Quick Note: For those who are new to the site, every Saturday I interview a traditional travel blogger. From time to time there may be a points & miles blogger mixed in, but even they will be talking mostly about travel. The idea is to talk about travel with the experts who live & write about it everyday. Enjoy!
Ivan Henares is a professor and Filipino travel blogger who lives in Manila. I met him while traveling in India and was immediately impressed with his interest in the local culture. He often went out of his way to find relevant information to bolster his understanding of what we were seeing and doing.
Ivan has a wealth of knowledge and information and is always willing to share it with others. I hope you enjoy the interview and I highly suggest checking out his blog, Ivan About Town, where Ivan shares photos & stories from his travels. On to the interview!
1. How long have you been writing/blogging about travel and why did you start?
Ivan About Town went online in April 2005, so this is my ninth year of blogging. I started the blog because I enjoy sharing stories of my trips with friends.
2. What was your first memorable travel experience/trip?
The trip that got me in high gear was an island-hopping journey around the Visayas in the Philippines which has some of the best beaches and diving sites in the world.
Great beaches in Central Philippines can be found on the islands of Boracay, Panglao, Cebu, Bantayan and Siquijor, among others.
3. Can you tell me what makes your blog unique?
The blog has an obvious bias towards culture. So if you like old architecture, food and festivals, you’ll find them in the blog.
4. What is your absolute favorite place in the world and why?
How does one answer that question? Every place has its strong points. But I will always consider the Philippines my favorite because “It’s more fun in the Philippines!”
The country is best known for white sand beaches, coral reefs teeming with biodiversity, the rice terraces, colorful festivals, charming colonial towns, great food, and fun people who always smile at visitors. Plus almost everyone speaks English! It’s my absolute favorite because I call it home.
5. Can you share a useful travel tip with my readers? Something that you have learned through your own travel experiences.
Here’s a tip about tips. Tips can be helpful and can save you a lot of time and money. But always make your own plans. The experience is better when it’s tailor-made for your own interests and preferences.
6. What inspires you?
Seeing, tasting, hearing or experiencing something new and different are always inspirations.
7. What is your overall favorite travel experience and why?
Driving around Europe and exploring South America by bus are on top of my list. With a rented car, I got to see a lot of places around Europe that are not easily accessible by public transport.
In South America, that involved a lot of 24-hour bus rides! In both trips, experiencing the local culture and heritage was unforgettable!
8. Why do you continue to travel?
I want to see as much of the world as I can in my lifetime. That keeps me going.
9. Backpack or suitcase and why?
It depends where I’m going and what I plan to bring home. I like taking home souvenirs that showcase the local culture. So I often bring a suitcase with me.
10. Do you have anything else to share with my readers?
As long as you are not breaking any rules or cultural norms, don’t let others force their manner of travel on you. There are so many ways to see the world. One is never better than the other.
Don’t believe people when they say there’s a difference between a tourist and a traveler. We all are tourists and travelers. What is important is you are exploring on your own terms, the way you want it.
I want to thank Ivan for participating in this interview series. Please read his amazing blog as he truly takes pride in sharing his wealth of knowledge. You won’t regret it.
There is one thing I want to note before going. This is the last of the interviews with the old shorter questions. I tweaked the questions in order to hopefully get more in depth answers. You can see the new questions in last week’s interview with Stefania van Lieshout. Have a great weekend!