Rendezvous with Phoebe of the Lou Messugo Blog
It’s that time again to meet yet another fascinating and intrepid traveler on our Weekend Travel Inspiration series. Phoebe hails from the south of France and her blog details her sunny life. Read on and find out all about it.
Do you like to be in control and do all your own planning, or do you like to let go and go on tours or go to a travel agent to help out? Do you like to pack a lot into a day or take it easy and follow your whims?
My travel style has changed over the years, I used to be a backpacker through and through and probably didn’t own a suitcase until I was well into my 30s. I used to plan very little and just go. Nowadays while I’d still love to head off on months of backpacking adventure my life is different and travel means more organisation owing to less time and bigger financial committments. I plan pretty much all my family’s trips, consulting with them but ultimately doing all the research and bookings myself. I can’t remember when I last used a travel agent…perhaps for my honeymoon 19 years ago? (That was one time I – or we – travelled luxuriously, with suitcases rather than dusty backpacks, staying in palace hotels and not a hostel to be seen!) These days as a family we do lots of European roadtrips, all independently and never on a tour. We tend to stay in apartments/cottages or do houseswaps and combine busy cultural days with relaxing days on the beach (if appropriate) and some adventure/sports in between. We have a rough idea of what we want to see and where we’ll go but we mainly play things by ear depending on mood/weather/local tips etc. In this sense I don’t think my “philosophy” has changed just how I actually put it into practice.
What types of things are you interested in while you are traveling? Is it adventure/adrenalin or history/culture? Do you want to relax on the beach or hike around ruins?
I touched on this in the previous question. We’re interested in a lot of different things. We often go on cultural long weekends to European cities visiting museums and enjoying café life. 2014 so far has been good for this with trips to Vienna, Budapest, Bratislava, Montpellier, London and Auxerre. But we also love adventure and camp several times a year, usually in the mountains where we hike. This year the big adventure was Iceland which we explored this summer. Living near the beach in the south of France means we don’t often go on pure beach holidays as we have that at home. If we go to the seaside elsewhere it’s usually part of a road trip, for example last year in the Balkans we moved around every few days visiting Croatia, Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzogovina spending time in inland villages as well as beach resorts.
You are lucky to have an international family. Can you tell us a little about that?
I’m a typical TCK (third culture kid), born to parents of different nationalities (British and Australian), living in a third country that neither came from. This happened to be France but they moved to Belgium when I was only a few days old. It is by pure chance that I’m back living in France now as an adult, having in the mean time lived in India, England, the Czech Republic (when it was Czechoslovakia), Iceland, Australia, Bulgaria and Vietnam. I’ve been an expat all my life, it’s all I’ve ever known and I don’t feel I “come” from anywhere in particular. I truly feel international. I met and married my French husband in Hanoi, Vietnam and together we’ve lived there and France (with an extended visit of a few months to the Caribbean!) Despite living in the same country for the last 17 years we’ve moved 8 times, starting in the north, passing by Paris and ending up in the south! We have two boys born and brought up in France, but fully bilingual and tricultural. They are both happy to be French, British and Australian and they are both very well travelled. We have tried to install in them a love of travel and different cultures and have never shied away from exploring this great planet of ours with them. Our eldest took his first trip abroad at 2 months and the youngest at 10 months. I think we’re doing OK; they are open-minded, easy going, inquisitive, tolerant kids.
What are some of the places that you just found enchanting during your travels?
I’ve travelled in 60 countries and have loved all of them, honestly! As for “enchanting” I think I have to say Vietnam in the early 1990s, when foreigners were practically non-existent except for a few NGO, UN and embassy staff. There were really no tourists and in many places we visited, children hadn’t seen Europeans in the flesh. Most adults had experienced either Americans during the war or French in Colonial times but hadn’t met/seen any for many years. It was another world, another time and seeing the children’s wonder was totally enchanting!
What is one funny, embarrassing, cute, or even frustrating anecdote from your travels?
One of the most ridiculous situations we found ourselves in on our travels as a couple was our ‘luxury’ honeymoon in India. We had planned the itinerary around staying in the famous Lake Palace Hotel in Udaipur and booked several places around the country, moving every few days. This was all booked by a travel agent remember? (We chose our destinations but left the rest to the agent). It turned out that in each hotel we had been booked into a twin bed room, on our honeymoon!! So in each different place we asked if we could change to a double and in each case we were downgraded to an inferior room in order to have the double bed! So much for getting the special treatment on the honeymoon. But to add injury to insult when we got to Udaipur, there was no reservation at all and we ended up in a SINGLE room in the City Palace Hotel, not on the lake and not even with a lake view! Do you see why I haven’t used a travel agent since?
How did you get started travel blogging? Do you think it enhances your travel experiences or makes it a little more stressful? Are there any lessons you can pass on to us about travel blogging?
I started my blog as a way of letting guests in my gite know what was on in the area and tips on places to visit, but I quickly found I loved researching and writing. I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a “travel” blogger but it’s certainly the focus of the blog that I enjoy the most and I’ve recently started writing more about other destinations and not just France. I don’t know that it enhances my travels but it makes me take even more photos than I used to and this can drive my kids mad!! I’m not sure I’m qualified to pass on lessons about travel blogging, but one thing I make sure I do now is that whenever I have an idea for a post I jot it down in my little notebook so I don’t forget, this can even occur at 4 am when I can’t sleep. I also take photos of everything, all the time! This way I always have material for a future post.
What is your next destination and what are you looking forward to doing there?
The very next destination will probably be Paris as we’re likely to go there in the next school holidays. We’ll catch up with friends and visit some old favourite haunts. Right now we have no fixed plans for the next big trip, it depends on bookings in the gîte I run, but we’re very much hoping to take the boys to Vietnam next year. In the mean time there will definitely be some European city breaks.
Finally, if you could inspire someone to start traveling, which place would you recommend to him or her as a good starting destination and why? Are there any places that you wouldn’t travel to your first time out and why?
My main advice would be just go! Bite the bullet and hit the road. Everyone’s got different interests, different budgets, more or less time available etc, so I won’t recommend any one particular place. It goes without saying that avoiding war zones and areas of conflict is just good sense, other than that follow your dreams and go somewhere you’ve always longed to visit. And enjoy!
What a great interview…60 countries and a honeymoon in India! Like me, I’m sure you would all like to follow Phoebe and find out what she’ll be up to next. Check out her Blog.