Real questions from you…the lovely people who actually read this blog (thank you, thank you!!) These people contacted me through email and I’ve received permission to reprint their questions and my answers on my site so that everyone can benefit (even you shy people that are too scared to comment or send me an email!) If you have questions for me about travel, Vietnam, Asia, expat living, solo travel, career breaks, photography, flashpacking, female travel, thirtysomething trials & tribulations, ESL, how to eat noodles with chopsticks, or how to remove leaches – please leave a comment and I’ll add your question to my next segment of Q&A!
Q: Did you have the foresight to create your website as it is today when you started traveling?
A: I definitely didn’t have any foresight when I started my blog 3 years ago! I simply started it as a way to let my family and friends know I was ok AND as a way to share my photography. It was started on a free blog on Bootsnall and that’s where I kept it for the 14 months I was traveling. I noticed that I seemed to have a lot of people reading my stories and I started to try to organize the stories better, make them more readable, and offer information I thought people would want to know. The whole thing completely evolved as I traveled. If you look back at the first posts - they were quite different!
Q: If you did start out small, how and when did you decide to transition to the more professional format you have now?
A: started to get a bit frustrated that I couldn’t do as much with the blog as I wanted to (adding features and functions – I needed more flexibility). I wanted to break out of the template that Bootsnall provided and do my own thing (yet I really didn’t have any technical ability!) In addition, I was tired of Bootsnall making money from the ads that they placed along the sidebar of my site. I wanted more control – so I decided to educate myself on how to go about all of this myself. I bought a book “WordPress for Dummies” and used that to choose a host, chose a theme, and then I actually hired Nomadic Matt to help me move my old blog to my new one and redesign it a bit. I had met him via my blog and we had exchanged some emails. This was when Nomadic Matt was just starting out, so it was fun to work together and assist each other.
Q: When were you able to start writing for other publications – and how were you able to bridge to that work?
A: I actually started writing for other travel websites about 3 months after I started traveling. I first submitted some articles to Bootsnall since I was familiar with them. Then I found another new website (at the time) InTravel – and started submitting things to them. I would mainly take things I had already written and reformulate them a bit. Granted – all of this writing was for no money; just the joy of having my work and stories read by a bigger audience. Once again, at the time I had no big blogging or writing expectations. I also started submitting photo essays to Pology – one of my favorite online travelizines. I kept getting rejected – but I kept trying. After about a year they finally accepted my photography of Laos! At that time I also sent emails to some of my favorite podcast hosts to simply let them know how much I loved their shows and how they were an essential tool for my travels around the world. They wrote me back and asked me to be on their shows…which also helped get my stories out there to a new audience. This all came from a simple kind hearted gesture – no grand plan.
A few questions about the language and cooking school I attended in Italy.
Q: I’ve been reading your site for a while and I was reading your latest post and wondering if you could let me know the name of the Italian school you went to for language & cooking. I have a few weeks coming up with nothing to do and would love to do something like that!
A: The Italian school I attended in Sorrento was called Sorrento Lingue – here’s the link – http://www.sorrentolingue.com/ They organized the cooking class with the language class – but you could do both separately if you want. You can also stay at the cooking class place as it’s a little guest house too and they are so nice – it’s a short bike ride to the school each morning. The cooking school is called Mami Camilla’s - http://www.mamicamilla.com/
Q: I somehow stumbled upon your story about your time spent at Mami Camilla. I am thinking about taking the pizza classes that they offer. Can you add a little more insight about the place……also where did you stay for the month that you were there?…Is staying in a room at Mami Camilla an option?
A: Mami Camilla’s is superb! I really felt like I was part of their family for a month. I was there 2 years ago – but at that time, yes you could stay in a room in their guesthouse/dorm if you are looking for a budget place. I think they also have other rooms too. I actually highly recommend staying there – it’s nice as you meet so many other travelers, you have an instant Italian family, and you can eat there at night for a great bargain and the food is amazing! Best deal in/near Sorrento. You are about 5 km from Sorrento – but they have bikes there you can rent/borrow and you can easily get into the beach/town, etc. I rented a bike from them for a month and that’s how I got around everywhere. The classes were really fun and laid back for the amateur cook definitely.