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Twipper of the Month – October 2017

Twipper of the Month – October 2017: Gareth Leonard from Tourist 2 Townie!

Like many travelers featured on TWIP, Gareth realized he wasn’t living the authentic life he always dreamed about. After graduation, he became the Director of Marketing for a startup and helped the business grow into a multimillion dollar company. In October 2009, after many long hours and living someone else’s dream, Gareth found himself at a crossroads between a career in business or pursuing something he truly loved to do. Since his study abroad in London during his junior year of college, Gareth realized he wanted to travel differently by moving away from guided tour groups and get to know foreign communities on a more authentic and intimate level. He decided to drop everything and booked a one-way ticket to Buenos Aires, Argentina where he learned Spanish and bartended at a local brewery. From there Gareth created a five-year plan and a list of goals for each country he visits along the way. From learning, how to salsa dance in Colombia to living with monkeys in Ecuador, Gareth is on a mission to get out of his comfort zone and be more than just a tourist. Why? Gareth wants to be that local who has their own seat at the bar and has unlimited knowledgeable about where he lives. Through his videos and blog posts, he not only educates his followers but travels deeper and truly understands a place through the people and their culture. It’s because of this passion that we named Gareth as our Twipper of the Month for October!


Twipper of the Week: Tausha from The Globe Getter!

Current city: New York, NY

Age: 31

Total countries visited: 34 and counting!

What makes you interesting: Besides having a silent ‘u’ in my name and my penchant for slipping into what I like to think of as a pretty spot on British accent, I’m someone who has combined my professional background with my personal passion. I’m a communicator who has worked in the media industry and higher education, and now I’ve navigated my career into the travel industry in addition to running my travel blog on the side. It’s nonstop travel, and I love it! I’m also very passionate about helping people travel the world while still working full-time and I’m always happy to share tips on how to do this.

What brands do you love: I’m in love and addicted to my iPhone and MacBook Air. I’m also a big fan of Canon and Sony cameras. When I’m on the road, I like having KIND Bars to take with me.

Best travel advice: It’s not so much advice as it is a saying – “If you’re a curious person, the world is always unfolding.” To me this means being curious and take time to notice the small things. There’s beauty in watching a bird soar into the sky or the way flowers bloom by the ocean. When you notice the small things, you realize how truly incredible the world can be.

Most magical place on earth: Besides Disney, I continue to be obsessed with South Africa. It’s an incredible, complicated, at times uncomfortable and absolutely stunning country. I first visited in 2014 spending time in Johannesburg, Kruger, Blyde River Canyon and Cape Town. I look forward to returning there one day soon.

If your personality was a city or country, which one would it be: London. Busy but not hectic, reserved and with pockets of serenity -– just like me. Also, I’m often told how calm I am, particularly when things get crazy. I’m pretty good at the ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ thing.

#1 thing you must do when traveling: Capture the moment (but remember to also just enjoy the moment). Some things I know I’ll remember for years to come, but some things I need to document so I can look back on them later and reminisce.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned from traveling: Travel rarely goes as planned, but that’s part of the experience. Embrace it, handle it, enjoy it if you can and learn from it.

If you were given a free trip tomorrow, where would you go: Does a round-the-world trip count? If not, I’m going to go with Chile and Argentina, two places that are very high on my bucket list.

Next travel destination: Still up in the air, but I’m looking to head to Cuba and Japan in the next few months. We shall see!


Twippers of the Week: Rosemary and Claire from  Authentic Food Quest.

Current city: Chiang Mai, Thailand

Age: The number is not important, what matters is the life and experiences that we are living.

Total countries visited: 33 countries and counting.

What makes you interesting: We are 2 women, 1 couple, who left our corporate careers to travel the world and experience authentic foods.  We’re on a mission to inspire others to travel through authentic food. By traveling through food, we believe, people can have more meaningful and deeper connections to the local culture, people and place.

What brands do you love: We travel with Apple laptops and iPhones. Patagonia is a brand of clothing that we love. Not only for the great clothes, but their approach to sustainability. Our favorite retailer is REI. We love REI for the range of products carried, the friendly and personalized service and their great rewards program.

What does “Travel” mean to you: Travel means connections. For us, travel is about connecting to the local people and culture through food. With food, you engage all the senses. You learn to open up to new taste and flavors. You learn to connect with the locals and you learn to connect with your inner self. Travel is a journey of self-discovery.

