Meet Megan, the adventurous traveler behind the hugely popular travel blog Mapping Megan. Megan Jerrard is one half of a professional travel blogging couple and has been traveling the world for over a decade. Meg is an Australian journalist and Mike, her husband and travel partner, is an American photographer. They met in Kilimanjaro after summiting the highest free standing mountain in the world, as you do, you know, when you’re no ordinary couple!
A self-confessed adrenaline junkie, when Megan’s not skydiving in the Swiss Alps, exploring Antarctica, camping next to an erupted volcano, backpacking Europe or cruising through the Amazon, she’s providing travel tips and advice on her website to inspire you to do exactly the same.
Hi Megan, tell us about your website and how you became a travel blogger?
Sure! I had just graduated university when I began my blog, and it ended up turning into a profitable business before I had the opportunity to apply for grad jobs! I’ve always had a passion for writing, so when I started traveling in 2007 I began keeping a personal travel blog as a way to express myself, and a way to document my travels – somewhat of an online diary which I could look back on in the future and remember my trips.
Then technology revolutionized the world, and people began making money online, so I kept uploading my adventures as I had been, though started marketing my content as a professional brand instead of a hobby blog. The website today is an online space dedicated to content, photography and video aimed at inspiring others to travel the world and providing them with the best knowledge and tools to do so. We have a focus on adventure travel, so don’t be surprised to find me jumping out of planes if I think it would provide a better view!
That’s amazing! What do you love most about travel blogging specifically?
Definitely the location independence that comes with working online. As opposed to a traditional career where you’re tied to the location, your building or the cubicle you’re in, being a travel blogger comes with 100% freedom and flexibility to work remotely, from where-ever you want. As long as I have my laptop and reliable WiFi, I can continue to work, whether that’s from home, or from Tokyo, London, or Bangkok. I’m able to set my own hours, take last minute opportunities as they arise, and only have myself to answer to.
When did you first get the travel bug and how long have you been traveling for?
I’ve been traveling since I was 18, back in 2007. On reflecting back, I can’t actually pinpoint getting the ‘travel bug’ to one specific experience. But I started traveling for the adventure, adrenaline and excitement. And it didn’t take me long to realize I wanted to see the world in living color as opposed to watching it on a television screen. I wanted to actually feel, taste and experience the world instead of settling for the version I was reading in books.
As I started traveling I found myself thrust into new environments, immersed in entirely new cultures, hearing the English language spoken with an unfamiliar accent; and I realized this feeling of new discovery was what I wanted out of life.
I quickly learned that it’s a completely different experience to journey to the Pyramids of Giza than to watch it on a History Channel documentary. It’s a completely different emotion to watch the sun set over the African Plains while on safari than it is to see someone else’s photo and think “wow!”
Name your 10 favorite places you’ve visited so far
Antarctica is definitely number one! But 9 others would be Iceland, Italy, Bolivia, Australia, the Galapagos Islands, Easter Island, Barcelona, Prague, and London.
What’s your most memorable travel experience?
Kissing a giraffe while in Africa has been my most amusing memory on the road so far – and one which always makes me laugh! … well, actually she kissed me! We visited the Giraffe Sanctuary while in Kenya, and part of the experience was being able to feed the Giraffes. Pellets were provided and the normal way to go about feeding them was to let them eat from your hand.
I, on the other hand, thought it would be fantastically funny to place a pellet in-between my teeth, not realizing that a Giraffes tongue is about as big as my face itself! (Slight exaggeration but that’s what it felt like!) I was wiping saliva off my face for what felt like a week!
Any major travel fails you care to share?
I’ve made many mistakes while traveling the world! One though I’ll share now; in 2009 I traveled with my mum on a 2 month European adventure. Having traveled Europe quite extensively in the past, I was our resident expert, and planned both our itinerary and accommodation. Though let me tell you, this “expert” was quickly knocked off her high horse!
Flying from London to Rome to spend two weeks in Italy, we left ourselves plenty of time to catch the train to Heathrow Airport, and arrived a good 2 hours before our departure. Though for some reason our flight was not listed on the departures board. As it turns out, the flight wasn’t listed because it wasn’t leaving from Heathrow. We were meant to be at Gatwick, and there was no way we were going to get there in time to catch our flight.
The good news is, we did get to Rome that evening, though as you can imagine I’ve never heard the end of this, especially since having booked accommodation in a convent with a strict curfew, if we hadn’t made it to Rome by 8pm, we were sleeping on the street!!
What place in the world would you recommend everyone should visit at least once and why?
