour to Italy with the Glee Club.

Working restaurant hours will keep you from blowing too much money at the bar and you’ll likely eat for free or cheap as well.

Besides the cash, waiting tables or bartending is work that keeps you busy and is often fun and social.

How did you start off as a freelance travel writer?

I began by writing for sites for free.  Once I had a few pieces published, I did a bit of research — Claz.org is a great site that combs all of Craigslist — and talked to other travel writers and bloggers.

Like everything else in life, it’s all about networking.  And in my case, I owe an enormous thank you to Melanie Nayer for getting me started.

How do you deal with taxes while abroad if you’re location-independent and self-employed?

I’m dreading it.  I suppose I’ll just look through my PayPal account in detail and use that.

Do your blogs support your travel expenses?

Not entirely.  For now, they just subsidize them.  My goal is to make enough money online to live full-time in Asia, and eventually, anywhere.  I’m working on it!

What tips would you have to make income from your website whilst traveling?

Ha.  I’m not making nearly as much as I want to, or that I did this past fall.  Once again, networking with your fellow travel bloggers is a great way to go.

About Solo Female Travel

What’s the scariest aspect of solo female travel?

I worry about getting seriously ill or injured in an area without adequate medical care.

That would happen whether I was solo or traveling with someone, though.  It’s a bit scarier knowing you probably won’t have someone to take care of you if something happens.

How do you deal with safety issues?

It’s all about common sense.  Keep your eyes on your surroundings.  Get cabs home at night. Hold onto your purse.

I feel far safer in Southeast Asia than I do at home.

Have you ever come across a married woman traveling solo?

I’ve met married women traveling solo short-term, often when their spouses are traveling solo at the same time.  Some are travel writers or traveling for work.  I have yet to meet any married women traveling solo long-term.

Any words of wisdom for the solo female traveler?

Relax.  It’s not as scary as you think.  And you’re never alone.

Any more questions?  Leave them in the comments!

Comments

68 Responses to “Ask Kate Anything!”
  1. Mike says:

    Lots of good info. Thanks for sharing. I am in total agreement with missing Oscar season. I watch them all as well, but I don’t know how I’m going to do that while traveling.

  2. Rease says:

    I totally hear you about Venus razors. I brought a ton with me when I moved to Buenos Aires, I still have 4 more, I don’t know what I’ll do after that. Finding quality deodorant is tricky too, though if I search hard enough I can find Dove which is not too bad.

    I also agree about the laptop. When I went to Mendoza for 2 months I didn’t bring mine and I totally regretted it. If you’re going to be gone long term, a laptop is worth it. Internet cafe computers are slow, unreliable and you won’t have anywhere to store all your photos.

  3. Erik says:

    Kate,

    I only recently found the blog, but it’s quickly become one of my favorite reads. I love how you lack the pretentiousness of many of the famous travel bloggers. Good luck to you and stay safe in all of your travels!

  4. Amanda says:

    Awesome post, Kate! It’s great to read about how you’re faring abroad by yourself. And it sounds like you got a ton of great input in the form of questions!

    I’ve loved following along so far!

  5. travelpology says:

    Thanks for all these great tips about solo female travel! I would totally miss Oscar season, too.

  6. Stav says:

    Hard to get hot water in S.E. Asia? Hah, today I was just bitchin’ to my plumber about the inferiority of American water heaters to Asian ones. The Raffles, La Residence and Shangri-La hotels all use point of access water heaters that take a minute or two before the “Hot” flows, but after that….you can easily fill and refill a bathtub for two!

  7. Valerie says:

    I used to enjoy Oscars season, too, until my husband started getting obsessed with it. Now I’d gladly trade you places for the next month, I’d love to get away from it until the night of the actual awards ceremony.

    Also, thanks for the info on married women traveling solo! I’m glad to know it’s done, and I’m going to start saving up right now so I can do it when my kids are older. 🙂

  8. Alex says:

    My question… what are these other mysterious blogs you have? Would love to follow those as well!

  9. Earl Squirrelson says:

    Hi Kate, some awsome info there.

    I would love it if you could answer my original question about the best ways to get advertising on one’s travel website…

    Cheers

    Earl

    • Earl, I would start with affiliate programs — like for ebooks or travel gear. You’re more likely to have success with those than banner ads, which are run through AdSense and pay pennies per click. I haven’t even made $50 with AdSense this year.

