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Todays interesting interview is with travel bloggers Agness and Cez of eTramping. Two adventurous tramps and best friends from Poland. They call themselves tramps, because they live without a permanent home and for under 25 bucks a day, since 2011. I really like their website and visit it regularly to get tips for living cheap in Thailand and reading all the great articles on there.
Agness is a Polish vagabond who, after graduation, left her comfort zone and set off for a journey of her lifetime to China in 2011. She has been constantly travelling the world since then (slowly, but surely as she says), living like a local for less than $25 a day. She became a passionate photographer and adventure blogger sharing her life enthusiasm and travel experience with everyone around.
Cez is now a happy world traveler with a host of experiences and limitless energy to gather more. After leaving his comfort zone in 2011 he joined Agness – his best friend; together they have a mission to discover all amazing places on this planet.
While travelling the world, they find the time to write about it, share the tricks to do it cheaply and even help other people do the same.
So how long have you been traveling?
I started my first adventure in August 2011 when I went to China and Cez has joined me 6 months later, heading to Vietnam first for two weeks.
When did you decide to start a travel blog and why?
In 2011, when I was in China and Cez was still in the UK, we decided to combine our ideas of setting up our own website and blog, in order to inspire others to travel and prove that travelling does not have to be that expensive as everyone thinks it is.
After hours of a proper brainstorm, we split the responsibilities between each other and slowly, but surely, started building eTramping.com that we are so proud of at the moment.
Did you work on your travels or save lots of money before you left?
We always work on our travels. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to afford it. So far, we were English teachers in China, web designers and social media advisers in Cambodia. No pain, no gain! Unfortunately, we were not born rich.
Have you worked as a freelancer with sites like Elance?
Cez works as a freelancer helping others build and manage their own wordpress blogs and websites, but never through Elance. He has his own site for this – bloginstallations.com.
What is your goal with your blog and online pursuits?
To share travel tips with those who visit our blog and plan to travel the world on a small budget, and inspire people to leave their comfort zones and start collecting moments, not things.
What inspired you to travel?
Travel magazines and travel TV channels I was watching since I was a little girl. At that time it was only a dream, now it is my life I am living to the fullest.
What are your favorite travel books?
“Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer. It tells a wonderful story of a guy who after his graduation abandons his possessions, gives his entire $24,000 savings account to charity and hitchhikes to Alaska to live in the wilderness. I would recommend this book to everyone who is looking for a travel inspiration.
What are your favorite travel movies?
“Into the Wild” directed by Sean Penn.
Music when on the road?
I really enjoy the songs of Eddie Vedder. They are very inspirational and chilled out. I don’t mind listening to pop music either, everything catchy and energetic will do for me really.
Have you ever been arrested abroad?
Ever had to bribe a cop?
In Cambodia or Vietnam bribing a cop is something normal which happens on a regular basis. Yes, we also did it a couple of times especially at border crossings. Once we asked for business visas when entering Cambodia and we were refused to receive one. However, after paying some extra money we finally got it :). It was a matter of few dollars ($10-$15).
Do you ride motorbikes or scooters while traveling?
Yep, many times, but apart from one intance neither of us ever got into a “driver’s seat”. The only time were in control of a scooter it was in Koh Phangan, Thailand. We decided to rent a scooter for a few days to get around the island on the cheap with a bunch of people we met in Bangkok. Unluckily, Cez has crashed it and we were charged $300!
Do you ever get Deja Vu?
Nope, but I’ve seen the movie (-: .
Did teaching English help you with your writing and blogging?
Teaching English has helped us be more organised with our blog. Since we need to prepare our classes one week in advance at the kindergarten, we have learnt how to plan posts and divide work between each other when it comes to working on our travel website.
Is Asia a good place to get started when working online?
Yes, definitely. The cost of living is much cheaper than anywhere else. You can easily live on $10-$15 budget in such countries as Cambodia, the Philippines, China or Laos. You don’t worry much about the money so you can fully focus on your online work. Besides, who wouldn’t want to have an office on a stunning beach?
Did you feel like you were writing for yourself for the first few months?
At first, we were blogging just for ourselves, sometimes sharing our posts with friends and families on our personal Facebook profiles. After all the hard work and effort we put into our blog, we woke up one day and asked each other “Why not take it to the next level?” and we did!
Did you keep your blog private or tell your friends and family straight away?
We kept it secret for the first month as we wanted to surprise them with a few blog posts and nice photo galleries so we needed time to do so. After a month, when everything was ready, we made the big announcement and they were so excited for us.
Have you ever ran out of money while traveling?
Yes. The time when we seriously struggled with money was back in 2012 after 4 months of travelling in Asia. With not much cash left and limited credit cards we decided to set up our own local web design business in Siem Reap. As it turned out later on, it was a great idea and we managed to get some serious Khmer customers (mainly tuk-tuk drivers, restaurants and bars owners) , earned some cash to pay our debts and carry on tramping the rest of Asia!
