I’ve Been Nominated for the Liebster Award!

A little before I hit my two year blogaversary in February, something interesting happened. Social media sharing of my posts went up. All that time spent on SEO optimization paid off, and search engines became the number one source of traffic to my site. And finally, when I thought things could not get any better, I was nominated for the Liebster Award (my very first blogging award!) by Aisha of Island Girl in Transit.

Aisha, who lives in Trinidad and Tobago, spends her time exploring her great big beautiful Caribbean backyard and sharing her favorite destinations, best travel tips, and the hidden gems found along the way. Having never been to the Caribbean myself, Aisha’s blog inspires me to just book that flight, or cruise, or what have you, and explore this stunning corner of the world. Seriously, go check her site out now and I guarantee you’ll be itching to book a flight yourself!

Thank you Aisha for nominating me! Now onto the award itself.

What is the Liebster Award?

The Liebster Award recognizes up-and-coming bloggers for their ouststanding contributions to the travel blogging community. It’s an award given by bloggers to bloggers! I love the idea of sharing the love within the travel community, and making some new friends along the way. It means a lot to be nominated by a peer, someone who also travels and documents their journeys and has still found the time to read my ramblings and express their appreciation. Now, it’s my turn to say thank you and nominate a few of my favorite bloggers!

Here are the rules of the game:

  • Display the award on your blog and write a post about the award.
  • Thank the person who nominated you and post a link to their blog. Tell the reader a little about your nominator.
  • Answer the questions given to you by the blogger who nominated you.
  • Nominate 5 – 11 blogs that you feel deserve the award.
  • Give the nominees 11 questions to answer on their blog.
  • List these rules in your post.
  • Notify the nominees of the Liebster Award and ask if they would be happy to accept? If so, send them a link to your post.

What inspired you to start your travel blog?

Truthfully, I’m surprised it took this long for the light bulb to go off! Reading, writing and learning have been my jam ever since elementary school. Eventually that love for the literary world blossomed into degree paths in journalism, creative writing and communications, all of which prepared me for an eventual career in blogging.

Of course, blogging was never something I intended to pursue. I graduated high school in 2007, and by then, blogs were already on their way out. I kept going on family trips and adventures with friends, documenting every day through photographs and journal entries and posting my favorite photos on social media. I moved to Florida, lived that ramen noodle life for a while, and dreamed of the day I could finally go out and live the life I wanted, one that saw me sipping champagne by the Seine and getting lost in the souks of Marrakesh.

It was a family trip to France that truly set me off on this blogging adventure. That trip, a pilgrimage of sorts, woke me up to everything I’d been missing. It confirmed that travel is a worthwhile investment in myself, something that could no longer be put off for my happier, wealthier future self. I’d had one little glimpse of the world beyond my tiny bubble, and I couldn’t wait for another taste. I don’t have a lot of money, and I certainly can’t afford to jet off to a destination every other month, but the important thing is that i’m doing something now to create the life I want for my future.

How would you describe your travel style?

Luxe on a budget. If I could live anywhere in the world, it would be somewhere in Europe, and I think it is reflected in my travel style. I prefer to save up for one big trip every year or so, and take my time researching every aspect of the getaway so I can find the best deals and truly indulge in “la bonne vie” while abroad. I choose destinations that are rich in culture and history; places where I can wander for hours and spend as much or as little cash as I like. There is nothing wrong with indulging a sweet tooth at Laduree, cruising down the Seine with champagne in hand, or admiring gilded ceilings at Versailles, but it does require a little planning ahead and budgeting like a crazy person on my part. A little bit of balance is the key to the perfect trip, so I strive for a good blend of history-rich sightseeing and time spent lingering over a bottle of wine or strolling along the water’s edge.

What is one thing you absolutely can’t travel without?

Do I really have to pick one? The first thing that comes to mind is my phone, with its camera, offline maps, abundance of apps, access to rankings of the best restaurants in any given city, and even the ability to translate words and phrases on the spot. Everything I need is right at my fingertips, and since my phone plan includes free international data usage, navigating around a new-to-me city is easier than ever. That being said, I sometimes envy those who traveled long before smart phones became so mainstream. I dream of going off the so-called grid and traveling with just my camera and a local guidebook. As much as smart phones have simplified travel over the last decade or so, I sometimes wonder if I’m missing out on a truly authentic experience.

What is the most rewarding experience you’ve had while traveling?

I loved getting to know my grandparents a little better when we visited them in spring 2016. I grew up in the States, while they lived in France and visited us every few years. That language barrier is no joke! My siblings and I were always happy to see them, but never really got to know them as individuals rather than our Mamie and Papy. Even when the whole family went to France in 2014, it was easy just to chat with my siblings and let my mom do all the translating for us. Visiting in 2016 with my now-fiance, and seeing my grandparents for the first time without a translator forced me to find ways to communicate and actually talk to my grandparents. It awesome to finally get to know my grandparents on a personal level, and the attempts to mime, combine languages and even resort to Google Translate had all four of us laughing by the end of our stay.

What is the most challenging experience you’ve encountered while abroad?

I am horribly shy and very introverted, even on my own turf. I prefer to stand back and watch the action rather than diving into the middle of it, but that’s not really an option when traveling abroad. Simple things like trying to figure out where to sit on the train (still don’t know) or whether to seat myself or ask to be seated at a restaurant become almost comically difficult when I’m forced to approach a stranger and ask for help. It’s obviously nice to get out of my comfort zone and breathe it all in…otherwise, why even bother traveling at all? But if I’m being totally honest here, the simple act of asking for help is the thing I find most difficult to swallow while abroad.

