Behind the Blog – Meet Irone from IroneXplores

I am Irone Kim Tolibao, a Filipino, who loves traveling and writing. I have been to many places in the Philippines and I’d love to share my adventures and experiences with other people. I established my travel blog to encourage and help people travel and guide them on how to reach the places I’ve been to. My blog is all about giving directions and information about different places. Blogging for me is like hitting two birds in one stone, my love for travel and writing.

Where are you based/located?

My travels are solely focused in the Philippines for now. Got to love my own country.

What first sparked your love for travel?

My first travel was when me and my girlfriend went to Baguio City. One of the most visited places in Philippines due to several tourist spost. I was still courting her during that time. Witnessing these marvellous man-made or natural wonders inspired me to visit more beautiful places.

What are some of your favorite countries to visit?

So long I’ve only been here to the Philippines. So I must say Philippines is my favorite country. It is also my birth place.

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Are there any places you’d tell people to avoid?

There would be none. Telling people to avoid places is like telling them to miss an opportunity. Traveling is an adventure. The only thing I can do is warn them of my negative experiences in that place, but I will not stop them. I will let them know and avoid the mistakes I’ve made during my trip, but I will not hinder them to visit it.

What is your favourite memory that comes to mind when you think about your travels?

My favorite memory in all my travels is when I had a trip to Masbate Island. I encountered several misfortunes along the way like cancelled flight, cancelled island hopping, a storm, giant waves and so forth. Those unfortunate events happened in a single trip.

I was forced to change my itinerary and rerouted to Caramoan Island instead, which was totally out of plan. I have no contacts on that place, or any guide on what to do. I just held on to fate. Fortunately, everything went well. I found a decent guide, who I just met on a Church. He pretty much took care of everything. At the end of the trip, I discovered Caramoan Group of Islands was several times better than Masbate, and fate lead me there.

Any advice for new and aspiring travellers?

My best advice for new travellers is just to take the first big step. Most people don’t start traveling just because fear already takes them before they even started. People fear of getting lost, a cancelled trip, or a lack of money. This is part of the challenged. Once you experienced these challenges, you’ll know how to overcome them. Nothing can stop you now from traveling.

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What destinations are on your bucket list?

I don’t have a bucket list. I just wander wherever my feet would take me. Every place is unique and special. Everywhere should be a bucket list.

Do you have any upcoming travel plans for 2017?

I do have several plans this 2017. It’s already scheduled since last year.

New Year I went to Sagada. I went trekking, spelunking and waterfall hopping.
February is island hopping to Palawan.
March is climb a mountain somewhere in the northern Philippines.
April is spelunking and waterfall hopping in Samar.
May is the festival month of the Philippines. I just haven’t decided which festival to visit yet.
June is to visit Leyte, my home province, to visit lakes and islands.
July is probably another mountain climbing.
August is tour around the province of Batanes.
September to December is yet to be finalized. I already have several places in mind.

Do you reasearch for your upcoming trips before visiting them?

Yes. I do research every time I want to visit somewhere. I good information and directions about the place is the first thing I take care of before heading out. Just to avoid getting lost, or spending too much.

What is your most favourite photograph that you have taken during your travels?

This has always been my favorite photograph. Me and my girl was in an Island Hopping in Guimaras, and a perfect rainbow appeared to us. Such an amazing sight to behold.

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Which airline do you prefer to fly with?

I prefer AirAsia and Cebu Pacific. The services for both airlines are the same.

Tell me your top travel quotes to inspire yourself or other travellers

“Travel with someone important to you. The stronger the connection, the greater the fun.”

“If you wish to travel far with a lesser cost of leaving home, then let your home travel with you.”

“You only have one life. Travel lets you live it a hundred times.”

“Every journey starts with a single step.”

“There are always good things at the end of every struggle. The higher the mountain, the better.”

“There is light at the end of the darkest cave.”

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If you’d like the opportunity to be featured like Irone, please contact Kate at wherekateresides@outlook.com

Behind the Blog – Meet Natalie from Cosmos Mariners: Destination Unknown

Hi! I’m Natalie, and I blog over at Cosmos Mariners: Destination Unknown. Although I’ve been blogging on different platforms for many years, I didn’t get serious about my blogging and freelance writing until right before I had my daughter back in 2013. I wanted to find a career that allowed me to work from home—as my then-current job as a college literature professor wouldn’t—and I decided to give the blogging and freelancing thing a go. Three years later, and my travel blog has grown beyond my wildest imagination! I am a deeply nerdy person, so I love all things artsy, cultural, and literature-based, and that’s where I focus my travel blogging. You’ll find posts about museums and historical sights, but I do my best to make them fun (and sometimes a little funny) so learning isn’t all boring and dry. When I’m not writing, photographing, or researching something for the blog, you can find me reading (post-World War II British fiction is my jam), hanging out with my husband and two kids (a 3.5 year old daughter and a newborn son), or sewing (you’ll have to rip my embroidery machine out of my cold, dead hands).

Where are you based/located?

