Welcome to the next installment in my new travel blogger interview series! The goal of this weekly series is to help spread the blogging love and introduce you to some other awesome travel bloggers! Any travel blogger, whether new or experienced, can sign up to be featured in this new series.
This week I’m happy to share that I’m featuring Amy from Templeseeker!
My name is Amy and I travel the world finding the most amazing temples and historical sites along the way. I have a BA in Religion and Theology and a Masters in South Asian Studies from Manchester University. When I’m not blogging about Europe, Asia and the Middle East you will find me at home in Liverpool (England) with my husband and Blake the Patterdale terrier!
How long have you been blogging for? Why’d you decide to start a travel blog?
I’ve been blogging for 5 years now and I started my blog when I was teaching. I actually started my blog because I became quite ill in my 30s with severe endometriosis and so I knew that I had to change my career as a result. I had always wanted to be a travel writer so I decided to create the opportunity through the blog so that I could achieve this myself. It has been a blessing to be able to do what I truly love and work from home and remotely and work at my own pace.
Do you have any tips for new travel bloggers/aspiring travel bloggers?
My biggest tip would be to learn SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). For the first two or three years I was blogging with no SEO knowledge and so if I got found on Google in the early days it was luck more than anything! Now I carefully research my keywords before I write my article and make sure that it is optimised. My blog traffic has more than quadrupled as a result.
The second thing that I would say is that it’s worth investing a bit of money in social media advertising. I did a few ads on Facebook and targeted female solo travellers aged 20-45 based in the UK and USA. This massively boosted my Facebook following and so I am now doing it with Instagram too. When you get to 10k on Instagram you can include links in your Instagram stories which generates more traffic to your blog.
What’s one thing you wish you knew before you started traveling?
One thing I wish I knew when I was younger was how easy and rewarding it was to travel solo. For some reason, I spent most of my 20s and early 30s waiting around for friends or family to come somewhere with me, Often this resulted in being let down. When I had my major operation in my mid 30s, something clicked in my head and I said to myself, ‘life is short, I’m not waiting for someone to go see the Blue Mosque with me, I’m going this summer!’ It was such an amazing experience that I wish I had done this much earlier in my life.
Why do you love to travel?
One of the things for me is the culture and religion. I studied Religion and Theology at Manchester University and I had a big interest in places of worship and other cultures. I love to eat different foods, learn new languages and visit temples. Thailand and India are my two spiritual homes! I can’t get enough of the cultural stimulation and amazing people that I meet!
I find that when I travel I meet people on a similar wavelength – people who are worldly and interested in topics that matter – politics, anti-racism, the economy, current affairs and of course travel. Some of my closest friends I’ve met on the road.
What’s your best and worst travel experience?
One of my worst travel experiences happened when I took my Mom to Cambodia for her birthday and she ended up getting hospitalised with a severe allergic reaction to fire ant bites. I rushed back from Battambang to get to the hospital. After a drip and anti-biotics she was discharged, but they wouldn’t let me take her out of the hospital when she was discharged because the insurance company hadn’t confirmed that they would pay. It was a Friday night in the UK and nothing from the insurers until Monday. I was pretty much forced to surrender our passports to get my Mom back to the hotel. They held our passports to ransom until the day before we were due to fly out!!!!
One of my best travel experiences was on the same trip – seeing Angkor Wat temple with my Mom for her 60th Birthday was really phenomenal. The carvings are so well preserved and I felt so privileged to be there. We were also amazed by Ta Phrom – the Tomb Raider temple! It’s one of the rare occasions that I’ve actually gasped out loud! The Cambodia trip was truly a rollercoaster of emotions.
Another one of my best travel experiences was going in a submarine in Mauritius for a sealife safari. We saw so much down there under the sea including Lion Fish and Surgeon fish. It was like a whole other world! It was so lovely to be finally married and so being there together was really special. But I also had a bit of anxiety about going down in the submarine! It’s not a natural thing to do and so I found it a bit scary at first!
Do you prefer solo travel or traveling with other people? Why?
My absolute preferred way of travel is honestly solo! Why? Because I have my own agenda with my own checklist and no one else to please! I feel like see so much more as a solo traveller. Also I meet amazing people. I think that there’s something about the solo travel community that is very friendly. So although I travel solo I never really feel alone! I can afford to stay in hotels now that I am a bit older, but I still go in a hostel sometimes just to meet people!
Saying that, there are some people I totally love to travel with – my Mom, my sister and my Husband. Sometimes I wish they could come away more – maybe soon they will! I’d love to go to Mexico and South America with my hubby and also take my Mom to Jerusalem!
I don’t often travel with friends because people have different travelling styles and many of them don’t understand my blogging commitment. I’ve travelled with a friend before and we totally didn’t get on and it kind of ruined the friendship. I wouldn’t do that again for this reason. But I do like to go solo and meet other friends abroad for dinner and drinks – that seems to be a nice balance actually.
What’s your favorite place you’ve ever been to? Why?
I am a massive fan of Thailand. It seems to encompass everything I love about travel – the temples, the food and the hospitality of the people. But not Bangkok, I hated Bangkok! My asthma was really bad there and it was so busy everywhere – I flew straight up North when I arrived. But the day I landed in Chiang Rai, I literally thought I was in heaven. I was jet lagged but couldn’t wait for the temples. My first day in Thailand was spent seeing the Blue Temple and the Big Buddha in Chiang Rai. I spent a whole month in Thailand travelling through Chiang Mai, Sukhothai, Lop Buri and Ayutthaya. I am itching to go back!
What’s your biggest travel tip?
My biggest travel tip is to always have a credit card and a contingency fund. I’ve had several crazy experiences – getting pick-pocketed in Italy, an infection in Cambodia and almost getting stuck in Oman due to Coronavirus! I have always been able to deal with the bad stuff when travelling because I have money and contacts to get me out of most situations. Even if I get stranded somewhere I have travel insurance and enough cash in the bank to live for 3-6 months. Some people travel on a shoestring budget and have no backup funds. I honestly don’t know how they can sleep at night!
Is there one specific thing you like to do, see, or buy in every place that you visit?
As ‘templeseeker’ (the name of my blog) I have to visit the Church or Temple or Mosque in every place that I visit. I have been lucky enough to see some of the Wolrd’s most amazing religious buildings including the Taj Mahal, St Basil’s Cathedral, Church of the Holy Sepulchre (Jerusalem) and La Sagrada Familia. I’m not a religious person myself, but I love the architecture and the spirituality of religious buildings. I also love historical sites and so Roman amphitheatres, castles and catacombs are totally my thing!
Is there one particular food that you’ve tried while traveling that you loved? What food was it and why do you love it so much?
When I was in Oman earlier this year I tried the Konafa – it’s a melted cheese mush covered in a sweet biscuit kind of coating. Think of a sweet and cheesy heavenly dessert that exceeds even the best cheesecake you‘ve ever tasted! It’s sweet and savory together – so wrong it’s right! I think originally it is Turkish, but I first tried it in Muscat, not Istanbul.
Plane or train? Plane
Hotel or hostel? Hotel
City or nature? City
Popular site or off the beaten path? Beaten path
Suitcase or backpack? Backpack
Fast travel or slow travel? Slow
Professional camera or iPhone photography? iPhone
Warm or cold weather? Warm
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All photos used throughout this post are taken by Amy of Intentional Detours.