With the new year, I hope to use this blog as an outlet to explore the alluring world oftravel blogging. This week I had the opportunity to sit down with Katie MacLeod, the blogger behind Stories My Suitcase Could Tell. Katie and I had the opportunity to talk about travel, blogging, strategies, planning, goals, and accessories over coffee in Manhattan.
Here’s her story:
WHEN DID YOU FIRST FIND YOUR PASSION FOR TRAVEL?
I didn’t go abroad until I was twelve, but my parents traveled a lot when I was younger. My parents taught us to be curious about the world. Our first family vacation was to Turkey.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START BLOGGING WHILE TRAVELING?
After graduation in 2010, I taught English in China and used the blog to keep everyone at home up to date. Through this, I realized how much I loved both writing and traveling.
HOW LONG DID IT TAKE FOR YOU TO MAKE BLOGGING A FULL TIME CAREER?
Today, it still isn’t a full time career. I moved from Scotland at the end of 2014 and worked for a local paper. I’m still a journalist. I’ve been blogging for about four years, and it took about two years for it to take off. I entered a few blogging competitions and won a free trip to Kenya as well as the ‘Best Travel Blog’ at Cosmopolitan Blog Awards.
WHAT IS SOMETHING THAT NOT MANY PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT TRAVEL BLOGGING?
It’s a lot of work behind the scenes. You have to go places, take pictures, write and edit articles, and post on social media. It’s like an extra job in a way.
WHAT WOULD YOU CONSIDER SOME OF THE PROS AND CONS OF YOUR JOB? WHAT PART IS THE MOST STRESSFUL?
It depends what you’re in it for. For me, I love writing so it’s a good outlet to indulge in that passion. You also get to know so many people online and in real life. I guess some of the pros could be complimentary stays and other free things. I don’t have any cons… it’s just a passion. I really like writing and traveling and I would do it if nobody was watching. I don’t really find it stressful since I love to travel.
HOW DIFFICULT HAS IT BEEN TO BRAINSTORM IDEAS FOR ARTICLES? DO YOU FIND THAT THERE’S A CREATIVE ASPECT TO BLOGGING?
There’s definitely a creative aspect to it. I always have lists of what I want to write about and places often spark ideas. It’s quite similar to other types of writing.
WHAT ARE YOUR NECESSARY TECH ACCESSORIES FOR EVERY TRIP?
I always carry a camera, iPhone, and pen and notebook just in case. I haven’t used a GoPro yet, but I do have a selfie stick.
WHAT IS ON YOUR AGENDA FOR THE UPCOMING MONTHS?
Next week I’m going to Puerto Rico with my husband and then I’m going back to Scotland in March. In May I’m going to Mexico on a free trip that I won and the rest of the year is up in the year. I also want to do some local travel in the states.
HOW DO YOU PLAN YOUR FUTURE DESTINATIONS?
I suppose for me it depends. Some trips are planned in advance while other trips are planned around visiting friends or family. There’s really no special formula for it.
HOW HAVE YOU MANAGED TO AFFORD ALL OF THIS TRAVELING? IS IT IMPORTANT TO STICK TO A BUDGET WHEN BOTH HOME AND AWAY?
Savings! You just have to prioritize. If you want to get a new car every year or remodel your kitchen, you won’t be able to afford trips. I’ve always worked full time so whenever I travel, I go on vacation. It’s nowhere close to “broke backpacking.” You just have to wait and save.
DO YOU HAVE A BUCKET LIST? IF SO, WHAT’S ON IT?
Everywhere! I really want to go to Jordan, Israel, Cuba, and see more of the US. I could go on and on… I want to see more of Africa after going to Kenya. There isn’t really anything that I don’t want to go.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PLACE IN THE WORLD AND WHY?
China, mostly because I lived there for a year and it’s so fascinating. The food and history are great. Kenya was also incredible. I’m from Scotland, so that’s the most beautiful place in the world. But, obviously I’m a little bias!
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO WOMEN WHO WANT TO TRAVEL ABROAD ALONE?
I haven’t done a lot of solo travel, since I mostly travel with friends and family. However, with travel in general, you should have the same mindset as if you’re at home. Be aware of your surroundings and use common sense. Just go and use the same attitudes at home.
WAS THERE EVER A TIME YOU FELT UNSAFE WHILE TRAVELING ALONE?
No I wouldn’t say so. I’ve never had any dangerous experiences.
WHAT ARE SOME TRAVEL ESSENTIALS THAT YOU BRING WITH YOU ON EVERY TRIP?
I guess there aren’t any specific products. I just always bring the travel size accessories. It sounds boring, but hand sanitizer is essential. I also only bring a carry on suitcase. Not a backpack. Not a suitcase. It’s the perfect size.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE FORM OF TRANSPORTATION AND ACCOMODATION WHILE TRAVELING?
I definitely used to stick it out in the hostels, but now after traveling for a while I enjoy boutique hotels with history and quirky stories. I also enjoy apartment rentals. I always crash with friends, so it depends on the situation really. I like train travel, too.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO ASPIRING TRAVEL BLOGGERS?
Just do it. As long as you enjoy it, especially if you like travel and writing, and as long as you’re writing about something you’re passionate about, you’ll be successful. Just do it because you enjoy it.
HAVE YOU EVER REGRETTED ANY OF YOUR DECISIONS AND WISHED THAT YOU’VE DONE DIFFERENTLY WHILE TRAVELING?
I wouldn’t say any mistakes. I mean the world is so big I always wish I could’ve visited more sites, but I can always go back!