A few months back, Marinel from Brown Gal Trekker nominated What Should Baz Do for the sacred blogger’s award that is the Liebster Award. Marinel is a former lawyer from Washington who loves to get high! No, not like that. As her name suggests, she’s all about trekking and, from what I can tell, has trekked up nearly every bump on the Earth’s surface.
If you have an appetite for the outdoors, trekking, or getting high, I recommend you climb on over to her site for a gander. I appreciate the nomination, Marinel. Thank you.
What’s The Liebster Award?
The Liebster Award is a perpetual chain of nominations, where established bloggers encourage and support the new ones by promoting them through this award. You can look at it as “pay it forward.”
The rules are as follows:
- Post the award on your blog so everybody knows how awesome you are.
- Publicly thank the person who nominated you and link to their blog.
- Answer their questions about yourself. Feel free to add photos!
- Nominate 5 – 10 people with less than 1000 followers, inform them via social media.
- Write your own set of questions for your nominees.
Questions From Brown Gal Trekker
Q1. Name one thing that inspired you the most to start a travel blog?
The idea for this blog started as a joke in my friend’s kitchen in Brisbane late in 2012. I was trying to decide something trivial like whether to go for a run or go to the gym that day and it really had me in a bind. I was doing that thing where you put an “A” or “B” option on facebook and ask for advice when my housemates at the time – Carl & Alyce – started joking that,
“maybe you should just let everybody else decide ALL of your life decisions, Baz!”
A funny joke for a few seconds. But then we started spitballing the idea together and within half an hour it had become a viable and interesting social experiment.
“All it needs is purpose now,” I said, “and I reckon I’d be willing to give it a crack.”
Around this time, my younger cousins asked me what to do after finishing high school. And it sounded like they thought they only had two options: Uuniversity or an apprenticeship.
One of the main reasons I started this blog was to show my younger cousins, and others, what is possible with the right commitment.
Q2. If a reader asked for advice on where to go and what to do over a period of 6 months, what would you advise & why?
Different people want different things from travel so my advice would vary according to their wants, needs, and allocated time. But my generic five pointers might sound like this:
- Get Lost. Go someplace as different and as far flung as possible from what they are used to.
- Avoid tours or guides (refer to India Part 1). Instead, learn to create your own unique path.
- Travel with a purpose. Create a challenge to accomplish or a lesson or skill you want to learn in the place.
- Wing it! Only plan your first few days – at the very most a week. Just enough time to get your bearings and figure out where or what to do next. If you’re “long-travelling” – buy a shitty old van or motorbike to drift around the country in. Then create the trip on the fly by talking wth locals and travellers… That’s livin!
- Be flexible. “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans” – so be ready and willing to take opportunities and run with them.
- MOST IMPORTANTLY – always talk to strangers. Always.
Q3. How do you see your life 3 years from now?
I have a dream. I have a single item to-do list. It’s inked on the inside of my right elbow: a picture of a sailing boat. In three years time, I see myself owning my own sailing boat, sailing the world, turning writing and adventure into a living, and beginning to write a book about living my life the way other people decided.
But all plans can change for the right opportunity. I’ve completely changed my life at least twice before for incredible women. They didn’t work out, but if the right someone appears, I would do it again.
Q4. What challenges so far have you run into with your travel blog and how did you address them?
One of my biggest challenges is having to do everything alone with nobody to bounce ideas off. I end up second-guessing myself, spending way too much time planning or trying to make something perfect, resulting in inefficient use of time.
It sometimes helps to step back, remind myself of the purpose, and break my workload down into lists or smaller chunks of manageable work that can be ticked off, methodically.
Ticking things off a list boosts my confidence and sense of achievement and works as a positive feedback to increase motivation, then self-esteem, then productivity, and so on.
When travelling or working alone, your mind can sometimes be your own worst enemy. Figuring out methods of beating it into submission when necessary is pretty important, in my opinion.
Q5. How are you able to financially sustain a life of travelling?
“In many different ways, and often with great difficulty!”
Because of the nature of my site – where I am told by my readers where to live and what I’m meant to achieve there – a great deal of my time is spent trying to achieve these goals and trying to explain how it was possible. None of this pays any money, so I need to find other ways to keep myself alive. This means, from mission to mission, my work and living habits vary greatly.
During Chapter One, I was told that I should teach in England, build a website, and mentor teachers in India. So, during that time, money was already factored into my prescribed existence working as a teacher in London. Simples.