Ever had a difficult situation at a border crossing?
Not yet. So far, everything went smoothly and we hope it will stay this way.
Have you met many travel bloggers on the road?
Yes. We have met a British expat and travel blogger named Sarah of Thefurtheradventuresofbennett and a Spanish travel freak Noelia of Noelimits. Both girls are incredibly adventurous and we were so happy to meet them in person.
Have you been offered a spot speaking at travel conferences?
No, never. We have never attended any travel conferences or meetings.
Do you get a stereotype thrown at you all the time?
Yes, especially in China. Most Chinese think we are rich and beautiful and they worship our pale skin and blue eyes. It is hard for them to understand that we don’t have much money and sleeping in a posh hotel is not an option. It is sometimes so irritating!
Who inspires you the most?
To be honest, there are plenty of travel role models out there. They inspire us to carry on and never give up on our dreams. Some of them are professional nomads such as Bear Grylls or a Polish adventure hunter called Beata Pawlikowska. There are also some fellow travel bloggers such as Audrey and Sam of Backpacking Travel Blog who are doing amazing job travelling the world and sharing their videos with their readers.
Which country had the strongest effect on your personality and view on life?
Definitely Tibet. We met there amazingly religious and hospitable locals who made us feel like home. Despite the enormous repressions from China, they were still smiling and greeting us. That was something incredible. After Tibet, we became more humble and optimistic.
Do you consider yourself a Budget Backpacker?
Hmmm… we follow our $25 budget plan when travelling. We carry huge backpacks with us. We are not scared of sleeping outside or eating street food. We bargain hard and we hate taxis! Yes, I think we can consider ourselves budget backpackers :), but we would prefer to be called “budget tramps“!
Ever flown First Class or Business Class?
No and we are not desperate to do it. Maybe if someone bought the tickets for us :).
Have you ever got free tours, travel, accommodation or flights?
We spent a week in Macau to apply for our working visas and the school paid for it. Apart from that, no deals made so far.
What is your favorite quote?
For me it’s “Pack lite, travel far and live long” and for Cez it’s “Impossible is nothing”!
Do you read business or success books?
No, reading others’ blogs is more than enough :).
Did you always travel alone or with a partner?
We are best friends and we mostly travel together, sometimes split up if visiting home.
Which do you prefer?
We enjoy ourselves a lot when travelling together, however sometimes you need to be left on your own to experience different feelings on your travels. Although we love to explore the world together, we don’t mind travelling solo. In this way you can meet a lot of interesting people.
You have done a lot of crazy shit, what was the scariest?
Oh yes! We are, in some way, risk takers. As they say, no risk no fun! I did many crazy things such as riding an elephant, trying to be a cobra chimer, kissed a python and played with tigers. I like adrenaline and risk taking. Some even think that cycling the full length of Vietnam is crazy – well, we did it.
(Adam – I have been looking at using a motorbike and that seems like a mission!)…
Partly. The cartoons and log was designed by a freelance graphic designer. We did the rest.
Has social media had a big effect on your blog traffic?
Social media channels are crucial for our blog traffic. Thanks to them we get new readers every day and we receive more support from fellow travel bloggers. Since people started re-tweeting us and sharing our articles and posts, the traffic is getting bigger and bigger.
Did you ever use paid advertising such as Google adwords or Facebook Ads to get traffic to your site?
We did one Facebook advertisement once to see how it works. Nothing else apart from that. We would rather spend more money on our travels than buying fake Twitter followers or Facebook likes.
What is you best marketing tip for getting likes and traffic?
Sharing is caring! You need to interact with fellow travel bloggers as much as possible showing them your support in order to get your first readers. Then, let people hear about you by building links and connections with them. Write some guest posts for other travel websites, leave some comments and keep being active in travel community. Get involved in some discussions, sign up for community circles you like and focus on the content of your posts. That’s it. It takes a lot of time and effort, but it’s absolutely worth it!
Will you ever utilize Internet Marketing – write an eBook?
We have already written an eBook on travelling, teaching and living in China. Together with Sarah I have mentioned before, we successfully finished our first professional piece of writing which will be published shortly on Amazon.
What pisses you off most about living a life of travel?
That some foreign travelers do not show any respect to local communities when travelling. We have witnessed ignorant behaviours of some backpackers towards locals in Thailand or Vietnam. They get drunk and leave rubbish at temples and never watch their mouth when speaking. That is so awful!
Egypt, China, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Macau, Tibet, Hong Kong, Cambodia and plenty of European countries from Italy, France to Holland and Norway.
Ever lost you passport or had it stolen?
Do you ever miss home?
Of course we do! There are moments like Christmas and Easter when we wish we were back home enjoying the time with our loved ones.
What is next for you?
You can follow their adventures on their blog or through Social Media…