Meet the Travel Bloggers: Savoir Faire Abroad

The week Meet the Travel Bloggers catches up with girl on the go, travel blogger Pamela MacNaughtan. She has recently rebranded  her  blog, Spunky Girl Monologues. It’s now Savoir Faire Abroad. Read below to find out why.

When, why and how did you start your travel blog?
I started my blog in October 2009. At the time my grandmother was in the hospital, and my Mom and I were spending every day by her bedside, wondering when we’d have to make her funeral arrangements. It was an incredibly stressful time, and I started the blog as a way to escape that stress. Two months after starting the blog my grandmother passed away, and in January 2010 I started focusing on travel.

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At the Charles Bridge in Prague, photo/Spunky Girl Monologues

How did you get the name Spunky Girl Monologues and what does the name mean to you?
I get different reactions from people when I tell them the name of my blog. Some think it’s a sexual play on words; others want to know what it has to do with travel. I think of ‘spunky’ as meaning quirky, fun, full of zest. I have a spunky personality at times, and that is the voice I’m using on the blog.

You have just renamed your blog Savoir Faire Abroad. What catalyzed that decision?
Over the past two and half years I’ve been travelling through Asia, visiting countries like Thailand, China, Mongolia, Malaysia, and Sri Lanka. I’ve travelled in Europe, and drove from Prague to Ashgabat as part of the Mongol Rally. And I’ve survived my brother’s wedding in Cuba which involved being at a resort for a week with 46 family and friends.

Once a hardcore backpacker, I was always looking for the cheapest options available and sleeping airports when I ran out of money. In the last two years I’ve grown as a traveller and as a person, and where the cheapest was fine, I now enjoy a little luxury on the road (and frankly, I think I’ve earned the right to treat myself to a boutique hotel stay, massage, or a meal at a nice restaurant).

Savoir Faire Abroad will reflects how I’ve grown as a traveller and concentrates on bespoke travel experiences, savvy cultural travel, and a touch of luxe (luxury) every now and then.

So you travel full or part-time?
Hmmm… can I say in between? I quit my ‘day job’ in July 2010, and I haven’t gone back since. I travel most of the year, and spend a few months with my family in Canada (which is where I am right now). I’ve held a couple of short term jobs to add funds for travel, but I haven’t stayed longer than 3 months. Travel is my life now.

What is the thing that keeps you the most jazzed about blogging?
Blogging is hard. I struggled most of this year with blogging. I was so worried about stats and numbers (things that brands and sponsors care about) that I lost my love for blogging. I recently started an article series on the blog called Lessons from a Commitment Phobic Escape Artist. I started the series by talking about when I was working in retail management and my boss was using Jedi mind tricks to suck out my soul. I then moved into talking about job stress. The response from my readers was fabulous, and inspired me to continue with the series; which has in turn renewed my love for blogging and travel.

The series is now focused on inspiring those who want to quit their job and travel the world, and includes posts on tips for saving money, and how to create a budget and use it for saving money.

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At Dune 45 in Namibia, photo/Pamela MacNaughtan

Do you mostly travel solo?
Yes. I am a girl who loves her privacy (shocking considering the fact that I blog) and her quiet time. I like that I can make decisions on what I want to do, and where I want to go, without having to make sacrifices. It sounds selfish, I know. This summer I was forced to give-up visiting a couple European cities because my travel partner had already been, or didn’t feel like going out of the way. I still regret not being able to go, and I am now trying to figure out how to get there in the future.

What excites you about travel?
Travel gives one the opportunity to see the world in a different light. It’s a chance to discover the story for oneself, instead of relying solely on the opinions of traditional media. I love that I can wake up at dawn if I choose, and wander the empty streets of a new place. I love that I can challenge myself. I love that I can leave behind the stress and worries of life, and be the person I want to be.

You seem to often go out of your comfort zone. Why do you constantly test this?
I’m a bit of a conundrum. I’m an introvert at heart, but when I travel I become more of an extrovert, and I try things just for the sake of trying them. Part of it has to do with ‘friends’ telling me I can’t do something because of my physical shape, which gets my stubborn streak going. Going out of my comfort zone has given me a greater appreciation for the world around me. I’ve challenged the norm so much that even the crazy things feel normal to me, so it’s hard for me to define what is too far out of my comfort zone. I think traveling with someone else would be the most out of my comfort zone, and I still struggle with it.

What is the oddest thing you’ve done on the road?
I’ve done a few odd things. I think visiting a working brothel outside Reno, Nevada or checking out the prostitute graveyard in Virginia City. I’m attracted to odd things, and I will look for them in each city I visit. Personally, I’m excited about visiting a bakery in Bangkok that makes body parts out of bread! Sounds incredibly gruesome but odd and interesting at the same time.

What kind of traveler are you? Luxury, bargain, backpacking, a mix?
I mix, depending on my feelings at the time. When I went to Sri Lanka I was completely stressed out and needed a break. I had booked budget backpacking, but the shock of being in Colombo and the mood I was in conspired against me, and I quickly switched to more luxurious accommodations; which calmed me down considerably and allowed me to relax and enjoy myself. In Thailand, China, Mongolia, and most countries, I generally stay in hostels. I try to keep things cheap, but throw in some luxury here and there.

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Waiting to get on the train in Zamyn Üude, Mongolia photo/ courtesy Spunky Girl Monologues

What’s your most memorable travel experience or favorite trip ever?
One of the most memorable experiences was traveling from Beijing to Ulan Bator by bus, and then car share. It was the craziest sleeper bus I’ve ever been on. Parcels, bags, and boxes were stacked so high in the aisles that I hard to crawl on top of them to get out of the bus. When I reached the border town I relied on locals (who didn’t speak English) to find space for me in vehicles that were crossing the border into Mongolia, then spent half an hour with my arse hovering over a gear shift. It’s an experience that still makes me laugh, and one that I would actually consider repeating in the future.

What’s your favorite place on earth?
Thailand. It’s cheap. I have expat and local friends there. The food is delicious. The temples and ruins are gorgeous. Life in Thailand makes me smile. I never tire of wandering empty streets, exploring temples, or buying food in outdoor markets. It’s become a second home for me.

Where are you off to next?
I’m returning to Thailand. I’ll be renting an apartment in Chiang Mai, and doing some traveling in China, Mongolia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Brunei, and more!

travel bloggers

Sitting in a mokoro in the Okavango Delta, Botswana, photo/Spunky Girl Monologues

What’s the biggest fantasy on your bucket list?
Antarctica. I have this ridiculous fear about being on a boat for more than 3 days at a time. I really want to challenge that fear, plus, it’s Antarctica! There is something special about being surrounded by icebergs, deep blue water, and ocean life. It’s something I am desperate to experience. Hell, I’d volunteer on one of the ships if it meant I could go there at least once!

Is there anything we haven’t asked that you feel you’d like to share about your travels or your blog?
Hard to say. I’m currently planning to move to Thailand and become an expat, so I’ve kind of gone back to the beginning in a sense. I’m writing more posts about saving for travel, getting rid of my things, how to make the transfer from traveller to expat. It’s something that has me pretty excited, and I’m praying it doesn’t bore the hell out of my readers!

Pamela MacNaughtan calls herself “Writer. Blogger. Solo Traveler. Photographer. Troublemaker. Bacon-addict.”  In 2010 Pamela left her retail management career to pursue her dream of traveling long term, and hasn’t looked back since. She is attracted to strange, odd, unique, or crazy experiences. Pamela has toured working brothels, and driven from Prague, Czech Republic to Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. When she’s is not writing for Travel and Escape, you can find her adventures on her blog Savoir Faire Abroad. You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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