City travelers, here’s our latest interview with inspiring travel bloggers, sharing their favorite city destinations and travel experiences. Today, meet Lauren Juliff of Never Ending Footsteps.
Lauren, a few words about yourself and Never Ending Footsteps: when did you start it, and why?
I started Never Ending Footsteps in 2010 with the intention of keeping my friends and family informed while I was on my upcoming round-the-world adventure. Six months later, I began making money from my blog and then a year after that, I was making enough to travel indefinitely. I’ve now been on the road for seven years and counting!
Never Ending Footsteps is all about honesty. I don’t take press trips or sponsored travel because I don’t want my readers to feel as though my opinion has been swayed by a free trip. I write about the downsides of travel as well as the many advantages, and I’m not afraid to admit that I’m not a travel expert — I’ve made hundreds of mistakes while travelling and I’m not ashamed of sharing them.
If you had to choose one, which would you consider your favourite city – and what makes it so special for you?
Lisbon, in Portugal. It’s full of beautiful architecture, delicious food, friendly locals, and perfect weather. I’ve spent 18 months there and still can’t get enough!
5 tips for fellow travelers planning to visit Lisbon? Do’s and Don’ts?
Bring a pair of good walking shoes. Lisbon is full of hills and slippery cobblestones. A good pair of walking shoes is a necessity in this city.
Eat as much pasteis de nata as is humanly possible. They’re delicious and you should aim to sample as many as possible.
Don’t forget to look up. The architecture in Lisbon is stunning, and you’ll miss some of the prettiest tiles if you keep your eyes at ground level. Remember to look up and you’ll be spellbound by the beautiful colours.
Spend time in Principe Real. If you want to get away from the tourists, eat incredible food, and see how hipster locals live, head to Principe Real. It’s my favourite neighbourhood in the city.
Get a drink at the quiosques. They’re small stalls around the city that sell small snacks and alcohol. Their 1 Euro glasses of wine are excellent and a great way to kick off your evening.
As a professional travel blogger, what makes a city worth visiting for you?
I believe all cities are worth visiting, because even if you don’t like a place, you can still learn something about it or yourself.
But in terms of finding something to write about, I’ll always love unusual attractions, like themed restaurants, abandoned buildings, or weird museums.
3 ingredients for the perfect city trip?
Great weather, hipster coffee shops, and a thriving street art scene.
Which gadgets or apps do you consider essential for an enjoyable city travel experience?
I always travel with my Macbook Pro, my Sony A7ii camera, my iPhone SE, and plenty of SD cards. As a travel blogger, I need to ensure that I can capture the destinations I pass through, efficiently navigate a city, and catch up on work when I’m not exploring. All of these devices help me to do this.
When it comes to apps, Google Maps is the only one I use. I spend so much time online, so I always relish having the opportunity to disconnect and explore a city without distractions. I do, however, have a terrible sense of direction, so Google Maps is a necessity. If I haven’t been able to pick up a local SIM card, I make sure to save an offline version of a city’s map, so that I can find my way without needing to be connected to the internet.
Tourism is getting a lot of negative press lately because of the pressure it puts on local communities and the natural environment – especially in popular city destinations. As frequent traveller, have you noticed any changes regarding your travel experience, linked to issues such as overcrowding, pollution, etc.? And do you have tips how to deal with those as traveller?
Yes! In fact, I’ve noticed it in Lisbon, which is a city that’s struggling to cope with the influx of tourists. There are so many tourists in Lisbon now that it’s rare to hear any Portuguese in the centre of the city. None of my Portuguese friends can afford to live in the central neighbourhoods of Lisbon because the local wages are so much lower than the price of a basic apartment. Airbnb is the reason behind this: when someone can put an apartment on Airbnb and make more in three months renting to tourists than they can renting to locals for an entire year, what incentive is there to cater for the Portuguese?
My number one tip: don’t stay in Airbnb apartments! If you do, stay in private rooms, so that you’re not taking accommodation from a local who’s being slowly forced out of their city.
Your key lessons learned from travelling the world?
Try new things, leave your comfort zone as often as possible, and remain open-minded when faced with anything you don’t understand.
Your advice for city travelers on a tight budget?
Go to lesser-visited cities, as they’ll typically be much cheaper. If you’re based in Europe, Kiev, Sofia, and Bucharest are all very inexpensive but have just as much to offer as the cities in Western Europe do.
Aside from that, cooking rather than eating in restaurants will save you money in most places, as well as walking instead of taking public transport, visiting museums when they have free entrance, and travelling slowly rather than flying from city to city.
Thank you, Lauren – and safe travels!