Travel. The mere thought of this word evokes so many feelings at the same time: excitement, passion, anticipation, being hopeful, happiness and to some extent, a tad bit of nervousness too, keeping fingers crossed that all will go as planned or envisioned and as dreamed of for ages before the actual event. Add the writing of a blog into that mix and the dynamic changes completely! I have written some WanderInspo posts on how I think that travel is a great teacher, and even confessed to my serial wanderlust, but what I have never really delved into is why I started Harpreet’s Wanderlust and chronicling my Footsteps Across The Globe in the first place: I may have alluded to it in previous posts, however, with this month’s #Travellinkup topic on how travel and/or blogging has had an impact on my life, I thought it would be the perfect insight to those curious to know the intricacies of this blog and the raison d’etre.
The seeds and Lesson 1
As is expected with me, there isn’t just one reason why I thought that writing a blog would be a fun endeavour. For one, I have always been fond of writing my musings and during my travels pre blog, I would find myself journaling to capture experiences to put them down permanently to someday look back on. I credit my mum for this habit. Every time we would take a road trip as a family, mum would buy me a little pink kartasi brand notebook, the one with a horse on it (my Kenyan people will know what I am talking about) and she would tell me to write all the things I saw along the way in its pages. I am sure for my mum it was an easy way of keeping me, already a nerdy bookworm entertained on our pretty long road trips but this little exercise was the beginning of my love of writing. Add to that the books I devoured and the innate need to write was inevitable. Fast forward to a couple of years later, the seed of writing a travel blog was planted in Ubud, Bali, when instead of frolicking amidst rice paddy fields, Wanderlustmate M and I were trying to solve a Visa crisis. By that time, my musings had also transitioned from paper journal to online entries on my laptop, which were stumbled upon during a clean-up, and together with Wanderlustmates M’s amazing photographs, hey presto, the seed that was planted began to sprout. Putting together a blog was harder than I thought and way more work than I ever imagined it to be: I had foolishly underestimated it all thinking -how hard can writing a bunch of words and putting up some pictures be? A lot of my blogger friends will agree that working at a blog is way more intense than even working at a day job, but I will admit that those seeds were the beginnings of what has been a great journey so far. Many of you will know that I started writing Harpreet’s Wanderlust in 2013, way before blogging was even a thing: and I kept it a secret for a long while, only announcing it to the world more than a year later. I wish I had gone live from day one, but before I thought of going live I had mentioned to someone that I had started writing a blog: only for that person to retort that “I thought I had travelled so much that I felt the need to show off about it” and that just killed my vibe. Not for long though, because my why was greater than someone’s opinion, and I soon learned that everyone has one and they are not always favourable: so the best thing to do is to do YOU. And that, dear wanderlusters, was Lesson 1 in the life of a Travel Blogger. There will always be someone putting you down, wondering why, thinking you are showing off, thinking you think you know too much, thinking that others are better than you, thinking your writing is awful: but the biggest thing you can do is block out the noise, and just do what makes you happy, first and foremost writing for YOU and always remembering your WHY.
And so, with that rather long winded ramble, Harpreet’s Wanderlust…Footsteps Across The Globe was put out into the blogosphere, and here I am, 5 years later, only working harder at it and my WHY gets defined and clearer every time I sit down to pen an article for all my dear wanderlusters.
I have mentioned that blogging is hard work. Even harder is juggling blogging with a full time pretty demanding day job, running a household and trying to be a wife, daughter and sister. This leaves little to no time for writing a blog but other than the innate need to travel and explore, capture the moments in words and pictures, there are two things that keep the passion burning.
1. Travel with a “Blue Passport”
If you have been following this travel blog long enough you will know that Wanderlustmate M and I travel on a Kenyan Passport. Being one that belongs to a rapidly developing country, it goes without saying that travel becomes a little less spontaneous and a little harder because of all the paperwork involved in procuring visas, but then again, getting a visa to most countries is not impossible. Yes, there are limitations as to where one can go on a whim, but where there is a will there is a way and Wanderlustmate M and I have travelled to some pretty awesome and off the beaten path countries with our blue passports : the most recent country being Georgia: not the state in the USA, the actual country in the Caucasus region known as EurAsia. I don’t say this to belittle anyone but there are people with more powerful passports than what we hold that haven’t even been past their backyard. This is a perfectly acceptable choice and ultimately, it doesn’t matter what kind of passport you hold. What counts is what you do with it. All I’m saying is that your passport shouldn’t be your limitation. Kenya is magical and there are loads of places to explore at home, but the big world yonder is even more exciting and it calls my name so loud. The last count showed that Kenyans can visit a little over 50 countries visa free, which is pretty good! And so, one of the main reasons for showcasing our Footsteps Across The Globe is to dispel the myth that travel with a “Blue Passport” is impossible and to inspire those with similar passports to explore what this world has to offer if they really want to: all it takes is being inspired by one person to set the ball rolling for what someone else can achieve. If I am that one person, I would consider it an honour. I would love nothing more than to inspire fellow Kenyans to use their “Blue Passports” to travel the world: we are received with so much excitement when we do go to places that aren’t used to stamping the pages of a Kenyan Passport. I will never forget immigration in Vietnam, where we had to point out Kenya on a map to the immigration officer to prove that it existed: and this was despite having procured a visa from the Vietnamese Embassy in Tanzania, not even back home! Yes, we did get in, and yes we loved every minute of our adventures in Vietnam. As the saying goes:
The best stories are those found between the pages of a passport!
