In this edition of Celebrity Travel Addicts, we speak with Skye Class, the California native behind the travel blog Skye Travels. We chat with Skye about why travel is so important, a restaurant in Sweden whose food captured his heart, where you can find the friendliest people while traveling, and much more. Check out his favorite destinations around the globe and find out where he’s off to next!
How did your passion for travel get started?
Honestly, I’d say it was a combination of watching movies set in locations all over the world, and having my international students tell me about the places they were from. Many of them would show me pictures of their hometown or country, and I always desired to see them first hand for myself.
What does travel mean to you? Why do you feel it’s important?
Travel is the freedom of movement, which is a basic human right. It’s important because it shows you that other people around the world, people that might have a different culture, creed, religion or color, are just like you. It gives you understanding and affinity toward the unknown parts of the world. I believe that people reject and fight what they don’t understand, but sometimes it just takes going to those places and seeing them for yourself to gain that understanding and kinship.
You run a travel blog called Skye Travels. Can you please tell us a bit about it? How did it come about? What makes it different from other travel content out there?
I started SkyeTravels because I wanted to inspire others to follow their dreams, whether those goals were to travel or otherwise, and also help other travelers with their journeys. I like to connect with my readers and make my stories really real and personal, not just another sales pitch for a destination or a boring lesson. My focuses are on adventures, wellness and food, primarily in off-the-beaten-path locations. That doesn’t mean I don’t write about other things or tourist hotspots, but I’d rather visit and promote a small village that serves amazing home-cooked meals, has unnoticed castles and churches, and could benefit from a tourism boost.
You were born in Beverly Hills, California, and have lived in many locations on the west coast of the United States. What are some things travelers should do when they visit the west coast?
It’s funny, but I’m not the biggest fan of the USA right now, and I always recommend that my readers get out to see the rest of the world. However, if you happen to find yourself on the west coast, I’d say stick to the northwest, or at least avoid Los Angeles. Portland is my favorite city in the US, with Seattle a close third. I love all the national parks along the west coast, including Yosemite, Muir Woods, Shasta, the Cascades, etc. There are also some wonderful places along the Oregon coast, such as the Devil’s Punch Bowl and Pacific City. As you can tell, I’m a big fan of nature; not so much of cities.
You started traveling the world in 2014. What’s something you know now that you wish you knew when you started?
Honestly, the first thing that comes to mind is how to monetize my blog to make it easier to travel. I’d taken classes before I started my blog on how to monetize it, and even went to my first travel conventions in my first year of travel, but I still struggled. It’s only this year that I’ve really put in all the successful actions to promote and monetize my website to allow me to travel more comfortably (but not extravagantly).
How many days/weeks do you travel in any given year? What types of places do you like to visit?
That’s a good question. I say I’ve been on the road for the past five years, but it was only the first year when I was constantly moving from place to place. Since then, I’ve started setting up “bases” where I’ll stay for up to three or four months, perhaps getting a part-time job to get some side income while catching up on my writing. So far my bases have been in Thailand (twice), the Netherlands (twice), Romania, and Edinburgh. The last I call my Home Base, and I usually end up there 3-4 months a year. I still travel when I’m at a base, but not in the constant backpacking sense.
What do you want audiences to gain and learn from your work?
More than anything, I want my readers to gain a reality that they can travel no matter what their situation in life is. I’d like them to leave my site with inspiration and plenty of tips for their travels, whether it’s how to save money, what the best places to eat at are, the benefits from volunteering, etc. While I’m more motivated by duty than money, it’s also nice when they click on my affiliate links which help to support my travels.
What are the top three destinations you’ve visited?
That’s always the hardest question to answer. What comes to mind are the Isle of Skye, Iceland and the Plitvice Lakes. Again, I love nature and these are some of the most beautiful places in the world.
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, the best place to have lunch, the best sightseeing, etc.
Gosh, I thought about doing that for the Isle of Skye, and then realized I wasn’t sure I could narrow it down to just five! If I absolutely had to, I’d probably say to visit the Fairy Pools, the Fairy Glen and the Old Man of Storr, stop at the Oyster Shed for some fresh seafood and spend a night at the Skyewalker Hostel in the glass dome where you can see the stars (if it’s not cloudy; Skye derives from the Norse words meaning cloudy island).
How many countries have you visited so far?
As of today it’s 50, but on Friday I’ll fly to Luxembourg which will be #51, and within six months I’ll be over 60. I’m planning to zero out the countries in Europe by the end of next year. That certainly doesn’t mean I’m done with Europe, but just that I”ve visited all the countries on the continent.
What are your top 3 favorite cuisines?
That’s a totally unfair question. Honestly, I love food too much, and I just can’t narrow it down. Mexican, Scottish, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Romanian, Polish, Moroccan, Malay-Indian, Dutch…the list just goes on.
What is your favorite restaurant in the world? What dish do you recommend there?
