This week Meet the Travel Bloggers spotlights expat travel blogger Laurel Robbins of Monkeys and Mountains.
When, why and how did you start your travel blog, Monkeys and Mountains?
I started my blog almost 3 years ago when I first moved to Germany from Canada. I knew that I wanted a career change. Going from a Program Director at a university to a travel blogger wasn’t the most logical choice but I haven’t regretted it for a second.
That’s a great name. How did you get it and what does the name mean to you?
Thank you! The name comes from two things that I love. I have a degree in primatology (the study of primates) and am in the mountains every weekend. I wanted something that was personal and memorable.
What is the thing that keeps you the most jazzed about blogging?
The connections I have made with my readers, both online and sometimes even in person. I love to inspire someone to travel to a place they hadn’t considered before, or try a new activity while traveling. Equally I am inspired and grateful to my readers who frequently tell me where I should go, or what to see.
What excites you about travel?
The unknown. I’m very curious and love not knowing what will unfold next.
Are you a solo traveler or do you like to travel with others?
I used to do mostly solo travel, but now I do a combination. I enjoy traveling with someone, preferably my husband. My experience is enhanced when I can share it and relive it with someone that I love.
Are you a part-time or fulltime traveler?
I have a permanent base in Munich, and travel frequently – anywhere from 1-4 trips a month. I guess that would qualify as part-time+. I used to teach online courses for a couple of universities in Canada, but recently I have launched my own online social media training company. It’s important to me that I can work from the road wherever I am. As I type this I’m in a hotel room in Rotterdam with an incredible view of the harbor.
What kind of traveler are you?
I’m more on the luxury end, but I don’t mind trading a bit of luxury for an incredible experience. Two summers ago my husband and I did a three day sea kayaking trip with whales which required us to sleep in a tent. The whales made it completely worth while, but three nights of sleeping in a tent was enough for me! We stayed in luxury hotels for the rest of our trip.
On the road, do you seek out some experiences more than others?
Definitely! I love anything to do with animals or adventure. A few of my favorites include shark diving without a cage (numerous occasions), trekking with gorillas, safaris in South Africa and hiking tours.
Is being in your comfort zone important to you?
Sometimes. I function best when I can go back and forth from being in my comfort zone and out of it. For example, I’m happy to try local food (within reason), but don’t make me get up and try and learn a local dance. The most out of my comfort zone was when I lived in rural Thailand. I loved and hated it, both at the same time. Sometimes the culture and language got to be too much and I would be seeking out the nearest Pizza Hut in an attempt to find something familiar. But at the same time, my fondest memories are time spent chatting with Thai friends.
What’s your most memorable travel experience or favorite trip?
It happened earlier this month. I was in Rwanda on a primate safari and saw an incredible seven species of primates in seven days, including Mountain gorillas. I had worked with Western Lowland gorillas in a zoo before, but nothing compares to seeing gorillas in the wild. One mother with a baby on her back gently brushed my leg to indicate that I was in her way. I was THIS CLOSE to the baby and it took every ounce of willpower not to reach and touch him. This was my dream trip and one that I will never forget.
What’s your favorite place on earth?
Probably at home with my husband and our two cats. I know it’s a really boring answer, but I find my favorite experiences are ones that I can share with him.
In terms of a location it would be Waterton National Park in Canada. I’ve seen more grizzly bears than anywhere else in the Canadian Rockies (that’s a huge plus point in my books) and it’s close to my home town, so it feels like home.
Where are you off to next?
I’m just left Rotterdam heading to Zurich, then Istanbul, which I’m really excited for and a couple of trips to Italy in the summer. But something else could come up, you never know – that’s the great thing about being a travel blogger!
What’s the biggest fantasy on your bucket list?
Up until last week it would have been trekking with gorillas, but now that that’s been checked off, I would replace it with diving with Tiger sharks. They’re known to be the most dangerous sharks to people (even more so than Great Whites), but it’s all relative. Vending machines kill more people that sharks do. I dove with Oceanic black tip sharks in South Africa last year and will never forget what the dive master said, “If you think the Oceanics are big, wait until you see a Tiger, they make the Oceanics seem like guppies.” I’m very intrigued and will take any chance I get to show people that sharks are not the dangerous killers seeking out humans that the media makes them out to be.
Laurel Robbins is an award winning travel blogger and social media expert based in Munich, Germany. When not traveling, you will likely find her in the mountains, on a bike or doing yoga. Read her blog Monkeys and Mountains. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.