2. Sharing experiences with the blogosphere
Both Wanderlustmate M and I are full time lawyers here in Kenya. However, we love exploring, having different experiences especially if they are off the beaten path, trying out unique cuisines and indulging in other cultures, if only for a while. We aspire to have a work/life balance and with photography and travel being our passions, we started incorporating travel as a major part of our lifestyle. Being Type A personalities, we both like to research on where we are going: also because spontaneous travel is unlikely, it means that everything has to be perfect. This means thorough research into visas, immigration rules, cultures, traditions amongst other things like what to do where we are planning to go. I literally carry a dossier with me when we travel: because we have been asked for some pretty random documents in some countries. Funny story: at immigration in Porto, the immigration officer asked us to show him wads of cash to confirm that we were able to afford being in Portugal for the 10 days our visa let us. As we were going through this rigmarole, a lady with big yellow wedges who was in the immigration queue behind us exclaimed rather rudely that “people with dodgy passports were holding up the line and she couldn’t get out to get her holiday started”! She then decided to join another line just as the officer decided we were worthy of being gr anted entry only to have to stand behind 10 other people. I couldn’t help turning around and smiling at her with a cheeky wave: karma had gotten her for her rude comment and I, with my “dodgy passport” was off to get my holiday started! Equally, there have been countries where we have been stamped in within minutes of landing and without a question or a second glance. We just never know so we prefer to be prepared!
In all our research, we found that there is not that much practical information for travellers. You will find tonnes of online journal like entries (a lot like my Footsteps in…series that I enjoy doing) and some of what sound like a student writing a high school essay on their holiday type writing amongst other styles. I’m not saying that these are wrong: each to their own and there are some days when I am looking for armchair inspiration and these kinds of blogs check the boxes, but on other days, I struggle to find answers for what I may be looking for. Yes, you can buy a tonne of guidebooks. But I have found that no guidebook will ever substitute personal experiences and while I do refer to Lonely Planet and the like, I am more likely to seek out a recommendation by a travel blogger that I am inspired by and whose work I have been following be it on their blog or social media channels. Caveat here: when I research, sponsored content is taken with a pinch of salt and authenticity is really important to me. I must admit that my earlier writing is borderline cringeworthy and it is only with practice and not finding what I want on the blogosphere that has led me to create some of what I would have liked to have known when researching a destination. My WanderNuggets and some of the itineraries I have crafted over the years and shared with a lot of readers offline seeks to share experiences. But like all things, ideas evolve over time and get perfected and I am slowly finding a style that fits me: an in between of rambling online journal like entries by way of sharing my experiences and thoughts as well as what I consider practical information by way of WanderNuggets. This means that when we travel, there are many times when I wear the the hat of an editor because I am not only travelling for the experience, but also to put information out into the blogosphere and I have a responsibility to ensure that what I do put out there is correct at the time of publishing the post. This means again, taking copious amounts of notes and trying to remember every little detail which can admittedly be exhausting and sometimes, I am grateful that this is a passion and not a full time job or else I may not be doing it!
And there we have it, fellow Wanderlusters. A lil insight into the whys and wherefores of Harpreet’s Wanderlust…Footsteps Across The Globe. Thank you for sharing in my ever evolving journey with me thus far…and as always, Happy Wanderlusting! xoxo
Our November topic is the impact that travel and/or blogging has had on you.
Just pop your post up over the first week of the month (the 1st – 7th November 2018), add it to the link up widget found on Adventures of a London Kiwi, SilverSpoon London, Follow Your Sunshine or on the blog of our lovely guest host Sima @ The Curious Pixie.
There are no rules – all we ask is that you check out some of the other cool bloggers that are involved in that months travel link up; make a few comments here and there and tweet a few of the posts out to your followers that you think they will love. It’s a great way to meet some new travel bloggers and share some blogging joy!