I love reading other travel blogs, in particular their About pages. These pages tell us a little bit about them, but sometimes not enough, or maybe that is just a strategy to hop over to their blog to get to know them better, which is not dumb. But I truly love it when you get a blogger like Maria of Travel with Maria who is an enthusiastic open book. She is so friendly and delightful that you want to be her travel companion and get to know her better!
Let’s meet travel blogger Maria!
 When and how did you become a traveler?
A former co-worker introduced me to Couchsurfing.com, seven years ago. I signed up quick and found myself showing around international travellers who are in town looking for locals who will guide them while exploring different tourist destinations in the city where I live. Back then, I was already 26 and I don't even have a passport. I got so curious because I thought travel is only for rich people. Whenever I would ask them, what it's like to go to a new place they have never been, their eyes light up and tell unforgettable tales that I told myself I will follow their steps no matter what! Turned out, travel turned my world upside down. From a shy girl, I morphed into one who dreams like she is only sixteen.
2. What kind of traveler do you define yourself as?
I'm a half backpacker and half flashpacker. I prefer hostels not only because it is cheap but here I get to meet a lot of fellow backpackers whom I share the same passion. When I am wearing my blogger hat, I am able to stay at luxurious accommodations, join sponsored trips and receive free travel products from different companies. It's a great feeling to be able to experience things I couldn't afford with my own pocket.
3. What do you love most about traveling?
From the moment I step my foot in the airport, I'm already at my happiest state. I am always curious what it's like to live in another part of the world. I love to connect with locals of the places I visit. I want to know what they wear, how they look and what they eat. I want to hear how they talk using their own language even though I may not able to understand it. Also, I love to take photos as much as I love to have my photos taken in exotic locations.
4. What do you dislike about traveling?
I have read tons of articles saying travelling is not cheap but for us who live in a third-world country, it is always a struggle to travel. The value of our currency is less in other countries. As a Filipina passport holder, I can only travel to 63 countries visa-free. The fact that I am a woman, I also have this little fear in me whenever I travel alone. I think if I am a man, I would be much braver to travel even in remote areas or climbing the mountain solo. I also hate the part of planning rigorously for doing the itinerary because I don't have the luxury of time to do it. You might think it's funny but I hate to look at (Google) maps or Waze. When I am lost, I would rather ask a person rather than scrutinize a maze of roads.
5. Why should people travel?
Before, I travel because I need a vacation. It's like being away from the monotonous things we do every single day. Now, I travel to learn things and appreciate this only life we have. When I travel, I get to compare things and make good judgments.When I return home, I feel I became a much better individual. I no longer desire to spend my hard earned money to get the latest iPhone model or buy branded clothing. I save up not for material things but for me to tick off one more destination on my bucket list. This is what I want to tell to every person who has never tried the real definition of travel.
6. Who is the famous person would you like to travel with?
It would be Jeremy Jauncey of Beautiful Destinations. It's not only because he's my ultimate crush but he seemed to be so great in running a brand through the Instagram platform and doing breathtaking travel videos. I want to know from him how he became a successful entrepreneur and is one of the most-sought-after influencers in the travel industry. He has an incredible Instagram photo feed, that's also my goal now. I really want to know how he shoots his own pictures on mobile – I want to know what apps he uses to create those unreal IG posts.
7. Travel essentials – 3 things you always travel with.
Laptop + Mobile phone
Hat and a pair of sunglasses
8. If you're a foodie, what's your favorite food city?
I just came from a 23-day trip to Thailand as a volunteer in a hostel. I have no problem adjusting to its spicy meals because I came from a province in the Philippines where chilis are ingredients of everyday food we eat. As someone who eats it 3x a day, grabbing a plate of white rice in this country is surprisingly a breeze. My favorite dishes are tom yum goong (spicy shrimp soup), tom kha kai (chicken in coconut soup), and pad krapow moo saap (fried basil and pork).
Drinking the orange-colored Thai iced milk tea (cha yen) every single day was my habit while I was there.
There's no particular restaurant in Thailand that I can recommend but the place where I regularly ate is inside the food court of Terminal 21 shopping mall in Sukhumvit. The price is ridiculously cheap and there are a lot of options to choose from the many stalls that offer authentic Thai food. For 50 baht, I can have a bowl of hot spicy noodles complete with veggies and pork/beef/chicken bits.
9. What's one location on your bucket list?
Many months ago, I won this 7D6N motorbiking trip across Ladakh, India. It includes 6 nights twin-share guest house accommodation in Leh / Nubra Valley, 1 night twin-share camp accommodation at Pangong Lake, 5 days hire of 1 x Royal Enfield 500 or 350 CC motorbike with helmets and carrier, buffet breakfast and dinner for six days, airport transfers, inner line permit, red cross donation and wildlife fees. All I need to take care is my flight and a companion who can drive (with an international driving license). This package is good for two so I am now hunting for that buddy who can go on a roadtrip with me and probably shoulder some of our expenses together. It would be my first time to see a snow if ever this trip pushes through, it's a dream come true for a tropical girl like me.
10. Do you have a piece of advice for bloggers starting out?
Never get intimidated by other stellar bloggers who are already living the dream. I have met so many people who quit blogging, just because they say they're too late to do it. I also met a few who reached the top in just a short duration. For me, there are two goals in blogging: fame and happiness. If fame seems to be out of reach, then just keep on doing what makes you happy. I don't have millions of readership or followers but I always get good ex-deals and get paid big from time to time just because I don't stop networking, connecting and nurturing good relationships in the travel blogging industry.
Maria‘s Lightning Round of Favorites
Airport: Changi airport in Singapore
Mode of transportation: Train
Travel gear: Carry on backpack
Travel snack: Dark chocolates
Book: Eleven Minutes by Paulo Coelho
Movie: Crouching Tiger
Song: Stay with me by Sam Smith
How about you? What would you like to know about Maria?
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