This interview series feature interviews with travel bloggers and writers. If you are a travel blogger and a writer and have something to share with and say to your readers, please get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you!
In this interview series, let us meet another travel blogger, Derek Cullen, from No Hanging Around. Derek is a long-term traveler and blogger from Ireland. He has been lived in Chiang Mai for a while and is currently in Cambodia. He will return to Africa and lead another six-month tour. I am always inspired by his stories and his perseverance in pursuing his passion. Today, I thought I would share with you his story and life as a travel blogger.
Welcome Derek! Tell me about yourself, your blog, and your coming adventure.
My name is Derek Cullen and I am a travel blogger from Ireland. I actually started this travel blog by accident in late 2013. At the time my life was pretty much falling apart and I had made a decision to change course. It may have been a little extreme but I decided to face up to my acute anxiety issues and depression by riding a bicycle alone across Africa.
It was also during this time that I began writing, unaware that people were actually reading and completely oblivious to how much interest it was generating. I was writing about my anxieties at the time, my sadness having lost both parents to cancer and the many mistakes I had made in the past. It is for this reason my travel blog is still synonymous with mental health issues just as much as any travel related topics.
Having finished the bicycle ride, I found it impossible to go back to any sort of conventional lifestyle and I ended up taking back to the uncertain nature of life on the road. At the moment I am building a travel content business as I make my way around Southeast Asia but I also now work as an Adventure tour leader in Africa for six months each year.
As a travel blogger and oftentimes on the road, what is your blogging routine looks like?
I don’t stop to be honest. When I began trying to make money from this line of work, I was making $20 per week. Naturally this was not sustainable but it has served to keep me motivated in recent times despite my online income growing considerably. It was through sheer stubbornness that I made it this far and I am not willing to go back to conventional life anytime soon, hence I am happy to work morning, day and night.
In more simple terms, I get up around 6am and start writing. I get to eat well, sleep well, see interesting things every now and again and not have a boss. As far as I’m concerned – it’s worth it.
Given the perceptions that travel blogging is one of the best jobs in the world, what do you think?
It seems as though people have the wrong perception because travel bloggers give them one. I’m not a fan of posting wanderlust inducing photographs without there being some kind of value in it for the reader. In this same way, I just feel that not enough bloggers take time to ask themselves “What can my readers take from this?” and wind up sounding pretty stupid.
This is actually one of the reasons I began my daily VLOG recently. I wanted to show people the actual reality of being a solo travel blogger. The mental strain or loneliness that comes with being away for prolonged periods and the amount of dedication it takes to stay in this game long enough to succeed.
That said, writing about travel is not such a bad thing to be doing and it is certainly the easiest way I know to follow my passion (travel).
What is your favorite place to share with your readers?
Thing is, I don’t really write all that much about travel. Most of my articles or VLOGS are based on self-exploration and improvement. Travel changed my life. It helped me overcome some crippling anxieties, depression and disillusionment. In this sense, I love to write about the personal changes a person can find through the simple process of going somewhere new, even if it is just to climb a nearby hillside some Saturday afternoon.
What is the biggest pet peeve of yours?
I just don’t have any time for people who whine or think the world is against them. There is too much negativity in the world and crying about it doesn’t get you anywhere. I allowed myself to feel like a victim just after my parents died and it got me nowhere while also destroying any chance I had of being happy at the time.
If there is one piece of advice you would like to give fellow traveler bloggers, what would that be?
Stop doing what everybody else is doing. I don’t mean to come across as being too harsh but the world has enough travel bloggers talking about “places to see and things to do”. That being said, I think we all know that 90% of bloggers fail because they give up – don’t be one of them.
If you would live anywhere in this world now, aside from your homeland, Africa and Thailand, where would you choose to live?
This is a super difficult question but maybe Iceland or Scotland next to the ocean. I love being next to the ocean or near mountains and the thought of sitting in a warm cabin after a day spent trekking sounds just dreamy to me !
I always amazed by the seascapes and mountains on the Scottish highlands. It is surely a lovely place to explore. What is your fondest memory of backpacking Africa?
My fondest memory was seeing how much I changed as a person while cycling across Africa. It took one year and to overcome that level of anxiety in Africa was a very profound experience. In many ways this was down to the local people. I was able to disprove many stereotypes on that journey and found nothing but caring people the whole way from Cape Town to Cairo.
Travel gives us opportunities to know the world the better. Now you are about to leave Thailand. Tell us one thing about Thailand you will miss the most.
Chiang Mai. It was such a nice and relaxed place to wake up. Good food, friendly people and great weather
I plan to visit Thailand on my way back to China this summer, and I will definitely visit Chiang Mai. Is there any travelers/ travel bloggers you would like to meet in person?
There are very few who come to mind and I really don’t want to make anything up just for the sake of answering. Although Jamie from Great Big Scary World was good to me when I started out blogging and I love his attitude in general. We could do an outdoor adventure together sometime for sure. Yep, Jamie it is.
Thanks Derek for the interview. Enjoy your travels in Asia and Africa!