Aukai Dunn travels through Mexico, Central America, and beyond sometimes with her boyfriend but mostly solo. She shares all her adventures with readers of her blog, Travel Love Kai. She currently lives in Mazatlan, Mexico where she is completely immersing herself in the Mexican culture.
She was kind enough to answer a few of our questions below!
TA: How many years have you been traveling and what got you hooked?
Aukai: Most of my life, my mother was constantly moving us around the USA. I loved the adventure of being in new places and seeing so many new things, so once my children grew up and moved out, I set out to explore more of the world. I'm hooked for life and look forward to exploring forever.
TA: Do you specialize in a particular type of travel?
Aukai: I typically focus on budget travel, local foods, events, and special unknown places to visit.
TA: What is the best vacation you've ever taken?
Aukai: I'd say the first vacation I took with my boyfriend Jeff we went to Puerto Escondido. We both had a great time, the beaches were beautiful and the people were amazing. There's fantastic food and it was simple to get around.
TA: What's one place you've always wanted to visit?
Aukai: This is a toughy because I want to visit the entire world, but if I had to choose I'd say Italy to start.
TA: If you could only give a traveler one piece of advice, what would it be?
Aukai: Expect the unexpected, stay calm, and go with the flow. It will all be worth it in the end.
TA: What's one thing you ALWAYS pack when you travel?
Aukai: A small power surge protector with a adaptable plug so it will fit into any socket. I've learned the hard way, especially with budget traveling, that finding a place to charge everything can be a real challenge.
TA: What are some of your favorite travel blogs and communities?
TA: What would be your #1 recommendation for a place to travel in 2019?
Aukai: I'd say Mexico. The exchange rate is currently at 20.04 making it a great place to stretch a buck. There are fantastic deals all along small and large beach towns for anything from romantic getaways to family friendly vacations. Mazatlan is under-visited by most travelers but there is so much to see and do here. The historic centro district is affordable and brimming with local culture. Mazatlan has really good food, nightlife, and clean, safe beaches.
TA: What are the top 3 websites you use for research/inspiration when planning a trip?
Aukai: Frommers, Lonely Planet, and Google flights. The first two I like the best when researching an area and for good ideas. They tend to be less influenced by the industry. You can find great information without all the pushing from hotels and business. They research all their destinations fully and share places with the reader without bias. I use Google flights as a starting point to find flight deals and then branch out from there. They're not affiliated with any one travel website or any of the airplane companies. I prefer to gather information from an unbiased perspective so I can make my own decisions based on that information.
TA: What is the best piece of travel advice you've ever been given?
Aukai: Don't over plan, travel slowly, and enjoy the freedom traveling gives you by going with the flow. I see it so often that people make elaborate schedules, running from one place to another, essentially missing out on the true feel of a place. I always try to be open to the experience and plan as I go. Yes, I'll research and check some ideas out, but I never schedule anything to the minute. Leave time for the area and immerse yourself in the experience.
TA: Is there something you think most travelers worry too much about?
Aukai: Safety. While I think it's important to research the safety of an area you plan on visiting, I've learned during my travels that it is typically blown out of proportion. Where I currently am living it is listed as a 'do not travel to zone', yet I've never had any issues here. As I've mentioned many times in my blog: always be cautious of where you go in any city anywhere in the world, be aware of your surroundings, and travel smart.
TA: What are the best places to travel solo and why?
Aukai: Anywhere really. The world is a big place -- why should you allow yourself to not experience it just because you're alone? As a female that spends a good amount of time traveling solo, I can't think of anywhere I wouldn't go solo except maybe the Middle East. My only advice as far as solo travel would be travel smart. If a particular street looks creepy to you don't go there. Ask for advice from the front desk and talk to other travelers and locals.
TA: What's something that other tourists do when traveling that drives you crazy and why?
Aukai: When I see tourists that expect the locals to understand what they're saying. It drives me absolutely crazy when I overhear a visitor grumbling because they can't understand what's being said to them or they can't communicate with someone. I seriously believe it is our duty as a visitor to at least learn some key phrases, download a translator app, and try to do our best to speak with the locals. Plus as a tourist you will learn so much more about the place you're visiting when you're there.