We are beyond excited to host this interesting interview with Kash Bhattacharya of BudgetTraveller, courtesy of Jeremy Head and P&O cruises. Enjoy!
A series produced in association with P&O cruises
Jeremy Head interviews: Kash Bhattacharya from BudgetTraveller.org
Travel blogging is moving mainstream – fast. Forget the weekend travel supplements, its bloggers who could well be the future of travel journalism. People like my interviewee this time: Kash Bhattacharya
Kash Bhattacharya has been travelling on a budget for the last 4 years, blogging about his adventures at BudgetTraveller.org. He has been featured in the New York Times, Guardian, Vanity Fair and National Geographic. In June, he’s launching a guide to Luxury Hostels in Europe and has helped develop award-winning campaigns like #BlogVille for the Emilia Romagna Tourism Board, #Blogmanay for Unique Events and Event Scotland and FilmTravellerCoteDAzur for the Cote D’Azur tourism board. You can also follow Kash on Twitter and Facebook.
- What got you into the idea of travelling and writing for a living?
I started my first travel blog, Europebudgetguide.com in the summer of 2009 after losing my job. Whilst working in a pub, a bookshop and doing media sales, starting the blog was like a form of therapy. I couldn’t afford to go on a holiday or see a psychologist. My blog helped me through those dark moments that summer when I had little money to socialise, watch a movie and buy decent food. It kept me sane, writing and reliving my old travel experiences. Having worked in publishing for nine years, I loved writing but had limited opportunities because my employers preferred me to focus on my sales skills. What started as a hobby, turned into a personal development programme. I was getting to grips with social networking, developing my writing skills – plus I managed to bring my background in publishing and media sales to use for my own publishing platform.
- What does it take to be a ‘travel blogger’?
It’s a very dynamic profession that is rapidly evolving. One that offers a lot of exciting opportunities. For me the best travel bloggers are those that tick the following boxes:
- They can identify new travel trends and be a source of inspiration . Being able to write coherently is important but more relevant is the ability to become influencers and share unique travel content in real-time to travelers.
- They’re passionate, keeping in touch with and sharing best practice in marketing, SEO and social media techniques.
- They can take a good photograph. Travel is a very visual experience. It’s really important that bloggers can take good photographs to accompany their blog posts. Plus with the rise in social networks like Pinterest and Instagram- mastering new trends like mobile photography is important.
- They can develop their own brand
For those who want to be in blogging for the long-term and make a living from it, this is crucial. Travel brands and tourist boards will be more keen to associate their brand with bloggers who are working to make their blogs sources of unique, specialized travel content. I am certainly no guru at branding but basics like good design are often overlooked by travel bloggers: having a clean professional logo that tells the story of your blog plus an intuitive, easy to read, well-designed content is a must.
- They know how to pitch
Knowing how to sell yourself and your ideas and having good networking skills is also essential. Sometimes what people buy is not the product but the person behind it.
- What’s the hardest thing about being a travel blogger?
The challenge of having a personal life outside of my blog. It is a privilege to travel to amazing places and meet some incredibly inspirational people but at the same time, the life of a travel blogger can lonely. I envy the couples who manage to combine their individual talents and love of travel to explore the world together and blog about their adventures. I don’t have much of a social life outside hanging out with fellow travel bloggers and it’s becoming difficult to maintain friendships from the world of pre-travel blogging.
- What’s been the most memorable experience and why?
Going to Rome in October last year for two weeks, a small project with HomeAway UK. I got to stay in two well-located, budget-friendly apartments in Rome. I got to live as a local. Rome is for the curious. I loved ditching the guidebook and roaming through its maze of narrow streets and discovering its century-old treasures. I walked for miles every day. The endless number of small and large piazzas in Rome are perfect for grabbing a Pizza al Taglio and watching the world go by. Under the guise of ‘research’ I religiously checked out a new gelataria almost every day. Rome is ice cream heaven.
- Which place or places do you still want to visit and why?
I love Italy and I haven’t yet explored the south of the country – regions like Calabria and Sicily. Outside Europe, I hope to discover more of South East Asia , mainly for the amazing diversity of street food. I also want to see more of India, my country of origin which for me has the best of everything – culture, food, beaches, palaces and mountains.
- What’s your top tip for making your money go further whilst you’re away?
Walk everywhere possible, especially in Europe. It saves you money on public transport and also is a great way of getting to know a city – plus it keeps you fit while on the road.
- What thing or things do you always pack when you go away and why?
I always carry my iPod which is the soundtrack to my life and travels. I also carry my Indian spices so whenever I am fed up of eating out, I can cook my favourite Indian dishes plus introduce friends and strangers to my cuisine. I always have a few good books to read thanks to my Kindle – perfect for those long hours of travel.
- What’s the craziest thing that has happened to you on the road?
Last week in Berlin! While meeting a friend in a bar, my iPhone 4s got robbed. We got distracted by an annoyingly persistent beggar. That’s when his accomplice from behind, nipped my iPhone from my pocket. A few minutes later the food arrived and in typical blogger style, I went to get my iPhone out to take a picture of the food and realized it had been stolen. Someone pointed out the direction the thieves had made their getaway in – so I ran like mad and after several guesses at junctions, I was amazed to spot them. Keeping my cool, I tailed them for the next two blocks. (Hours of watching Wallander, and 24 paying off finally!) Then at a busy junction I finally grabbed one of them and asked for my phone back. I had my older iPhone 3G (which had no simcard in it) cupped to my ear and made a big scene as if I was calling the police.
To my surprise he apologized sheepishly and – instead of a knife – he produced, my iPhone out of a sliding compartment in the bottom of his smelly trainers. I felt a surge of relief, amazement and at the same time pity more than rage. I asked him why. He just shrugged his arms and gave it back to me.
Thanks again to Jeremy Head, Kash Bhattacharya, and P&O Cruises for the insightful interview.
To our readers: we’re thinking of starting a new series on the blog with more interviews and stories from travel bloggers and digital nomads around the world. Who would be interested in reading more? We sure would!