Archive for interview

Interview with Where is Your Toothbrush?

Let me introduce you to a sweet couple traveling around the world and writing about it. It would not be anything new if the guy was not Slovak like me :)) And they blog on Where is Your Toothbrush?


1. Who are you? Tell us something about you.


We are Peter Korchnak and Lindsay Sauvé, a couple on a trip around the world. Peter is from Slovakia, Lindsay from California, U.S.A.


We met in the Netherlands in 2002—travel is really built into our relationship. Our one-year (or longer) trip is a culmination of a dream we had for almost the entire 8 years we lived in Portland, Oregon. Now home is where our toothbrushes are: we make ourselves at home anywhere.


We are also both writers and are using the trip to pursue our creative careers. We write the blog Where Is Your Toothbrush?, which we’ll be turning into a book; we have each started working on our debut novels; and we freelance as much as possible.




2. What is your favorite place, city and country and why? (all three of them)


Peter: I believe in, “Wherever you go, there you are.” Every place I find myself is my favorite in the moment, or at least I aim to make it so. Right now (January 2014) we are in George Town, Malaysia, which I loved from Day 1. We’re especially enjoying the wonderful variety of cuisines on offer all over: Malay, Chinese, Indian…


But I’ve managed to find travel bliss in places that were a little more difficult to love at first. For example, in Istanbul it took us two weeks to finally settle in and find some cool spots: the quays in small towns along the Bosphorus Strait; Macka Park; or Osman’s cafe operating out of a broken-down truck on a vacant lot by the Karakoy water taxi station on the Golden Horn.


My favorite city on the trip so far is Sarajevo because of its unique blend of cultures, tumultuous history, and stories people share. My favorite country other than my homeland Slovakia is my adopted homeland, the United States of America. It is way more diverse than people think, both in terms of culture and landscape. You could spend your life traveling just there. And it’s where Lindsay’s from.


Lindsay: My favorite place to be is in a forest. I prefer the company of trees. A forest is a place where I am feel instantly calm, present, and alive.


As far as cities and countries, it’s hard to pinpoint just one. I both love and hate certain things about all cities. I am in awe of Paris, its cafes, its astounding beauty, the beautiful Parisians themselves, but I dislike the traffic, crowds, noise, and the high prices. Every city for me has its positives and negatives and the same with countries.


3. If you could go anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would it be and why?


Peter: I’d love to follow summer around the world. George Town is like that right now and all the time, I’m told. Part of me also wants to visit North Korea because of the mystery that shrouds it, but I know I’d just be taken around the nice parts by government minders and not get anywhere near the real country. Other than that, I’d like to visit more off-the-beaten path places that haven’t been turned into theme-park versions of themselves, Albania again, and Burma or Colombia.


Lindsay: The Maldives, because from photos they look so out-of-this world beautiful. And I love islands, beaches, and sun and, at the rate our climate is going, they won’t be around much longer. If I were to go anywhere right now that we’ve been on our trip so far it would be back to Greece. Despite its problems, it has the right combination of city, nature, sun, great food, and a culture that seems to know how to work hard and play hard. But a lot of countries have these same great elements.




4. What do you love the most about your home country?


Peter: The mountains, especially the High Tatras. I’ve visited bigger mountain ranges and will visit more still, but the Tatras can’t be beat. Not only are they beautiful and magical, they equate with home. There simply isn’t a better feeling than to climb a peak like Kriváň, or any place high up for that matter, and looking over the valleys down below and mountain ranges in the distance. You’re on Earth but also in the sky, you’re both in Slovakia and on top of the world.


Lindsay: My family and friends. Making a home around the world has taught me that I can live anywhere, but it’s people that really connect you to a place. I also love the natural, diverse beauty of the United States, especially the West Coast, where I’m from.


5. How has travel changed you?


Peter: I’ve been traveling since I was in diapers (my parents would hide foreign currency in them to avoid confiscation by customs). Even under socialism, I visited five different countries before I started elementary school. Travel is such a part of me that until very recently I could not say how it had changed me. Rather, I can say how much not traveling internationally (Canada doesn’t count) when I was trying to make it in the U.S. changed me: I lived with a feeling something was missing from my life, as if a part of me was atrophying. I only realized this once we hit the road on this trip.