I once wrote a post entitled “I Had the Best Meal of My Life at Skeppsgossen.” From a journalistic point of view, I’m not supposed to make that claim, but I still remember that meal as one of the best I ever had. Skeppsgossen is a restaurant in Karlskrona, Sweden whose owner is radical and innovative. Aside from creating his own award-winning coffee and lemon sorbet, he also invented a truffle beer which is surprisingly good. My meal was something like a six-course affair, but I’d probably say to go with the homemade langoustine pasta.
What is your favorite travel movie?
Without question, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to make it through that movie without crying, and feeling inspired to travel even more than I do.
What is your favorite international airport?
That one stumped me until I finally remembered Oslo. I had a transfer there from London to Thailand, and my three hours in the airport were absolutely incredible. The food was a bit expensive (not surprising in the most expensive country in the world), but it was really nicely decorated, and there were plenty of spots to set up at and get some writing done with excellent WiFi. Now I just need to see the rest of Norway!
Which city had the friendliest people?
I get asked this a lot, and I usually say Tirana, Albania. But the truth is, I believe that a certain tiny percentage of people on this planet don’t have the best interests of others at heart, and a small percentage are affected by these people and make life harder for others. The rest of the population (about 80%) are really good people and want to talk, help you out and generally be your friend. I’ve met really friendly people everywhere I go in the world. There are some places where the culture is generally friendlier than others (SE Asia really comes to mind, but I sometimes feel like it’s an enforced friendliness…because it was when they were children). One thing I can say is that the bigger the city, the less friendly the people tend to be. Little villages are just wonderful to visit!
Who is your favorite travel companion?
My girlfriend! We just share a ton in common and make each other happy. She’s the kind of companion that can sit with me for hours in a cafe as we both work on our blogs without having to give or receive attention, but keeping a strong bond throughout. We have the most wonderful adventures, and she accepts my silliness and carefree concern with life while appreciating the little things I do for her.
What is the best way to kill time while traveling?
It always seems I don’t have enough free time as it is, but I do enjoy going to see a movie at the cinema now and then, especially in really unusual locations like Kiev, Ukraine or Bucharest, Romania (which has amazingly modern theaters). I’m also a very avid reader, and I love to hike (neither of which I really consider killing time). I guess my one vice is a bit of Minecraft now and then. I like to see places around the world and then recreate them in the game.
What is the most exotic place your career has taken you?
I think this would have to be a toss-up between the tours I did in Iceland, Sweden and Morocco. They all had really unique and beautiful elements. I had a chance to see an incredibly bright show of the northern lights from a boat in Iceland, slept on a small island in the Baltic Sea off the coast of Sweden, and few across the sand dunes of Morocco in a 4×4 before stopping to have tea with a local Berber family.
What is your best bit of travel advice for someone who wants to, or is about to, embark on a life of travel?
Just do it. Don’t get caught up in all the if’s and other considerations. Don’t think about the money…travel can always be done on the tightest budgets and still be enjoyed. If you’re concerned about your responsibilities, it’s because you’re a responsible person and deserve some time off. Traveling is priceless, and the memories and experiences will last a lifetime. Be willing to step outside our comfort zone. Put order into your itinerary, but leave room for spontaneity, mishaps and side adventures. And above all, have fun.
What are 4 things you could never travel without?
I know it’s not good to be tied to technology, but my phone does make my travel so much easier, especially as it’s also my camera, my flashlight, my map, my contactless debit card, and everything else. With that, my battery pack is essential, considering how much I use my phone. Beyond that, all I really need is my passport, a change of clothes and some toiletries. While I do travel with all the things I need for running the blog (laptop, tripod, stabilizer, notebooks, business cards, etc, etc,) I always like the trips where I can just take a tiny day-pack and go off for a few days on an adventure with a complete minimalistic lifestyle. I’ve done it a couple of times and it’s a blast!
What is your ultimate dream destination?
Hmm. I’d probably say New Zealand, as it’s the only place in the world which might top Iceland (which I currently consider the most beautiful country). Otherwise, I really want to visit Japan, Korea, Indonesia, South Africa, all of South America, Norway, revisit Iceland, and, well, everywhere else.
What is your favorite travel quote?
“Not all who wander are lost” by J.R.R. Tolkein.
Where are you headed next?
On Friday I’m flying out to Luxembourg to see the opening of the Christmas Markets there, and then I’ll be traveling to Cologne, Hamburg, Berlin, Poznan and Warsaw before returning to Edinburgh. That’s just the next two weeks, and I still have to confirm that next big trip before the end of the year, but then next year my girlfriend and I will be headed out on a six-month road trip, hopefully in our new van!
I was born in California and grew up on the west coast. I achieved a college-level education at a very young age, started working when I was 15 and spent 17 years at different jobs ranging from teaching to event production. I’ve always liked to study and picked up numerous skills, but there was a part of my life that wasn’t fulfilled. Finally I sat down to work out what my goals were, and how my skills could help to achieve them. It came down to writing and working with computers while traveling the world and helping others. Putting those all together was simple, and thus I became a travel blogger. Five years later, I’ve learned loads, and I’m always happy to hear how many people I’ve helped with their travels and pursuing their dreams.