By Kim Dreese
Alexis Grant, author of the blog The Traveling Writer, is a former journalist who now makes a living coaching people to achieve their dreams. Her blog features career advice, travel tips, encouragement for aspiring entrepreneurs, and just about anything else you could imagine. She’s also the creator of several different courses on social media, travel, and career strategies.
I had the privilege of interviewing Alexis this week, and she offered up plenty of wisdom for aspiring or already avid travelers and bloggers.
Kim Dreese: In the “Meet Alexis” section of your blog, you mention a solo trip to Africa. What is one of the most valuable lessons you learned while traveling alone as a woman?
Alexis Grant: Ironically, I learned that it’s actually OK to lean on others. I really pushed myself to do everything on my own because I wanted to feel like I could do the trip and depend on just me, but I realized during my travels that sometimes it’s more meaningful and more fun and even just simply necessary to get help from others. It’s not exactly the lesson I expected to learn, but I suppose that’s why we grow so much as people when we travel, because we learn unexpected lessons.
KD: What is your worst travel horror story, and how did you overcome the situation?
AG: Tough question! Nothing absolutely terrible has ever happened to me while traveling, though I have found myself in some difficult or scary situations. As a woman traveling alone, the times when I was most scared weren’t what you’d expect—I wasn’t mugged or threatened. I was most scared when by myself at night in places where I felt vulnerable, hostels or hotels that didn’t feel safe. That’s why I made a real effort while in Africa to find friends to stick with, other travelers who needed companions.
KD: If you could travel anywhere in the world and price was no object, where would you go and why?
AG: I’m dying to go to Tasmania! I love hiking and the outdoors, so it seems like the perfect fit. If we’re talking about repeat destinations, I absolutely LOVE Madagascar—and while it’s expensive to get there (especially for Americans), it’s cheap when you arrive, and SO worth it. Such unique wildlife and fauna, and the culture is an interesting mix of African and Asian. Plus, nowhere else in the world can you see lemurs in their natural habitat!
KD: What is your best piece of advice for regular or travel bloggers?
AG: Find a way to make your stories about your reader. A BIG mistake I see travel bloggers make is they tell what they did today and yesterday and the day before that…without making it relevant to the reader. Yes, it’s interesting just because you’re visiting a cool place we’ve never been to, but you can make other connections or share life lessons learned that make those stories relevant to your audience. Tips and advice always do well, too.
KD: What is your favorite place in the world to visit, and why?
AG: Even though I fell in love with Madagascar, my favorite place to visit is still Cameroon. I studied abroad there during college and returned six years later as part of my Africa trip, and I’ve got two host families there who have treated me like a daughter.
On top of having such great culture and people, Cameroon always makes me thankful for what I have at home, all the opportunities I was born with. And the moto-taxis! Sometimes I dream I’m riding one, holding onto the driver who’s sitting in front of me, feeling the wind whip through my hair.
KD: When preparing for a trip, what is one item you never leave without?
AG: My headlamp! In developing countries, it’s essential at night. And even in developed areas, it’s nice to have for bus rides or reading in a dorm room at night—you’ll use it more than you’d expect.