If you are a regular reader of the blog then you must know it very well that I love to interview people from time to time. I am happy to interview April Trent because first of all she loves to travel around the world but more than that she can write about travelling in a very good way. Most of the people that I have seen are fond of travelling are not good in writing about their experience. April Trent is surely a good exception in this regard. She is just finishing her Master's degree in Marketing Communications. She is also a radio DJ and freelance writer. April Trent is the National Youth Travel Examiner and I am sure that you will find her articles enjoyable and useful. From South Asia Blog, I took her interview and here it is:
Razib Ahmed: What encouraged to start writing about travelling?
April Trent: I wanted to encourage young Americans to explore the world around them. American culture is more work-centered rather than travel-centered, which is disappointing since we can learn a lot from different cultures. I finally took the plunge into travel writing when I was laid-off from my marketing position and decided I was going to do something I loved while I search for a great job. I signed up for Examiner and months later I found a wonderful job in radio.
Razib Ahmed: What are the tips you would like to give to the young backpackers?
April Trent: Think outside the box, plan ahead, and remain flexible in terms of travel plans. Keep looking for great deals and do not feel discouraged if you have a bad experience. The world is huge, but you can easily connect with others via the Internet and learn great tips for saving money while traveling.
Razib Ahmed: What are the key areas travelers should focus on to make a low-cost trip?
April Trent: The main costs, from my experience, has always been airline and lodging. These are normally the most difficult areas to save money. However, there are tips to save money in each of these areas. For example, book your flights a month or two in advance and try to leave and return during the middle of the week (Tuesday, Wednesday, maybe Thursday). Websites such as Priceline allow you to name your own price and possibly win a bid for a lower ticket. Most American airlines are charging for checked luggage, drinks, etc. so traveling light will also help. The best way to save money is to either take a train, bus, or a budget airline such as JetBlue, Southwest Airlines, WestJet, or EasyJet.
Lodging is a bit easier. In the U.S., there are some low-price hotels which sometimes rivals the price of U.S. hostels. Around the world, there are many nice hostels, apartments, and don't forget Couchsurfing.com. That site is great if you want to experience living with a family from the area and/or if you want to really save money on lodging.
Overall, planning will definitely help you in the long run. Plan in advance where you want to go and start searching for deals. Some museums have free days, some restaurants have special deals, and some hostels have discounts for events. You don't have to plan your entire trip, but some planning can help in the long run.
Razib Ahmed: Have you ever travelled to Asia? If yes, tell us something about that trip?
April Trent: I have not traveled to Asia yet, but I am preparing for it. Actually, I am studying Mandarin right now so I can travel to China within the next year or two. My friend, who is a native from Fujian, gets a kick out of hearing my attempts to speak her language. However, we have to start from somewhere.
Razib Ahmed: Recently, you wrote about money-saving summer trips. According to you, what are some of the most inexpensive summer tourist destinations?
April Trent: There are quite a few affordable places, but the main key is to try and travel to smaller cities. Cities such as New York City, Washington D.C., etc. tend to be expensive during this time of year, but cities such as Portland or San Antonio may be more affordable. Keep the season and currency conversions in mind. For example, a vacation to Cancun may be more affordable than a vacation to Hawaii. However, you can always find great deals even in large cities like New York City or London.
Razib Ahmed: You have travelled a lot. What, according to you, is the best tourist spot you have ever visited? And Why?
April Trent: I normally have a hard time answering this question since each city has its own personality. If you are interested in beautiful cities I would have to say Paris. If you love friendly people I would recommend Montreal. I think my favorite city is a tie between Toronto and Vancouver. Toronto is a large city with tons of stuff to do, relatively friendly people, and you feel safer. Vancovuer is smaller seems gritty at first, but it has the right blend of a diverse city, beautiful beach, and in northern Vancouver there's forests with nature trails, canyons, etc.
Razib Ahmed: Have you ever faced any security-related problem on any of your past trips? How do you think travelers can ensure the best possible security for themselves before setting out on a trip?
April Trent: Yes! When I was visiting Barcelona my travel pouch was stolen the day before Easter Friday and the U.S. Consulate told me I was on my own until the following Tuesday. The best way to remain secure is to hide everything. Carry a thin travel pouch with your bare necessities (debit card, passport, etc.) underneath your clothing. Some stores have special belts which conceal your money, passport, etc.
Avoid buying things off the street when they do not come from vendors. I know this isn't always the case, but I have seen tons of scams involving people who want to sell you a flower then they try to place it on you (when they are secretly looking for money in pockets and such) or people who ask you to pay 2 Euro for a six pack of beer, then they tell their friends down the street, in a foreign language through a hidden microphone, where the money is located. Even though it might seem harsh, avoid giving money to beggars on the street. If you're traveling on a budget, you should focus on saving your money. If you really want to help, donate to a charitable organization or drop off a bag of food, but do not hand them cash.
Razib Ahmed: Now, tell us something about yourself.
April Trent: I'm a part-time radio DJ, part-time freelance writer, full-time travel enthusiast. I enjoy teaching others how they can save money while traveling abroad. My main goal is to help educate young Americans on affordable travel and encourage them to explore the world beyond the U.S.
Razib Ahmed: What is your future plan about writing and traveling?
April Trent: I will be finishing my Masters soon, so I hope to start building a stronger career in terms of travel writing, copywriting, voice acting and multicultural marketing. I also plan on traveling to Australia, China, and back to England which I consider to be my second home.