Liebster Award badge

What is a Liebster Award you ask? Well I didn’t know either at first, so I did a little research. Originating from Germany, the Liebster is a “virtual award” given to new bloggers by other bloggers for the purpose of networking and discovering new blogs while welcoming them to the blogosphere. Accepting the nomination means “winning” the award, which you then pass forward. Yes, it’s a little gimmicky and sounds a lot like a chain letter, but the goal of making people discover new blogs while having yours promoted seemed like a good idea, so I accepted!

My first nomination came in late June from Maria and Espen at NerdNomads.com, two computer science graduates from Norway, and of course avid travellers. Their IT background shows up in the beautiful design of their site. The informative posts and gorgeous photos document the Asian destinations they’ve visited since starting their open-ended trip in October 2013.

My second nomination came just last week (while I was still working on this post) from Veronika and company at TravelGeekery.com. Chief geek Veronika (and occasionally her guests) write about a variety of travel topics, with some unique and well researched articles generously peppered with photos.

Thank you both for bestowing the Liebster Award on BigTravelNut.com!

(Geek and nerd travel bloggers? This seems like a strange coincidence given my own background in IT, but it’s mostly irrelevant I guess.) 🙂

There seems to be different sets of rules for this award, but I will go by the ones that were given to me by Maria at NerdNomads:

  1. Thank the blogger who gave it to you.
  2. Answer the 11 questions they ask you.
  3. Nominate other bloggers with less than 5,000 followers. (Up to you how many you want to nominate…)
  4. Ask those bloggers 11 questions.
  5. Let the bloggers know they’’ve been nominated so they can continue the chain.

I’ve already covered #1 above so next I will answer the questions from both NerdNomads and TravelGeekery.

Questions from Nerd Nomads

1. What made you start your blog, and what makes your blog different?

I wrote online trip journals for many years when I went travelling for several months. But it’s only in the spring of 2013 that I saw proof that people could actually make a living by blogging, and I went for it full steam. I had the idea of starting my own travel website many years ago, and combining my love for travel and writing, but because I still needed my day job, I felt like I couldn’t really focus my energies on it in the way I wanted (and there was no WordPress at the time).

What makes BigTravelNut different? I would have to say “experience in my niche”. I have been travelling the world for over 22 years, mostly as a solo woman on a small budget. Even though I’m more a “flashpacker” than a backpacker these days (no more dorm rooms for me) I still like adventure and finding new ways to cut costs so I can travel more! Another characteristic of BigTravelNut is the honesty. I tell it like it is: no sugar coating, no bulls**t, so you really know what a place or experience was like.

2. What do you most enjoy writing about?

While travelling I enjoy writing about my day-to-day activities and new discoveries, diary style. While at home, I especially enjoy writing “how-to” articles, round-ups (“10 best” lists, etc.) and personal commentary about my experience as a traveller.

3. What is your favourite destination, and why?

I don’t have just one! I would go back to most countries I’ve already visited. Here is my best attempt to answer the question of my favourite country.

4. If you were to give one piece of advice to someone thinking about traveling, what would it be?

Don’t just dream it! Do it! 🙂

5. What kind of transport do you prefer when traveling?

Trains and boats (even though I get easily seasick). There is something relaxing about travelling by train or boat, probably because you don’t have to fight traffic.

6. How do you promote your blog, and what works best for you?

I just started putting more energy into the promotion part this summer! I can see a gradual improvement in my traffic, but it’s a slow process. I leave comments on other blogs, but this has been getting me a few extra pageviews at most. I just joined a Facebook group called “ Under 1000 Club for Aspiring Travel Bloggers“ which helps new bloggers with less than 1000 “Likes” network and grow. I’m also being more active on Twitter, where I’ve set up a plug-in to automatically tweet older posts several times a day. I’m also considering using Pinterest and Instagram, but I also need time to write! So I can’t really tell you what works best yet, just what I’ve been trying out.

7. Is there any place in the world you never wish to visit?

Glad you ask. Yes there is one: Nigeria. I’m not in the habit of bad mouthing places I’ve never visited, but I’ve heard so many dreadful things about Nigeria (and not a single good thing) that I started a “Do not visit” list just for it!

8. What does traveling mean to you, how has it affected you as a person?

To me travelling means exploring, and discovering. Whether it’s seeing different architecture and landscapes, tasting different foods, trying new activities, or learning new customs, I want to keep expending my horizons, and BE AMAZED. I’ve travelled a lot and I’m not easily impressed, so I’m a bit of a junkie for those “Wow!” moments. 🙂

Travelling has made me a more self-confident, resourceful, and patient person (even though at times I curse a lot.) It has also taught me what is truly important in life (#1 = water). As an introvert I have learned to be more sociable, but at the same time to trust my instincts more.

9. What country has the best food in your opinion?

That’s a tough one. I would probably pick Singapore, because it has a huge variety of Asian foods (my favourite overall category) and everything is clean and safe to eat. If you eat at hawker stalls and night markets, it’s also pretty cheap. I haven’t been back since 1997 though…

10. If you could choose any country in the world to live, where would it be and why?

If I could answer that, I would have moved to that country already! I’m still looking for my shangri-la. I have an inkling it would be either a Mediterranean country (if I could find a way to get a resident visa), or a Latin American one, possibly Argentina, or Mexico.

11. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

In five years I hope I will have found exactly where it is I want to live. I will have sold my condo in Toronto and moved out of the urban jungle. By then my “blogger career” will be bringing in enough money to live on, and because I’ll be doing something I enjoy, there will be no need to “retire”. And if ever the blogging thing doesn’t work out, then it will have allowed me to discover some other related opportunities for an income. I will have warm sunny weather for most of the year (never below 10C in any case), will have visited several more countries at the top of my list, and will be well on my way to achieving my goal of visiting at least 100 UN countries in my lifetime!

Questions from Travel Geekery

1. What’s your best travel story?

Probably Antarctica. You can read it here.

2. Do you often go to places you visited before or do you prefer new locations?

I have to admit that I have been going back to a lot of the same countries in recent years. Mostly different cities though. Part of the reason is knowing people in those countries, or just places that are good to spend the Canadian winter (that is, cheap and warm).

3. Have you tried any alternative types of accommodation (from home-sharing to house-sitting)? What was it like?

Yes, I have rented AirBnB rooms several times, and also started house-sitting last year. I love these types of accommodation. It’s a lot more homey than a hotel, cheaper (even free) and you also meet local people in the process.

4. What’s your favorite continent for travelling?

I’d have to say Asia (mostly Southeast Asia) and South America. They are very varied, mostly safe for women travellers, mostly warm, and affordable. I even wrote e-books about how to travel independently in those two regions.

5. Is there a country you’re sure you won’t visit? Why?

Yes, Nigeria! (See #7 in the previous set of questions.)

6. Do you plan your trips thoroughly in advance?

The longer the trip, the less it is planned. I usually have the cities or countries in a certain order with approximate lengths of time for each, and the first couple of hotels booked, but unless the trip is only a couple of weeks long and I’m travelling with someone, I leave things pretty open.

7. Have you ever felt somewhere like home?

Cities and mid-size towns in Commonwealth countries (Canada, England, Australia) are the ones that usually feel the most homey and familiar to me. For example, Victoria, Canada, or Sydney Australia (which I call “Toronto with a nicer harbourfront and more sunshine”)!

8. What’s the craziest food you tried abroad?

I haven’t eaten any bugs if that’s what you were hoping for. 🙂 But I’ve tried some exotic meats like llama in Peru and oryx (a kind of antelope with long pointy horns) in Namibia.

9. How do you sponsor your travels?

Do you mean fund? At the moment I’m living and travelling on old savings. I’m hoping that the blog will start bringing in some money soon though (either directly or indirectly). Did I mention my e-books? 🙂

10. What are you most proud of regarding your website?

I’d have to say the contents, both text and photos. I’ve tried to write on a variety of topics, from diary-type blog entries to destination articles, and how to plan and save money on trips. I’ve written some reviews and round-ups as well. I’ve received compliments on the design and layout of the site, but a lot of that came from the WordPress theme, so I can’t take full credit.

11. Could you give a feedback on mine (www.travelgeekery.com)? Thanks 🙂

Sure. 🙂 TravelGeekery covers a good variety of topics, with some unique articles (e.g. the new cafes in Prague, beaches in Corsica). Articles seem well researched, with a good amount of photos.

My nominees

And now here are my nominees for the Liebster Award:

Marissa Dookeran of MADTravelDiaries.com

Marissa is originally from Trinidad & Tobago. She started travelling at the age of 3 and has worked across the globe. Her looks let her blend in from Cuba to Nepal! MAD are her initials and her blog recounts the stories of her travels as a Trini female world traveller.

Paul Marshman of TravellingBoomer.com

Paul is a semi-retired journalist and photographer from Toronto who has been to 47 countries, and would like to see the “rest of the world” before he dies. His blog is a forum for the 50+ crowd to share their experiences and opinions. And he writes great articles on destinations, tips and tricks, and his own misadventures!

Lesh and Jazza of NOMADasaurus.com

Lesh and Jazza are an Australian couple who set off to backpack overland from Thailand to South Africa without using any air transport. The aim of their blog is to promote sustainable, long-term community-based travel with the best first-hand advice possible. They want to help make the world a better place, where life and experiences are valued above material objects and self-absorption. Very inspiring stuff!

Go check out these blogs! (But don’t forget to come back! 🙂 )

My questions to the nominated bloggers

  1. What do you think makes you a good traveller?
  2. What was your scariest travel experience?
  3. What is the country (besides your own) where you have spent the most time?
  4. If you had an unlimited budget to go anywhere right now, where would it be, and why?
  5. What are five things you never travel without?
  6. Do you monetize your blog, and if so how?
  7. What kind of luggage do you use for most of your travels?
  8. If you could speak and understand a language instantly, which would it be and why?
  9. Have you worked abroad, and if so doing what?
  10. What are the three things you enjoy doing the most when you travel?
  11. How many weeks a year do you travel on average?

I’m looking forward to everyone’s answers. Sorry for taking so long to complete this post.