Since our Southeast Asia leg of the trip, I’m also realizing more and more that the world is a big and amazing place and I am but one of many billions of people living in it. I am becoming more humble as a result, in awe of if all.


Lindsay: I first traveled outside the United States when I was 23. Before that, I hadn’t done much by myself. I was always had friends, family, boyfriends, coworkers, etc. to rely on. Traveling taught me how to be self-reliant, and how to get things done on my own. Traveling also taught me what it’s like to be an outsider. It’s humbling to not be always understood, in control, and in your element.


Interview with Reginald Douglas aka Reggie from Nevis

interview with Reginald Douglas at Nisbet Plantation

When we visited Nevis island and went all around Nisbet Plantation to check out the place where Fanny Nisbet, the wife of Horatio Nelson, used to live, we had a great chance to meet Reginald Douglas, the famous sportsman of Nevis.

Reginald Douglas aka Reggie didn’t look for his 36 years at all and I really thought he was joking when he said that. Born on Nevis but his family is from Antigua (his mother was adopted on Nevis). Drinking water, Reggie started telling us that he swam from Nevis to St. Kitts 5 times which takes around 1 hour.

Some people swim this for fun or do snorkeling as it is shallow and you can see the formation of 2 islands here.

interview with Reginald Douglas at Nisbet Plantation

interview with Reginald Douglas at Nisbet Plantation


He trains people not only when it comes to sports but also shows them fishing. Participating in cancer races to raise funds was just one of the many interesting things I learned about this always smiling sportsman. 

Reggie runs and cycles for triathlon and this is also what made him famous. Started in 2007, then in 2010 he participated in Australia too where he finished as the 46th in his age group out of 2,000 people. He did triathlon also in Switzerland. In Trinidad and Tobago he won, he races in St. Maarten, and he won the International Triathlon on Nevis in 2007. In 2003 Reggie also did his first Ironman as the only Caribbean guy who did half Ironman on vegan diet (as a vegan myself I have to give him thumbs up for this!)

After Reggie turned 30 he started eating fish again for extra protein. He does advertising for Nevis island on his sports clothes and works with sponsors from local business, tourism boards, EPIX gear from the US which makes it very similar to travel blogging as we get some sponsors too.

Nevis terrain is good for sports – it’s relaxing, the weather is great, many athletes come here to train.

He is trying to be as safe as possible but ran into a monkey during a race and got a blood clot and almost died.

Nothing is sweeter than when you get your eyes on something – a goal

always smiling Reggie

always smiling Reggie Douglas

Reggie told us his take on Lance Armstrong taking drugs – his French team left him when he got cancer, he came back with the US sponsor with a lot of pressure on his shoulders and couldn’t make it which lead to drugs.

Nowadays Reggie does less triathlon but concentrates more on cycling and mountain biking. He even started Nevis Adventure Tours with GreenEdge Bike on Nevis. And he also helps some youngsters with sports as it helps them with their education too.

I didn’t know what to expect from our interview but in the end it gave me a lot. Not only I knew some things about Ironman and triathlon from my American ex boyfriend who was training for them too, but Reggie also inspired me so much when he was talking about the kids or anyone who he is helping to train and move forward. Every inspiration is good.

crazy sexy fun traveler with Reggie Douglas

with Reggie

Interview with MSC Spa Supervisor and Corporate Trainer Roberto Ladisi

Roberto Ladisi

As you might know, I am going onboard my first cruise ever on the 24th March. It will be the first MSC Preziosa cruise around the Mediterranean and I am lucky enough to be able to be part of it. As I am doing Adventure and Spa project this year, I interviewed Roberto Ladisi – the MSC Spa Supervisor and Corporate Trainer to get a sneak peak of the Aurea spa onboard the MSC Preziosa cruise.


1. How long have you been working as a Spa Supervisor? Have you worked on board a cruise before?


Since I was a child, I’ve had a growing sense of the aesthetic and have been blessed with what some describe as ‘explosive creativity’.

