This week’s guest post comes from The Wanderlust Effect. She explains ‘I originally started documenting my travels as a graduate student in London in 2009, my first foray into real international travel on a regular basis. As a child, I grew up with a restless soul and a desire to see the world, but it wasn’t until adulthood that I could make those dreams a reality. Since then, I have had an amazing opportunity to see parts of the globe that I never imagined, meet incredible and inspiring people, and enjoy experiences that I never thought possible. My travel style has changed since I started out, and for the most part I’ve said goodbye to my hostel days (though I look back on them with the fondest of memories) and have come to embrace affordable luxury. My style is a genuine mix of high/low, mixing boutique hotels with avant garde hostels and a fair spattering of luxe accommodations. If faced with the decision of a luxury hotel vs. investing in a cultural experience, I’ll take the experience any day. I genuinely believe that great experiences can be had with a bit of research, planning, flexibility and willingness to take everything as an exciting learning experience and a future memory. I don’t believe you have to spend a fortune to engage in meaningful travel experiences and I continue to travel with that guiding philosophy’.
1. What is your name and where do you come from?
My name is Shannon Kircher. I’m originally from Northern California, but currently call the Caribbean island of Anguilla home.
2. What sort of traveller are you? Full time / part time / business / backpacker etc?
I’m a part time traveler that works in as much travel time as possible while balancing a full time career in tourism and hospitality. My travel style has changed over the years from budget to affordable luxury. My husband and I travel together the majority of the time, primarily for leisure, and focus on cultural and experiential travel, which means our experiences can vary hugely from destination to destination. In some places, a more rustic accommodation fits the bill, while some destinations are bigger splurges to be able to fully immerse ourselves in the best the destination has to offer.
3. How do you fund your travelling?
I work full time as the Director of Marketing at the Frangipani Beach Resort in Anguilla. I’m fortunate in that I have flexibility to travel throughout the year and that our resort runs a 10-month season. During the two-month hiatus, we make a point to go on a 3 to 4 week international adventure. This year we’re spending a month in Africa!
4. Where is the best place you have ever been and why?
It’d be pretty impossible for me to pick the ‘best’ place I’ve been, but I think the most interesting and captivating place that I’ve traveled to is Jerusalem. I was lucky to spend about 10 days exploring the area and absolutely fell in love. Jerusalem is a totally unique city within the global landscape, and offers such a rich experience with the cultural, religious and historic layers. The biggest surprise for me was seeing the cool, hip scene that manages to co-exist with an ultra conservative segment – there’s no place in the world like it.
5. Where is the worst place you have ever been and why?
There’s no place that I’ve been to that I really truly disliked, though the island of St. Thomas comes close (one of my least favorite spots). There are a few places that I’ve been that haven’t resonated with me quite as much as I had expected, especially knowing the hype they get from most travelers. Two cities that left me a bit underwhelmed: Barcelona and Athens. Perhaps my expectations were too high going in, but I left wondering what I’d missed!
6. Do you have a Bucket List? If so where are the 3 top places on it?
Yes! It’s ever-growing and evolving but it’s been fun seeing places that I used to dream about as a child. The top 3 places that I have yet to visit: Iran; Slovenia + Croatia + Montenegro (I’m lumping this together as one trip!); plus Cambodia and Vietnam (again, one trip!). My Africa trip this fall is a major bucket list experience that I’m excited to embark on: Rwanda, Uganda, the DRC, and South Africa for a mix of gorilla trekking, chimp trekking, city vibes, safaris and wine tasting!
7. What 3 things (apart from the essentials – food/water etc) do you always travel with?
I can never leave without my iPhone, my Canon T2i, and my laptop! I’m constantly impressed with the quality of photos that my phone captures – I love being able to snap pictures at night (without having to lug my DSLR) or on the fly and share instantly. My Canon T2i – which I’ve now had for about five years – really encouraged me to focus more on photography. I would love to go on a photo tour with a professional photographer to learn some tricks! My laptop is my lifeline so I can never leave home without it. I blog from the road, and also stay up to speed with other work matters while we’re traveling. Being able to stay connected from anywhere in the world makes the flexibility possible so I’m grateful to be able to work remotely when I can!
8. What makes you happy and why?
I’m sure most travel bloggers and travel lovers will respond to this similarly but traveling truly makes me happy! Traveling with my husband, or with friends and family make it even better. For me, half the fun is planning a trip, and getting excited about new destinations and potential experiences on the horizon. I love being able to connect with other travelers before, during, and after the experience to share stories and relive the magic. Exploring new cultures and destinations is a life changing experience that really grants you great new perspective on life and the things that truly matter. For me, happiness comes from experiences rather than things, so that’s 100% where we choose to invest our time and money!
9. How long have you been blogging and why did you start?
I’m on my 7th year of blogging, which is hard for me to believe! I started in 2009 when I moved to London to begin graduate school. For me, it was a great way to document an exciting new chapter of my life with travels that I hadn’t been able to experience before. I fell in love with Europe and was bitten by the travel bug immediately. Fortunately, I married a man who also has a passion for travel and we’ve made it a point to see as much of the world together as we can. I’ve been able to continue documenting some amazing experiences in places that I had only dreamed about. I love sharing my experiences with others and meeting others in the travel community.
10. What makes your blog unique and why should people read it?
My blog has evolved right alongside me since it started in 2009, but one thing that has stayed pretty constant is my interest and love for cultural immersion and experiential travel opportunities. I write about travel generally from destinations around the globe, and I try to be authentic in discussing a destination or an experience. I think there’s a tendency to recall the highlights of travels without being totally transparent about the realities – sometimes negatives! – of certain destinations. We’ve recently traveled to a number of locales that have historically (or presently) struggled with conflict, and it’s refreshing to highlight a media vs. reality perspective on places that tend to get a bad rap. As individuals writing on travel, I think it’s important to lend an authentic voice to different destinations; to not be afraid to be real about the negatives, but to also share the positives of places that are often overlooked or disregarded. More and more, I’ve tried to focus on crafting posts that aren’t just interesting reads but also useful for travel planning, with tips and practical information for anyone wanting to replicate an adventure.
From ESLT – thank you Shannon for taking the time to answer our questions. So, not only am I jealous of your amazing travels but also the fact you live in Anguilla! How amazing, it looks and sounds idyllic. Your upcoming Africa trip sounds amazing, I bet you can’t wait. I’m certainly looking forward to reading about your adventures and drool over your photographs upon your return. Safe Travels 🙂