Steaming ahead with another Big Blogger Interview, My Destination has turned to Kash Bhattacharya, Super Blogger, Budget Travel Expert and founder of budgettraveller.org to give us his insight on travel. Set to scour Europe this summer in the search of some affordable luxury, we’re curious to hear his views on the evolution of hostelling.
We’ll start with a simple one: why do you travel?
Phew! That’s the toughest question actually.
Travel means a lot of things to me. From a professional perspective, travelling is key to being able to share new stories and inspiration via the blog. On a personal level, it can be a form of escapism and very therapeutic, as well as very educational. Every time I travel, I absorb new ideas and influences and grow as a person.
You’re about to embark on a whirlwind tour through Europe, checking out 50 hostels in over 40 cities. Does this mean you have to be really prepared in advance?
Yes. Visiting such a huge amount of hostels and cities in such a short period of time means I have to be very organized (not my personal strength). From researching the hostels, contacting them, to organizing my travel schedule – it’s been a hectic few months.
Which city are you most looking forward to?
Budapest. It is one city I’ve been planning to visit for many years but never had a good enough excuse to visit.
Image by Eleephotography
You say you aim to make hostelling cool again. How are you going to go about this, and is hostelling really an option for those over 30?
I think hostelling is traditionally seen as the preserve of 20-something backpackers who are looking to travel as cheaply as possible. Nowadays, hostels are diversifying to offer a range of products that can suit the needs of various types of travellers.
They’ve recognized that there is a group of older, lucrative 30+ travellers who have the disposable income to pay the premium of a private room but still want to enjoy the fun, social vibe of staying in a hostel.
I am going to show that you can have the luxury factor of staying in a hotel, with all the exciting benefits that a cool hostel offers; from the social aspect, great advice from staff who are travellers, cool locations and also bonus features like a bar or restaurant, which brings you together with fellow travellers in the hostel.
Once you go luxury hostelling, you might never want to stay in a hotel ever again…
For you, what is the ultimate luxury when travelling?
Having my own bathroom: that is luxury. Wearing slippers in the bathroom. I also appreciate simple things like a smile, a friendly face to say hello and welcome you to another day of travel and endless adventure: that is a luxury to me.
What are the first things you do upon arrival in a new destination?
I dump the bag and go for a wander. I’ll grab the map later. Maybe I’ll have a beer first of all. There’s nothing more exhilarating then those first sensations of exploring a new place and establishing your bearings in a foreign city; from the smells and sights, checking out the nearest bar and restaurants and getting a little lost. That’s the thrill of life on the road.
As travel is your career, do you ever truly get a holiday from work?
I try to have fun and experience the destination from the perspective of a tourist to keep it fresh and interesting. Sometimes though, travelling constantly can be intense, as you have to take notes and pictures on the go. The social media element of tweeting and sharing comes naturally to me and it’s hard work but fun.
What’s the most budget-friendly destination you have visited?
Poland was very budget friendly- your ££’s go far in Eastern Europe.
Have you ever been ripped-off by a tourist trap, or are you the ultimate haggler?
I haggle a lot. I hate being ripped off. Growing up in India means haggling comes quite naturally to me!
Give us three tips on how to save money as a traveller.
1) Walk everywhere. It’s good exercise, you save money and it’s the best way to orientate yourself in a new place.
2) Fix a daily budget and stick to it.
3) Always buy your travel currency in advance to get the best deals and never wait until you reach the airport or destination.
How does social media affect the way you travel?
I used to find solo travel quite tough at times, pre-social media. Those awkward moments at the dinner table when you’re on your own and everyone else is with friends or lovers and it seems everyone is having the best time of their lives! The food is great but sometimes, even in paradise, life gets lonely.
Social media now gives me an outlet to have a conversation, share, get ideas about places to visit and valuable feedback about the destination. I’ve also met some amazing, inspiring people via a simple tweet. My world is smaller but at the same time bigger and better-if that makes sense?
If you could snap your fingers right now and be anywhere in the world, where would you go?
I’d go back to Calcutta. Growing up there, it’s is the city of my dreams and where my big adventure started. I have many happy memories and friends there – I would love to go back.
Image by soham_pablo
You seem to really love reading; what is your favourite travel book?
My favourite travel book is Vroom with a View by a guy called Peter Moore. I love his idea of driving through Italy in a rickety, classic Vespa. I read the synopsis at the back and was hooked straightaway by the wholly impractical, unpredictable but romantic ideal of travel. Like something out of a Jules Verne novel. That’s the way travel has to be. We always tend to travel the beaten path too much.
Your blog logo includes a snazzy looking compass – in which direction is your blog heading?
To infinity and beyond- the sky is not limit!
If money was no object, would you travel differently?
No. I would not change the way I travel or anything in my life. This is the life I chose: I was born to be the BudgetTraveller!
A big thank you to Kash! If you’d like more tales and tips on budget travel, don’t forget to check out budgettraveller.org.