Now, however, in Brazil the objectives are a little more obscure: Learn Capoeira, learn Portuguese, and get 12 articles published about the environment. Before I make any money from the articles, I first need to find, research, and interview people. Then I need to find somewhere to publish them.
All of that takes time, so surviving here has called for some more inventive methods.
Preparation Phase – Firstly, I saved up a few bob teaching in Australia and used a credit card with an 18 month 0% interest balance transfer to buy myself some extra travel time. I set up an automatic repayment to slowly chip at it while I’m away. This means I’m on partially borrowed time, but I didn’t put so much on credit that it will drown me when I go home.
Thrifty Phase – Secondly, specific to this Chapter of WSBD in Brazil, I’ve housesat in Rio Grande do Sul, worked for my accommodation in Goias, stayed at a community for a short period in Morro de Sao Paulo, and plan to volunteer in exchange for a free bed when I first reach the Amazon.
I don’t drink or party (except when you jerks tell me to go to Carnival haha). I don’t buy clothes, souvenirs or tours.
*At this point, I feel I have to remind everyone that I am not here on a holiday!*
Online Income – I’m starting to send small travel stories or articles to magazines and online publications now but, in hindsight, I really should have been focusing on this much sooner. My one source of consistent income comes from helping Bamboo Textiles Australia with social media and marketing online.
This online income – when coupled with savings, credit leverage, and living on the cheap – is enough to keep me alive until I start publishing things. For the next Chapter – it might be something different (
Funding the next Chapter will likely be something different (but that’s up to you).
Q6. Name an experience that you enjoyed but will never want to experience again or wish on someone else?
Hmm, enjoyed but don’t want again… Tough Q!
Sleeping in the back seat of a car in -12°C (Amsterdam, 2008)
This was one of those experiences that one immediately regrets – but at least it’s funny when you can look back at it a few days, weeks, months, or years later and have a giggle. Not that keen to do it again, though.
For the full story, you’re going to have to ask in the comments.
Q7. What is your impression of Brown Gal Trekker’s blog and what recommendations do you have, if any, in terms improving the site?
I like that Brown Gal Trekker’s blog has a clear direction and caters to a specific niche – promoting trekking, especially among women who trek. I have seen a couple of things on BGT that I might borrow in some way, like having an easily accessible menu of categories.
I think that BGT could be more engaging by tweaking the visual layout and menu layout.
Firstly, I would like to see the great photographs and purpose of the site given more emphasise by maybe creating a more visually engaging landing page/front page. A landing page with a full-size background image, logo/name of the site, and a short couple of sentences explaining the mission of the site, perhaps.
Secondly, I think organising the menus by category rather than by alphabet could make the site more intuitive to navigate. This is something that I feel like I am ALWAYS tinkering with on my own site – and takes way more thought than I first imagined – but something as simple as putting all “Locations” under one menu would tidy things up.
8. Besides the obvious, which is giving others travel advice, how else do you believe your blog is making an intangible impact on people’s lives?
My blog is about showing that “anything is possible.”
This is something that I’m sure most people have heard at some time in their lives, but I’m not sure hearing is enough. My hope is that when people see me proving that different lives are possible, they will be encouraged to have a crack at something they might not have had the courage to try before.
Another part of my blog is to support important causes around the world. An important part of the suggestion form is to design a challenge – in support of a cause – that I can complete as part of their suggestion.
In England, it was to volunteer time in India mentoring teachers. Here in Brazil, my challenge is to add my voice to environmental issues by getting a dozen articles publishing about the environment.
9. What is your favourite country so far, and why?
I still call Australia home. It isn’t perfect and there are stupid and/or corrupt people in power bungling things like energy and environmental issues, but we sure do get a lot of other things right.
My favourite overseas country so far is a hard question because different countries are suited to different purposes. I am enjoying Brazil right now for the beautiful and welcoming people; the natural abundance of landscapes, forests, mountains, water, and animals; the opportunity to learn a new language; and the feeling of freedom here – when compared to Australia – to do as you please.
Of course, these liberties come with negative side effects as well. Like less security and safety, underdeveloped areas of infrastructure, a lax attitude toward littering and sanitation, and some obvious corruption issues.
But – as a traveller – you’ve often got to take the good with the bad.
10. What is the most memorable trip you’ve done so far?
Getting a job on a sailboat in the Caribbean was a pretty memorable time for me. It was on a small island called Sint Maarten: a beautiful and odd little paradise, bursting with interesting characters and quirky details.