Way back in 1988, when I graduated from Polimoda, the International Fashion University of Florence, I had the honor of being selected in the very first class with a closed number of 25 students.

After that, I immediately started to work in the fashion industry as a designer. Ten years into a growing career in fashion, I was able to take an intensive course in massage, meditation and aesthetics thanks to a relative in Rome who owns an aesthetic and holistic school. You could say it was love at first sight!

As soon as I finished that course, I decided to leave the fashion industry and put my new experience to good use in the world of wellness and relaxation.

I was lucky and immediately found a job as a body therapist on a cruise ship. That was in 1998 and, after my first 6 months,  I was then promoted to spa manager and never looked back!

I then joined the start-up of the 5 star Tombolo Resort Thalassotherapy Hotel as spa manager and, after 2 years, I was given the same opportunity for the internationally renowned Hotel Cipriani in Venice, for the start up of its Casanova Spa.

Following those experiences, which gave me a real taste of the luxury world, as well as an insight into the lives of movie stars and high class guests, Ocean View Monaco asked me to take care of the start up of the brand new cruise ship MSC Musica and I became MSC Aurea Spa supervisor for the whole MSC fleet.



Roberto Ladisi

Roberto Ladisi


2. Why did you choose spa as your work place? Why MSC Preziosa?


I am incredibly lucky in that my job is my passion, my hobby and my lifestyle rolled into one.

At home and in my private life in general, I follow the same wellness rules that I recommend to our guests. Of course, being relaxed at all times is hard to achieve, but I certainly do my best.

MSC Preziosa’s spa is only the latest MSC Aura Spa – there is one on board each and every ship in the fleet – and I am currently very busy taking care of training all the therapists on board on our new signature treatments, created exclusively for this new flagship. Right now, my priority is to ensure that everything spa related for the very first cruise after MSC Preziosa’s christening in Genoa runs smoothly.


3. Is it very stressful to be in charge of the whole spa onboard a cruise or is it more of a relaxing job? (spas is usually a very quiet place with relaxing music and many people working there are happy). What is your daily schedule?


I actually change ship almost every week – I don’t know if the word “stressful” is the correct term to identify my condition! Of course, you get used to it after a while, and it’s very important to be able to separate yourself from the job, which I think I manage well.

The place I work helps keep me relaxed: soothing music, sweet fragrances in the air, and the beautiful smiles and the warmth of each spa team certainly makes it easier.

It is very important for a big company like MSC Cruises to make sure that all of our staff receive regular technical training so, as part of my daily schedule, I usually have a  training session to carry out, teaching therapists a new signature treatment or massage, or giving them a refresher course. Every training is then followed by a test.

I usually start at 8:00 and work until early evening, where, after a short briefing with the whole staff, I make sure to dedicate some time only to myself!


4. Why should cruisers try MSC Aurea Spa? What makes it different?


To give you an idea of the ambience inside the spa itself- the MSC Aurea Spa is a 1,700 square metre oriental paradise with an exotic modern decor of natural stones, wood and rich mosaics. Teamed with the scent of essential oils and soft candlelight, and its superb sea views, every traveler who steps inside feels as though they’re being invited to create a personal path to health, wellness and beauty.

As I said before, we focus very much on the technical training and professionalism of our staff, as well as the creation and implementation of new treatments, which I usually create according to a careful observation of the market and the needs and requests of travelers across the MSC fleet. All these efforts are focused on making sure that the spa experience on board an MSC ship is second to none.

We never stop moving forward, just like a cruise ship! Our repeaters, for example, have the opportunity to come back and try something different every time.

The experience of a proper massage, in expert hands, is like a sunset: utterly amazing every time, but always bringing new sensations.


MSC spa relax

MSC spa relax


5. What special spa packages do you offer onboard MSC Preziosa?


There are no particular packages unique to MSC Preziosa, but she does boast some exclusive new features as well as a special range of facial and body treatments inspired by precious minerals, with “precious” ingredients like hematite, rhodocrostite and malachite with gold!

