Today, July 30th, marks my five-year blogiversary. Five years it’s been since I started this blog, dedicated to my travels around the world. It’s surreal that Rebecca Goes Rendezvous has gotten this far since my early days of solo travel, especially now that I’m hardly traveling and settled with a 9-to-5 job that occupies most of my time. But the thirst for travel still remains in my blood, and I’m incredibly grateful for the support that all of you have given, as this blog has seen a lot of changes over the years.
In honor of my five years of blogging, I have decided this year to do a Q&A in which you ask me questions and I answer in order to get to know me a bit better. I don’t recall ever doing a Q&A before, which is surprising given how long I’ve had this blog. I actually got a good handful of questions from all of you, and I thank you for that! Without further ado, let’s get to them…
1. In which cities did you feel the safest traveling at night solo as a woman?
I’ve found the cities in Central and Eastern Europe to be very safe and clean, e.g. Krakow, Prague, Vilnius, etc. I think it’s due to the fact that they’re smaller than the mega-cities of Paris or London, and I’ve only stuck to the neighborhoods that cater to students and visitors. It was also a matter of keeping my wits and being mindful of the environment I was in, so I never had a problem in those particular places.
2. What is a food you were nervous to try but you found to be delicious?
Actually, I rarely get nervous trying new foods, as I grew up eating a bunch of different cuisines. I will say, however, that I was a bit apprehensive about trying haggis in Scotland, as the idea of sheep offal does not sound very appealing. Upon trying it, though, I found it pretty tasty, as it reminded me somewhat of meatloaf. Not bad!
3. What advice do you have to bloggers who would like to continue their blogs long term as you have?
Find opportunities to remain inspired: read posts and engage with bloggers in the community. Create recurring series (e.g. photo challenges, five things to do in xyz, etc.) and set a goal to post at least once a week, twice a month, etc…having a handful of drafted ideas (and a bit of discipline) will go a long way!
4. If you could only travel one country for the rest of your life, where would it be and why?
My goal is to travel to many countries and (hopefully) not be restricted to a single place. However, if I had to pick one, I would say France. Despite living there for four years and traveling all over the country, I still have not scratched the surface of what it has to offer. I wouldn’t choose to live there again (unless it’s to retire), but I would love to dedicate several extended trips to see places like the Gorges du Verdon, Camargue, the villages in Occitanie…in some way, France still has my heart, and I think it’ll be so for decades to come. ❤
5. Have you ever thought of quitting blogging? Why or why not?
No…at least, not yet. With this blog, I still have tons of post ideas that I’d like to write and share with all of you. Even if I’m barely traveling nowadays, there’s still so much that I haven’t shared that it’ll keep me busy for the next couple of years. There’s no slowing down just yet!
6. If you could live anywhere in the world (not including France) where would you like to live (or try) and why?
Since I was little, I’ve had this fascination with living in Canada. I’ve only visited on two separate occasions, and the last time had been years ago when I was still a kid. There isn’t a specific reason as to why I want to live there, but I think it’s the combination of more accessibility to nature, a better healthcare system, and the subtle French ties– all the while just being a border away, that makes me want to go. Vancouver or Toronto would be cities I’d like to live in– we’ll see if that happens!
7. For first time travellers to the US- what are your recommendations?
It really depends on what you want to do– are you interested in a city break, national parks, a bit of both? The US is a MASSIVE country, and a standard two weeks off isn’t enough to take it all in. My recommendation would be to pick a specific region (East Coast, West Coast, the South, etc.) and dedicate at least a month there.
For instance, if you choose the West Coast, I would suggest at least two weeks in California (my home state). Give yourself a weekend in San Diego and San Francisco each, and a week in Los Angeles (my hometown). Then you have the option of spending the next week or two going north to the Pacific Northwest (Oregon and Seattle), or east to the desert (Las Vegas, Arizona, Utah) for the national parks. You’ll be driving a LOT, as public transport isn’t that great here, and a month on the West Coast should be a rewarding experience.
I can’t say much for the rest of the US, as I only did the touristy circuit on the East Coast (NYC, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, DC) years ago as a kid and had brief stints in Florida, Colorado, and Alaska. But similar to what I wrote, definitely give yourself at least a month for the East Coast (NYC can easily be two weeks of a visit) and so forth. Even I haven’t seen as much of my home country as I would’ve liked, so I’ll have to report back once I have to update this!
8. What’s at the top of your USA bucket list?
On a related note, there are so many places in the US that I haven’t been to, but am dying to check out. I’d love to do city breaks in Chicago and New Orleans, as well as visit natural sites like Antelope Canyon in Arizona, White Sands National Monument in New Mexico, and Glacier National Park in Montana. The list goes on and on, and there is a likelihood that I’ll be visiting some of these places very soon *hint hint!
9. Do you have your eye on the next penguin-related purchase, if so what is it?
There was this adorable penguin mug I saw on Starbucks France’s website, back during the holiday season. I already have at least three penguin mugs, but another one can’t hurt!
