In this edition of Celebrity Travel Addicts, we speak with Ceol Ryder of Ceol Travels, an Irish travel blogger and amateur photographer who has some fascinating travel stories and tips to share. We chat with him about what inspires him to travel, what he wishes he’d known before he got started, a once-in-a-lifetime experience he had visiting an active volcano, and much more. Check out his favorite destinations and find out where he’s going next!
How did your passion for travel get started?
I’m very lucky because my parents both love to travel. They taught me to be curious about the world and took me on some amazing trips when I was a kid.
How many days/weeks are you traveling in any given year? What are the types of places you like to visit?
It varies a lot, but over the last few years it’s been anywhere from 1 month to 3 months. I try to travel as much as I can but I also have a full time job.
I love visiting anywhere and everywhere new. I mostly tend to focus on countries I haven’t been to before, as one of my dreams is to visit every country in the world.
On your website, you share lots of helpful travel information that you’ve learned through your own experiences. What is the single most important thing you’ve learned while traveling that you wish you had known beforehand?
It’s good to talk to strangers. Shyness and fear can often make people hesitant to do so, but talking to strangers when you travel is one of the best things you can do to improve the experience. You never know where it might lead.
What do you want audiences to gain and learn from your work?
Ideally, I’d like people to be inspired to travel but also have the practical information to do so. I generally aim to write what I would have liked to know before visiting somewhere. That includes trying to give as many useful details as possible.
What are the top three destinations you’ve visited?
Iceland, Bhutan and Japan are three of my favourites.
Give us your ‘Top 5’ list for one of your top 3 destinations. Like a mini-guide or a to-do list of sorts. It can be anything from your favorite hotel, best place to have lunch, best sightseeing, etc.
In Iceland, here are 5 things I recommend:
Jökulsárlón — An incredible lake with small icebergs floating in it.
Strokkur Geysir — A geyser that can shoot boiling water 30 metres up in the air.
Selfoss & Dettifoss Waterfalls — Some of the most picturesque waterfalls in Iceland.
The Westfjords — An area in the northwest that often gets overlooked but has some of the most beautiful landscapes in Iceland.
Remote hot springs — Track down some of the hot springs (or “hotpots”) dotted around the country. hotpoticeland.com is a useful resource for this.
How many countries have you visited so far?
You are from western Ireland and now live in Melbourne, Australia. What makes these two places fun and interesting travel destinations? What should travelers see and do when they visit western Ireland and Melbourne?
The west of Ireland is great for its rugged atlantic coastline, beautiful scenery (especially when it is sunny), great local pubs and the friendliness of the people. I’m from Galway but the entire west coast from Donegal down to west Cork is great to visit in my opinion.
One of the best things about Melbourne is the amazing range of different cuisines from around the world. It is a very multicultural city and each group brings their own flavours and recipes. The city is also within a few hours drive of lots of good day or weekend trips. Two of my favourites are the Great Ocean Road and Wilson’s Promontory.
You recently had the opportunity to visit an active volcano on Tanna Island in Vanuatu. What was that experience like and what did you take away from it?
It is hard to overstate just how incredible it was. Looking down into the bubbling lava and seeing it explode into the air every few minutes is possibly the most awe-inspiring thing I have ever experienced.
For anyone thinking of visiting, I recommend staying near the volcano and going to the top super early in the morning. There will be a lot less people and you will get to spend more time at the crater in the dark when it looks the most spectacular. We went again in the evening when people arrive from all over the island and there were 91 people there compared to just 5 on the morning trip.
What are your top 3 favorite cuisines?
Mexican, Italian and Korean.
What is your favorite restaurant in the world? What dish do you recommend there?
I don’t have one favourite restaurant but here are a few that come to mind:
Icelandic Fish & Chips in Reykjavik is really good. Try the rosemary-garlic potatoes and a fish of the day.
Taqueria Cancun in San Francisco has amazing burritos.
Banh Mi 37 Nguyen Trai is a small food cart in Ho Chi Minh that does one of the best banh mi sandwiches I’ve ever tasted.
What is your favorite travel movie?
Maybe the Lord of the Rings trilogy, if they count as travel movies.
What is your favorite international airport?
Paro airport in Bhutan. The airport building is built in a traditional Bhutanese style and the airport is surrounded by high mountains. Only a small group of pilots are sufficiently trained to land there as it is known for its extremely difficult (but also very scenic) landings and take-offs.
Which city had the friendliest people?
Most pacific islands have extremely friendly people in my experience but I’ll have to go with Port Vila, Vanuatu.
Who is your favorite travel companion?
My girlfriend, Coco.
What is the best way to kill time while traveling?
Listening to podcasts and audiobooks. I especially love it when there is a good audiobook available that relates to the place I’m visiting.
What is the most exotic place your career has taken you?
One person’s exotic is another’s everyday life, but the remoteness of Tuvalu and Kiribati were quite incredible.
What is your best bit of travel advice for someone who wants to, or is about to, embark on a life of travel?
Figure out how you enjoy to travel and don’t feel like you need to travel the same way that anyone else does.
What are 4 things you could never travel without?
My phone, headphones, camera and a hat to keep the sun off my head.
What is your ultimate dream destination?
Antarctica. It’s somewhere I have wanted to visit for a long time.
What is your favorite travel quote?
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page.”
– Saint Augustine
Where are you headed next?
I’m in a bit of a planning phase currently, but I would like to visit North Korea sometime soon. I also need to plan a trip home to Ireland, so I would love to combine that with a visit to the three European countries that I still haven’t been to: Malta, Cyprus and Belarus.
Ceol is a travel lover from the west of Ireland who currently lives in Melbourne, Australia. He blogs at ceoltravels.com, where he aims to create practical travel guides and infographics to inspire your next trip.