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It’s Wednesday, so it’s that time of the week again. Welcome to another installment of my travel blogger interview series! Today, I’m happy to introduce you to Anya from Unexpected Occurrence!
Anya is an adventure travel blogger at Unexpected Occurrence. A lover of high mountains and outdoor challenges, Anya seeks out the best hikes and bike trips she can find! She likes to let serendipity be her guide, which has led her to some incredible places, but also into some hilarious mishaps!
How long have you been blogging for? Why’d you decide to start a travel blog?
I’ve been blogging for about 5 years off and on! My blog started when I was taking a gap year in between highschool and university. I started to travel around areas where I wasn’t getting much internet connection (especially when hiking!), so I started a blog to keep all my family informed of where the heck I was!
A year later, I loved blogging and I was shocked to see that people other than my family were reading the blog, so I just kept doing it and I haven’t stopped!
Do you have any tips for new travel bloggers/aspiring travel bloggers?
Write about what makes you happy! A lot of bloggers go into the industry aiming for money and writing about whatever will get them that, but you have to enjoy creating your content, or it can easily begin to be a chore! Aside from that, COMPRESS YOUR IMAGES!
I have had soooo many issues trying to sort out huge images to lower site loading time, and once, when I migrated hosts, ALL of my images got lost and reuploading the huge files took ages! About three years into blogging, I learned that massive files were not the way to go, and I’m still going through old posts and fixing them.
What’s one thing you wish you knew before you started traveling?
Before travelling, I was really into having plans. I used to have quite a type-A personality, and I took great pride in my planning skills. On the road, especially when hiking, camping, or travelling to places that are a little off-the-beaten-path, you just have to accept that things won’t always go to plan.
It used to stress me out when I couldn’t follow my itinerary down to the minute, but I’ve learned to accept it and just figure it out! Now, my favourite parts of travelling are the moments you don’t plan for! My entire trip trekking in Mongolia was unplanned, and it’s possibly my favourite adventure to date. I wish I knew that the unexpected is often the most fun!
Why do you love to travel?
I love to travel because I love the vibrancy of the world. There are so many beautiful places out there to discover, and along the way, you meet so many incredible people and see so many things that you’ve never been exposed to before!
You get to explore things that are so different from where you’re from, and it really opens your eyes to the insanely diverse ways that people go about life. I try to take a little bit of everywhere I go with me, whether that’s in a new mindset, a new skill, or a new favourite food!
What’s your best and worst travel experience?
My best travel experience was moving to Nepal to intern for a few months. I worked at an organisation that taught ex-trafficked women all different skills that could help them build their own life. They’d learn English or become paralegals and help others who had experienced similar things to them.
It was incredibly rewarding and I made so many friends with strong women that inspire me daily. It was also my first time actually moving to Nepal. Before moving there, I had visited a few times and I had never felt more at home. Living there was everything I could have dreamed of and so much more.
My worst travel experience… hmm. I’ve gotten myself into a lot of sticky situations while travelling, but I don’t regret any choices I’ve made, and I like to try to learn from every negative thing that I’ve experienced. I can’t really think of a worst travel experience!
I was once completely unprepared for some bad weather conditions while hiking in the middle of nowhere, and I think that could have ended much worse than it did. So maybe that was the worst, just because I was so ignorant, and it was just luck that kept me safe!
Do you prefer solo travel or traveling with other people? Why?
I truly love to solo travel. I think everyone should solo travel at least once in their life. It teaches you to be more comfortable being alone, and I feel that it makes you stronger!
You have to figure out everything on your own and you don’t have anyone else to rely on. I’ve also met some of the most incredible people when solo travelling. Being alone forces you to be outgoing, and I’ve met lifelong friends through travelling on my own.
Currently, I’m doing more travelling with other people, as I’m living with my boyfriend (who I met solo travelling!), but we both value solo travelling as a way to grow and develop, so I still travel on my own sometimes!
What’s your favorite place you’ve ever been to? Why?
My favourite place I’ve ever been to is Nepal. I’ve never felt more at home than I feel in Nepal. I don’t know what it is – the mountains, the food, or the people, but something about Nepal just stole my heart!
The Himalayas are a huge draw – I’ve never felt so small! The sheer size of those mountains makes you realise you’re just one small person and that all your stresses and worries are so insignificant, and simultaneously, being able to go up these mountains on your own two feet makes you feel powerful and strong.
What’s your biggest travel tip?
Eat it, then ask what it is!
Is there one specific thing you like to do, see, or buy in every place that you visit?
I love to get lost! Every time I see a little alleyway that looks particularly interesting, I’ll go down it! From there, I just follow whatever road or path looks pretty or unique, and I always end up helplessly lost but with a new appreciation for wherever I am. It’s a great way to see the intricacies of a place and to find some amazing hidden gems.
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?
Jhol momos in South Asia are my favourite! They’re dumplings in a tomato-based soup and they’re just a little spicy and tangy and so so flavourful! I don’t even like tomatoes but I could eat this for the rest of my life. They’re the ultimate comfort food, AND they’re rarely over a few US dollars. No one ever talks about jhol momos but if you see them on the menu, GET ‘EM!
Plane or train? Train! I love the views!
Hotel or hostel? Hostel to meet new friends!
City or nature? Nature all the way.
Popular site or off the beaten path? I prefer off the beaten path but you’ve gotta see some of the big sites!
Suitcase or backpack? Backpack – easier to lug around unpaved roads!
Fast travel or slow travel? Slow travel – spending a while in a place helps me appreciate it more.
Professional camera or iPhone photography? Ooh this is a tough one! I have a DSLR from 2008 (old, I know!) that gives my photos a certain look to them that I just adore, but iPhones are so convenient! I definitely use my phone most!
Warm or cold weather? Warm!
All photos used throughout this post are courtesy of Anya.