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Top Travel Blogs: Cats and Backpacks and Hoff to Explore

by Kati Taylor

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At TravelLocal, we love getting to know the wider travel community (and the talented writers who make it so vibrant and engaging!) This month, we caught up with Hattie, Seb and Jodie - all relatively new bloggers who are producing incredible content. We chatted to them about their travel experiences, their advice for budding nomads and unmissable destinations.  

Hattie and Seb - Cats and Backpacks

Hattie and SebWildlife lovers and permanent nomads Hattie and Seb describe themselves as experts on animals, budgeting and teaching abroad. With their lively writing style (and plenty of gorgeous cat photos), they keep their blog well stocked with travel tips and advice. Although they’re currently living in China, we managed to grab some time with them to chat about their travel experiences…

TL: What inspired you to start travel writing? Was it a particular destination or experience?

We first got the travel bug in early 2013 when we went to Kenya on a magical safari, but it was a short backpacking trip through Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand in December 2014 that inspired me to start the blog.  A few months later, when I was bored and uninspired back in the UK, I created Cats and Backpacks as a way of reliving all the incredible experiences I’d had. At the beginning of this year Seb and I recreated that trip and he became just as hooked on travelling as me. He’s now a regular writer for the blog as well.

TL: What’s the most immersive, ‘local’ experience you’ve had while travelling?

Definitely living in Ningbo, China! Ningbo is a second-tier City in Zhejiang province (a couple of hours south of Shanghai) and it’s a pretty good place to experience a typical Chinese lifestyle. We’re currently here for a year teaching English, freelance writing and building up the blog.

It’s certainly been a wild experience so far - we had no idea we were going to have such a culture shock! After living here for three months we definitely feel like we’re rooted deep within the local culture and way of life. We speak a little Chinese, know some great local food haunts, and are very involved with animal welfare too. We volunteer at a local dog shelter, raise money for homeless and sick animals and have nominated ourselves as the go-to cat foster parents for kitties in need in our local area.

TL: What's your favourite destination and why?

Tsavo EastIt’s hard to give a definitive answer to this as there’s still so much of the world left that we want to see, but there are two places which have a special place in our hearts. The first is Kenya- we had a wonderful trip there a few years ago where we spent our time relaxing on the paradise beaches, indulging in traditional spa treatments and of course taking an amazing jeep safari through Tsavo East and West. We used a local tour company and had such a personal experience because of it (and we paid far less too!) Seb proposed to me at sunset at our safari lodge, so the whole trip was filled with special memories.

The other destination we adore is Chiang Mai in Thailand. There’s something about the atmosphere and people there that makes us want to return again and again. We love how there are temples all over that provide an oasis of calm in the middle of the madness of the City.

TL:  What advice would you give someone who was thinking about going travelling?

Do it! It may be daunting to make travel a priority in your life- saying goodbye to family and friends (and pets) can be hard, and when you work to build a life in one place in can be difficult to leave it all behind. But travel is so rewarding and it really is possible to turn travel into your lifestyle.

Read Seb and Hattie’s blog here and follow them on Twitter (@catsnbackpacks)

 

Jodie - Hoff to Explore

JodieDescribing herself as a ‘Global Aussie’, and with a wanderlust to rival even ours, Jodie Bickhoff is an up and coming influencer in the travel blogging community. She has been writing her blog, ‘Hoff to Explore’ since 2015 and shares her travel experiences and advice with readers. Currently working on an article for TravelLocal, and travelling in Cambodia with our lovely operator, we managed to grab some time to catch up...

TL: What inspired you to start travel writing? Was it a particular destination or experience?

What started out as a Microsoft Word document emailed to around 20 friends and family members in Australia every Tuesday, has grown into a travel blog about life in London and my wider adventures. I now have over 1200 page views per month and am so excited to see where the project goes!

TL: What’s the most immersive, ‘local’ experience you’ve had while travelling?

Probably feasting on a chicken tagine (big enough for three people) while I was in Morocco! It was at a local family’s home and we were using fresh home-made bread to tear off chicken and scoop up vegetables and sauce. The lunch stop was on our way to the Sahara Desert where we were camping for the night. It was such a memorable and delicious experience!

DesertTL: What's your favourite destination and why?

As much as I'd like to pick a different destination from the question above, it's Morocco. Most memorable (aside from the mouth-watering chicken tagine) was sleeping outside under the stars in the Sahara Desert. The clear skies, the fresh air and the three shooting stars I saw before falling asleep... The feeling is hard to explain and that experience stands out from all others so far.

TL: What advice would you give someone who was thinking about going travelling?

Lots of people would tell you 'just do it' but my advice is 'plan for it'. Especially if you're travelling solo. Do your research on local culture and get tips from others. I recommend reading travel blogs and planning quite far in advance. More time means that you can learn as much as possible!

Read Jodie’s blog here and follow her on Twitter (@hofftoexplore)

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