Ask Kate Anything!
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!
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?
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?
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!