Founder of The Wanderbug, Genevieve Hassall, believes that you can still have great travel adventures without having to quit your job. As a freelancer in digital marketing, as well as food and travel writing and photography, Genevieve knows a thing or two about using her time wisely and finding the best opportunities to travel. Catch up with the traveling Aussie in this interview.
Thanks so much for taking the time out to talk to me! I’m sure you have a crazy schedule running a travel blog and working full time! For anyone reading who may not be aware, can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
Thanks for getting in touch Erin! My name is Genevieve and I live in Melbourne, Australia. I work full time in digital marketing and run my travel blog, The Wanderbug and Instagram account (@wanderbug_world) as a passion project. I love writing, photography and most of all, traveling, so I don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t share it all on the blog!
A lot of travel bloggers talk about how they left their day jobs to travel full-time. But for you, that’s not the case. How do you manage juggling a career with traveling and blogging?
I try to use my time outside of work wisely, but it’s definitely a juggle! I try to use a few evenings a week purely for blogging, from about 6pm-10pm. There’s always so much to do that I find it best to sit down with a big chunk of time and work through my priorities. I’ve been all over the place for the last couple of weeks, so this week I’ve dedicated every weeknight to blog catch up, before going away on the weekend to the beach with friends and my boyfriend. I think there is a way to balance it all, but you definitely can’t do it all on the same day.
For you, what goes into the planning process for your next trip?
The first step is working out how much annual leave I can take – which can sometimes hamper my plans! But it’s a big world, and there are SO many corners of the Southern Hemisphere that I haven’t even scratched the surface of that I have plenty of options, even if I can only go away for a few days or a week.
For example, I’m going to Japan in October (I’ll be Instagramming from Japan, follow along @wanderbug_world). It’s only a 9 hour flight from Melbourne, so we can go for just a week – even though I’d love to go for longer! Initially we wanted to go to Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, but since it’s a three-hour train trip between Tokyo and the southern cities, we’d have to spend about 6 hours of our week away on trains, since we are flying in and out of Tokyo. Instead, we decided to spent all 7 nights in Tokyo, with a day trip just outside the city to Mt Fuji and a national park, and perhaps another day trip to Nikko, also within 2 hours of Tokyo. There are several cities in southern Japan I want to visit, so I know I’ll want to go back to see those cities another time.
I find deciding when and where is the hardest part. Then I book flights and accommodation and breathe a sight of relief that I’ve done the bare minimum planning. The rest of the planning is just for fun: looking up blogs and reading guidebooks about Tokyo. I don’t plan a strict itinerary, I normally just make a list of any attractions, bars or restaurants I’m dying to go to as well as a list of neighbourhoods I’d like to explore. I jot down any other cool-but-not-essential things to do under each neighbourhood. For example, when I was spending a day in SoHo in New York City last year, I had a handy list of interesting things to do in the area, but I wasn’t tied down to that list. If we stumbled upon something interesting, great! If we found ourselves in the middle of nowhere and wanted to stop at a cool bar, there was usually something on my list to point us in a new direction.
What do you love about travel? How do you think it can affect or change a person’s life?
I love the sensory overload of being somewhere new. It provides a window into the way of life of other people, which is fascinating and an important reminder that there are so many different ways of living other than our own.
It can change you when you try something new and discover you love it – for example, I don’t enjoy swimming that much and I was shocked to find I LOVE snorkeling when I went to Green Island on the Great Barrier Reef. Now I want to learn how to Scuba dive!
Travel always makes me feel so small, and so in awe of nature. I think a reminder of how small we are is a good one. When you’re looking at staggering mountains that have stood for thousands of years or walking among ruins that once was home to civilizations that have been long gone, it really puts everything into perspective. That jolt of perspective is always a catalyst for change, in my experience!
What has been your favorite travel memory thus far?
Ahhh, tough one! It would have to be a tie between snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef, cruising through the Whitsunday Islands to reach the best beach in Australia or spending two months in the USA with my boyfriend.
What are the top two places that you haven’t been to yet but would still like to visit and why?
South America and Africa. Very broad, I know! Both of these continents are overflowing with outstanding natural beauty and are homes many vibrant cultures that are so different from the one I grew up in, so I think travelling to both of these destinations would be a mind-boggling experience.
Do you have any go-to tips for budget travel?
Don’t believe anything is a good deal, just because a company tells you it is. Do your math.
Dropping into a supermarket or market for fresh fruit and snacks keeps your waistline and wallet happier than if you’re always trying to find the cheapest meal at a restaurant.
Plan ahead! Airlines are not going to drop seat prices at the very last minute.
What is always in your travel bag?
Water bottle, camera, iron tablets – I can forget to eat enough if I’m getting swept up in a new place, so a little extra iron or multivitamins never goes astray, and a scarf – useful for sudden weather changes, for modesty in sacred spaces and also as a makeshift towel or sarong, if need be. I’ve got a longer list for long haul flights over on the blog.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Either living overseas, or having just returned from living overseas. Moving is such a great way to build more travel into your life – even just moving to a new city often means you’ve got a host of new day trips and weekenders, not to mention a brand new city to explore. There are so many great day trips from major cities that you’d never bother to make if you lived out of town, so I love moving for all the new mini breaks you get!