Hi folks! I’m very excited to have another interview for you today, and even more excited to bring you an interview with Caroline from the blog ‘Writes of Passage’, with I think is not only a great name but a brilliant blog full of insight and thoughtful travel posting. Enjoy!
- Hi Caroline! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview. Would you mind starting by telling us who you are and where you’re from, and of course the name of your blog? What do you do when you’re not blogging (doesn’t have to be work, could be hobbies or interests etc) Where are you based at the moment?
Thanks for featuring me and my blog, Andrew! I’m currently in West Vancouver, British Columbia—a place I’ve called home for 20 years—with my husband Mike and son Alex who’s just back after finishing his university degree. Pre-COVID, travel and travel planning happily occupied a lot of my time. Thankfully, I’ve mostly been able to continue with my other great joys like hiking, snowshoeing, skiing and cycling in and around Vancouver. On many days, you’ll find me dancing with wild abandon to an online Zumba class (it’s not pretty, but great fun). I enjoy part-time work as a freelance writer and editor and volunteering as an English conversation leader for newcomers to Canada, as well as doing regular travel presentations at my mom’s care home.
- When did you start your blog and why you decide to start a travel blog?
I started my blog in fall 2013. I guess it’s the newest iteration of something I’ve always loved doing: sharing my travel stories. As a kid, I created travel scrapbooks for every family vacation. I recently came across a hilarious one from a trip to Germany when I was 7. This passion morphed into elaborate albums and detailed travel journals. I peddled my travel stories to publications (lots of rejections and some successes that make me very happy). When the world went digital, I shared my travel tales on a collaborative publishing site called Suite 101. When that went under, I decided to give blogging a go. It was (is) such a thrill to create the words and pictures for a post. My original motivation was simply to record my travel adventures and share them with family and friends. I had no idea that blogging would become such a big part of my life and the amazing connections I would make with other bloggers.
- What do you like to write about and why?
I enjoy active pursuits, so many of my posts feature ways to experience the world via walking, hiking, biking, etc. This slower way of travelling, covering less ground but seeing places in more detail, has become a favourite for Mike and me. For example, I really enjoyed writing about our independent cycling trips in Germany and France—what we saw and the planning required for such trips. I get a lot of pleasure writing about outdoor activities around Vancouver and in other parts of British Columbia—and that’s mostly what my readers are getting these days!
- What have been some of your favourite destinations?
Ah, the list is long! The desert landscapes and wildlife of Namibia blew me away, as did the White Desert and rich history in Egypt. Our jeep safari through Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni (world’s largest salt flat) and hiking among the granite spires of Argentinian Patagonia were incredible experiences. Indonesia is another favourite for its diversity of landscapes, great scuba diving and cultural treasures. I could spend a lifetime exploring the parks of the U.S. Southwest. I love travelling in Europe, especially via bicycle touring in Germany and France. Andalucia region of Spain is lovely. Mexico, Laos, Sri Lanka…And, of course, British Columbia, neighbouring Alberta, and Canada’s charming Atlantic provinces (particularly Newfoundland). That’s just naming a few. You can read about all of these places in my blog.
- Who do you see as the audience for your blog?
Those who are passionate about travel (particularly independent travel and active travel) are my main audience. My goal is to inspire readers with words and photos, and also give them information for planning their own trips. Over the years, I’ve learned so much from my readers through shared comments and by following their blogs. Like Andrew’s blog, they are such an inspiration and my “places to go” list gets bigger and bigger. Since I use a lot of photos, I think my blog also appeals to casual and armchair travellers and anyone who has an appreciation for exploring our world.
- What advice would give to someone just starting out blogging?
- Know your subject, love your subject and try to keep to your subject.
- Concentrate on quality over quantity.
- Find a blogging routine that works for you and your goals. Try to stick to a schedule for creating new posts, but make it achievable. You don’t want this to become a chore. Don’t beat yourself up if you need a break or need to change the routine.
- We all like “likes” and follows, but try not to get overly stressed about them (been there). Over the long run, meaningful connections with readers/other bloggers provide great satisfaction (for me, anyway).
- What is the hardest thing about running a travel blog?
While I love blogging, I can get overwhelmed with writing and reading. I’m a bit of a perfectionist and I spend too much time and energy trying to get my posts “just right.” I follow a lot of really good blogs. I know many bloggers put in great efforts to create these posts, and it pains me that I’m not able to read every post thoroughly and leave comments. To maintain my sanity, I try to schedule time for reading and not feel compelled to immediately look at every post I see in my reader or inbox. It’s tough. I miss a lot of good stuff. I’m still looking for a strategy that works.
- We’ve survived over a year now of Covid-19. How do you see 2021 shaping up?
