Seth Freedman: Thank you for tuning in to The Best Travel Podcast brought to you by Driftr and hosted by me, Seth Freedman. We’ll be interviewing some of your favorite travel bloggers and influencers, getting you the real scoop, the dirt, and all the things you really want to know. The true stories told by the storytellers themselves. For the traveler, by the traveler. Let’s get into it. Today we have Suze from Luxury Columnist with us from England. We really appreciate you being on the show. I want to kind of jump into this. Can you tell us what originally got you interested in travel? What was it that started you off?
Suze: Yeah. Actually, I used to travel a bit with my parents. We went to France when I was a child. We went to Normandy and Brittany and I remember feeling a bit challenged that I couldn’t speak the language. It made me want to learn to be able to communicate with people who thought a different way about things, people who spoke a different way. I found that fascinating.
SF: What’s the first trip you took that sticks out in your mind?
Suze: Definitely the trips to France. There was a particular one in Normandy where there was a bit of a language thing. I think my mom misunderstood something about sweet chips, or crisps, as you might call them….potato fries. Anyway in the end, she ended up ordering like, loads of them by mistake. We had to sort of give them out to everybody in the restaurant which was fun. But it just makes you want to speak the language more. So that’s when I learned French and acting. I’ve been enjoying trying to learn a bit of languages and have been traveling ever since.
SF: What languages do you know?
Suze: I know a bit of Spanish, a bit of Italian, and a bit of German. I also know quite a bit of Russian but I mean, the only ones I’m really fluent in is English and French, but that gets you to quite a few places.
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SF: Absolutely. So would ‘luxury traveler’ be the type of traveler you consider yourself?
Suze: You might think that, but actually before I was writing about luxury, I’d go travel under any circumstances as long as it was a clean room with no bed bugs or anything like that. I think I tend to focus more on the hidden gems and the unique experiences and that doesn’t always mean luxury. It could be just a really nice little bed and breakfast staying with the locals where they’ll tell you the best place to see the sunset. That is a form of luxury but it’s affordable to everybody.
SF: When traveling, there are always the ups and downs. I know the American media is really quick to point out all the issues overseas and the horrors. “Don’t do this and don’t do that.” What has been your experience traveling?
Suze: I’ve been really lucky. I feel like I’ve got a guardian angel sometimes watching over me. I went to South Africa a long time ago and I found out afterwards when I was back home that the French Olympic team all got beat up including an 83-year-old coach. And there I was, walking back on my own in the pitch black and I was fine. There were a few other incidents like that. A local family actually stopped their car outside my hotel because the area I thought was safe they said wasn’t. So I’ve been very lucky. There was one other thing but it wasn’t to do with people. It was in Tanzania. I was really lucky to go on a safari. When you’re in the tram, elephants normally stay fairly away but they love some sort of trees….you know, they love the leaves on the trees. At one point, I was walking along and my partner said, “Watch out, watch out!” I just thought there must be a snake on the ground so I was looking down and he said, “No, look up!” and there was an elephant sort of coming right at me, ready to charge.
SF: What did you do?
Suze: I said, “Let’s not run.” I said that we should slowly walk backwards the way we came. It didn’t get too much further and then the people who were in the camp sort of got it to move back. They’re quite skilled at communicating with the elephants. I mean, it does happen sometimes….they come into the camp. Even though elephants are lovely creatures, they can be a bit dangerous if they feel under threat.
SF: When they’re looked directly in the eyes, right?
Suze: Yeah, I didn’t I didn’t look in the eyes too closely.
SF: Wow, what an experience. That’s pretty amazing. You know, with all the bad experiences, there’s also a lot of good experiences. What’s an experience that really sticks out in your mind, something that you’ll remember forever? Something that’s amazing to you?
Suze: Definitely that safari in Tanzania. The people were just lovely as well. But recently we went to Jamaica on a trip that was booked by the tourist board. I got to climb up a waterfall. You might say it was just a few steps up, but actually it was really quiet hard. You couldn’t do it without a guide. You have somebody actually taking you up because it’s that slippery and you have these water shoes on your feet. That was pretty amazing. I actually did some zip wiring there as well. It is a great place for doing an adventure holiday.
SF: Have you done a lot of adventure holidays?
Suze: I try and work an element of that in because if there’s one thing I can’t stand it’s just staying on the beach all day because I just get sunburned and put a lot of weight on. There’s just so much to go and see.