What is the most interesting food you have ever tried and where: Given that we travel through food, we’ve eaten many unique and interesting dishes. For us, the most important criteria is if “the dish is local and authentic to the region.” As a result, we don’t seek out interesting foods, just to say we’ve eaten unusual dishes. The interesting foods we’ve eaten also have some cultural significance to the region. That said, we’ve had guinea pig or cuy in Cusco, Peru, where it’s an important source of protein dating back to the Inca period. We’ve enjoyed llama meat in the north of Argentina, where llamas are used domestically for transportation and also appreciated for their lean meat. In the Philippines, we tried balut, a popular street food. Eating the developing duck embryo is one experience we are not eager to have again. We recently had ants and worms in Cambodia, which are a popular source of protein.

What’s your favorite beverage to start the day with while on vacation: The beverage to start a perfect day for Rosemary is a great cup of coffee. When traveling, it’s not always easy to find a good cup of coffee. So anytime Rosemary can find a delicious latte on her travels, she’s happy. Claire is not a coffee or tea drinker, so her perfect beverage to start the day is a full-glass of water. Ideally, this is followed by a cup of soy or almond milk.

What is your most favorite travel memory: We were in Da Nang, central Vietnam during the rainy season. One evening after a day of non-stop rain, we went out looking for a specific restaurant that had a local specialty, Thịt Nướng (Vietnamese grilled pork). It was humid and dark, and after walking down a couple of streets, we walked into the restaurant.  We didn’t realize we were in the wrong place until we saw the pictures on the menu written in Vietnamese. When the server came over to take our order, we could not communicate. She spoke no English and we don’t speak Vietnamese. We pointed at a dish on the menu and asked what it was. She misinterpreted our questions, and thought we were ordering the dish. A few minutes later, she came back with a heaping plate of Vietnamese snails called Oc. We were in shock and very surprised. With nothing to lose, we decided to try them and we ended up enjoying the snails very much. Only later did we realize that snail eating was a popular pastime in Vietnam and we had actually stumbled into a quán ốc, or restaurant that specializes in snails. This was a fun discovery of things lost in translation.

Where and when were you the most culture shocked: Our recent trip to Cambodia really surprised us. When we crossed the border by bus from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam to Phnom Penh.  We were immediately struck by the level of poverty. Driving on the road next to us to our air-conditioned bus was an open truck, jam-packed with people standing up, like cattle with no safety or protection. Another unexpected surprise in Cambodia was the use of the U.S. dollar alongside the local currency Cambodia Riel (KHR). With this, we found there to be 3 levels of pricing. One price for the locals in local currency. A middle price for expats and an inflated price for tourists in USD. For every purchase, we always had to “haggle” and negotiate. Cambodia was surprising on many levels.

Next travel destination: We are currently traveling through Southeast Asia on our quest for authentic food. After Chiang Mai, our next stop is Malaysia where will visit Penang and Kuala Lumpur.


Twipper of the Week: Hasse (Chris) Wiersma from Chris Travel Blog

Current city: Currently I’m in the Netherlands.

Age: 36

Total countries visited: 60; I’ll be adding at least 6 in 2017.

What makes you interesting:  My experiences always prepare me to have a story to tell. I’m open to anything new and being able to get things done. I’m always fulfilling promises and not letting people down.

What brands do you love: I love shirts from Paul & Shark. When it comes to travel brands, I’m loyal to KLM Airlines from my home country and travel with them whenever I can. For hotels I prefer to stay in InterContinental hotels for business and leisure. My favorites are independent luxury hotels sometimes associated with SLH or LHW.

How has travel changed you or how do you hope it will change you: Travel doesn’t change people per se; you have to look for more than just sitting on a beach. I always try to get into contact with locals to learn about their culture, food, views on the world and more. With this I can form my own view on the world by taking the best of each different culture. This knowledge is a big plus if discussing with people who only know one vision. I hope to learn more cultures in the future and that I can develop myself more through knowledge.

What’s your favorite passport stamp: The one from Easter Island at the moment.

It’s 2050, list all the places you are most proud to have visited: I hope by that time to have visited each country, and I hope I’m right, that the countries I think will be my favorite experiences will be Antartica, Tahiti, Rwanda, base camp of Mount Everest and Myanmar.  In actuality, I’m proud of any place new I visit even if it is small.