10. Which place food and which place did you like the most?
Too many to list, but if I had to choose one, I really enjoyed the food I had in the country of Georgia. Lots of fresh vegetables and herbs, along with gamey meat and soft dumplings/bread, with plenty of smooth wine from the vineyards. I’m very disappointed that Los Angeles does not serve Georgian food, as I miss it dearly.
My favorite place remains Romania: I had zero expectations going in, but I ended up pleasantly surprised. Not only were the views of Transylvania and Carpathian Mountains stunning, but also the food was hearty, prices were affordable, and the locals were very friendly and welcoming. I would go back in a heartbeat!
11. What has surprised you about yourself during travels around the world the most?
One thing has definitely been my ability to easily adapt to the environment. I consider myself very shy and very cautious about taking risks, especially at home. However, when I travel, I’ve surprised myself in trying things that I would’ve never thought about doing before (e.g. hot-air balloon rides, snorkeling, making friends with strangers…). I think it’s knowing that life’s too short, that the time you have traveling is limited, so why not make the most out of it? It’s very much a “fake it until you make it” attitude that I’ve adopted on my trips, to be a more-outgoing and adventurous version of myself. And over time, I’ve become that person!
12. Would you like to write a guest post for me???
I’d be honored! 😉
13. Where is the first country you’re going to go to overseas once you’re allowed to travel again and why?
I’m dying to go to Singapore. Much of my travels so far have been almost exclusively in Europe, and I haven’t seen as much of Asia as I would like to. Singapore has interested me for a long time, from its massive Changi Airport (with a waterfall!) to its futuristic Gardens by the Bay. The country also fascinates me with its eclectic blend of cultures (Malay, Chinese, Indian, etc.), most-notably at the hawker centres. Plus, Crazy Rich Asians is one of my all-time favorite films, so I’d like to go to live out that fantasy!
14. What’s one thing you wish you’d known when you started blogging?
This is honestly a difficult question. I’ve been blogging since 2013, and I’ve learned so much in terms of achievement and failure. Looking back, I wish that I hadn’t cared so much about gaining followers– it reflected in the “click-baity” type of posts I wrote, as well as spamming bloggers with “please follow me!” comments on their articles. Granted, I was young when I started blogging, but I still feel embarrassed at my past self for caring about views, follows, likes, and comments.
Funny enough, it took gaining thousands of followers that I realize that I wasn’t having fun blogging anymore, as I was too focused on writing to please others. I decided to change: I ended up writing less, but publishing more-quality posts. I also put more effort into engaging with other bloggers and their works, taking the time to write more personable, thoughtful comments on their posts. It was by being more genuine with interacting with the blogging community and authentic in my content that real engagement happened– I might not receive as many Likes and comments as before, but I’ve gotten bloggers who actually stick around to read and comment, and consistently so!
Long story short: the goal of starting a blog isn’t to gain followers and Internet fame. In fact, if you start out with this mindset, chances are your blog is doomed to fail within six months (or less). Whether you have three people or tens of thousands who read your work, it’s crucial to write what you want to write– anything else will look obviously forced and awkward. It’s important to be patient; it takes time for people to discover your blog, and once you hit that first milestone (100 Follows, 1000 Likes, etc.), you’ll be so surprised and proud of how far you’ve come since that first, clumsily-written article you wrote. Slow and steady, folks!
15. How do you see the next step? Continue blogging, on the same travel topic or something else? Move on to longer writing projects like books? Or videos? What other talents can you reveal to the world?
I cannot guarantee that I’ll continue blogging for the rest of my life, but I hope to continue for several more years. At least with Rebecca Goes Rendezvous, I intend to keep it as a travel-related blog, as I run other blogs on topics outside of travel. Prior to starting this blog, I had dabbled in making YouTube videos and even self-publishing a book of poems, but I don’t plan on doing those again, as they weren’t really my style. There’s so much I enjoy doing outside of travel (e.g. piano, baking, sports), and I’ve revealed bits of them here and there on social media, but ultimately, I’d rather guard most of them for myself, as means of privacy and fulfillment outside of the Internet.
16. What is the one thing (or two or three) that has kept you going and enjoying it?
In life? That’s a good question. I would say that my enthusiasm/motivation for my passions– travel, food, writing– has kept me from getting bored and depressed. Especially with this pandemic, I’ve found it very important to carve out my own path of happiness. Cliché as it sounds, I look to seek fun and excitement outside of my job and duties at home, whether it’s trying out a new restaurant or exploring a new part of town. My curiosity for discovering new things has made life a lot more interesting and fulfilling, and I wouldn’t change it for anything.
17. Where do you see your blog five years from now?
I honestly have no idea. Ideally, I’d like to continue blogging, but I also want to remain open-minded and say that there’s the possibility that I might not do so five years from now. It really depends on whether I keep on traveling, as well as continue to have ideas and the motivation to blog. We’ll have to see what happens, but I hope to continue creating posts that inspire others to enjoy travel and, overall, enjoy life!
…that’s about it for now! If you have any other questions you’d like to ask, feel free to comment and I’ll answer them directly in the Comments section. Thank you once again to your support over these years, and here’s to more years of blogging to come. Have a wonderful day, folks! 🙂