It’s that time again to sit back and soak in some weekend inspiration with our traveler interview series, a Rendezvous with Rovers. This week we are taking it all in from Jill of Reading the Book Travel. Jill has been all over the globe, mostly traveling solo, and she’s been to some places that I really want to get to like Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Let’s see what words of wisdom she has for us.
Please introduce yourself.
I have lived all my life in the United Kingdom, but have always wanted to travel. As a child I used to pore over atlases and imagine myself in faraway destinations; I went on to study languages at university and work in a very international environment. I started to travel seriously in my 20s, heading to destinations in Europe and then further afield as my horizons expanded. Now I take 2 big trips per year, usually outside Europe, as well as a handful of shorter breaks to destinations within Europe.
Can you describe your travel philosophy?
I knew very early on that I wasn’t a “hostel person”, although I’ve stayed in hostels in private rooms. Nor am I fancy. I love to explore my destinations and plan every inch of my trips, and tend to stay in 3* hotels which are close to good transport links without blowing all my budget on a room I’ll hardly ever be in. I much prefer planning myself, with the help of guidebooks, travel blogs and internet searches, and I tend to create detailed itineraries for every day so that I’m sure I will see everything that interests me. But once I get there, with the itinerary in the back of my head, I let myself go with the flow and remain open to experiences I might not have thought of in advance.
Do you travel alone or with a partner? What have you learned from either being alone so much or traveling with the same person for extended periods of time.
I have always preferred solo travel, although I will also take group tours when the destination makes this safer or more enjoyable. Travelling solo gives me a break from my busy life at home, and a chance to unwind and do just what I want to do. It’s easy to still stay in touch with friends and family and share my experiences, but so nice to only have to consider my own wants and needs for a short while.
What types of things are you interested in while you are traveling?
My passion is for seeing daily life in the countries I visit. Of course I check out the major tourist spots, but I also love to wander down side streets and see how people live. I’m also a huge wildlife lover, especially with a camera in tow, so trips which include an element of safari feature highly among my favourite travel experiences.
How did you get started travel blogging?
I started blogging on a whim, mainly as a way to record my experiences and share them with other people. But I grew to love it really quickly, despite the long hours and huge learning curve. It’s so satisfying to know you have been able to help someone with their own travel plans, or inspire them to visit a destination they had never heard of. And the community of travel bloggers is amazing – having so many online friends who understand where I’m coming from is a side benefit I never realized I’d find.
Do you have a place, experience, or food that stands out as one of your favorites?
My absolute favourite destination to visit is India, which was a total surprise to me because I expected to find it overwhelming and uncomfortable. But, instead, I found a country which is colourful, has amazing food and takes you as you come with no pretensions. I’ve been there 3 times now but will keep going back. I’m also passionate about the Middle East, which is a hugely misunderstood region. Its culture is so different from my own, but is endlessly fascinating and the people are so friendly.
What is your next destination and what are you looking forward to doing there?
I’ll be heading to Kiev in a few weeks, and I can’t wait to discover the history and beautiful Orthodox churches, as well as finally getting a chance to visit Chernobyl. Then I’ll be heading to Senegal in April for my first trip back to Africa in four years, so I’m really excited to check out the local culture and wildlife.
If you could inspire someone to start traveling, which place would you recommend to him or her as a good starting destination and why?
I think a first trip should be somewhere which is culturally similar to your own, and – if possible – where you can be understood, either in your own language or a language you speak well. Getting your head around navigating a strange city, restaurant menus and exploring is enough of a challenge for a first trip – then you can start looking further afield! As a westerner, I wouldn’t head to a country like India or most of Africa as a rookie traveller as the culture shock would be too great. But once you have a bit of experience, go for it!