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Guests’ Corner: Bucket List Journey

As part of the next instalment in my international version of Guests’ Corner (previously a local South African travel interview section on Tamlyn Amber Wanderlust), I chatted to Annette White, travel blogger and restaurateur.

Not only is Annette White a travel blogger and creator of the award-winning travel and lifestyle blog, Bucket List Journey, but she is also the author of Bucket List Adventures and co-owner of Sugo Trattoria, a Michelin-recommended restaurant, which she runs with her husband, Peter.

Before that, Annette and Peter were also involved with two previous, successful food endeavours: New York Subs and Twisted Vine, which, in 2007, was named one of the 15 Best Restaurants by Phoenix Magazine.

Above all though, Annette is an adventurer at heart and someone who has admirably followed her passion for checking the world off her bucket list, one adventure at a time.

Join her on her mesmerising journeys, or follow her amazing blog for more hidden gems and travel destinations, worth checking off your own bucket list!

1) Who or what inspired you to go into travel blogging?

Initially, I was simply looking for a place to record my ever-growing bucket list and its progress. The pieces of scrap paper and random internet files were getting out of control, so I decided to condense my dozens of notes into a blog.

As time went on, the blog changed from being just a practical list-keeping spot to being a place for readers to get inspiration for their own bucket lists. This was especially true for goals related to travel, since it is so popular on people’s lists.

2) What kind of traveller are you: thrill seeker, culture vulture, adrenaline junkie, nature lover or something of everything?

I’m a little bit of everything all rolled into one… A perfect trip would have some of all those characteristics, plus aspects of the food scene.

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3) Which are your top three most memorable travel experiences and why? Please list each one with a brief explanation.

I have been fortunate to have some of the most amazing experiences around the world so it’s really hard to narrow it down to just three. But, here are the ones that immediately come to mind:

1. One of my most memorable travel stories that I always share with my friends is swimming in Jellyfish Lake in the tiny Micronesian country of Palau. The lake is home to millions of jellyfish that are deemed relatively harmless since their sting is so light. It was still frightening for the first five minutes to be completely surrounded by pulsating plankton, some brushing up against my body.

But after the panic dissipated, there was something mesmerising about the way they moved and this became one of my all-time favorite bucket list adventures.

2. Another one is going on safari in Tanzania. Travelling to Africa forced me to conquer several fears: flying alone, getting vaccinations and going on a safari with complete strangers. Not only was it empowering, but it was completely surreal.

3. The third would have to be spending the night in Jordan’s Wadi Rum desert. We toured the desert by jeep and then spent the night in Bedouin-style tent with the Bedouin people… I just remember waking up early the next morning to the most peaceful sunrise.

4) What was your most humbling or eye-opening travel experience in your home country and why? (Please provide your home country’s name too.)

I am from the USA and will admit that I sometimes take for granted what is in my own backyard! A trip that reminded me to not take my land for granted, and that there is immense beauty that can be found in the United States, is when I went to California’s Yosemite National Park for Christmas.

Yosemite Valley is the centrepiece of the well-known Yosemite National Park in California. With grand waterfalls, flowing creeks, picturesque hiking and monumental granite cliffs, it is an ideal destination at any time of the year.

But, during the winter months, it is a pure white wonderland for travellers who want to snowshoe, cross-country ski, make snowmen or simply sit in a lodge by a cozy fireplace.

It was a chance to connect with nature and disconnect from technology, while still being close to home.

5) Worst local travel experience (and if you are comfortable enough to, please explain why)?

I’ve been pretty fortunate while travelling locally and the only bad experiences I’ve had so far is when I had higher expectations than the destination delivered. So, technically the destination was not at fault, so I don’t want to call them out!

But I do think that it is a good lesson to learn, to go into a travel experience with no expectations and enjoy what is delivered to you.

6) Your top three travel destinations across the globe – either that you have personally experienced or would love to visit?

This is always consistently changing, but at the moment there are three destinations that I would never turn down and they are: Italy, Japan and Croatia.

7) Any useful travel sites/blogs that you can recommend for following?

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For research, I’m always on TripAdvisor, Travel + Leisure and Skyscanner.

As far as blogs go, I don’t get a chance to read them too often, but when I do I try to keep up with what my travel blogger friends are doing: Cacinda at Points and Travel, and Kelly at Food Fun & Faraway Places.

8) If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would it be and why?

Definitely Antarctica because that is the last continent that I need to check off my bucket list, and I really want to hang out with the penguins.

9) Do you have any handy tips for planning a trip/day out in your city (and please state which city it is)?

I live in a small city in Northern California named Petaluma. My city is all about the historic downtown and the community. So when you plan a day trip here make sure that you spend plenty of time browsing the quaint shops, visiting the coffee shops and dining at the restaurants (especially the one my husband and I own, Sugo Trattoria – a shameless plus!).

But, also make sure to talk to the people… We love to share stories about our town and why we choose to call it home.

10) Best travel advice for locals and tourists?

One of my best pieces of travel advice would be to always comparison shop when it comes to booking flights and hotels. Never settle for the pricing on just one website!

You can start with checking directly on the airline and hotel’s homepage –  but venture beyond this and you’ll be surprised how much you can save.

To read about and see all of all Annette’s travel stories and experiences, you can visit her amazing blog. Or follow her on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Thank you very much, Annette, for appearing in this international guest travel segment. Until the next one… happy writing and reading, everyone!

Author: Tamlyn Amber Ryan

Content writer by day and blogger by night, Tamlyn Ryan passionately runs her own travel blog, called Tamlyn Amber Wanderlust, from her home base of Cape Town, South Africa. And, despite a national diploma in Journalism, in her free time, Tamlyn’s preferred niche remains travel writing.

Tamlyn is a hopeless wanderer, equipped with an endless passion for road trips, carefully planned, holiday itineraries and, above all else, an innate love for the great outdoors.

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