2021 has been a rollercoaster, at least here in Canada. At the start of the year, we were pretty optimistic as our cases were down and immunization was starting up. We dared to dream, some even plan, for travel in 2021. Then the variants hit, cases soared in some regions, and Canada’s initial vaccine rollout was slow. Here in B.C., there is currently a non-essential travel restriction and we are told not to leave our local areas. As I’ve come to expect the unexpected during these last 15 months, I’m currently not booking any international travel. Nevertheless, I’m feeling hopeful about the summer/fall and I’m looking forward to some exciting B.C. backpacking trips when restrictions are lifted.
- Caroline, you’ve been to over 50 countries and you often travel with your husband and/pr son. What’s it like travelling with your son? Do you prefer travelling with someone or solo and what do you see as the benefits and disadvantages of both?
From the time our son was 6 months old, we dragged him everywhere (he’s 24 now). It wasn’t always easy, but I’m glad we did. As a baby and younger child, he often opened doors to conversations with locals that probably wouldn’t have happened otherwise. As he got older, we incorporated activities into our travels that kept him (and us) interested—camping in Namibia and Egypt, snorkelling and diving in Indonesia, mountain biking in Utah…He used to complain that we never took him to Disneyland or an all-inclusive, but he now proudly talks about his travel adventures. We haven’t had much chance to travel together while he’s been at university these last 4 years, but we’ve shared some great local hiking and look forward to future travel together (he wants to go to Nepal with me…how great is that!).
In general, I prefer traveling with someone—mostly my husband Mike these days. It’s really special to share travel experiences (the good and the challenging stuff) with a partner/close friend. Having said that, I’ve had amazing times on solo trips. I’m a bit introverted and it forces me out of my shell. I also like the flexibility of doing exactly what I want.
- What place would you really like to visit and why (that you haven’t visited yet)?
We were supposed to go to India in November 2020—Rajasthan and Northern India. I had done a ton of research (luckily not much booked). I’d still like to get there, but now I’m doubtful that India will be our first post-pandemic international trip. Other places high on the list are Borneo, Ethiopia, Jordan, Uzbekistan, Slovenia.
- You hail from British Colombia. It’s a beautiful region, what do you love most about it and what are the must-dos in this incredible Canadian province?
They don’t call it supernatural British Columbia for nothing. I love the beauty of the coastal rainforest, the rugged mountain ranges, the Pacific coastline and the bears, eagles, seals, orcas, deer that make their home here. The wilderness and outdoor recreation opportunities are endless.
A visit to B.C. must include Vancouver, the province’s largest city. It’s a stunning, multi-cultural city on the sea and at the edge of wilderness. A drive along the Sea to Sky Highway, from Vancouver to Whistler, provides spectacular ocean and mountain views and can be done as a day trip, but even better if you add a day or two in the resort town of Whistler. Vancouver Island is one of my favourite places on earth, especially the rugged west coast at Pacific Rim National Park, easily accessed from the towns of Tofino and Ucluelet. Capital city, Victoria, oozes charm, beauty and great shops and restaurants. We have tons of amazing provincial and national parks. Some of the most spectacular are in the Rocky Mountains near the Alberta border—I love Yoho and Kootenay national parks. B.C. is huge and this is only a small sampling of great places. Feel free to contact me for more info.
- Please recommend three posts from your blog you’d like people to read (and why!)
My post about cycle touring in France’s Brittany and Normandy regions provides a great example of the active travel that is featured prominently on my blog. The post, with links to stages of our cycling trip, showcases this beautiful part of the world and provides information on planning and logistics.
I really enjoyed writing 20 takeaways from the West Coast Trail, an iconic Canadian hike on the west coast of Vancouver Island. It’s a light hearted account of a challenging trip—the good, the bad and the ugly. There’s a follow-up post with all the details for those interested in tackling this beast.
Finally, I’d like to feature the introductory post to my Sri Lanka series. We visited there in March 2019, just a few weeks before the country suffered gruesome terrorist attacks. It devastated a successful tourism industry (built up after a long civil war) that was just beginning to rebound when the coronavirus hit. I hope that when we’re rid of this pandemic, people will travel to Sri Lanka and discover a country with rich culture, stunning beaches, warm people and delicious food.
- Finally, how can people find you on the net and social media? Please include blog address, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and any other channels you use.
Best to connect with me through my contact page on my blog: www.writesofpassage.me. I will definitely respond. While I have Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts, I hardly ever use them (I think I’ve tweeted twice in my life).
- Finally (again!) what are you hoping or dreaming for in 2021 and into 2022?
Like all of us, I’m hoping that the pandemic will finally come to an end, that we will be able to enjoy the company of friends and family without restrictions, that we will be able to move freely though this amazing world of ours. For me, a silver lining in the pandemic has been exploring my local area and province. In the summer of 2020, when I was “stuck in B.C.”, I camped and backpacked at incredible parks that I probably would not have visited otherwise. While I’m daring to dream about international travel in 2022, I’m grateful and excited about more B.C. adventures for the remainder of 2021.
Thanks again for allowing me to introduce myself and my blog to your readers, Andrew. Wishing you all safe and happy travels, whenever and wherever those may be.