This week’s guest post comes from Anisa and Katherine from Two Traveling Texans. Two great gals from the Lone Star State who travel at every opportunity making the most of vacation days. Anisa is an experienced international traveler with extra pages in her passport and stamps from 33 different countries across 5 continents (and counting). Anisa is a skilled vacation navigator – despite the maps sometimes being poor and the streets having no names! She likes to combine her love for travel and sports – she has traveled to a Dallas Cowboys football game in London and a several Longhorn football games in California. Katherine spends countless hours researching destinations and creating itineraries that are packed with fun-filled activities and great food. She is not afraid to try new things like driving on the left side of the road in Anguilla and riding camels in Morocco. Yet she is one of the few that still carries a blackberry. Even though she appreciates good food, her typical breakfast is a Diet Coke. Her favorite adult beverage is a well-chilled rosé.
1.What is your name and where do you come from?
Anisa: We’re both from Texas, and I moved to New York about ten years ago. I am an unofficial New Yorker but Texas holds a big place in my heart, especially since I went to school at the University of Texas.
Katherine: I have lived in Houston, Texas my whole life except for my time at Texas A&M. So that makes me Texan through and through, but I love exploring new places.
2. What sort of traveller are you? Full time / part time / business / backpacker etc?
A: I’m lucky that I sometimes get to travel for work, so I try to make the most of those business trips and sneak in something fun. The majority of my travel now is personal, which is nice because my time is my own.
K: I rarely get to travel on business, so almost all of my travel is personal. I’m the one that does most of the researching and itinerary planning. We both prefer higher-end accommodations and experiences but also like to make sure we are getting a good deal.
3. How do you fund your travelling?
A: My business travel is paid for by the company, but I can only go to business relevant locations and I don’t always have a lot of free time.
K: Other than Anisa’s business trips, we pay for all our other travel and sometimes use miles/points. We do try to be cost conscious but not let it be the main driver in our travels. There’s a good travel tip right there – pick an airline frequent flyer programme, and use credit card loyalty schemes effectively to boost miles so you can travel further.
4. Where is the best place you have ever been and why?
A: It is really hard to choose just one! That’s why I like travelling. It’s interesting to see different places, people, cultures and scenery – not just between countries, but also the differences between places in the same country. If I really have to pick, I will say Italy. There is so much to see. It’s a really pretty country with a rich and varied culture. The Italians are very welcoming and the food is great. They have a good climate for growing things like tomatoes and olives so the food is all about showing off great natural produce in a simple and respectful way. It’s delicious.
K: There are so many things I love about so many places, but I do like a nice beach! St. Barts had gorgeous beaches, delicious food, and kind people. We had a great time driving around the island.
A: Neither of these are on the blog yet, stay tuned…
5. Where is the worst place you have ever been and why?
A: I don’t think I’ve been anywhere I really disliked. There’s been some places I had to go for work that I wasn’t really excited about! Once I had to go to Kalamazoo, Michigan. I was really dreading that trip and wondered what I would do in my spare time there. It turned out to be a very fun and memorable trip. Kalamazoo is a college town, so there were great drink specials and the co-workers I traveled with were a lot of fun. The restaurant scene does have some room for improvement though.
K: I haven’t ever been to a truly terrible place, even when there are problems – poor accommodations, confusion on transportation, food that I personally do not like – I find a way to make the most of the trip and learn what I can. It’s about a mindset really. You can always find something positive.
6. Do you have a Bucket List? If so where are the 3 top places on it?
A: I don’t have a formal bucket list, but some places that I really want to go are the Cuba, Croatia, and Bora Bora. I’m excited that travel to Cuba is now legal and would love to visit to experience the culture and food. Croatia just looks so picturesque, like you have gone back in time. Bora Bora makes the list for its amazing beaches, I just wish it wasn’t quite so far! There are so many other places, it was really hard to choose 3.
K: I don’t really have a bucket list, and if I did, the places would probably be changing constantly. I will say that I would like to travel to Vietnam to go to the beaches and that has been on my wish list for quite a while. I also would love to go to Virgin Gorda and spend some time in the Baths there. And lastly – Mackinac Island, Michigan looks like it would be a great place for a long weekend!
7. What 3 things (apart from the essentials – food/water etc) do you always travel with?
A: Assuming a phone counts as essentials. My lenmar portable battery charger for my phone/iPad, gym clothes (I may not always use them), and a sweater (even when I am going somewhere warm I know I will need it for the plane). And my Texas Longhorn travel pillow to help me sleep on the plane on long flights so I’m not too tired when I arrive. That’s four. Can I have four? Yep I am the one that can’t do a week trip with just a carry on.
K: If you’re having four I want four as well! My Aggie Tervis Cup with lid (great for keeping your beverages cold and for use in the pool), a corkscrew, either a floatie or a noodle for the beach or pool, and comfortable shoes.
A: That makes eight. Shush, maybe they won’t notice… (Note from ESLT – ha! Rule benders!)
8. What makes you happy and why?
A: Helping others makes me happy. I get a lot of satisfaction from the charity work I do because it helps others live a better life. Similarly, it always makes me feel good when I am able to provide a restaurant recommendation or travel tip that helps out a friend.
K: The beach makes me happy because I love to be floating in the water and playing in the waves.
9. How long have you been blogging and why did you start?
K: We were planning our trip to St Martin earlier this year. We wanted to do a day trip to Anguilla, but we had difficulty finding the details about the ferry. We thought we should share what we learned with other travelers, and we just launched our blog in August.
10. What makes your blog unique and why should people read it?
A: We enjoy traveling and usually put some effort into planning so that we can fit in as much as possible. By reading our blog, you can benefit from our research so that you can make the most of your vacation days. We bullet point the most important tips at the end of the blog to make it easier for you to get the key takeaways. It is based on our trips and provides you with detailed information, links, and tips that will help you plan your next trip. When looking back, inevitably there will be some things that went well and some that didn’t. We want to share what we have learned with other travelers and add a little humor in when we can.
From ESLT – thank you Anisa and Katherine for taking the time to complete the questions. I really enjoyed reading your answers and it seems that we are roughly in the same boat – using all our holiday (vacation days) as best we can to see and explore the world. Anisa I love that you say that Italy is the best place you have ever been as it is mine too! I absolutely adore everything about the country and would love to live in Florence. It’s great to see Bora Bora on your ‘Bucket List’ too as it’s on mine. It looks like paradise on earth, what I wouldn’t give to dive into those crystal clear waters but as you say it’s so far away (one day!) Katherine – I’m totally with you on the spending hours planning itineraries. It’s my favourite hobby even if we never end up visiting that place. I think that when you only have a limited time in a certain place a well researched itinerary is a great thing to have to ensure you see and experience all the great things in the place. My favourite adult drink is also a well chilled rose, ideally on a beach somewhere hot!