1.)Where was the first place that you traveled that made you think WOW—travel is amazing (think history book come to life or …..)
Short answer: China! The Forbidden Palace.
However, this is still happening every time and in each place I go to!
I started traveling extensively in 2004 when I moved to Belgium. My work required about 75% travel. However, I wanted to travel ever since I was a child, even though in communist Romania, where I was born, this seemed almost like an impossible dream back then. I have always been fascinated with Asia and China in particular, and if I have to really pick a place then it would be when I went to China for the first time and I spent 1 week by myself in Beijing.
2.)If you had unlimited resources, where would you go and what would you do?
At this very moment my answer has to be Africa! I would just travel all around the continent: by road, by air, by boat, you name it. I would love to experience all sides of Africa: the local tribes, the jungle, but also those extremely expensive African Safari lodges. And I would love to do it for a few months. Damn, you just made me start dreaming again!
As to what I would do, I would help the people in need that I meet along the way. I am already doing this as much as I can but I would love to help more.
3.)What were you afraid to do and how did you find the courage to overcome it?
I was afraid to leave my country, Romania and move to Belgium. I was afraid to be without my family and friends. These are the most important things to me! Then I realised that distance is as big or as small as you make it.
4.)What apps do you use regularly that make your life easier?
I use the pro version of Tripit, XE conversion, ALL the social media and photo apps , Rome2Rio and so many more
5.)What place do you wish more people have seen?
My own country: Romania. It is still and undiscovered gem. Even I haven’t seen so much of it. We have a delta that is unique in the world, gorgeous mountains, beautiful traditions (still kept) and so much more.
6.)Best advice you have been given and by whom?
I always get the best advice from my mom. She knows me the best and she is giving me a lot of advice…still. The last one was: “just go!” .
7.)When were you surprised by the kindness of strangers on a trip?
I used to be surprised but not anymore. During so much travel I come to realise that actually the vast majority of people are kind! I have had the best experiences in Asia. For example, I always remember and tell people about that time in Japan when I was traveling to a very local place outside of Kyoto. People were constantly coming to me to ask if I needed help with directions. They saw I was a foreigner and that I had a map in my hands (at that time, actual paper maps were still a thing haha) so even if they did not speak English they were constantly trying to help me.
8.)What inspired you to travel for extended periods of time or live in a new country?
I don’t just want to tick places off the list, I want to experience them. Each place I travel to changes me and helps me discover new things about me and about the world. Different places have a different impact and some of them have a very big one. The best example for me is India, where I have been 10 times already. I even lived there for a few months and yet I keep going back. India certainly changed my life and it still does every time I go there, in a very good way.
I always try to learn a bit about the culture of the country I am going to, especially if it is very different from mine. To do that, I usually read a book related to that country. And then I cannot wait to go and experience all that myself.
9.)I travel because….
I cannot NOT do it. I always say that travel is an investment in yourself and that it is the best teacher you can have. So I travel for that, for my own continuous development. But to really benefit from travel in the way that I want I need to take it slower and spend more time in each place.
10.) My favorite travel or business book is…
elite ranks of Instagram with more than 107,000 followers. It is not necessarily a travel book per se but it is the book that made me fall in love with Japan before I even saw it. Now it is my absolute favourite country!
11.) How about hotels? What’s your favorite or one you’d recommend?
Oh I am afraid I cannot pick just one! I stayed in so many gorgeous hotels around the world. From boutique hotels to big chains and very high end ones. But one chain in which I stayed the most are Taj hotels in India. And I would really love to experience some of their palace hotels as well. Oh I can add this to my list of “if money was no issue” .
Lastly, can you please recommend a resource for up-and-coming travel writers; this could be a course you know, a book, conference etc.
At the beginning I read and watched all the free stuff I found online. Then I realised that if really wanted to do this for real I needed to invest a bit more. So I started taking paid courses here and there, including for Instagram which is my favorite social media channel. But I would say: join Facebook groups and interact with people from your niche, check out online courses sites like Udemy for Instagram and Pinterest courses.
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