Part of a new series aimed at inspiring you to bust out of your routine and pursue your travel dreams, I’ve interviewed Matt Long of LandLopers.com - a well-known blog all about luxury adventure travel around the world.
Matt has been running his hugely successful blog for four years, and has quickly amassed a cult following of fans. What I love about the site is how it takes you off the clichéd tourist path and shows you the reality free from marketing spin.
How did you get started as a travel blogger?
I started LandLopers four years ago as an outlet. I was in a job I didn't like and was firmly stuck in a rut. I'd always had a deep love for travel and learning about other cultures, so I thought the web site would be a good way to get my creative juices flowing. The site resonated quickly and with a lot of people and then in 2012 I left my full time job and started life as a freelance travel writer and professional travel blogger.
Do you think you'll ever go back to a 9-5 job?
No, I don't think I could do it. I really enjoy being my own boss and although I've never worked harder in my life, I've never been happier doing it.
How much of the year do you spend travelling?
I'd say about 25%. I have a house, partner and three dogs and so I try to keep all of that in mind when planning travel. My trips tend not to be too long and I space them out so that I don't get into too much trouble at home.
Which destination changed you the most?
It was probably the same trip that also provided so much inspiration for starting my web site, the Galapagos. My partner and I went on an expedition style cruise there nearly five years ago and it left a strong mark on me. Not only was the experience extraordinary in itself, but I had forgotten just how adventurous and exciting travel can be. Sure going to a beach is nice, but it’s that raw feeling of adventure that really gets me excited.
Which destination surprised you the most?
Probably South Africa. Before my first visit I knew I'd like it, but I didn’t realize just how much I would fall in love with the country. It's a beautiful country with beautiful people doing beautiful things. It sounds corny, but it does indeed cast a spell over visitors and I now count it as one of my very favourite destinations anywhere in the world.
Have any experiences overwhelmed you?
I think my first time in a developing nation was definitely overwhelming at first. I just wasn't prepared for the numbers of people and the organized chaos. I've since gotten over that, but I do remember feeling overwhelmed that first time.
Which destination would you never go back to?
Jamaica. I seriously hate it there. As a gay traveller I'm conscious of some opinions held in different parts of the world, but I never experienced true hate as I did in Jamaica. With so many other lovely Caribbean islands there is no reason to travel there if you can avoid it.
What's the biggest travel blunder you've suffered?
Getting scammed in Thailand was definitely a low point, but it happens to everyone and was a wonderful learning opportunity for me.
What's your pet hotel hate? Is there anything the industry could do better?
Free WiFi! Seriously, it's 2014 and the fact that some hotels not only charge for WiFi, but charge a lot of money for it is absurd. It should be considered as basic as TV and air conditioning.
Which items could you never travel without?
Earplugs, travel pillow, travel power outlet and a good book.
If you could give advice to your younger self, what would it be?
Other than lottery numbers? I'd tell myself to start pursuing my passions earlier in life. I feel like I wasted some time back in my 20s and while it all served to make me the person I am today, I wish I'd entered the travel world much earlier in life.
What advice would you give to aspiring travel writers?
The same thing I'd tell anyone who wants to pursue their passion I think. You have to be prepared to work very hard for a long time without necessarily seeing a lot of results in order to be successful. It has to be your true passion, otherwise it just won’t work out.
You recently visited Australia. What was your favourite experience?
Now that's an impossible question. It was my second trip there and I focused on parts of the country I hadn’t seen before. It’s hard to pick one experience, but I really enjoyed my time exploring the Shark Bay World Heritage Site near Monkey Mia in Western Australia. It’s a large, dynamic and ruggedly beautiful area.
Where are you headed to next?
Well I just got back from a fantastic three weeks in Australia exploring Western and South Australia. This Spring though I'm focusing a lot on Europe. I’ll be in France, Germany, the UK and Malta all before the end of April.
About Matt Long
An experiential traveler at heart, Matt Long shares his adventures with thousands of readers every day through his award winning site LandLopers.com. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer. Based in Washington, DC, Matt has been to more than 60 countries and all 7 continents.
About Chris Ashton
Chris Ashton is a curious traveller always on the lookout for the new, bizarre and unusual. A fan of exploring ancient ruins, diving with sharks and getting lost in city streets, he believes travel expands your horizons and helps shape the person you want to become.