This week Meet the Travel Bloggers interviews intrepid traveler Iain Mallory, a man who thrives on adventures.
When, why and how did you start Mallory on Travel?
In November 2010, I’d been travelling around for awhile and posting ad hoc on a site called Travel Buddies for the benefit of friends and families. It had around 2 million users, so it provided some exposure. People seemed to like my writing, plus several posts were featured as their post of the day. This basically gave me the encouragement to give a personal travel website a go. I immediately started marketing myself via social media, and launched Mallory on Travel in April 2011.
What is the thing that keeps you the most jazzed about blogging?
Apart from the extra opportunities to travel you mean? I enjoy sharing the experience with others, and get a kick out of when somebody tells me they’ve been inspired to visit a destination due to my site. I also love photography, and sharing striking images or providing some tips to help my readers keeps me motivated. Reading comments, or receiving emails from readers telling me they have enjoyed a post is often the highlight of a day.
Your stint in the British Army got you started on adventure travel. Is that still your primary focus?
My Army life was one long search for thrills. I spent 12 years seeking adventures on expeditions all over the world. I still enjoy an adrenalin rush, but also find equal excitement in cultural adventures. I still love an adventure, but also believe they are relative. It is a matter of attitude and I now enjoy finding adventures in everyday exploring.
How often do you travel?
I spent a great deal of last year travelling on group press trips, averaging around two or three a month. This year I’ve been more selective, as I wish to be more involved in the experience. I’m participating in fewer trips, but looking for more opportunities to explore and additional cultural immersion. I leave for Australia in a few days; it will be my seventh trip, including Durban and Everest Base Camp.
When you’re not traveling, where are you based?
In Manchester, which may not sound particularly exciting, but there’s more to the Northern city than expected. It’s had a makeover and the old industrial landscape has been replaced with modern pubs or clubs often with live music, and shopping precincts. Its industrial heritage hasn’t been entirely forgotten, there are several museums with appropriate exhibitions.
Do you primarily write or do you have a job?
Writing/photography is my job now, one day I may even make a living from it.
You like to travel solo. Do you ever travel with others?
I was converted to solo travel several years ago, when visiting Rhodes. The independence appeals to me, exploring on my own terms without having to compromise. I also find it’s often less difficult to meet people and make friends when travelling alone. I don’t have anything against travelling with others, and enjoy it, especially when with friends that share common interests.
What excites you most about travel?
Meeting people especially those from alien cultures. I believe it is the people that make a destination truly exciting. They speak the language, design and build the architecture, and make the history; basically they talk the talk and walk the walk. Taking people portraits and street photography also fascinate me and are by far my favourite genre.
On the road, do you seek out some experiences more than others?
Not really, I prefer to explore and discover, finding experiences as they present themselves. Wandering down a quiet street, following a distant noise or scent often leads to some unexpected excitement. I believe this is the true sense of adventure, curiosity allied with observation and a degree of common sense, are the tools of a modern day adventurer.
What was the most dangerous thing you’ve ever done?
Danger is often just perceived as being so. Many adventure travel activities are perfectly safe if experience, correct technique and equipment are used. I think most people would consider an overnight ‘hanging bivouac’ over 500m up a rock face or jumping out of a plane dangerous (I’ve done both many times), but they’re not if done correctly. Possibly the riskiest activity I’ve done is snow and ice climbing, as the lead climber is often far above adequate protection, and a fall would prove fatal.
What’s your most memorable travel experience or favorite trip ever?
Tough question, there have been so many, for different reasons. If I must choose one; my first visit to the Himalaya. I love the mountains, and been in mountainous terrain many times before, but the peaks of the Himalaya are truly breath-taking. I’ve been back eight times now, and never tire of seeing them.
What’s your favorite place on earth?
You’d be excused for thinking it’s the Himalaya, but I really don’t have a favourite place. Although the mountain environment is where I feel most comfortable, every place I’ve experienced has been enjoyable. I’d also happily return to any of them. All destinations have different things to offer, beauty, landscape, culture; they’re just adventures in a variety of forms.
Where are you off to next?
As already mentioned, I’m off to the Northern Territories in Australia next week: the red centre, Alice Springs and Ulhuru, with plenty of exposure to the aboriginal culture. I’m especially interested in indigenous cultures and aboriginal tourism, so asked for these to be included.
You’re off to see polar bears in September. Where exactly will you be going?
Initially it will be Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island but later I’ll be heading to Manitoba. As well as polar bears, there’ll be a chance of seeing the Northern Lights, both of which will be lifetime dreams come true. Yes, I’m a little excited.
What is the one place you haven’t been to that you really want to go to?
So many, but if there aren’t any limits on my choices; Challenger Deep, the bottom of the Marianas Trench, off the Philippines. While we’re at it; why not the Sea of Tranquility on the moon? Not exactly everyday adventures? Ok, if I must remain down to earth, Patagonia.
Iain Mallory is an ex-military man, and served as a Warrant Officer in the Army Physical Training Corps. This enabled him to become highly qualified in a large number of adventurous activities. Participating in many expeditions to many parts of the world which this satisfied his wanderlust. After the army, he tried his hand at running a public house in leafy Cheshire. But it was not too long before his love of travel got the better of him and he once again set off to discover more of the World.
He now works freelance as a writer and photographer and enjoys finding wherever he travels. He is publishes the popular website Mallory On Travel, an adventure travel guide for the everyday adventurer by a former adrenalin junkie. You can connect with him on Twitter and Facebook.