As part of the next instalment in my international version of Guests’ Corner, I chatted to blogger, tour guide and travel expert, Kat Milne.
Kat Milne, an all-round travel enthusiast from beautiful Scotland, possesses an intense travel addiction. This is evidenced not only in her need to personally explore the world for herself – but also in the way she passionately opens up new travel avenues to others. This is something she creatively does through her travel expertise, guidance – and of course, her incredible blog, Travel Kat.
Kat prefers to travel on a budget, avoiding the large-scale resorts and ‘shiny’, would-be tourist traps, as she heads off the beaten track, plunging instead into the destination’s culture…
As she visits new places and explores different cities (while living in a particularly beautiful one: Edinburgh), Kat enjoys sharing her adventures online.
She does this through a variety of photos, destination guides, tips and rich advice… And with over 35 countries under her travel belt – you can be sure she has some incredible travel stories (and photos) to share with you!
1) Who or what inspired you to go into travel blogging?
I wanted to show people that you can travel on a budget… And that there are so many places in the world to see!
2) What kind of traveller are you: thrill seeker, culture vulture, adrenaline junkie, nature lover or some of everything?
I’m a full-on culture vulture. If I’m in a city, I’ll seek out the latest art scene, museums and food(s) of that destination.
I love finding out what makes that country and destination different. I would also say that I am a big foodie. I seek out the local cuisine – and don’t shy away from trying something at least once!
3) Which are your top three most memorable travel experiences and why? Please list each one with a brief explanation.
My first one as a solo female traveller was to Vietnam: I was 17, fresh and eager for adventure. It was an eye-opening experience and I feel I fully gained my independence and learned that it’s okay to be ‘alone’ while travelling. Although I have to admit when arriving in Hanoi, my luggage was lost and that’s when I really wished I had travelled with a friend… But that trip did not deter me from travelling solo again. I feel everyone has to try it at least once in their lifetime.
Vietnam has such a rich culture and history and the food scene is incredible. I felt entirely safe there and would fully recommend starting out in Southeast Asia as a solo female traveller.
Second memorable travel experience is to Iceland: I travelled with my current partner and that was our first trip together. I have a soft spot for anything Icelandic and even more so after our trip there in the winter time. The best experience was seeing the Northern Lights on a peninsula with a lighthouse (Grotta). It was incredible to see them and I felt almost emotional experiencing something like that with my significant other. (Soppy alert!)
My third travel experience is when I travelled along the Trans-Siberian railway: The trip from Moscow to Beijing was my most exciting adventure to date. Travelling across empty Siberian wastelands in the snow for days made me realise how big our planet is.
I travelled for four days straight across Russia until I arrived at the Siberian lake, Lake Baikal… The temperatures were so low and the coldest place I’d ever been. I have to say the cold is something that will always stick with me and I will never complain about the ‘cold’ Scottish weather again.
The train passed through the Mongolian steppes, Gobi Desert and some parts of rural China… The whole journey was full of contrasts, from the landscape to the people – and of course, the train carriages. Each one more elaborate the closer I got to Beijing.
4) What was your most humbling or eye-opening travel experience in your home country and why?
I live in Scotland, I’m originally from the North East (Keith, Morayshire, to be exact) but I currently live in Edinburgh, where I have been for five years.
During the month of August, Edinburgh hosts the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, a military show with over 2 000 performers showcasing their talents… I was lucky enough to see the show live last year and it blew me away how magnificent it was!
The show was on Edinburgh Castle’s esplanade and the most humbling part for me how passionate we are about our culture and music here in Scotland. We are modern but we still retain our traditional roots and I loved that we, in Scotland, showcased it to the rest of the world.
I felt very lucky to live in Edinburgh and I kept thinking that somewhere around the world seeing this event will be on someone’s bucket list – and for that I felt incredibly humbled…
5) Worst (local) travel experience?
My worst travel experience was on my return from China. I was travelling (or supposed to be) from Guilin, China to Hong Kong and then on home to Scotland… I had done some trekking out in the rural areas of China just before heading home, meaning I had had no WiFi connection until I arrived at the airport.
During my trek, my airline company had gone bust. I arrived at the airport and was met with the very tricky situation. This meant my flight was effectively cancelled completely, and I needed to find an alternative way home.
I was travelling alone and could speak no Chinese; my visa was running out – and I wasn’t sure how to get home. After a few frantic phone calls to my mum at home, I managed to get onto a flight the next day and my travel agent (Flight Centre) managed to successfully get me home from Hong-Kong too.
The whole experience of being alone in a Chinese airport, with no accommodation or return journey, was something I don’t wish to experience again. And I feel very grateful for having family, at the end of the phone, who could help me out…
The travel experience had made me a nervous traveller when it comes to airports on the way home. I feel that the whole ‘being stranded’ feeling has stuck with me. I am not the most laid-back person when it comes to arriving at the airport…
6) Your top three travel destinations across the globe – either that you have personally experienced or would love to visit?
From a personal level, Sri Lanka is an amazing destination. The small island has everything from wildlife, temples, history – and of course, stunning white sand beaches… A perfect destination!
In terms of places I would love to visit, it would have to be… Havana, Cuba. I would love to see Cuba very soon before it changes too much. I know that Cuba is opening up to the world, which, in some cases, can be very good… However, I feel that, with that, comes large-scale hotels and resorts popping up… and these take away from the authenticity of the place.
My second destination I would love to visit is Greenland. I love visiting colder places and remote areas of the globe. As previously mentioned, I loved Iceland and feel that perhaps Greenland would be a less discovered version of Iceland – and I feel that the big icebergs need to be seen to be believed!
7) Any useful travel sites/blogs that you can recommend for following?
1. I always use Price of Travel. It’s essentially a travel site that tells you the average cost of travel in over 20+ destinations.
2. I also like Roam Travel magazine, an online magazine (and Instagram account), where they share stories from around the world… If you like photography, then follow these guys!
8) If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would it be and why?
Right now, I would love to visit Patagonia (Chile and Argentina). I recently met with a friend and she raved about how beautiful the region was – and the camping outside was a great experience!
I have never been to South America but she has definitely inspired me to visit.
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 Edinburgh and I always check what special events will be on that day, whether that is a food market, an exhibition or a new coffee shop to try.
I follow Edinburgh-based news and travel sites on Facebook to find out what’s going on in the city.
10) Best travel advice for locals and tourists?
I find Instagram a useful tool to see and find attractions to see… Using the Location tag will provide you with inspiration!
To read about and see all of Kat’s travel stories and experiences, you can visit her awesome blog.
Thank you very much, Kat, for appearing in this guest travel segment.
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.