In 2012, Karen Warren left her day job to concentrate on her twin passions of writing and traveling. Her travel blog — WorldWideWriter — concentrates on lesser-known sights and destinations, or different ways of looking at well-known places. She loves history, architecture and food, but writes about anything else that catches her interest.
Karen was kind enough to answer a few of our questions below!
TA: How many years have you been traveling and what got you hooked?
Karen: I’ve been traveling all my adult life. It was general curiosity about the world that got me started.
TA: Do you specialize in a particular type of travel?
Karen: Yes — I focus on independent travel, where people discover things for themselves.
TA: What is the best vacation you’ve ever taken?
Karen: I’ve had lots of great trips, but going to the Cinque Terre in Italy by train was amazing. Counting the metro trains in London and Paris on the way, and local trains while I was there, I think it was something like 50+ train trips in all. Wonderful, but only if you’re a train lover.
TA: What’s one place you’ve always wanted to visit?
Karen: I have a long list, but I’m very keen to get to New Orleans.
TA: If you could only give a traveler one piece of advice, what would it be?
Karen: Leave yourself time to wander around the back streets or to drive around country roads — you’re bound to find something interesting.
TA: What are some of your favorite travel blogs and communities?
Karen: I tend to pick and mix with travel blogs. My favorite community is a Twitter Chat group called The Road Less Travelled (#TheRLT).
TA: What would be your #1 recommendation for a place to travel in 2019?
Karen: Central Europe (Poland, Czech Republic, etc.) is incredibly good value for your money at the moment. And if you keep away from the tourist hotspots you can find some amazing hardly-discovered places.
TA: What are the top 3 websites you use for research/inspiration when planning a trip?
TA: Do you have any good airport or flight hacks for people traveling by plane?
Karen: If you have a while to wait, airport lounges can be a good value. Look for ones that give free food, drinks, and WiFi.
TA: What is the best piece of travel advice you’ve ever been given?
Karen: If you want to travel, stop worrying and just do it.
TA: Is there something you think most travelers worry too much about?
Karen: Probably language — even if no one speaks your language, you can get most of what you need by sign language.
TA: What’s a travel scam travelers should be wary of?
Karen: I haven’t had too many scams, but it’s good to avoid the ones who want to take you to “my father’s shop” — it’s invariably the most expensive tourist trap in town.
TA: Which country has surprisingly good food?
Karen: I was pleasantly surprised by Finland — a limited supply of ingredients means they have to work very hard to make it interesting. Look out for fresh fish, berries, and licorice.
TA: What is the most beautiful and affordable city you’ve ever visited?
Karen: Lots to choose from, but I’ll go for Seville in Spain. Like most cities in Mediterranean countries, the best way to see it is just by wandering around, but don’t miss the Metropol Parasol, the Alcazar, or the Contemporary Arts Centre.
TA: What’s one way people can get the most out of their cruise experience?
Karen: I’m not a great one for cruises, but I’ve found the best days were when I just wandered around places on my own rather than on a trip.
TA: Have you ever met someone while traveling who changed your life?
Karen: The people I met during my first solo trip — to Italy — made me realize that traveling didn’t need to be scary.
TA: What are the best places to travel solo and why?
Karen: I prefer to be in a city, with good public transport, so that I don’t have to think about how I’m going to get around, and can concentrate on seeing the place.
TA: What’s something that other tourists do when traveling that drives you crazy and why?
Karen: Taking lots of selfies and blocking everyone else’s view!
TA: Which underrated destination deserves to be more famous?
Karen: Ostia Antica: just a train ride from Rome, is as interesting as Pompeii but less well-known.