In this edition of Celebrity Travel Addicts, we speak with Keri Allan, co-editor of the popular travel blog Ladies What Travel. We chat with Keri about how her love of travel began, her best advice to aspiring travel bloggers who also hold down regular jobs, her favorite destinations around the world, and much more. Find out what travel means to her and check out where she hopes to go once the COVID-19 pandemic is over!
How did your passion for travel get started?
I’ve always loved holidays but my first ‘big trip’ was when I went and stayed with my American cousin for the summer after completing my GCSEs. I had a blast living life like an American teen and it made me want to experience more of life around the world!
Keri Allan of Ladies What Travel on Koh Jum Island in Krabi Province, Thailand
What does travel mean to you? Why do you feel it’s important?
I work from home, so for me, it’s a real escape to get away; it’s the one time I’m not sidetracked by things around me I ‘need to do’ and just get to live in the moment.
I also believe travel helps you grow as a person in many ways; I’ve changed with every trip I’ve taken, and like to think I’ve become more openminded and understanding through my travel experiences.
You, along with your friend Emma, founded and run a popular travel blog called Ladies What Travel. Can you please tell us a bit about it? How did it come about? What makes it unique?
Ladies What Travel began simply as Ladies What… and was set up when Emma, an old friend of mine, moved from Perth, Scotland to the same town as me. We used it as an excuse to explore the local area and wrote articles like ‘Ladies what…eat cake’ and ‘Ladies what…walk goats’. We’ve learned a lot since those early days!
Over time the blog evolved to become specifically about travels – near and far – something we both loved. It also grew to become a team of five female travel writers, which I think is unique in its own right, who each write about their travel loves which vary from food and outdoors through history and luxury holidays.
Keri Allan of Ladies What Travel in Zamość, Poland
In addition to traveling and blogging, you all have day jobs and busy lives outside of travel. What advice would you give to people who want to be travel bloggers but also have regular jobs?
Well, right now if I’m honest I’d have to say hold off. COVID-19 has decimated the travel industry and it’d be almost impossible to get traction and grow your blog right now while no one can travel.
When things get better, (and I’m sure they will eventually), I’d say get prepared for a long, hard slog. If you have a passion for travel and/or writing it’s totally worth it though, I’m really proud of what we’ve achieved with our blog to date. There are things you can do now to get yourself prepared though – research blog themes you’d like, ensure you stay up to date with SEO, and take the time to think about the focus of your blog and who its audience will be. You could even get writing and create a bank of articles ready to publish when the time is right.
You’re all based in the UK. What makes the United Kingdom such a great travel destination? What do you suggest people do there when they visit?
Every season offers something unique and the UK is so varied from county to county. It really depends what kinds of things you’re into, but for a quintessentially ‘British’ trip I’d recommend a couple of days in London and then a trip out west. Visit beautiful Georgian Bath – stopping off at Stonehenge on the way – and then unwind in the Cotswolds’ beautiful villages and countryside.
Keri Allan of Ladies What Travel at the Lake Mývatn Nature Baths in Mývatn, Iceland
How many days/weeks do you travel in any given year? What types of places do you like to visit?
As a freelance journalist, I’m my own boss so it varies from year-to-year. On average I take one ‘main’ 10-day holiday, at least one week-long summer trip, and then try to fit in as many UK weekend breaks and long-weekends in Europe as possible.
I’m a sucker for South East Asia, so the majority of my long-haul trips have been there – give me a sandy white beach, a tropical climate and Asian food and I’m happy! I also enjoy exploring ‘hidden gems’ and like finding quirky destinations rather than capital cities. One of my favourite trips had to be to Lublin and Zamosc, in Poland, which I’d not heard of before the trip!
What do you want audiences to gain and learn from your work?
We like to create inspirational content that introduces them to new destinations, but also like to offer tips and advice on planning trips. We love creating top 10s of things to do and see in destinations, and hopefully, we inspire people to experience new places and things!
What are the top three destinations you’ve visited?
Damn, that’s a really tough one. Well, this might change from time to time depending on my mood, but I guess my current top 3 would be Penang, Malaysia; Akureyri, Iceland; and Koh Jum, Thailand.
Keri Allan of Ladies What Travel exploring Lublin, Poland
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.
OK, I’ll give you Akureyri – as I did some real bucket list things while I was here.
1 – Go husky sledding and be in charge of your own sled/dogs
2 – See the Northern Lights
3 – Go whale watching in the fjord
4 – Visit the Mývatn Nature Baths – a much more peaceful geothermal spa experience than Reykjavik’s Blue Lagoon!
5 – visit the Bjórböðin Beer Spa, where you not only bathe in wooden tubs filled with warm beer, you can enjoy it on tap from the comfort of your bath!
How many countries have you visited so far?
What are your top 3 favorite cuisines?
Thai, Malaysian, and Indian.
Keri Allan of Ladies What Travel checking out the street art on the island of Penang, Malaysia
What is your favorite restaurant in the world? What dish do you recommend there?
Gioia Mia Pisciapiano in Rome. I came across it by accident – its down a tiny side street and there were locals queuing to go in. Have the lamb – it’s the most amazing dish I’ve ever eaten!
What is your favorite travel movie?
I think it has to be Walter Mitty. I was desperate to go to Iceland and Greenland ever since I saw it. One down – one to go!
What is your favorite international airport?
Heathrow as it’s the main starting point for most of my trips!
Keri Allan of Ladies What Travel at the Great Bath in the Roman Baths bathing complex in Bath, England
Which city had the friendliest people?
Akureyri – everyone we met went out of their way to welcome us and make sure we were happy. I had the greatest time there.
Who is your favorite travel companion?
My other half, Justin. He looks after me when needed and also pushes me out of my comfort zone when needed.
What is the best way to kill time while traveling?
Play a game or read a book. We love taking travel board games, but I also love my Switch for long flights. My Kindle goes everywhere with me.
Keri Allan of Ladies What Travel in Akureyri, Iceland
What is the most exotic place your career has taken you?
It’s a toss-up between the time I got to experience authentic Tokyo on a work press trip and my visit to Pixar Studios in San Francisco. I have to say that was something super special!
What is your best bit of travel advice for someone who wants to, or is about to, embark on a life of travel?
Stop dreaming about it and just do it! It can be nerve-wracking but you’ll never regret taking that trip – those memories will stay with you for a lifetime.
What are 4 things you could never travel without?
A tub of teabags, my factor 50 suncream, my Kindle, and my compression tights. I have something called post-thrombotic syndrome which causes my legs to be painful and swell – these bad boys allow me to actually get about and really explore the places I visit.
Keri Allan of Ladies What Travel at Lords of the Manor luxury hotel in Cotswold, England
What is your ultimate dream destination?
Somewhere like Fiji or Greenland.
What is your favorite travel quote?
I don’t think I actually have one, sorry!
Where are you headed next?
No idea at the moment – the focus is on staying home and staying safe. We did have a trip to Kotor, Montenegro booked for May and Bordeaux in July – the current plan is to reschedule these for next year. We’ll definitely be booking several trips once we’re safely the other side of this pandemic though!
Keri Allan of Ladies What Travel with a pair of huskies while sledding in northern Iceland
Ladies What Travel focuses on helping people make the most of their weekends and annual leave. We’re an all-female team of writers in their 20s, 30s and 40s, who bring their own unique perspective on travel. Together, our varied interests and travel styles provide readers with a vibrant resource that covers everything from affordable luxury holidays and historical day trips through to weekend getaways and road trips.