– Interview by Victoria Philpott
Nellie Huang and Alberto Molero have been on the road for nine years. They travel the world writing about and photographing their adventures for WildJunket.com and their new digital and print magazine WildJunket.
WildJunket is one of the biggest and best travel blogs out there it focuses on outdoors adventures, slow travel, food and languages. We had a little chat with them to see what’s happening next in their incredible lives…
Where are you now?
We’re in Xi’An, China right now, as part of our extended trip around South East Asia and China.
Are you going to visit the moon?
Hell yeah! When space travel becomes a reality for commoners like us, we’re definitely going to be the first to sign up.
What’s the most daring thing you’ve done?
Skydiving – though we both think it’s more thrilling than scary! We both skydived in Spain, on separate occasions, and enjoyed it tremendously; we’re looking forward to going skydiving together someday.
Another thing that ranks high on the most daring thing we’ve done is our career change – quitting our engineering jobs to travel and work on our blog and magazine full-time. It’s definitely daunting to leave it all beind and build a new career and business on our own. We’ve had our ups and downs, but this has got to be the biggest challenge of our lives to this day.
And the naughtiest?
We’re rather well-behaved though we do like to party. The naughtiest thing we’ve done has got to be sneaking into a five-star hotel on the Galapagos Islands one night after downing dozens of tequilas, and soaking ourselves in the hot tub before getting caught and fleeing from the security guard. Thankfully, we were sober enough to remove our valuables from our pockets before dipping in, but our friends had their phones and money completely soaked and ruined the next day!
Any favourite travel resources?
We usually refer to Lonely Planet guidebooks for general overviews of a destination and then blogs and websites for local tips and advice. Seat61 is also my favourite website for getting information on train travel all over the world.
What about top hostels?
We recently stayed at Lub d in Bangkok and it’s definitely one of my favourite hostels of all time. It’s stylish, modern, clean and affordable, with friendly staff and relaxing vibes. It has a great location, just steps from the BTS station and street food stalls.
Which of your photos is your absolute favourite?
That’s a difficult question to answer; we’ve got millions of photos from our travels!
This photo of me, surrounded by my students in Bomang’ombe, Tanzania, is probably one of the most memorable photos. We volunteered for a few months in a village near Kilimanjaro in rural Tanzania – Alberto did the construction work while I taught English and spent time getting to know the children. We visited their orphanage, played football with them in the afternoons, chatted during breaks and basically built a special bond with them. I miss them alot and hope to return to see them soon.
Your travel blog is one of the best in the world – how many hours do you spend on it a day?
Running a travel blog is hard work, but we pride ourselves on putting our all into it. Now that we’ve also launched our own digital magazine, we’re faced with an even bigger workload. While on the road, we usually work for around 4 to 6 hours a day, but at home we get so engrossed that sometimes we spend up to 12 hours on work. It’s taken us some time to adapt to this new responsibility, but thankfully we’ve managed to balance it out with travel and leisure.
How can bloggers write for WildJunket?
We definitely welcome contributions from bloggers and writers and we also pay for the articles. Without our team of contributors WildJunket Magazine wouldn’t be a success. We’ve worked extremely hard at creating quality content and the contributors have a huge role to play in this.
Writers who are interested in contributing can take a look at our editorial guidelines and our previous issues to have a clear idea of what type of articles we publish. We only publish long, experiential narratives with a strong storytelling element, and we focus on offbeat destinations like Mongolia and Madagascar instead of vacation spots like Hawaii and Paris.
What are important travel blogger traits?
I think the most important trait is being adaptable and learning to move along with market changes and trends. In this era, new media is constantly evolving and being able to meet the ever-changing needs of readers is what keeps you in the lead.
Whether it’s about diversifying monetisation channels or leveraging on new social media platforms, the top bloggers are often the most resourceful and adaptable ones.
Another key quality is being versatile and motivated, to have the initiative to use different resources to your advantage. Blogging is not just about writing content and waiting for the readers to flow in – it also involves marketing, social media interactions, communicating with advertisers, and developing partnerships with travel companies.
Do you have a life plan?
Aha! You’ve caught me there. I’m afraid we haven’t got any future plans for our life as yet. We do know that we’re happy with what we’re doing now and hope to be able to do this for a long time. Besides maintaining the blog, we aim to expand our magazine to reach a bigger group of audience and constantly work on new projects to keep our brand fresh and up-to-date.
Who’s your favourite superhero?
Nellie doesn’t believe in superheros (all too fictional for her). Alberto’s favourite superhero is Batman – a commoner who doesn’t really have any super powers but simply saves the world with his sheer heroism and super cool gadgets.
Would you rather: Live without the internet for a year or without travel?
That’s a no-brainer. Live without the internet! As important as internet is in our lives, travel is just a part of us and we cannot imagine our lives without it.
Give up Facebook or Twitter?
Twitter gives us tons of information and live updates while Facebook lets us interact with friends, readers and contacts. We’re social people so if we were to choose, we’ll have to give up Twitter.
Pay €25 and travel for 25 hours or €250 and travel for 2?
Easy one – €25 for 25 hours! We are budget travellers (although flashpackers perfectly define us since we travel with tons of gear and electronics and we enjoy our privacy) and especially since we lead a nomadic lifestyle, we can only sustain it by leading a simple and thrifty life.
Time travel backwards or forwards?
Nellie definitely prefers to travel backwards in time – she’s always fantasised about seeing the world before mass tourism ever existed. Imagine Rome without the coach-loads of tourists, Paris and an empty Eiffel Tower, Great Wall of China guarded only by soldiers and no one else.
On the contrary, Alberto wants to experience traveling forwards, he’s a technology geek at heart.
Skydive in Spain or kayak in Alaska?
Tough question! We’ve both skydived in Spain and absolutely loved it so we’ll definitely do it again for sure. Nellie has kayaked in the backcountry of Alaska, through beautiful virgin forests and calm fjords in search of bears – but Alberto hasn’t. They’re almost opposite experiences – with one being short, intense and adrenaline-pumping, and the other relaxing, calming and experiential. But based on our adventure-seeking character, we’ll choose skydiving anytime!
Thanks for the interview, you’ve been granted one wish; what’ll it be?
To have the ability of teletransporting from one place to another within seconds!
As much as we love the journey of getting to a destination, we both have itchy feet easily and like constantly being on the move. Having the power to teletransport ourselves from say, Egypt to Mali to Japan within seconds just sounds like a dream-come-true.