1. When did you first start traveling and which is your favourite travel memory?
My first overseas trip was many years ago, when I was just 16 years old, but it has just been only in the last four years that I have racked up 35 of my 40+ countries. I have had some AMAZING memories like swimming with whale sharks in Mexico, bathing elephants at a rescue in Thailand, taking a helicopter ride into the Grand Canyon, watching wrestler’s practice at a sumo stable in Japan, nibbling on chicken feet at the cheapest Michelin restaurant in the world, etc… I am thrilled any time I have an incredible new experience, but amongst my favorite was swimming with thousands of jellyfish in Jellyfish Lake in Palau. Jellyfish Lake in the Micronesian country of Palau is home to millions of jellyfish that are deemed relatively harmless since their sting is so light. It was still frightening for the first five minutes to be surrounded by jellyfish, some brushing up against my body. But, after the panic dissipated, this was one of my all-time favorite bucket list travel adventures.
2. What is your favourite travel movie/song/book?
One of my favorite travel books of all time is Little Princes by Conor Grennan. It’s a touching true story about a man’s quest to reunite lost children of Nepal with their parents. His incredible journey, the lively kids and the tender reconciliations had me not wanting the book to end.
3. How do you fund your travels?
There are two things that help support my travels. The first is my blog, Bucket List Journey. I make a little money by selling advertisements, creating partnerships with companies and earning commissions through affiliate programs. I also work with many tourism boards and brands that sponsor my travels. Secondly, my husband and I own a successful Italian restaurant in Northern California that gives me a degree of financial freedom. With that said, we have worked diligently for the past several years in order to set it up to fit around my traveling lifestyle.
Let me also say that I believe that some of the reason I can afford traveling is because it is what I choose to be able to afford, it is what I am truly passionate about. I would forgo designer clothes, fancy coffee or a manicure any day of the week if it were in exchange for a memorable experience.
4. What is your advice to travellers who are just beginning their journey?
My advice would be don’t put travel off because you think you may not be able to do everything you want to on the trip due to your financial situation. There are so many experiences around the world that are free. One of the most memorable for me was witnessing the Call to Prayer in front of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. Powerful and totally free. Most cities also have cheap street food, economical hostels and free attractions. You can always revisit a city when you are more financially secure and have a totally different experience. Also, even if you can not afford to travel out of the state or country, you can always start by exploring what’s in your own backyard. I have been fascinated by what exists less than an hour drive from my home.
5. What was your favourite trip so far? Why was it memorable?
There have been countless adventures and places that I will never forget, but one of the most memorable all around trips was going on safari in Africa. One of the main reasons is that I had to conquer what seemed like a thousand fears to make it happen: getting vaccination shots, flying 20+ hours, traveling alone, meeting new people, being in such a foreign land, etc. Of course, it was also memorable because of the experience that I had while in Tanzania. It was completely surreal to be sleeping in Serengeti, have lions walk in front of your jeep, spending the afternoon at an orphanage and visiting a Maasai tribe.
6. Where do you see yourself in a year? In five years?
I have just signed a book deal with a publishing house, so I am currently writing a book and in a year I will officially be an author! In five years, I hope to turn the Bucket List Journey blog into a large brand that promotes traveling, bucket lists and stepping out of your comfort zone.
7. What is the most challenging aspect of travel in your opinion?
Getting from point A to B is the most challenging part for me, especially because I am afraid of flying! But it also takes a lot of time to figure out a new subway system, bus times, different maps and foreign streets.
8. Why did you decide to blog? Has it had any impact on the way you travel?
Initially, I was simply looking for a place to record my ever-growing bucket list and its progress. The pieces of scrap paper and random internet files were getting out of control, so I decided to condense my dozens of notes into a blog. As time went on, the blog changed from being just a practical list-keeping spot to being a place for readers to get inspiration for their own bucket lists. Because many of my goals related to experiencing things around the world, the blog morphed into a travel blog. Having a blog does change the way I travel because now many of the locations I visit are dependent on who I am working with at that time. If I am working with a destination I try to extend my travels and visit locations nearby. For example, I recently worked with the Warsaw tourism board, and since I was in Poland I decided to go to Switzerland on my own.
Visit Annette’s blog Bucket List Journey