I live in Charleston, South Carolina. I was born here, moved around during my younger years thanks to my dad’s job, then came back here in middle school. After leaving again for college and grad school, I did my best to live anywhere but Charleston since I wanted a fresh start, but, 400 job applications later, I managed to find one teaching job here. It was 2010 and deep into the recession, and people were firing liberal arts teachers instead of hiring them, so I took what I could get. Almost 7 years later, and I am glad I was brought back to Charleston; it’s a very different place than where I grew up, but mostly, it’s changed for the better. My husband works a very location based job, so that’s always a consideration, but we’d eventually like to move somewhere else when our kids get a bit older. We’ve even tossed around the idea of doing a year-long trip when they’re in elementary or middle school, which would be SO much fun.

What first sparked your love for travel?

My mom and dad were always taking my younger sister and I somewhere as kids. We were a regular middle class family, but my mom and dad always made sure that the budget included everything from small weekend long trips to different parts of the Appalachian mountains to a massive road trip to Prince Edward Island, Canada. Their emphasis on travel made me so excited to pack up my suitcase and experience different parts of the world, which is something that still hasn’t changed.

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What are some of your favorite countries to visit?

I am a complete and utter Angophile—I’ve been to England half a dozen times in 12 years, I studied abroad in London during college, and I focused my thesis on London literature. England will always be my first love in travel, and I will never, ever get tired of it. However, variety is the spice of life, so I do adore other places including Ireland (so green! so friendly! so pretty!), the Bahamas (particularly the Out Islands), and Scotland (so many kilts, so little time).

Are there any places you’d tell people to avoid? 

I’m one of those people who can find the silver lining in just about anything, so there aren’t too many places that I’ve flat out hated. We had a terrible experience in Paris where we were mugged on the Metro; on the same trip, people were very rude to us all over the city, which really put a damper on the entire experience. I’m not sure that would stop me from going back—or telling people to never go to Paris—because I absolutely loved the Louvre, Versailles, and Sacre Couer. In my home state of South Carolina, I personally would never vacation in either Columbia or Myrtle Beach when Charleston is so much more historical and flat-out prettier, but people love both of those places; different strokes for different folks, I guess.

What is your favourite memory that comes to mind when you think about your travels?

It’s a toss up between two times: one in the Bahamas and one in Germany. My sister and I (who both went to the same university) signed up for a Bahamas-themed class my last semester at Clemson; as a part of the class, we got to visit Andros Island for 2 weeks in the middle of the semester. When we got on the island, my teacher took the class to this desolate road, parked the van, and said, “Let’s go!” He took us three miles across the boggiest terrain imaginable and we all thought he was crazy. But on the other end of the massive field of itchy grass and mud was a completely pristine beach. There wasn’t anyone between us and the eastern coast of Florida! We had the best time on that beach, and it made me realize how a little bit of trouble could introduce you to some incredible places. My other favorite memory was on my daughter’s first international trip: as a part of it, we went to Schloss Linderhof in Germany. The docent gave her a pamphlet on King Ludwig, and she fell in love. She talked about King Ludwig for the rest of the trip, and fell even more in love with him after she visited Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein. Seeing her get excited about learning and travel made me so happy!

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Any advice for new and aspiring travellers?

Don’t get overwhelmed—there are so many trips out there that it can easy make your head spin! If you’ve never traveled before, try out a few longer trips in your region or country; if you manage that, then go further afield and start to deal with customs, passports, and the like.

What destinations are on your bucket list?

The short list includes the Northern Lights (so maybe Iceland, Canada, or Alaska), the Alhambra in Spain, the Amalfi Coast in Italy, Angkor Wat in Cambodia, and Volcano National Park in Hawaii.

Do you have any upcoming travel plans for 2017?

Yes! We’re starting out with a very kid-friendly trip to Walt Disney World: it will be a birthday trip for my mom, and my sister, my two kids, and I will be going with her. My son was just born in November 2016, so I figured this would be a good way to ease back into travel now that I have two little ones. We’re also going to the Outer Banks of North Carolina so my husband can run a half-marathon there in the spring. Then, in May, the four of us are going on a Western U.S. road trip through Nevada, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado. We’re hoping to also do a trip to Spain later this year (maybe late October or early November).

Do you research for your upcoming trips before visiting them?

Absolutely. I’m a huge planner: not only do I enjoy the planning and researching portion, but I want to know that I’m saving and then spending all of my travel budget on the things that interest us the most.

What is your most favourite photograph that you have taken during your travels? 

My daughter and I at Schloss Linderhof

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Which airline do you prefer to fly with?

I’m all about the bottom line, so I’m not loyal to airlines at all: it’s all about who’ve getting me to my destination for the best price. In my experience, I have enjoyed my time on Are Lingus, Delta, and JetBlue the most, and would be happy to fly with them again.

Tell me your top travel quotes to inspire yourself or other travellers

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

The older I get, the more I realize just how little time we all have on this planet. I look at my daughter and think, “We’ve got less than 14 years left with her before she goes off to college.” My son is brand new, but we’ve got just 17 years with him before he flies the nest. 14 years ago, I was getting ready to go to college myself, and that seems like a blink of an eye. My husband and I could drive better cars, have a more updated house, and wear nicer clothes, but  we funnel the majority of our extra money towards travel since we want to see as much of the world as possible with our kids.

Blog: Cosmos Mariners: Destination Unknown www.cosmosmariners.com

If you’d like the opportunity to be featured like Natalie, please contact Kate at wherekateresides@outlook.com