  10. Marco says:

    Great post!

    I’m stoked that you get so many good questions to your posts and are able to give great answers.

    Keep up the good work and safe travels!

    Aloha,
    Marco

  11. andi says:

    You should turn this into a FAQ link on your page!

  12. martina says:

    hey kate!

    will be heading to SEA feb 15, and wanted to start a blog like you did…wondering what program you use to start the blog and design it..

    thanks!
    safe travels!

    • Martina, if you’re serious about blogging, then definitely go self-hosted! I host through BlueHost and use WordPress software, which is standard for bloggers. Hosting will cost you about $50 per year and the domain about $10 per year. If not, you could get a free one from wordpress.com or blogger.com.

  13. martina says:

    what web host are you using?

  14. Imogen says:

    Hey Kate

    I’m a 19 year old Brit girl who is undertaking a solo trip around SE Asia in the summer, (Bangkok, Angkor, PP, Sihanoukville, HCMC, Hue, Nha Trang, Halong Bay, Hanoi, possibly Laos and a couple of Thai islands too) I travelled solo in India (Mumbai – Delhi) when I was 16 and not long back from a solo tour of Morocco, so I have a done a fair bit of solo travel for my age.

    just wanted to say that I love your blog, its by far the best travel blog I have ever read, perhaps because I can relate to you so much. Your style of writing is great, very unprententious and each blog post always makes me smile!

    Safe travels x

  15. mumun says:

    During your travels, did you ever wish you were a man instead?

    Why do you think Angelina Jolie wanted to adopt a Cambodian kid?

    And… if I may ask just one tini tiny question… How do you see you own country now after traveling South East Asia?

    • 1. Did I ever wish I was a man?! Never!! Not even on my bus ride from Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang, when the bathroom break was literally off a cliff!

      2. I’m pretty sure that Angelina loves Cambodia as much as I do — and wanted to adopt a child from a country she loved. If I were to adopt a child from abroad, I’d do the same thing.

      3. I definitely appreciate American restaurant service more, that’s for sure!

  16. martina says:

    love your blog! what travel insurance are you using??

  17. Scott says:

    Apparently great minds think alike as far as the music question … looking forward to that post. I’m guessing maybe “the time” by black eyed peas some Kesha? I guess I’ll have to wait though.

  18. Jessica says:

    Hey Kate!

    Awesome post! Filled with lots of great information. Your posts are always a fabulous read! Your travels have become my international newspaper in the morning 😉 Perfect for sailing on the ocean 😀

    I have two questions for you: 1) You may have mentioned this in one of your past articles, but what inspired you to trek to Southeast Asia? Do you have any future plans to travel through Africa? This is out of shear curiosity. 2) I am spending a week in Ireland and Amsterdam (currency euros), then en route to South Africa for a month (currency rand). Finally I will travel to the UK for a week (currency pounds) for business. I am puzzled at the moment; I have an initial budget for each country that I am traveling to. I am trying to avoid large fees to use the ATM during these trips. Would you suggest that I take out each currency in the states before I travel? I am skeptical of this because this would be a lot of money to travel with. What did you do for your trip? Thanks for the advice in advance! 🙂 xoxo

    Cheers,
    *Jessica

    • Thanks, Jessica! So glad you’re enjoying it.

      I chose Southeast Asia because there was so much I wanted to see there, there was great tourism infrastructure, and it was SO cheap. Those were three excellent factors. Oh, and the weather, which up until Hanoi has been fabulous!

      I don’t have any plans to trek through Africa, but I would love to someday — especially South Africa, Mozambique and Namibia.

      DO NOT carry all of your cash on you — if you lose it, you’re sunk!! Get a bank account with Schwab. They refund all fees at the end of the month and they have EXCELLENT customer service!

      • Jessica says:

        Hey Kate!

        Thanks for answering my questions! I did not realize how inexpensive Southeast Asia is! If you encourage a challenge and love unique locations for bars.. I would recommend Ba Hàng Bar aka the floating bar; it is located in Ha Long Bay. It was on Top Gear recently; the journey to find this special place was incredible!

        I am headed to South Africa in April – a few of my girlfriends and I are driving the Garden Route. Should be interesting! I have heard many great reviews about all three locations.

        Thanks for the helpful advice! I never heard of Schwab, but I will be sure to check it out!

        P.S. Get well!

        Cheers,
        *Jessica

  19. martina says:

    Hi Kate!

    Im wondering how youre dealing with money in southeast asia, should i bring debit cards? How much cash did you bring to start with? Do you get charged a lot by taking cash out?

    Thanks!
    Martina

    • Martina, I have a debit card, a backup debit card, and two credit cards. Plus $150 worth of travelers’ checks. Get an account with Schwab — they refund all ATM fees at the end of the month and they don’t charge you for foreign transactions! Don’t bring a ton of cash.

      • Alex says:

        I opened a checking account with Schwab last year after hearing so many raves from travel friends. I missed the deadline for their credit card by a week though! It doesn’t seem they will bring it back either which I’m bummed about.

        Although during my months in Thailand almost NO ONE accepted credit cards so I guess it would be mostly for flights!

  20. Sally says:

    Good answers!
    Totally agree with you on the laptop thing. Even if you’re not doing the travel blogging thing, I’d say everyone should bring a netbook or small laptop along with them to keep them in touch with family, upload photos, whatever. It seemed in SE Asia it was actually easier to find places with free wifi than Internet cafes (and, man, I’ve seen some of the keyboards at the Internet cafe places…. scary! Plus, those places are LOUD and full of 12-year-old video gamers. Totally not a fun place to spend a few hours).
    I brought a Macbook & don’t regret it a bit. I especially like that I brought a computer with a DVD drive — unlike netbooks.

  21. Priscilla says:

    Great piece Kate and it answered almost all of my questions about your travel. I noticed that you failed to mention any love interests…I am asking this with an Asian accent, “You got boyyyfrien?” I love the Utube sensation comedienne who does the whole nail routine and suggests if her clients nails were perfect then she would have “Boyfrien.”
    Glad to see so many fun photos and that you are having a great time and that your eye healed from the big Rocky scene.
    I am headed to Bean Town next week and will think of you when I take my son to Emmanuel to interview. Another 10″ is expected on Tuesday night there. I am packing my boots!
    Cheers,
    Priscilla

  22. Mica says:

    Hi Kate!
    Good FAQ- Can I ask why you don’t recommend go daddy? I’m been using them for a year now and never had any problems-and when I call I always get the most helpful dudes. Just curious.

    • Mica, when I was with Go Daddy, the site would go down all the time, it would frequently run slowly, and I would usually have a 10-minute wait to talk to customer service.

      I have had ZERO problems since migrating to Blue Host. No site problems and I always speak to a human right away. I’ve been very happy with them.

  23. Nicole says:

    Great post, Kate. As I write from Boston, we’re in the midst of one of our snowiest winters yet. I’ve enjoyed keeping up with your blog as I (along with my husband) did a few-week trip to Southeast Asia a couple years ago. It’s been great hearing about the same places I was in not too long ago, and seeing how much more we could have immersed ourselves into, had we had the time and flexibility to do so. I have to ask – what did you find about Hanoi that makes it included in one of your favorite parts of this trip? Because, while my Asia trip was much shorter and included less destinations, Hanoi was at the bottom of my list. I’ve traveled to roughly 30 countries on 6 continents and Hanoi is still towards the very bottom. What did I miss out on???

    • Nicole, my family keeps emailing me snow pictures. NOT jealous!!

      I absolutely loved Hanoi because it had a great city vibe. Great nightlife, great energy, awesome street food. I’d love to spend more time there down the road, preferably during the summer!

  24. Rebecca says:

    Good Q&A. Very tame though – I was expecting some other types of questions since you did say ask “anything”! But I suppose these have been censored out… which is a very sensible thing to do 🙂

    • Only one got censored — one that asked for the precise number of men I have “liased” with on this trip. Buy me a beer and we’ll talk, but that’s not getting mentioned on the web!

  25. Anna says:

    Hi Kate, I’m just curious about your experience with bringing a laptop and slr camera while traveling. would you recommend to bring a macbook when backpacking to South East Asia or it’s not as safe when it comes to personal belonging and just rather stick with a netbook? Are you ever worried that your tech gear might get stolen there?

