Dylan, you were born in Hong Kong, went to boarding school in Scarborough and your parents moved to New Zealand…has that played a big part in nurturing your love of travel?
When I first moved to Scarborough, it was loathing rather than affection that I had for travel. Between argument-infested family holidays and the lengthy commute to Hong Kong – and, later, New Zealand – I couldn’t pick a lesser of two evils. Travelling for me, back then, was the numbing repetition of familiar sights, visits to the same airport terminals and dull routines.
But, as I matured and my perspectives broadened, I began yielding to my curiosity – I was especially curious about the places surrounding the route I regularly travel on, the things I had always overlooked and neglected. Having bases in three different parts of the world does open up a whole new dimension of viable travel options – and as I spend more time in each of them, my travel appetite can only expand.
When did you take your first backpacking trip abroad and where was it to?
Funny enough, my first true backpacking trip took place abroad and on my home turf: once relieved of the A Levels results day I donned my rucksack and cruised around the North Island of New Zealand. Those were the days of reckoning as I experienced, for the first time, solo travelling and living the life of a vagabond.
This trip influenced me so much that I went on to become the travel editor of the student newspaper at my university – and become increasingly ambitious with my travel aspirations.
What motivates you to travel?
I know the whole point of serendipity is that you don’t actively seek it – but surely you can facilitate chance encounters and unexpected fortunes by getting out of your house more often? I really enjoy writing and telling travel stories, especially those that shed optimism and kindness – knowing something serendipitous will always happen just around the corner keeps me motivated.
My palates also have an immense amount of influence on where and how I travel. The aromas of food will grip me and lead me to eateries faster than I can consult a map – and nothing quite sets my mood than a good plate of deliciousness.
You seem to be a big fan of hitchhiking, what do you love about it and where have you hitchhiked to?
There are tonnes of things I’ve got out of hitchhiking; it’s an education in its own right. Baring witness to the sheer hospitality of people who assisted me along my journeys – be it giving me a ride or helping me getting one – really does warm my heart, and reassert my belief that human kindness exists in this day and age. Random encounters on my travels are also what I’m after: it’s fascinating that, despite the different destinations and point of origin, I cross paths with individuals entirely of serendipity’s design. Brief may our time together be, we automatically become fleeting confidants.
Not to mention the bonus points on the coolness factor.
Can you remember a pivotal moment that triggered you to set up The Travelling Editor and what was the inspiration behind the name?
Snow, little German town, roast rabbit and a Christmas tree – those are the images I associate with the conception of The Travelling Editor. I had a fairly difficult couple of months towards the end of 2009 and needed a distraction – or two in this case, being travel and blogging. I’d already been blogging from my first blog and writing for my newspaper, but I decided to expand on what I’d already established and set up my self-hosted website, which I did over my visit to my German friends and launched in January 2010.
I’d come up with @TravelingEditor as my user name when I registered on Twitter in the summer of 2009 – it seemed logical for me to stick with that name for my newly-founded blog. I figured the ‘editor’, in this context, doesn’t imply editor in the editorial sense – but more like a moderator, a curator, of one’s life. I really believed – and still do – that travelling is the greatest enhancer of one’s life; so why not constantly ‘edit’ your life as you travel?
You’re currently at university. Do you find it difficult to balance travel blogging with your studies?
I certainly do. Although studying a course that is journalism meant what I do degree- and blogging-wise are similar in nature, my entire workload combined calls for some hardcore time management skills – especially when the commute to and from Kingston, where my university is, takes up over two hours of precious time.
And there’s so much time I can take off my studies to travel before I get the slapstick from my lecturers. Having said that, I tend to plan trips for weekends, semester breaks and long holidays – the sort of periods when students can realistically go travelling.
Do you hope to travel and blog full-time after university or do you have something else in mind?
Definitely! Or at least for a short while before pursuing a full-time career in travel journalism, which should allow me to travel for work and work for travel.
I like to see travel blogging as a form of entrepreneurship – indeed, a lot of travel bloggers, many of whom I admire greatly, are coming up with innovative business ideas and building them on top of their websites. In January I’ll be launching an online travel magazine called Student Travelog, which is essentially an extension of what I do at The Travelling Editor: earning some revenue to fuel my travels whilst working in a field I’m utterly passionate about.
Do you have any travel goals for next year?
As much as I prefer to leave my plans open for spontaneous travels, my schedule seems to be packed with trip ideas! I’ll be spending the first three months taking short trips to various locations in Europe. In April I’ll be flying back to New Zealand via Hong Kong. The summer will be spent traversing North America before I settled down in London to watch the world converge in my home city for the Olympics.
I’ve certainly set my eyes on exploring Europe more, since it’s only a short hop away from London. And who knows where else fate will be delivering me to in the second half of 2012?