SF: I’m sure you meet a lot of people along the way. Can you tell us about an experience with somebody? Let me back up. Do you have a significant other right now?
SF: Okay. Did you meet him on the road?
Suze: I met him in London, actually. He’s half Swiss and half Polish so he he can speak a few languages which always comes in handy.
SF: And you travel together, I would imagine?
Suze: A lot of the time we do but on my upcoming trips, no. Sometimes we both get asked to come along because he helps with the blog. He does some of the photos and he does a lot of Google Maps reviews as well. Sometimes I go on my own but it’s good mix of both. Before I met him, there were a lot of times I traveled on my own and you can cram a lot in when you’re alone.
SF: When you’re traveling, money is obviously another big thing. How do you save money? Do you have a job? So you work full-time? How do you make money and how do you travel?
Suze: This is now my full-time job, but that came about after a lot of years of working two jobs at once, staying up very late at night working on a blog, making contacts, improving my photography, and so on. So I get paid to travel sometimes which is amazing, but not always.
SF: What do you do to save money then if you’re not always getting paid?
Suze: Firstly, I’d say to pre-book your currency because you can save so much money compared to picking up in the local country. You can check online to see which rates are the best. That’s very worthwhile. Then I’d say to sign up for local sites that offer restaurant and theater deals and things like that. You can look for those online. They might be website or apps. For example, when we went to Miami, we had some really good Miami restaurant deals that were recently endorsed in the UK. Lastly, you can contact hotels to see if you can get a better rate. Quite often they’ll be grateful that you’ve booked directly with them and they’ll give you an upgraded room without you even asking. It’s worth trying.
SF: Great. Obviously, people are always contacting you. I’m sure people hit you up on your social media a lot. What kind of advice would you give people that are trying to do what you do? Is there some piece of advice that you tend to give?
Suze: I just say to try and find your uniqueness. What makes you special? It might be something that you like to write about and it could be really unusual. I met one girl who liked to write about cemeteries. It could be sharing the most Instagram places wherever you go and just how you see things differently from everyone else.
SF: What sources do you use? Obviously once Driftr’s out you’ll be able to use Driftr. But until then, what sources do you use?
Suze: I use all the travel blogs, to be honest. Before I had a blog myself, I didn’t realize that half the sites I was going onto were blogs. It’s a community out there. The other thing I use is Facebook groups. Some of them are open to the general public, not just bloggers. You can reach out say you’re traveling to someplace and ask for tips. That’s pretty handy. It’s a good community. There’s a website called Wonderground, which is spelled with a W. It’s a weather site that gives you forecasts for about five days ahead. That’s quite handy. Also, Seatguru will tell you what the best seats are on planes. Obviously things like Skyscanner, booking.com, TripAdvisor….all of those are good for getting the best deals.
SF: Great. This is a pretty broad question, but I like asking it. What is your biggest success?
Suze: Perhaps going and living abroad. I lived in France for about 11 years. That was quite an achievement because I had to learn the language completely. People have a different way of doing things and you have to be quite patient with some things. That was a good challenge. Also setting up a blog, of course, because I’ve had to learn so many different skills in terms of photography, social media, and marketing.
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SF: I mean, 11 years in another country is quite a thing.
Suze: Well, my parents always used to say that I was more French than British….54 percent French. I suppose to live in another country, you have to adapt.
SF: Tell something to the people that are listening that they might not know from reading your blog or going on your social media, or something just truly unique or different about you, or just a habit that you think is fun.
Suze: I’m ambidextrous, so that means I can write to with both hands. I mean, I have to practice on my right hand, but I can actually write with both.
SF: I want to thank you so much for being on our show today. Suze, you’ve been a great guest. You’ve lived in a lot of places and traveled a lot and spent 11 years in France. You can check out Suze on her Instagram @luxurycolumist or luxurycolumnist.com
Suze: It’s my pleasure. Thanks for having me.
SF: Thanks for tuning into another episode of The Best Travel Podcast. If you know anyone who passionate about travel, subscribe, rate, and share this podcast. bBy sharing you can inspire others to discover the world because let’s be honest: aside from friends and family, that’s what’s important. I want to thank Street Joy for providing the music for this podcast. Please check them out on Facebook or on Soundcloud. This is Seth Freedman. See you next time.
To listen to the full podcast interview click here.