Renee King is the author of aviewtoathrill.net, one of the most inspiring travel blogs that I follow. She says she’s always been inquisitive about the world—ever since she found the atlas at the back of her Funk & Wagnalls encyclopedia when she was a child. She dreamed big and wanted to travel far. Perhaps she was influenced by the explorers of centuries past who ventured to the same faraway places that she, too, had dreamed of? Through her writing, Renee hopes to encourage others to discover the world for themselves and shows us how limited budgets don’t necessarily mean limited travel opportunities.
I recently had the opportunity to ask Renee a few questions about her experiences as a traveler and blogger.
Michael Figueiredo: Why did you decide to start a travel blog in the first place, Renee?
Renee King: Initially, my blog was merely a recording of my favorite travel destinations. It was never meant to go beyond that. At most, I hoped family members would read it and be encouraged to travel themselves. When I began to realize that so many people (family included) didn’t believe that people who weren’t rich could travel, I started to get serious about it and decided to focus on budget traveling.
MF: What’s your favorite place that you’ve visited so far?
RK: Prague! There’s something special about tracing the steps of people who lived centuries ago. There’s such an air of mystery and intrigue that goes well beyond the pages of history books. While I have visited other cities equally as ancient, Prague spoke to me in a way that resonated with me completely.
MF: I’d definitely have to agree with you there. Prague is truly spectacular! So, what would you say are the top three things on your “bucket list”?
RK: As far as travel is concerned? I’d have to say visiting China/Asia in general, Ireland and Kenya.
MF: Name a book or movie that has inspired you to travel.
RK: Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes. While I enjoyed the plot because it celebrated stepping out on faith and following your heart, I was won over by the poetic landscape that spoke volumes to my soul. It made me fall in love with the vibrant earth tones that dominated that part of the world. It made me want to see what other beautiful things I had been missing that I had to acquaint myself with. But undoubtedly, the romance won me over as well.
MF: What was your first experience with traveling? Were you immediately hooked or did you discover your passion for travel later in life?
RK: Daydreams were the precursor to my traveling to places that I truly wanted to see. I’d gone on family vacations, but it was never any place I chose, but I made the best of it. Those dreams were fueled by Mrs. Coar, my 7th grade Geography teacher whose lyrical prose described the beauty of the planet that I barely knew. Her enthusiasm affected me so deeply and she was the first to make me believe that I could do more than run my fingers across the raised edges of continents plotted out on the globe. She made me understand that I had the power to physically run across those continents and I endeavor to do just that.
MF: Wow–beautifully put! So, what would you say is the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done or place you’ve ever been?
RK: Ok, it’s out now. I’m a bore. I can’t say that I’ve done anything that could remotely be considered adventurous. When I travel, I’m drawn to museums, gardens, concerts and live performances. I’m more of a spectator that way.
MF: If you were to show an out-of-towner around your home city, where would you take him/her?
RK: Probably Dahlonega, which is about an hour from my house. I would take them to visit one of Georgia’s three wineries. It would be something different and we can pretend we’re in Sonoma!
MF: What do you always take with you on your trips? Do you have anything you can’t live without?
RK: My iPod touch, as few clothes as possible and a sturdy piece of luggage to throw them in. I’m not really high maintenance, I’m very casual. I don’t care about having a cell phone or computer as long as there is a payphone (shockingly, they do still exist) nearby or someone else with a phone (actually it’s very rare that I use a phone while traveling) and an internet cafe…I’m fine.
MF: Since your motto is “Sample the World at a Fraction of the Price,” what would be your best advice about traveling on a budget?
RK: Give Priceline a try. Most people don’t attempt to use it because they just don’t understand how it works or what great deals that can be had. I’ve written a primer to help the Priceline phobics to give it a shot.
MF: Great advice! I’ve saved lots with Priceline too. Have you planned any trips for 2011? If so, where are you going and why did you choose this place?
RK: If everything works out as planned, we will be taking our first trip to Asia…China, specifically. I wanted to mix it up a little since we usually end up in either North America or Europe. I needed a change and I’ve been rather curious about that bullet train.
MF: And finally, what advice would you give to first-time travelers?
RK: Do enough research on your dream destination so that you will be confident about what to expect and do on your trip, but not so much that you become bogged down in minutia. With every experience you will learn something new and invariably you will mess something up, so learn from those mistakes and move on.
MF: Thanks again for your time, Renee!