An Interview with All Day I Dream Of Travel

Greetings from Puerto Plata!

Greetings from Puerto Plata! A selfie taken in Dominican Republic.

An Interview with All Day I Dream Of Travel: Shannon Lee Gilstad, creator of All Day I Dream of Travel answers your questions about travel.

Why did you start your travel blog?

I’ve always enjoyed writing since I learned how to. In fact, when I was 8 or 9, I wanted to be a journalist or author. I tried my hand at fiction but they tell you to write what you know, right? Travel is probably my biggest interest and the hobby that takes most of my time— and money!

In the late 90s, when websites became a thing, I stumbled upon a site that would let you create free websites. It had very limited bandwidth and the templates were horrible, but I learned a little HTML, and used the site to display my photos.

It was after a friend of my created her own website (no lame templates!) that I realized I could start one and customize it. I did the whole blog thing for a while, then it occurred to me that what I think about most is travel. That’s how All Day I Dream of Travel was born.

What is the first trip you remember taking and how old were you?

The first trip I was ever on was to Cape Cod and Nantucket, Massachusetts at about three months old. I can still vaguely remember being in my stroller on a boat (I know, hard to believe!) I didn’t actually travel much as a kid, and most of my travel memories from childhood were from Cape Cod, where my parents had friends.

What kind of traveler are you?

I’m a solo traveler and a woman traveler. Earlier on, you could have described me as a backpacker or extreme budget traveler because I didn’t have much money to begin with. Now that I’m in my 30s, I’m going less for hostel dorms and hours-long bus rides to save a dollar. I definitely still love a bargain but I don’t have the time or inclination to spend all day travelling or roughing it. I’m finding taking a cab or paying extra for a quiet room can save money in the end.

What was your most recent trip?

Punta Cana greenery

The view from balcony at the Meliá Caribe Tropical Resort in Punta Cana.

I just got back from Punta Cana! Despite such a Dominican flavor in the Bronx and Uptown, I hadn’t been to Dominican Republic until last year. I decided to splurge and book an all-inclusive for my birthday in Puerto Plata. I’d always wanted to see Punta Cana and found a price I couldn’t refuse, so spend a three day weekend there.

How often do you travel during the year?

I used to be one to stick around and staycation. These days, I’m taking advantage of every long weekend  and look to go somewhere new. This year I’ve been to six countries, three of which I’d never visited before. I aim for around six trips a year.

How do you pay for your travel?

I’m your not-so-average working stiff! There’s this cliché of a 9 to 5er who quits her job and sells all her possessions to “travel the world.” The blogosphere is saturated with folks who’d have you believe that it is *this simple* to throw convention and routine to the wind, and get paid to travel the world. I think what a lot of people don’t realize is many of the people you see on Instagram have regular jobs, and use vacation time and holidays for travel. That’s my story, at least. I look for bargains. You can read a little bit more about how I do it in my article.

Do you have a favorite destination and why?

In my 20s, after grad school, I spent several months living in Bogotá, Colombia. Up until then, aside from Florida, I’d only travel led around the Northeast (i.e., Philadelphia, Boston.) I’m biased because I lived there and have connections to it, but I love Colombia. I love going back to familiar places while always looking to see something new each time. I lived in Bogotá, so it’s my favorite, but Cartagena is quickly becoming a close second. There’s so much variation between each city and region that it’s like several countries in one.

Do you have a country or city that was a disappointing for you?

I live by the mantra, “Have no regrets,” so I like to think of every trip as worthwhile. That said, of course there have been a few places that didn’t live up to my expectations. I wrote about my experience in Costa Rica, which I wasn’t crazy about. I was also a bit disappointed with Willemstad and Curaçao in general, which I found a bit lackluster. Do I feel I wasted my time? No, and in fact, I may give each place another chance in the future. I don’t think any time you go to a place you’ve never been an learn something new that you’ve wasted your time. Nothing is really going to be 100% the way we imagined.

How do you prepare for a trip?

I don’t. (laughs) I get a lot of inspiration from Pinterest, actually. I’m able to get a visual of possible places to visit and curate ideas onto a board. I find a lot of blogs that way and save the information in an e-mail, and print it out before I go. Before I go anywhere new, I always like to figure out the public transportation situation. Recently, I was able to use free wifi in Mexico City airport to get an Uber into town. Last year, I got information from blogs and forums about Santo Domingo, and was able to save a lot of money by using a guagua to get to the city.

What will your next travel destination be?

Bruges canal

One of Bruges’s many canals, Belgium’s jewel.

I’m headed to Belgium and France with my fiancé over Thanksgiving. We fly in and out of Brussels. We begin in Antwerp, will head off to Paris for a few days, then return to Brussels. I went to Belgium 2 years ago and got a great flight deal. Not so long ago, it was rare to see inexpensive flights to Brussels and Amsterdam. Belgium packs a lot in and is just an easy country to navigate.

Stay tuned for Part II…