Specially tailored for couples, we have also installed a stunning Harmony Suite on board MSC Preziosa, designed to enhance the overall spa experience by providing a luxurious private space in which guests can experience harmonious, personalized wellness treatments with their loved ones. Four different rituals can be enjoyed in the Harmony Suite: the Thermal Ritual, Thalasso Ritual, Body & Mind Relax Ritual and the Ultimate Deluxe Thermal Ritual.

On board MSC Preziosa, the traditional thermal area with saunas, steam rooms and a relaxation room has been redesigned to include an exclusive frigidarium ( for an unforgettable cooling experience) and tepidarium (where guests complete the thermal path and relax tired muscles and melt away tension) offering guests a comprehensive thermal experience to eliminate toxins, boost blood circulation and improve the appearance of skin and hair.

An “Enjoy the color” menu in the spa bar will also make its debut on board MSC Preziosa: a menu of delicious juices and smoothies based on the nutritional properties of different coloured fruits and vegetables, each drink designed to enhance the benefits of certain treatments.


6. What makes MSC Aurea Spa and its treatments different from other cruises?


The MSC Aurea Spa offers the largest choice of massages of all the spas on the sea, and a true 360° wellness and spa experience.

We boast a large number of exclusive creations, like the Himalayan Dream massage using Himalayan fossil salts, the Aurea del Mare massage using warmed sea shells, the candle massage involving moisturizing cosmetic candles, the holistic massage, the bamboo massage and so on!

We have a Bali concept spa so, of course, part of our menu is made up of ‘evergreen’ treatments, like the Balinese massage,  reflexology massage, shiatsu massage,  aromatherapy massage,  and hot stone massage.

We have a beauty parlour, with highly trained hairdressers, and on board MSC Divina and MSC Preziosa we have several features exclusive to the cruise world, including a Shu Uemura Art of Hair cabin, where guests can indulge in six sought-after rituals developed by the Japanese master of beauty; all sure to leave hair as soft as Shusu satin.


We have a dedicated nail cabin for various manicure and pedicure treatments, a wonderful fitness centre placed at the prow of the ship (with amazing views), and a spa doctor on board for various ‘deep’ treatments, such as Mya Advance, a real alternative to body sculpting, Q-Frequency radio frequency treatments, and electroporation, a non-invasive, anti-aging medical treatment that allows active substances to get directly into the deep inner ‘derma’ layer of the skin without the use of needles.

Thanks to our close relationship with the food and beverage department, as already said, we have developed the ‘ enjoy the colour’ menu – a new format using the 5 colors of the wellness, so that a guests who would like to spend a cruise ‘floating’ in the wellness, relaxation, and healthy food and drinks, can do just that.



7. How many people work in the MSC Aurea Spa? Are you in charge of all of them?


We have 200 employees and, yes, I take care of all of them!


8. What are the most special spa treatments a cruiser can get in the MSC Aurea Spa? Something no one should miss.


Of course I love all of our treatments, just as a father loves all his children!  The special thing about the MSC Aurea Spa is that we are proud to personalize packages to every single guest, so the choice of a treatment is very personal: just as some people likes sweet flavors and some others like savory.

Personally, I love the Himalayan line massage and body treatments, for the great effect they have on the skin, and on the mind as well. These treatments take place on a healing Himalayan salt crystal bed for deep relaxation and detox . When introduced on board MSC Divina last year, this bed was the first of its kind on a cruise ship, and MSC Preziosa’s MSC Aurea Spa also boasts this innovative feature.

The amazing Thermal Area on board MSC Preziosa is also not to be missed. The new, stylish frigidarium offers an unforgettable cooling experience, particularly beneficial after the sauna or steam room. First stop is the ice corner, where guests can use some of the 200kg of ice grains produced a day as a cooling scrub before rinsing off in the multi-function shower. Complete with LED for chromotherapy, and with colours changing depending on the cycle, guests can enjoy three revitalizing 60-second cycles: cold menthol flavoured mist, citrus flavoured rain fall, and the bracing eucalyptus flavoured country air, before relaxing on the dedicated bench. The regenerative tepidarium, a new addition to the relaxation room, completes the thermal path and includes four warming chairs where guests can relax tired muscles and melt away tension.