  26. b-rad says:

    HA HAA! I’m quite proud mine was the only question to be censored. But com’on Kate I thought you were supposed to be a rogue female writer pushing the boundaries?? I really enjoy your blog by the way.

  27. chelsea says:

    I have two questions:

    1) In your post about saving up the money to leave on this trip you mentioned having chiropractor appointments…. I have to go at least twice a month for horrid back pain. What do you do to stay healthy while traveling?

    2) I want to start writing a blog at least for myself and my family while I am overseas… but eventually would love to be doing what you are doing. How does one get started in getting AD’s on their site or even go about making money online. I’m so beginner I’m still trying to figure out what I want the site to be called and what “hosting” is!

  28. chelsea says:

    Have you had to deal with bed bugs in a hostel? what would you recommend ?

  29. WOW just what I was searching for. Came here by searching for make money online

  30. Hello there! I could have sworn I’ve been to your blog before but
    after going through a few of the articles
    I realized it’s new to me. Nonetheless, I’m certainly delighted I stumbled upon it and I’ll be book-marking it and checking back frequently!

  31. Jack S. says:

    Vang Vieng? On your list of favourites? Come on, it’s a run-down village full of drunk, 20-something wankers who all think they’re the next Christopher Columbus.

  32. Darren says:

    Hi Kate!

    I just found your blog and I must say I’m impressed. It takes guts to quit your job and travel the world. Especially in this economy!

    You’re saying your goal is to show me how to do it as well?

    I’m so totally going to dig through your whole site. And I just might be crazy enough to do it to. Because let’s face it… there ain’t no fun in being a desk jockey. 🙁

    Thanks for the inspiration.

  33. tanmai says:

    Hi kate. I just wanted to know are ther any short term course which can be a help in long-term traveling? I am 18 and started traveling when I was 17 I have managed to travel nepal and parts of india by waiting tables but its very difficut to travel this way and I haven’t thought about a blog because I don’t think its my pices of cake.

  34. Kimberly Atkins says:

    Hey Kate,

    Any advice for going to India? I’ll be there in the winter– Jan to March. You mentioned getting HeP A and tetanus shot, would you suggest I get that as well? I read online there are no required vaccinations for India but is it still a good idea?

    Thanks!

  35. Jillian says:

    Hi Kate!
    It was a real relief for me to find your blog as I am trying to plan a backpacking trip to Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia for this May and will be most likely be traveling alone. I’m only 19 yrs old but have been working 2 jobs while in university to be able to go on a trip like this and can now afford it. Traveling is my passion but any advice you could give me for traveling alone, especially in Bangkok would be really helpful and comforting!
    Thanks for your inspiration by the way I would love to be in your shoes some day!

  36. Anna says:

    Hi Kate,
    What a fantastic blog! I am glad I found it. I am planning to visit Thailand next year and me and my husband love snorkelling. Is Koh Lanta a good place for snorkelling? We are planning to be there for about 5-7 days. Could you recommend any hotel near the reef? I would greatly appreciate it.
    All the best.

    Thanks,

    Anna

  37. Martina says:

    Hi Kate,

    I’m a big fan of your ‘Adventurous Kate’ blog and well, you in general!

    Your sincere wanderlust is truly an inspiration. Since completing University 5 years ago, I have been working in the corporate sector, yet simultaneously trying (with little success) to contain my travel itch . . . but why on earth CONTAIN when you can EXPLORE, right?! (“The problem is, we think we have time” – Buddha).

    My partner (Richard) and I will be starting our own RTW travels this summer (commencing in SE Asia), as well as our own travel blog/website, which we are in the midst of developing. Your post on ‘choosing a domain name’ was indeed very helpful during the last few months of intense back-and-forth deliberation; but, I think, we have finally found one that really “speaks to us”.

    Our next step is to choose a hosting platform, which will probably be BlueHost, thanks to your reviews and a couple of others alike. You mentioned in your Q+A that you began “writing for free” for different sites; do you have any advice/recommendations in how/which sites would be best to start this process?

    THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for your inspiration, Kate, it really has been a priceless contribution.

    Peace and Love,

    Martina

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