I attended Travel Blogger's Exchange (TBEX) for short this past September in the beautiful Fingerlakes Region of New York. Upstate New York is absolutely stunning and so much different from New York City…if you ever get a chance to visit, jump at that one. There's so much gorgeous scenery and many waterfalls to look at wine and craft beer to drink and more. But TBEX was actually an investment in the travel component of my own blog…I wanted to learn what I was doing right and what I could be doing better and connect with other travel bloggers, travel journalists and destination reps with the hope of elevating my travel writing/travel photography game. But this isn't a post about me, as the title suggests. It's a post about Gary Arndt, author of the popular travel blog Everything Everywhere. Gary was part of a panel of expert travel bloggers who shared what they'd do different if they were first starting out. I love hearing lessons learned and love more how people are willing to share their knowledge to help others. I'm excited to share this Interview with Gary Arndt with all of you. He's a great dude to learn from.
Interview with Gary Ardnt from the Everything Everywhere Blog
Gary was gracious enough to answer a few questions for my readers. I don't know about ya'll but hearing from someone who has made traveling the world for the last 11 years his job is inspiring. I'm a pretty well-traveled person but reading about his adventures not only makes me want to do more but makes me realize it is possible. Even if you're not a travel blogger, some of these words can give you some inspiration on blogging in general…and no matter who you are, it will definitely make you want to pack that back and go somewhere. And, you should.
1. How did you get your start writing about travel and what would you do differently if you started today?
I started by just starting my own website and writing. I have no formal background in journalism or photography. I made a WordPress site and just started traveling. Today I would fundamentally do the same thing, but I might focus more on video and podcasting from the start.
2. Most of your trips are solo – what are the best and worst things about traveling solo?
The best part is the freedom to go where you want when you want. I visit a lot of national parks and UNESCO World Heritage Sites and most people might not be interested in visiting those. The worst thing is not being able to share the things you see with another person.
I have to disagree with Gary on the national parks and UNESCO World Heritage Sites. We bought a couple of National Parks guides this summer during our trip to Carlsbad Caverns and we've starting working more parks into our travel plans. If these don't pique your interest, give them another look. These are great places to photograph and you can plan trips with varying degrees of adventure.
3. What stands out in your mind as the most memorable trips you've taken?
It would probably be the trip I took to Antarctica and South Georgia Island. Both are some of the most remarkable places in the world.
4. What's the weirdest thing you've ever eaten on a trip?
I've eaten many things which are only odd because they aren't eaten in western countries.
This is a new way to think about things, for sure. Our guide in Guangzhou (Southern China) kept trying to get us to try a chicken foot and I thought it was weird. I didn't stop to consider his perspective until later…but I don't have regrets about not trying the chicken foot.
5. Where have you been that you'd like to go back to?
I'd like to redo the first year of my travels from back in 2007. My photos from back then weren't very good and I'd love to reshoot many of the places I've visited.
6. What is your favorite social media platform and why?
Instagram, but I prefer podcasting more than any social platform.
7. I've read in other interviews that you are a night before packer. Do you have any packing horror stories you'd like to share?
Not really, I've packed so many times that I'm used to it now. It isn't rocket science. I'm typing this the evening before I leave on a trip to Spain and I still haven't packed yet.
8. Where do you want to go that you've never been…and do you have plans to travel there?
I haven't been to Greenland yet, and I would love to go there. I have no immediate plans, but I'm sure I'll go at some point in the future.
9. If you could give a new travel blogger ONE piece of advice, what would it be?
The biggest thing is not quitting. Most bloggers give up after a few years, and it might take that long just to get traction and start seeing success.
10. Anything else you wish to add?
Almost everyone should be traveling more than they are now, and they should be looking to visit places they are unfamiliar with and maybe never ever heard of.
My takeaways from these answers are to do more video and start that podcast…I know, and if you're a content creator, you know that video and podcasting are necessary to keep yourself current. Lack of confidence and the “I'm not going to be any good at that because it's too technical” are holding me back. I travel mostly with my two youngest kids so my trips are less of the thrill-seeking variety but the places we do go are instilling a sense of adventure in them and, as they get older, we can go a little bolder. I love pushing myself to get out of my travel comfort zone, although I completely get that staying in the comfort zone is important for some people…especially when they're away from home and familiar surroundings. I remember making fun of one of the members of my Beijing travel group years ago for being such a wimp about trying new foods but I later realized that just taking the trip was probably enough of a leap outside her comfort zone. Yeah, yeah, I know…says the girl who wouldn't try that chicken foot.
I hope you've enjoyed reading my interview with Gary Arndt and that this prompts you to check out more of his travel stories. If you're looking for inspiration on where to travel or how to travel, I encourage you to check out Everything Everywhere. Gary also offers a Travel Photography Academy and a section on how to start a travel blog…check out the bottom right of his home page. He's also my new go-to guy for travel quotes…he has a list of some great ones linked to his home page.
If you're interested in elevating your travel blogging, I recommend TBEX conferences. The next TBEX North America is in September 2019 in Billings Montana. More info here.