9. In your opinion, what does the MSC Aurea Spa focuses the most on? What would be its motto?


All of our efforts go into surprising travellers across the fleet with an experience they cannot find in any other floating spa. Research, training and the travelers themselves are our main inspiration.

As I told you about sunset, each spa experience is unique, it is always special, so if I should give you a motto, it would be our “Enjoy something special every day, because life should be measured in moments not minutes.”



Thank you Roberto for such a great insight 


Interview with Rachele and Gabor from Surfing the Planet

Rachele and Gabor from Surfing the Planet eating sea food in Chiloe

You would never believe how the small world really is until weird things like this one happens. South America is HUGE but miracles still happen. I guess it must be because many travelers follow more or less the same route when there visiting the most famous destinations. And so did I in Argentina and Chile … and the couple Rachele and Gábor too. We first met on the bus from Ushuaia to Puerto Natales. Then hiking in Torres del Paine, and again in El Calafate, El Bolson, El Chalten, Bariloche and all this by accident 🙂 So then we planned a trip together finally and visited lakes around Bariloche, stayed in nice Molino Viejo in Puerto Varas and took a ride through Chiloe island.

It was not just fun to travel together but also to talk about ”business” of blogging as Rachele and G started a blog Surfing the Planet.

Here they are – Rachele and Gábor from Surfing the Planet:

1. Who are you? Tell us something about you.

We are Rachele (Italian) and Gábor (Hungarian), a couple doing the round the world trip at the moment. We both are fond of travelling, and travelled quite a lot in Europe before meeting each other. The round the world trip had been a dream for both us even before met, and after meeting in Barcelona a couple of years ago, we soon decided to make our dreams real. We started our trip six and a half months ago, we spent almost half a year in South America, and at the moment we are travelling in New Zealand. What we like the most about travelling is not only discovering amazing places, but when we have the possibility, we try to get in a closer connection with local people through Couchsurfing or any other manner. We try to spend a day like they do, and learn from them as much as possible.

Rachele and Gabor from Surfing the Planet eating sea food in Chiloe

Rachele and Gabor eating sea food in Chiloe

2. What is your favorite place, city and country and why? (all three of them)

Gábor: These questions are always rather difficult to answer. As I am a mountain lover, my favorite place would be some of the most beautiful mountains I have been hiking around, can be the beautiful towers of “Las Torres del Paine” in Chile or to say something really recent, “Mount Cook” as it reflects in the lakes. My favorite city as a tourist is New York, this cosmopolitan city where you can listen to people speaking in different languages in every corner, and all this in the atmosphere that reminds you of watching one of your favorite movies. However, if I had to say in which city I would live, it would be Barcelona probably, also very international atmosphere, perfect climate, the sea and mountains are close, intense sportlife, at the moment the only thing you can’t find there is a decent job. My favorite country is the most difficult question, I prefer countries in which people are friendly and open to connect. Spain fits more or less for this, from recent experiences I would say Argentina.

Rachele: As Gábor said is quite difficult to decide which place is the favorite one. There are too many fantastic places in the world. I can tell you the experience that I like the most. Close to Cuzco we went up to the Andes in a village and we spent two days living as they live. These people are really poor, they live in a simple way and most of them they are not going out the village neither at the closest city that is just 30 km from there. This experience made me reflect a lot and I really enjoy to experience this kind of life style.


3. If you could go anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would it be and why?

Gábor: If I can fly tomorrow to any places, probably would be New York again, just to get absorbed in this unique atmosphere that this city provides. If it had to be a place I have never been to, it would be Colombia, which we didn’t have time to visit in our South American trip, and would love to go there and meet its friendly people.

Rachele: At the moment we are doing the greatest trip of our life and I won’t fly anywhere tomorrow, I am just happy and living this great moment.


4. What do you love the most about your home country?

Gábor: I love my country, and I am really proud of being Hungarian. Our country always achieved more than it would be expected from its size. You just have to look at the number of Nobel Prize winners we have had or in the Olympic Games, we are always in very honoring position in the medal table. I love in my country, even if it is against us, that general intelligence is still considered to be a really important thing, people admire someone more for being expert in the History of the Middle Ages than someone who had a really great business idea. At last, our cuisine is unique and fabulous, I always miss our dishes when I am abroad.