- Roads were rough, skinny accumulations of potholes, but brand new roadbikes would tear around the island full tilt.
- The island was only 14km across, but it had a Dutch side and a French side and half of the island didn’t understand the other half.
- The airport runway began next to a beach and when planes took off they would blow sand and people all over the place.
- And you could see the next country while standing on the beach.
This is a story for a whole new blog… so I’ll keep it brief.
I was running low on funds, met a captain in a bar one night and he offered me a job on a sailing boat. It was originally a joke, but I turned up anyway and he found me some work to do. I ended up living on the boat for a couple of weeks and then sailing to the US Virgin Islands – just the captain and I taking turns to sleep.
It was then, sailing through the Caribbean sea, watching the plankton light up fluorescent blue every time the gunwale dipped beneath the swell, that I decided I would one day buy a sailboat and sail the world on the wind.
My Liebster Award Nominees
I’ve searched and sifted through a bunch of blogs so that you don’t have to. In no specific order, here are a few that I think are worth taking a gander at:
Kuaby | Traveller & Analyst – kuaby [kwa-bee] verb – the act of researching, understanding or finding out more about an attraction, city or a country for an upcoming trip, journey, holiday or adventure.
Wayne is an information and planning guy. His site is thorough, transparent, and covers travel locations and in-depth analyses of what is involved in running a travel blog.
Shawn Cleaver | Musician | Traveller | Rambler – Shawn is a 20-something Kiwi (New Zealander) musician who hit the road in 2015 with his guitar to travel, make music around the world, and write about his travel and adventures. Ask about his loop pedal cover of “Work Song – Hozier”.
Stoked To Travel | Outdoorsy Traveller – Claire is an outdoors loving, dog-adoring, coffee crazy chick from the UK with an insatiable case of wanderlust. She is sharing her love of travel and new experiences in the hope to inspire readers & share tips & ideas to see the world.
Uneven Roads | Traveller – Luisa is a young Canadian traveller with an insightful mind and a fine way of putting words to paper (or screen). Luisa shares lessons learned from travel, new companions, and introspection.
Neima’s Travels | Traveller – Neima is a 23-year-old recent college grad, currently bumbling around in corporate America. She loves her job, but her passions are travelling and writing. Travel-budgeting tip. Travel guides and detailed itineraries. Reviews of hotels and holidays
Sam The Blog | Smack Talker – Sam is a Canadian girl who works in a Mexican restaurant, isn’t afraid to have a cry, and likes to drop the F*Bomb in suspiciously awkward locations. A regular commentator on work, life, dating, and talking smack!
Zellustration | Artist – Zel is a freelance illustrator and science teacher I had the pleasure of working alongside in Brisbane, Australia. He isn’t big on long-winded blog posts, but his scientific and natural life illustrations are incredible. These pictures are worth two thousand words – easy. 😉
Seaside Scavenge | Social-environmental Project – I love a blog that is doing something positive in the world. AJ started this blog in 2015 attached to her broader environmental cleanup and awareness project to help inform people about how NOT to be a tosser!
Yogi Cha | Yogi Teacher – Charlotte is a Swedish-born yogi teacher living in Bali. Combining a degree in clinical psychology with yoga teacher certification in classical yoga, she writes about a meditation, yoga, holistic view of the body and the connection between mental and physical health.
Questions For The Nominees
- When and how did you come up with the idea for your blog?
- What is the purpose of your blog?
- How do you decide when, where, and what you will post?
- Where would you live and what would you do, if money was no object and you knew you couldn’t fail?
- What has been your favourite year of life so far? And why?
- Link us to the piece you’re most proud of and tell us where you were when you created it.
- What’s your impression of What Should Baz Do and have you got any suggestions for improvement?
- If someone gave you $1,000,000, what would you do with it?
- Who are your greatest inspirations for your writing/music/art?
- What do you think is a big issue in the world that more people should be paying attention to?
Readers – Thank you for reading and I hope I’ve introduced you to some sites worth your attention. I’m sure they would appreciate your visits as well. If you enjoyed it or read something valuable, feel free to share with your friends. (I’ll thank you again for that! hah)
Nominees – Thank you all for creating content that is worth reading, viewing, or listening to. I hope that this award helps more people find you & inspires you to create (at least one more blog) 😉
BGT – Thanks for giving me the motivation to revisit some blogs and seek out new ones. And thank you for giving me the opportunity to share what I found.