This week on The Traveler Series meet Katka Lapelosová of the Matador Network. Katka is the Managing Editor and Social Media Director of Matador Network, an online travel site and community dedicated to covering real culture, people and stories from around the globe. With a deep love for travel and writing, Katka has written for Reader’s Digest, Thought Catalog, Matador and more. Here I interview Katka on what inspires her to travel, her favorite city and best piece of advice for the budding travel writer.
What inspires you to travel?
I’ve always been fascinated with the way other people live. I love learning about their customs and how I can incorporate into my life the different things other places have taught me.
For those who don’t yet know you, can you explain your travel style?
It’s changed a lot since I was younger! I’ve really grown to appreciate slow travel and working on a loose schedule. I try not to let finances dictate my itinerary and just do the things that interest me most.
How do you afford your travels?
I am amazing at saving money. I’ve paid for every trip I’ve ever taken by myself. I’ve lived on less than $1500 a month and still was able to travel abroad. You just have to make it a priority, I guess!
Where has been your favorite destination?
Prague, Iceland, Slovakia, and Oslo, Norway, are all very special places for me for different reasons. I couldn’t possibly pick just one place from that small list.
If you had to settle down in one location forever, where would you choose and why?
London is my all-time favorite city, and a place I know I could spend the rest of my life. It’s like a more practical version of New York City (where I currently live).
What’s the funniest or weirdest cultural idiosyncrasy you’ve either witnessed or experienced?
I love French fries. When I lived in Slovakia, I would order them with everything – even halušky, which is a Slovak dish made with potato dumplings. My Slovak friends thought it was so strange that they had the whole restaurant making fun of me for having halušky with a side of French fries. One of my friends even called his mom!
What keepsake do you have to get at all your destinations? (Whether it’s something free like ticket stubs or brochures, or something you have to buy).
I love clothing and textiles, especially handmade materials. I always try to seek out local designers, and local materials I wouldn’t be able to find elsewhere.
A map. I am always referring to maps. I don’t like getting lost, and I also like being able to chart the places I’ve been during my trip.
What is the best piece of travel advice you’ve picked up over the years?
Be patient, and don’t have any expectations. Always be a little bit nervous, because feeling relieved is the best feeling ever.
Why did you begin your website? And how did you come up with your website name?
I wanted to try and start “branding” myself beyond a Tumblr URL. I figured having a professional website would be the best way to do that, but now I’m so busy working for Matador Network, that I barely have time to work on my own stuff! The name is just me, doing what I do best – traveling!
What is your one piece of advice to budding travel writers looking to start a blog or website?
Reach out to your audience and write for them – what they want to read, what they want to see. If you are looking to work with businesses, you’ll have to learn to write for an audience. If you are looking to just write for yourself, then just have fun!
What’s next for 2014? (Trips planned, etc.)
I’ll be heading down to Charleston for a friend’s wedding and to do some work for a new luxury website. I’ll be spending time with some family along the Jersey Shore in August but as I’m now planning a wedding, I won’t be traveling much for a while unless it’s for work.
Follow Katka and her travels here: