Featured Travel Blogger: Federico Arrizabalaga
This week’s featured travel blogger is Federico Arrizabalaga of MaiTravelSite. Fede has been a world traveler since childhood and continues to explore to find places that are different and far away.
Fede, what’s your travel background?
By the age of 10 I had lived in 3 countries in two different continents and 5 cities, so I guess it was only natural that I developed a thirst to explore and learn more about our world. As a surfer I first began to explore destinations where to ride waves, and from there I moved on to explore others as well, usually as different and a far away as possible from where I was.
What’s different about your site?
I like to tell about my experiences but I also like to provide facts and information that provide value to the reader. Very soon I will be releasing a completely new version of MaiTravelSite which will be much more user friendly and provide lots of information on how to travel the world on a budget, find accommodation, choose appropriate gear, dealing with cultural differences and all aspects involved in international travel.
What’s the most unexpected thing that has ever happened to you when you traveled and how did you handle it?
On the bad side, I was once pulled out of a bus in Venezuela by the army and taken to a house where after a thorough backpack check a commander pointed his weapon at me and barked me orders to take my clothes off to see if I was carrying drugs. I was having none of it, and just as things were about to go really wrong a commander appeared and, after some brief talking, told me to get out of there and hop on the bus. It was a close call. I was also robbed while sleeping in El Salvador, which is not that bad, but 10 minutes later those of us walking around the corrugated tin housing were dodging bullets.
On the other hand, I was overwhelmed by the candid nature of people in Taiwan. This often overlooked country (or territory if you consider it so) is spectacular and home to the friendliest people in the world, hands down.
Complete the sentence: I never travel without … because …
Backpack, because I like to keep my hands free.
When it comes to travel and travel blogging, who is your mentor/hero and why?
I don’t have a mentor or hero, but I guess that when I discovered Nomadic Matt’s blog and learned that a blog can actually make you some money my curiosity started. There are many good blogs out there, yet two I find myself checking more often are Anil Polat’s Foxnomad and Dave and Deb’s PlanetD.
What place is on your travel bucket list?
I still have to visit India, China and Russia, but I still don’t know when I’ll be visiting these countries. Maybe I’ll have a chance this year?
What is your favorite travel planning tool?
A map, and other travel blogs. I like to imagine my itinerary and get some info from people who have actually been there before, but I have also learned that it is best if I just decide on a few places I really want to visit and then improvise once I’m there. I simply learn so much more and plans constantly change anyhow. I don’t like structured trips – I like them to be flexible and have the trip adjust to me, not the other way around.
Anything to add?
Just go. Simply step out of your comfort zone and, if you can, pack something small and make your way to that place you have heard about for so long and always wanted to visit. It can be far away or just a few hours’ drive, but during the trip you’ll feel free and enjoy time like you have never before. You will feel like a discoverer, even if you’re not, and the joy of doing something new will open your mind to new possibilities. Forget about cell phones – believe it or not there was a world before them and it worked quite well. And finally, don’t be afraid – most people in the world are friendly and willing to help, despite any perception you might have.