Rachele: My home country is simply brilliant. Italy has lot of good things, history, culture, fashion, good food I love all of them and I am really proud to be part of this country. The place in Italy I love most is Venice, that is a unique city in the entire world. I have been there a hundred of times and never take the same street, it is like a labyrinth in which is amazing to get lost. Every corner is different and special at the same time.


5. How travel changes you?

Travelling is definitely the most life changing experience, especially if you do it for a long time. Travelling as a backpacker make you do a lot of sacrifices, you can’t have many of the luxuries that you have in your every day life, you become more flexible in any sort of sense. At the same time, as we travel mostly around countries, where most of the locals live without all these commodities of the society, it opens your eyes and makes you think deeply every day about how much you really need them.


Miss traveling with you two and running into you by accident all over!



Interview with Bria Schecker about Gomio’s World Hostel Conference

World hostel conference

I don’t stay in hostels all the time but there are some really cool hostels I have stayed in. One of them was 40Berkeley in Boston. The hostel’s Director of Events and Media, Bria Schecker, tells us more about World Hostel Conference 2012 she attended.

1 ) How was the Gomio’s World Hostel Conference 2012 and what did you learn?


In a nutshell, the World Hostel Conference was amazing! In terms of creating a space for like-minded travelers and hostel professionals to learn from each other and network, there really is no better event. While the hostel scene is quite established in some parts of the world (like Europe), it’s still very new in other areas (like the US). Having a conference that brings together individuals from the newer and older sectors is invaluable – you learn what strategies have worked for years on end, as well as what trends are on the rise.

Aside from the amazing people I met, the hostels I learned about, and the strategies for success, the WHC served as a great forum for learning about new tools and technologies that are geared specifically towards hostels.

If you attend other travel or tourism conferences, most information targets hotel owners; hostels gain very little attention when they’re sitting next to big boys such as Marriott and Hilton. Having an annual event dedicated solely to hostels is so special – there is no other event where you can learn about property management systems based on revenue per bed, mobile and social apps geared towards hostels and backpackers, and market research focused on the backpacker industry all in one day!

 2) Why was the World Hostel Conference important to you? Why did you attend?

The WHC truly embodies what the hostel culture and industry is all about. When you go to some of these other travel and tourism conferences, there is always a slight tension in the air as big boy competitors pretend to walk hand-in-hand for the duration of the conference. With hostels, there really isn’t a sense of tension or competition when you have the entire industry sitting in one room. Because so many hostels are privately owned, independent entities, they see each other more as partners – rather than competitors – who are all working together to keep hostelling hip and alive. If I have a hostel in Boston, and I meet the owner of a fantastic hostel in Germany, there’s no way we’d be competing for guests. In fact, by building a relationship with that hostel, I would probably gain more business for my own establishment through referrals from my new German friend!  This is probably the most valuable aspect of the WHC – the networking. Of course the lectures and presentation are extremely helpful and insightful, but there really isn’t anywhere else in the world where I can make so many connections with other hostels and hostel owners all in one place over such a short time frame. That, to me, is what this conference is all about.

 3) What do you expect from the World Hostel Conference in the next few years?

This year’s conference focused a bit more on new hostel-specific technology than in previous years. In the past, there have been speakers from larger players such as Yelp, but it was very refreshing to hear from smaller hostel-focused organizations. I think future WHC’s will continue to nourish this need for new technology within the hostel sector, and will bring exciting new opportunities to the floor in the coming years.

4) How will hostel industry change in the next few years?

This is an interesting question because, if you look at the lifespan of the hostel industry over the past several years, you’ll notice that it hasn’t actually changed that much. There are the obvious advancements of course – more online bookings, increased credit card payments, mobile transactions, etc., but the heart and soul of the service that a hostel provides has gone relatively unchanged. Hostels are about helping travelers integrate themselves both with each other as well as in the local culture and community of a location. That’s a core value of any successful hostel, and a pretty timeless one at that.

