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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 Samantha from Intentional Detours!
Hi! My name is Samantha and I’m the face behind Intentional Detours. I’m originally from the United States, and have only been traveling since 2017. My first trip took me to Ecuador, which is where I officially caught the travel bug while in college. For the past year, I’ve been a mostly full-time backpacker wandering through offbeat places like Pakistan and lesser-visited parts of India. Through my blog, I share tips and guides that help and encourage others to get off the beaten path too, all whilst showing that travel can be significantly cheaper than you might think!
How long have you been blogging for? Why’d you decide to start a travel blog?
I’ve been officially blogging since May 2019. After my first real backpacking trip to Southeast Asia during the Summer of 2018, I became aware of the whole “blogging world”. I loved writing and photography and was planning to set off on an indefinite adventure.
So I thought, why not? I saw there were very few bloggers in the niche I was hoping to make my way into, and I knew I had useful information to share. So in the winter of 2019 prior to setting off, I got to work on setting up my blog and launched on May 11th, 2019 just a few days before leaving for South Asia.
Do you have any tips for new travel bloggers/aspiring travel bloggers?
First: Don’t give up! Blogging is a marathon, not a sprint, and it’s certainly no get-rich-quick scheme. If you truly love it, give it your all and you will see incremental success. I truly believe that unlike other ventures, blogging is formulaic and anyone could be successful by implementing the right strategies.
The most important key to success? SEO! I knew about SEO from the beginning, but only really got comfortable with it recently, and the results have been super satisfying. If you’re just starting out, invest in a good SEO course or book. I’ve personally found the Make Traffic Happen books to be extremely helpful.
What’s one thing you wish you knew before you started traveling?
I wish I knew about all the places I did now! When I first started traveling, my routes were nowhere near as offbeat as they are now, though we (my partner and I) always found lowkey things to do even in popular cities. I really hope to travel to Central Asia as soon as it’s possible, a region I knew almost nothing about back in 2017 when I first put my passport to use.
Why do you love to travel?
I’m immensely curious and love the feeling of every day being a new adventure. I love seeing and experiencing how other people live, I love getting lost in nature that I could never dream of seeing in my home country, and I love love love trying ALL the new foods. I guess I’m a bit of a thrill-seeker- and thrills can be found by just walking outside in the countries I love to travel most.
What’s your best and worst travel experience?
My best travel experience is undoubtedly the week we spent hitchhiking through Yarkhun Valley in Pakistan. This past year was the first time foreigners have been allowed there independently in over a decade, and the experience was truly authentic in every way. The landscapes were unreal, and most importantly, people were extremely welcoming and friendly- as they are everywhere in Pakistan!
My worst travel experience would be the time we got scammed in New Delhi. It was our first time ever visiting India, and within our first hour of arriving, we were thrust into an elaborate scam with a fake tourist agency that unfortunately set us back quite a painful amount of money. Nevertheless, I still love India and came back again the following year (and hope to again).
Do you prefer solo travel or traveling with other people? Why?
I prefer to travel with my boyfriend Charles. I’ve never traveled solo so I can’t really speak on it, but my favorite part of traveling with Charles is the ability to share all the amazing (and the not-so-amazing) experiences with someone.
What’s your favorite place you’ve ever been to? Why?
Undoubtedly Pakistan. I spent 4 months there last year and I’m absolutely smitten. The people, the landscapes, the immense amount of history, the food, the rich culture. Pakistan is an adventure traveler’s dream- more mountains than you know what to do with and very, very little foreign tourism. I can’t wait to be able to go back!
What’s your biggest travel tip?
Get off the beaten track, it’s where the magic happens! But seriously- all of my favorite travel memories are far from the top 10 tourist sites. People are friendlier, food and accommodation is cheaper, and most of all you won’t feel like you’re in a Disney World setting.
Getting off-the-beaten-path doesn’t mean you need to head to somewhere like Pakistan though- just leave the tourist trail and explore the hidden corners of a place. One of my favorite cities in the world, Amsterdam, is also one of the most visited. In 3 visits thus far we’ve always found a way to delve into the “unpopular”!
Is there one specific thing you like to do, see, or buy in every place that you visit?
Ice cream and desserts! I’m literally addicted to them and love love love to sample local/ popular sweet delicacies in each place I travel.
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?
Yes! Dumba karahi in Peshawar, Pakistan. Basically, it’s sheep butt meat tossed in a flavorful tomato curry- not too spicy, but bursting with taste. Though I had never had this type of meat before, I quickly became a fan. It was absolutely delicious and even juicer than steak. Heading back there is a must!
Plane or train? Train!
Hotel or hostel? Hostel
City or nature? Nature
Popular site or off the beaten path? Off the beaten path
Suitcase or backpack? Backpack
Fast travel or slow travel? Slow travel
Professional camera or iPhone photography? Camera
Warm or cold weather? Warm
All photos used throughout this post are taken by Samantha of Intentional Detours.