Bolivia. It is like no other place on the planet. There are the breathtaking Andes, the daunting altitude, the lush rainforest, the too-small bowler hats worn by the indigenous women, the vast salt flat, the decorated llamas, the pink flamingos, and that famous harrowing mountain bike ride.
Bolivia wasn’t even on my radar, though we decided to visit the Amazon here instead of Peru as it was more authentic and cheaper. We spend 2 weeks in the country outside of the Amazon and our hearts were captured by the diverse and perplexing nation.
Based on your travels so far, where have you visited that you would love to go back to and why?
Iceland by far is one of our favorite places in the world, and I would love to go back and live there if I could!! It is one of the last untouched destinations left on earth. It’s exotic, so naturally beautiful, and largely untouched by tourism which we absolutely love. The scenery takes your breath away. Waterfalls, glaciers, dramatic fjords – there is inspiring scenery at every turn. Majestic glaciers grind their way through cracked lava fields, gushing geysers explode with a powerful force, glittering ice caps pierce the sky, and vibrant green fjords rise from the mist of geothermal lagoons. Iceland has a fantastic outdoor adventure scene, which is what I live for.
Check out the Jetset Bunny Guide To Iceland including the basics, things to do, eat, stay and plan: Iceland Travel Tips
Have you ever visited a place that ended up being a total disappointment?
Mine is a highly unpopular opinion, however, Paris was the most disappointing travel experience for me, and it’s all because of the hype. People rave about Paris. They talk deliriously about its beauty and put the city on a pedestal which I sadly felt was too far detached from reality.
In its own right, Paris is a great city – there is a fantastic range of historical attractions, the architecture is gorgeous, and it’s a very European experience. Though it certainly doesn’t live up to the hype of “the most romantic city in the world”, and as such, I traveled with expectations which were way too high. I expected magic. I expected to fall in love. I expected the city to woo me in a way I had never been woo-ed before. But what I found was a city not dissimilar to any other in Europe. I thought it was fairly dirty, that the locals were rude, and that there was too much tourism to make for an enjoyable experience – attractions were crowded, and you couldn’t escape street vendors selling tacky souvenirs. I felt a huge anti-climax in traveling to Paris, and after having given it a second and third shot to “woo” me and change my mind, it never did.
What’s the one thing you’d never travel without?
A spare change of clothes in my carry on – my father is a frequent flier, and taught me this hack on my very first trip in 2003. For 14 years I did this without fail, and the one time I opted to save the space, the airline lost my bag! Not cool wearing your husband’s clothes for 48 hours until they relocate it!
Name your 3 carry on essentials that you bring with you on every flight
Clean underwear: You would think that this is a given, but I make a point of carrying an extra pair in my carryon when I’m in transit, and in my day pack when I head out each day – you never know when/if you’ll need it!!
Noise canceling headphones: Because I’m always seated next to a crying child!
Smartphone: It has everything you could possibly need when you’re traveling in one handy device! Think calculator, clock, social media, the web for information, camera, e-reader, music, banking – literally everything you could ever think to need is usually available via an app.
What do you love most about coming home after a long trip?
Being able to sleep in my own comfy bed, on my own comfy pillow – there’s nothing like it! Especially if you’ve spent some of your holiday camping, or the hotel beds have been uncomfortable, or you’ve been in hostels with noisy bunk mates. The power of a familiar pillow and mattress with your own bum shape cannot be underestimated!
Where are you off to next?
Having recently settled in Tasmania we are currently prioritizing local travel. Tasmania is the Southern Hemisphere’s version of Iceland, there’s so much incredible nature here; untouched, unspoiled, totally wild, and remote. There are so many incredible adventures to be had right here at home that our passport is enjoying a well-deserved break!
What’s on your future travel bucket list?
Namibia, Sudan, and Mongolia. All three have a really exotic appeal, Namibia for it’s incredible landscapes and wildlife, Sudan (albeit might be a bit dangerous at the moment), for it’s ancient history (it has more ancient pyramids than Egypt, that just lie there forgotten, with virtually no tourism) and Mongolia to experience it’s nomadic culture.
Finally, what advice would you give an apprehensive best friend about world travel?
Just go! I started my travel blog with the intention of inspiring others to embark on their own adventure. Everyone has what it takes to travel – you just need to act on it, and you need to truly want to do it. There’s no point in waiting for an opportunity to arise… MAKE one arise! Otherwise one day you will wake up and there won’t be enough time to do the things you’ve always wanted. So do it now. You would be surprised at how easy it is once you decide to let yourself do it. I think fear is what prevents a lot of people from traveling, but once you push past that fear you realize that the possibilities are endless – and to hell with anyone who tells you you can’t achieve something or live your dream!!