There are, however, some very interesting new services and technologies that have developed in recent years to help hostels embody that core value. I think we will continue to see an influx of higher tech services in the hostel industry such as mobile apps with guided tours and navigation, self-service check-in kiosks, and social travel sites. This new technology has somewhat shifted the standards and expectations of travelers – many hostellers now expect cleaner, more comfortable accommodations with more amenities than were previously standard for hostels. These expectations are causing the insurgence of a new type of accommodation – the luxury hostel. Luxury hostels fall in that gray area between traditional hostels and hotels. They still embody the social and cultural spirit of a hostel, but provide more hotel-like comforts (nicer rooms, private bathrooms, more upscale decor, etc.).

World hostel conference

World Hostel Conference

5) What advice can you give to new travelers and existing travelers to save money and have a good time?


Stay in hostels! That’s the obvious answer of course, but the reasons why may not be so obvious to someone that has never tried hostelling. Even if you’re not the type of person that enjoys sharing a room with several strangers, you can still take advantage of the affordability and social benefits that hostels provide. Many hostels these days offer private rooms for non-backpackers, couples, and even families. In fact, all the rooms at 40Berkeley are private.

While hotels service museum-goers and tour-takers, hostels serve as a traveler’s gateway to all things local – food, events, cultural traditions, festivals, and so much more. Imagine you were visiting a friend in a foreign destination. Sure they would take you to all the famous landmarks and attractions, but they would also make sure you saw what life is really like in their home town, and they’d make sure you saw it on a local’s budget – not a wealthy tourist’s. Hostels aim to give travelers that same type of experience.

My advice is this: travel and stay local (in hostels!), explore the road less traveled, don’t be afraid to talk to strangers (even though your parents told you not to), and always be willing to try something new and different with an open mind!

6) Where are the best places you have visited?

Whenever I tell people about all of the countries I’ve been to, I always get asked this question, and it never gets any easier to answer! Today, my favorite country in the world is Australia, but that answer could very well change tomorrow! In 2008 I lived in Australia for about 8 months. Other than the US, this country feels most like home to me, which is probably why it’s at the top of my list. During my time there, I learned what the phrase “no worries” really means, and it has drastically changed the way I live many aspects of my life.

I think part of the reason why I fell in love with “Oz” is how different it is from the US.  The best way I can put it is that, in America, people live to work, while in Australia, they work to live. I realize that’s quite the sweeping generalization but after reflecting upon my life during those 8 months, I’ve come to truly believe that statement. In Australia, when someone asks what you “do”, they don’t want to know about your job. They want to know about your life!  Australia is also full of hostels and hostellers, and the local culture basks in it!

7) What makes a good hostel?

This was a topic of great discussion at this year’s WHC. There are so many aspects of a hostel that keep people coming back, but by the end of the conference, the atmosphere of a hostel was deemed the most important. Travelers stay in hostels to enjoy a relaxed, welcoming atmosphere that embodies the culture of their destination. Hostelling is also a very social experience – the friends you make while staying in hostels around the world often become friends for life, and it’s the hostels job to create an atmosphere where those types of relationships can be forged.

8) How has technology played a part keeping the hostel sprit alive?

Hostelling is all about being a social traveler, and technology these days makes this so easy to accomplish! Technology has helped both sides of the hostel industry (the hostels and the hostellers) express themselves, develop their personalities, and communicate their values. It provides tools that help hostels keep former, current, and future guests engaged with their brand.  It provides means for travelers to meet other travelers before, during, or after a trip, and it helps keep all parties in touch when your trip is over.

At 40Berkeley, we constantly seek out new technologies to help enhance our guests’ experiences and ensure they can easily access local information about Boston.  We recently added iPads in our lobby so guests can Skype with friends and family, send free emails, and access maps and information about social events where they can meet other travelers and locals. We’re a huge hostel, and sometimes our size can be a bit daunting to the unfamiliar traveler but putting all of our social resources in one place on an iPad helps keep things manageable for our guests – it shows them we care and understand their needs, and that’s yet another thing that hostels are all about!