What are your travel pet peeves: People who don’t behave in business class flights and lounges.  For example wearing no socks in the bathrooms & slippers in lounges. Please don’t! Hotel rooms that needed renovation ages ago but still sold at extremely high prices. You can’t expect luxury in a one star hotel but it has to be clean and up to date; the same for five star hotels where I have seen also strange things. People who take too many selfies or make vlogs with them being the highlight of the story and not the destination. That’s why I’m anonymous; it’s not about me! It’s about the destination!

Where are you the most authentic you: When I’m travelling and exploring new destinations, cultures and meeting new people.

If you were given a free trip tomorrow, where would you go: Antartica! Top destination on my bucket-list. Or, if I can choose something away from earth: the moon. My ultimate goal in life to go there as a tourist which I think is possible in my lifetime.

Next travel destination: Berlin, Israel, Singapore, Manilla, Guam, Saipan, Rota, Yap, Abu Dhabi, Barcelona, Tokyo, Taiwan, Palau, Helsinki, Bucharest, Thailand, Argentina, Sao Paulo, and China are all destinations already confirmed for 2017, and I hope to add a few more.


Twippers of the Year 2016: Stefan and Sebastien from The Nomadic Boys!

“In life, it’s not where you go, it’s who you travel with,” writer and illustrator Charles Schulz knew this, but Stefan and Sebastien made it a reality. Their blog has turned into a guide for LGBT communities by interviewing gay individuals around the world, so their followers can understand restrictions or complications that can arise by being gay in different countries. Forging a network for a worldwide connection among the gay community isn’t easy, especially when some countries aren’t as accepting as others. For these two though, nothing can stop them on their path to a better way of living. It’s because of this consistent drive to self educate about different cultures through travel, that we choose The Nomadic Boys as our Twippers of the Year for 2016!

With humble but comfortable beginnings in a London flat with normal jobs and stable lives, Stefan and Sebastien decided they needed a dramatic change.Their comfortable lifestyle was fine, until it lost its shine. Boredom of the everyday grind had set in. The Nomadic Boys left London in 2014 to begin their adventure around the world. Now, Stefan and Sebastien explore the world together. As their travels bring them closer together, their followers are reminded that love really can, conquer all. From swimming like mermaids to hosting luxury Galapagos cruises, these boys dive into new culinary experiences and inspires romance in a way that draws people to them in droves, particularly in the gay community.

Traveling the world as a gay couple, brings perspective to their way of life. Largely supportive of LGBT businesses, The Nomadic Boys bring support where it’s sorely needed in countries with anti-gay laws, restrictions or social structures. “We started to collaborate with hotel brands, tourism boards and speak at conferences to promote gay travel,” said The Nomadic Boys. There are some places in the world that wouldn’t be safe for a gay couple, and in some cases be downright hostile, but that doesn’t stop these men. Spreading the love is the only way to win, and The Nomadic Boys are well on their way to victory. Congratulations to The Nomadic Boys for being our 2016 Twippers of the Year for 2016! TWIP on our friends, TWIP on!

Read on for Stefan and Sebastien’s travel update for 2016.

What was the best trip that you went on in 2016: Our gay luxury cruise to the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador with some of our readers, which we’re really excited to repeat next year.

What is your most favorite travel memory of 2016: Playing with the Galapagos sea lion pups while snorkelling just off the coast of Española Islands. They are so curious and extremely cute.

Who was the most interesting person that you met during your travels in 2016: Our queer tango teacher in Montevideo, Uruguay, Rodrigo.

What motivates you to travel: Meeting gay locals and learning what it’s like growing up as gay in their country, and about each different gay scene in each new destination. This is extremely fascinating and most eye opening thing when we travel, particularly across Asia where it’s illegal or very taboo to be gay in most places.

Describe the last time you tried something new: Ecuadorian food! It’s so varied with influences from the jungle, Amazon and the mountains all mixed in one to create some delicious, exotic flavours.

What have you learned about yourself during your travels: Travelling has made our relationship stronger and we’ve learnt a great deal about each other. For example, when Sebastien is tired and/or hungry, Stefan must keep a safe distance to maintain the peace.

What advice would you give someone who wants to start traveling: Just do it! You’ll never look back on your life and say “Boy I wish I spent more time in the office!”

Where are you traveling in 2017: Latin America, particularly in Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Ecuador and Colombia.

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