Today in the Tuesday Talk I spoke to Alouise Dittrick from the travel blog Traveler Ahoy. Alouise is studying professional writing at university, and still manages to make the time to run a travel blog. Read on to hear what Alouise has to say about travel.
Alouise, what can you tell us about yourself?
I’m 28, and I was born in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada where I’ve lived most of life. I’m in my third year at Grant MacEwan University going for my bachelor degree in professional writing. I love writing, but I don’t like editing so much. I love travel writing, but I also, love technical writing. It sounds a little strange but it helps bring me some balance to my life.
I run a personal travel blog called Traveler Ahoy. Sometimes I find it funny that I’m a travel blogger, because the furthest from home I’ve been is a two week trip to Europe. Most of my travels have been during work breaks (I worked full-time for several years before going to school) or during school holidays, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. For me any type of travel is good travel, and I love sharing my travel experiences with other people. I’ve learned every person, and every place has a story. I certainly encourage international travel, but even if you can only explore the next town over, or where you live you can still learn something from the places you’ve been. Even at home in Edmonton there are a lot of places and events that I still want to visit.
You are a part time travel blogger like me, while you are completing your course at University. How do you find it splitting your time between study and blogging?
It can be really difficult, especially when school projects and exams starts to come down hard. Sad to say my blog posts slow down quite a bit during this time, but thankfully it’s not because of a lack of travel stories to share.
That being said I don’t think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. From blogging for several years, attending travel blogging conferences like TBEX, and talking to people in the industry I know full-time travel blogging isn’t an easy industry to break into, especially if you have any desire to make a liveable income from it. I think people can make the mistake of thinking travel writers just get to be on a permanent vacation, but that’s far from the truth. It takes a lot of patience, and hard work to make it in the industry, and even then there are no guarantees you’ll get liveable income from blogging. I certainly admire anyone who has a travel blog and can make a good living off of it. I am lucky to love many types of writing, so if my blog never goes beyond a very rarely paid hobby that would be fine with me. I’ll keep traveling, and writing about it no matter what.
What has been your favourite place you’ve travelled to so far?
I hate picking favourites. The places I’ve been to are like my children (that’s if I had kids). I love them all equally, and I’d gladly return anywhere I’ve already been to… and that even includes Regina, Saskatchewan (actually I’ve only really driven through Regina, so I would like to spend more time there). I could easily gush about every place I’ve been to.
That being said I have a fondness for two US cities I’ve been to. One is New York City because it’s so interesting and diverse, and it was also the first big place I got to go to where I had to pinch myself when I was there, because I’d always wanted to go there. Plus I love theatre (especially musicals, so Broadway and Times Square is literally my idea of heaven (except maybe with less people, and the shows would be free). I had also wanted to visit New Orleans for years, and last year I got to go twice. Amazing food, incredible music, a unique culture, and there’s so much more to the city than Bourbon Street. I think with both New Orleans and New York I’d want to stay for a few months in each city. Maybe that would cure my fixation, or it could make it worse. It seems like a win-win either way.
What is one thing in the world you are looking forward to doing?
I’m always looking forward to travel, even when I don’t have any specific trips planned out. I received a Lonely Planet travel book from my parents, and 1001 Places to See Before you die from my aunt and uncle for Christmas, so suffice to say my travel list keep expanding.
I don’t really have a traditional bucket list, but I do have a few strange things I’d like to do which I’ve put on what I call My List of Awesome. This includes going to White Lake, Michigan because there’s a road there called Alouise Court. My name isn’t common, so the fact there’s a street with my name on it is so crazy. Additionally I’d like to meet someone else with the birth name Alouise (not Eloise or Louise…spelling counts). I do know there’s a Danish singer named Alouise. I’d like to visit every Edmonton in the world. I was born in Edmonton, Alberta but I know there’s one in the USA, England and Australia. I’d also love to go to somewhere in the southern hemisphere for my birthday (July 23). At home my birthday is in the summer, so it would be cool (pun intended) to celebrate my birthday in the winter. There are also a huge host of festivals I’d like to experience like the New Orleans Jazz Festival, The Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and Burning Man.
Is there any advice you can offer those thinking about travel.
Go. If travel is something important to you, and/or something you truly want to do then don’t put off traveling for lame excuses like waiting until you become a millionaire, or until you find the right guy/girl to travel with you. I don’t believe in going into debt to travel, so I think it’s important to try and pay off any major debts before embarking on a big trip (or at least making sure you’ve got a good handle on your finances), but travel doesn’t have to be nearly as expensive as many people think.
The only big regret I have had in my life so far was that I didn’t travel sooner. I listened to some well-meaning, but bad advice when I was 19 and instead of backpacking in Europe (or doing some other type of travel) I stayed home and got a job that made me miserable for several years.
The world is big, but it’s also small. There are so many resources out there, especially online, to help out new travelers. Whatever type of travel you want to do, and however you want to travel there’s someone out there that’s been there, and can give you some advice. Remember we’re all different so what might work for you when traveling might not work for someone else. It takes all kinds of people.
I think it can almost be too overwhelming with all the information that is out there, so pick a place you’ve always wanted to visit (no matter how insane it might seem), and start working toward going there, saving the money, getting your passport, visas (if needed), and anything else you might need to do. Having a concrete goal in travel, and actively working toward it is a lot better than abstractly thinking “I want to travel someday…” It can be easy to overthink yourself out of traveling. A friend once commented that I’m brave because I often travel alone, but I’m always equally excited and terrified before any trip I take. If I used my nerves as an excuse not to travel I wouldn’t have had all the amazing experiences I’ve had.
Also enter travel contests. You can’t rely on a contest as a sole way to travel, but I’ve entered hundreds of contests in the last couple years, and I’ve won about 15 different prizes. Some prizes were small, like free app downloads, but other prizes have been much bigger like hotel stays, a week car rental, and a quick trip for two to New Orleans. If the prize is something you want, and the contest is free to enter, then why not?
Can you tell us about any travel plans you have for the future, after you finish your university course.
This is hard because I don’t even know where I’ll be 4 months from now. My last two semesters at University are a practicum, which I can start as early as May, and do anywhere in the world as long as the job is the writing industry. I could also stay in Edmonton to finish my degree, which would be fine, and likely better being able to pay off student loans sooner.
I used to stress about wanting to study abroad, because it seemed like the only way I’d ever get to travel (for any length of time), but I’ve learned that you don’t have to stop traveling because you have a job (or because you’re in a relationship, or because you have kid, etc.). If you want to travel, then you just need to prioritize and find a way to go. Knowing I don’t have to give up travel forever once I enter the so-called “real world” has lifted a weight off my shoulders.
That being said I’m hoping I can do a cross-Canada road and/or train trip in the next year, or two. I do have a ticket to the Travel Blog Exchange Conference that’s being held in Toronto in June, so that would be a good excuse for a cross-Canada trip. I’ve also wanted to go to Quebec and Newfoundland (two provinces I haven’t been to), and they keep popping up on my radar, which I usually take as a sign that I should go there. I’d also like to travel somewhere new outside of Canada or the US, because it can be really easy for me to return to the same places over and over again. I’m not too picky though, any type of travel is good travel.
Thank you so much Alouise for answering these questions, I know how busy you were recently with your studies. If you would like to read more of Alouise’s work, you can head to her travel blog, Traveler Ahoy. You can also follow Alouise on Twitter, or check out her Facebook Fan Page.