We recently met up with travel bloggers Diana and Hope of MVMT Travel Beyond Bounds at The NY Times Travel Show. As part of our Escape the Winter campaign this week we interviewed Diana and Hope about their blog and top 5 beach destinations to escape the winter with tips to get you there.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your travel blog?
Diana: I am a lawyer from Chicago and currently work full time at a law firm. My sister, Hope, and I decided to start our travel blog after traveling to Norway in July 2016 and hiking Trolltunga. We saw so many ill prepared hikers on our 11 hour trek and wanted to create a guide to help future travelers know what to prepare for so they can have a safe and fun journey. Now, our blog focuses on helping people with real life obligations, such as work or school, travel the world. We have a ton of practical guides on budgeting, making the most of your vacation days, packing, etc., as well as 24 hour destination guides for those who only have the luxury of taking a short trip abroad. Both Hope and I have traveled to five countries in five days before, separately, and we’ve taken a weekend trip to Iceland from the U.S.
Hope: I am a full time student at the University of Michigan. I am in my second year and am looking into studying information science with an emphasis on social media marketing. As my sister said, our blog started after a sister trip to Norway. It has developed a lot since then, but one thing that has stayed constant is our dedication to providing an honest representation of our view on the movements of the world, with travel constituting 99% of this.
You recently escaped the winter and traveled to the U.S. and British Virgin Islands. What made you choose those destinations?
Diana: We take a family trip to the Caribbean every winter around Christmas time to escape the cold, and we try to venture out to a new destination each year. This year we found some cheap flights to St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, and we had never been to the Virgin Islands before, so we decided to go there.
Hope: Our family has a tradition of going to warm places in the winter, and this has probably been going on for the last 10 years or so. We’re moving down our list of Caribbean countries and this year, St. Thomas happened to make the cut!
What are your top 5 destinations to escape the winter?
Diana: Our family travels to the Caribbean every winter, so that’s our escape. We’ve been to about 10 Caribbean islands now, and my favorites are Turks and Caicos and the Virgin Islands. Turks and Caicos has some of the softest and most beautiful white sand beaches I have ever seen. The Virgin Islands are packed with fun activities, such as snorkeling, hiking, zip lining, cave exploring, and diving. It is also very easy to take a day trip from one island to another and have a completely different experience.
Hope: My favourite warm destination is actually not in the Caribbean, but in Hawaii. I absolutely loved our trip there. We were to Oahu, Maui, and the Big Island. All three had such different elements to them from the volcanoes on the Big Island, to the beautiful, relaxing beaches on Maui, to the city and history on Oahu. Aside from Hawaii, I also loved Turks and Caicos and the Virgin Islands.
We focus on travel that incorporates local businesses into our travel experiences as best we can. Do you consider this important part of travel, and if so how do you incorporate it into your travel?
Diana: Absolutely. I try to steer clear of chains as much as possible when I travel. Rather than staying at a Marriott, I try to stay at a locally owned boutique hotel. Rather than buying my coffee from Starbucks, I try to find a locally owned coffee shop. Locals are opening up their homes and their countries to us when we travel there, so the least we can do is help contribute financially to the local businesses whenever possible.
Hope: I think that this is one of the most important parts of travel. Supporting local businesses is a huge part of sustaining and staying true to the local culture of a place. Additionally, local businesses are most aware of their areas and how to avoid jeopardizing its environment just to make a higher profit. We incorporate it in our travels mostly by choosing local business to eat at.
What tools or platforms do you use when planning your trips?
Diana: I check www.theflightdeal.com almost daily just to see what offers are out there. The site provides error fares (when an airline accidentally releases a very cheap fare for a short period of time – usually only 24 hours or 48 hours), so it’s important to be flexible and book quickly. If I have a specific destination I am trying to visit, I always check Skyscanner first and then Momondo. I also have an app on my phone called Hopper, which tracks trends in price changes. This helps me decide whether I want to book a flight now, or whether I could be getting a better deal if I wait.
Hope: I usually book my tickets using Skyscanner or Student Universe. Aside from ticket booking, there isn’t much I do to plan my trips. I’ll find a few spots that I want to hit in the place I’m visiting and map out the general areas using google maps. This way, I have the freedom to go wherever I want, but I’ll still have an idea of which area different attractions are in.
Where will you travel to next?
Diana: I am headed back to Iceland in early March and also visiting the UK and Ireland for about 10 days on that trip. Right after that, I’m headed to Southeast Asia and China. I’ll be starting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and traveling to Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, and China.
Hope: I probably won’t have any trips abroad until the end of school (end of April). I’ll be going home to Toronto at the end of February for spring break, and in the summer, I have an internship in Berlin for 3 months. I haven’t planned where I want to go during this time yet but will definitely be exploring tons of different countries!
For more on Diana and Hope’s travels check out their website.
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