What was your favorite destination for 2016?

Oh, easily France. I truly feel that I was born in the wrong country, and long to live in or at least close to France at some point in my life. It’s one of those things where I just know that is where I truly belong, and getting to visit the country even for a few days only confirmed what I knew all along. It is my biggest source of inspiration when it comes to blogging, which is why I spent months writing about it after Dan and I returned home in May. I’m sad to stop writing about it now, though I know it won’t be too long before I am drawn back for more!

If you could choose only one travel buddy for the next five years, who would it be and why?

This is a tricky question, because I’ve been on all kinds of wonderful trips over the years. I treasure my travels with family and friends, for reasons as varied and as wonderful as the companions at my side. But there is something extra special about traveling with my fiancé Dan, who has seen me at my very worst and still wants to be stuck with me. The lows (like when I’m hungry and covered in blisters and apt to snap at him for breathing too loudly) are far outweighed by the highs (like having the top deck of the Eiffel Tower to ourselves just before closing time), and there is truly no one else in the world with whom I would rather share every one of those moments.

Where is the furthest destination you’ve ever travelled to and why?

Italy, because why the hell not!? Dan and I traveled specifically to visit my grandparents in Chaumont and to spend a few romantic days in Paris, but we jumped at the chance to branch out a little more and spend a few days in Rome. The varied regions and cities of Italy rank very highly on my travel wishlist. We chose Rome specifically for its history and proximity to day trip sites like Capri or Pompeii, though we wound up staying inside the city for the duration of our stay.

How do you finance your travels?

Primarily through good old-fashioned saving. I have not yet monetized this blog, and rely on a full-time job to pay all my bills and the occasional weekend trip. I am not wealthy by any means, but I do have a savings plan in place that allows me to book airfare when an awesome deal comes up, and the means to save a little extra on the side once I have a specific destination and activities in mind.

That being said, I have been extremely lucky in my two recent trips to France. The first was a family trip, in which I just showed up and was not expected to foot the bill for airfare, food, etc. That was truly a once in a lifetime pilgrimage and not something I ever expect to happen again, which made everything even more precious. The second trip was a “meet the grandparents” kind of deal, in which my grandparents paid for airfare and then some. Dan and I saved enough money to have a good time in Paris, but it was thanks to Mamie and Papy that we were able to drink wine with every meal and not worry so much about every last Euro.

What destination are you most looking forward to experiencing in 2017?

I have nothing planned at the moment, because my already limited savings are being funneled directly into Weddingpalooza 2017. This is the year to explore nearby cities and see some of the places I’ve been curious about since I moved to Florida ten years ago. 2018 will be the big ticket year in terms of travel, and I’ll be sure to update you on honeymoon plans as everything falls into place!

Ultimately, what do you hope to accomplish with your blog?

I want to move into blogging full-time. I used to joke that my dream job was to be Samantha Brown and have my own travel TV show. Realistically I knew there was no way I could ever wriggle my way into that kind of career. It dawned on me one day as I sat here blogging that I’d found a way to make a smaller version of that dream come true, and with enough effort and persistence, I hope to be able to make a career out of this and see more of the world.

Now, it’s time to share the love! Here are my nominations for the Liebster Award.

Ira of Female Traveler: Ira blogs all about her adventures all over the world, but it’s her extensive coverage of Europe that keeps me coming back for more. I love reading about her adventures in places that I know and love, like Paris, and finding inspiration to visit less-traveled places like Latvia and Romania. Her site is like a treasure trove of things to do, places to see, and plenty of inspiration to just keep going and live your dreams.

Alyssa and Josh of Luggage and Love: Josh and Alyssa are a traveling couple living the dream in beautiful Europe. Their stunning photos combined with travel guides and tips for visiting some of the most beautiful places on the continent make for an informative and one of a kind read. Their post on Rome has me reminiscing on warm days spent strolling the cobbled streets, gelato in hand, while their coverage of Croatia and Greece provide some serious inspiration for my upcoming honeymoon. This is escapism at its finest.

Edith and Juan of Life Beyond 520: Edith and Juan are a traveling couple making the most of their home base on the West Coast. The inspiration for their blog name came from their home in Tucson, AZ, and all the adventures they shared at home and abroad. The couple now lives in California, one of the most beautiful states I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting. I love reading about their travels in their adopted home state and beyond, and finding new places to add to my must-see list. Most of all, I love feeling inspired to get out and explore my own backyard.

Definitely check out these incredible bloggers for some serious travel inspiration. Thank you to my nominees!

Here are my questions for Ira, Alyssa and Josh, and Edith and Juan.

  1. Is there someone who inspired you to begin traveling or to begin blogging? This could be a friend of family member, a fellow blogger, or even a TV personality.
  2. Having seen the world, what one place has made the biggest impression on you, good or bad?
  3. If you could pick just one place to settle down, where would it be and why?
  4. Share one piece of advice for those just beginning to travel.
  5. Tell us about your favorite meal while on the road.
  6. Which of your blog posts are you the most proud of, and why?
  7. How do you prepare for a trip?
  8. If you had the freedom (financially and otherwise) to go anywhere and do anything, what would your dream vacation look like?
  9. What has been your favorite travel moment?
  10. How has blogging changed the way in which you travel?
  11. What destination are you most looking forward to visiting in 2017?

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