1. Please tell us a little about yourself
I originate from Sardinia, the Italian island mainly known for its unspoilt beaches and wild landscape, and while Sardinians travel mostly for work, I got bitten by the travel bug at the tender age of 13 when, for the first time, I crossed the Equator.
It was my first big trip, to Brazil, and since then I’ve always liked to travel. After I obtained my first degree in Rome, I looked for a job in Italy and since a heavy recession had already started sinking the country’s economy, the only option I saw for myself was to leave and get some experience abroad.
This is how my expat lifestyle came about, despite my love for traveling, my choice was dictated more by necessity than by simple pleasure. Truth be said, however, my original plan was to live six months in Ireland or the UK, instead of the almost ten years I actually spent abroad.
2. How did your passion for travel start and why did you create chasingtheunexpected.com?
My passion for travel started when I was not even a teenager, and since then I’ve always traveled quite often. My blogging effort, however, didn’t start with Chasing The Unexpected, and when I launched it I had already been blogging for some two years on a little travel blog on the Blogger platform.
I started my first blog mainly for fun and to record my trips, but when it became a real passion I decided it was time to go self-hosted. This is how Chasing The Unexpected came about, and since its inception I’ve never even thought I would close it some day, on the contrary, I keep thinking new ways to evolve it.
3. You have already visited so many places. What was your favorite and why?
Many are the places I have enjoyed and where I want to come back. Probably what I enjoy best is to adapt to any type of cultures and traditions. I travel keeping in mind that every country is inhabited by human beings, so if they can live there, so can I.
Among my favorite places are Brazil, I’ve been many times and I always enjoy going back, China, I’ve lived there one year and it really struck a chord on me, and Iran, for its stunning art and architecture, friendly and cultured people, and fascinating society.
4. I understand you like “to dig deep into other countries’ culture, traditions and society” …what was the culture that surprised you the most and why?
I always like to think that even after traveling for so long, all places will be able to surprise me, and luckily, it really is the case. Probably the country that surprised me the most has been India.
Everything in India seems loud, cars, trucks and rickshaws festooned with all kinds of colors and ornaments, Bollywood music being played everywhere, a strong scent of curry permeating the air from dusk to dawn. Bearing no similarities with any other country, India is a place that will always give you contradictory sentiments, and for this, I’m never tired of recommending it to everyone.
5. What is your preferred travel gear?
Unlike many long-term travelers, I’m not, I’ve never been, and very unlikely I’ll ever be a backpacker. My usual travel gear is a carry-on trolley and a camera bag. I do, however, carry a small backpack in my luggage for the day trips I make once at the destination.
Among the other things I never travel without are a universal electrical adaptor, a small torch (you never know!) and, of course, everything related to my computer and camera accessories, from an external hard drive to SD cards to all my lenses. In the toiletries department, I make sure I always pack Aleppo soap, baking soda, tea tree oil and lavender essential oil, all things very versatile and multifunctional.
6. Your photography is amazing. Can you give us a few tips on how to take amazing photos like you?
I wasn’t “born” a photographer, but both for my blog and because I really enjoy going out and about taking pictures, I’m always trying to improve, taking courses and joining workshops and themed outings. While at the beginning I probably used to take a shot merely of a subject, now I try to get more deeply into the essence of a place, its people, buildings, roads and all that concerns its culture.
I’ve always carried out deep research prior to my trips, and while before it was mainly for my articles or blogs, now it’s also for my pictures, in order to know what meaning I want to give my images and what angle of the culture I want to show. Apart from this, one of the most useful things to do is to study the settings of your camera by heart so you can quickly adapt them to the situation and you don’t need to carry the manual everywhere!
7. What are the highlights of your chosen lifestyle?
While it’s a difficult lifestyle especially because pretty unstable financially, many are also the benefits, first among which, at least for me, is the possibility to be location independent. I have tried to be a full-time, even only a part-time employee, but a cubicle job is really not my cup of tea. Only thanks to my location-independent career I could actually travel as much as I did.
Even though now I’m based in Rome, I still keep this lifestyle because it’s the only way for me to be able to keep traveling, writing and blogging at my own pace.
8. Can you give us 5 tips on how to travel and write and make a living out of it?
- Before delivering some of what I think are useful tips, the first thing anyone embarking on this journey should keep in mind is that travel blogging and writing is hard work, and that free trips and easy cash won’t start pouring your way a week after you’ve launched your blog. This being said, here are some practical tips.Take a course. Be it to polish your writing skills or improve your photography, either enroll in a course or join a photography workshop, but do invest in your skills, in the end they are the most precious resources you’ve got.
- Manage your time carefully. Remember that you are the main manager of your new company, of your office, your daily routine and working hours, so there will be no-one telling you what to do and when to do it. This means that you need to be very well organized, set a schedule and stick to it, make a list, dress up as if you were going to meet a client, do whatever you need that will give you a working mindset and help you avoid all the distractions that working from home entails.
- Save. Save as much as you can, especially at the beginning, when you are still figuring out how to make money while traveling. From selling your photos to writing articles to working as social media assistant, many are the jobs that can be done online, just be prepared and make sure you have some savings when you start.
- Read a lot. If you don’t read, you can’t write, as simple as that. With e-books always more available, you can carry thousands of books with little to no extra weight, so you have no excuse, read every day, not only travel-related articles and books, but any topic.
- Never get despondent. Especially at the beginning, but not only, sometimes you will face rejection, be it an editor who won’t accept your pitch, a stock photo agency that will reject your images and so on and so forth. It’s OK, there are hundreds of places where you can apply for location-independent jobs, look around and work hard.
9. Who is the person that you admire the most, the hero that you look up to?
Hard question, I’m not much of a hero-person, even though there are some leaders I do admire, such as Italian philosopher and one of founders of the Italian Communist Party, Antonio Gramsci, the former president of Burkina Faso Thomas Sankara, killed when he was only 38, but a leader who many people reckon he would have really brought about a social and economic change, and Martin Luther King, for its huge courage, among the others.
On another note, many are also the writers I love, from wonderful French authors Emile Zola, Honoré de Balzac and Stendhal, to Italian iconic writer and movie director Pierpaolo Pasolini, alongside other Italian novelists and journalists such as Giovanni Verga, Leonardo Sciascia, Grazia Deledda. Lately I’m finding of great inspiration travel writer Stanley Stewart: apart from reading his book In The Empire of Genghis Khan, I literally peruse all magazines I can find in the look out for his articles.
10. A message to your fans.
I usually prefer to think I have readers, rather than fans, and what I enjoy the most is receiving their comments, feedback, emails. The message I hope anyone landing to my blog receives, is to travel often, to get to know different cultures, meet different people and contribute in fighting the far too many prejudices that bring no good to our societies.