Inspirational photos, useful travel tips and an insiders look at travel news from around the web is what you’ll find on Vagabondish.com – the travel blog turned online Travelzine, and TripAdvisor’s next featured travel blog. Vagabondish describes the site’s interesting posts and information as a place to find “offbeat backpacking and travel news, advice, how-to tips and tall tales from around the world,” so in this travel blogger spotlight, we’re introducing you to Mike Richard, creator and editor of Vagabondish. Read on to learn Mike’s favorite travel memories and tips to visiting hotspots from around the world.
Tell us how and why you started your travel blog.
I started Vagabondish.com in 2006 as a personal travel blog. It was a way to chronicle the many road trips I took while working a desk job here in Rhode Island. The following year it really took off to become more of an online travel magazine with dozens of other travel-savvy contributors and authors.
What’s your favorite hotel (and why)?
There’s an amazing luxury hotel off the coast of South Australia called Southern Ocean Lodge. It sits on a quiet, secluded cliff on Kangaroo Island with dramatic views of the Southern Ocean. If money were no object, I’d live there.
What’s your favorite restaurant (and why)?
Montreal’s Au Pied de Cochon. It’s a bit of an easy pick and certainly no “hidden gem” to foodies or locals. But the atmosphere, the staff and of course the food is out of this world good. I want their “Duck in a Can” to be my very last meal.
Please tell us about a “hidden gem”- a non-touristy, neighborhood restaurant, a hole-in-the-wall bar, or a great little shop – you’ve discovered on your travels.
Right here in Newport, Rhode Island is the world famous Castle Hill Inn situated at the far end of exclusive Ocean Drive. It’s routinely ranked among the world’s best hotels and with room rates to match. It offers a stunning, 200-degree oceanview of Newport and the surrounding bay. What most people (even locals!) don’t know is that their lawn is open to everyone – not just guests. On leisurely summer weekends, it’s perfect for pulling up a couple of Adirondack chairs, ordering a Sam Adams and watching the world go by. Last summer, my girlfriend and I went on an extremely busy Sunday (music festivals and whatnot in Newport) and had the lawn almost entirely to ourselves.
What’s the best travel advice you could give a friend?
Aside from the obvious (take twice as much money and half as many clothes as you think you’ll need): Let it go. Travel – especially long-term travel – can be challenging. The best asset I’ve found is to be patient and embrace the strange and unexpected things that inevitably happen on the road. The most interesting, memorable and hilarious travel stories are always those where things go horribly, horribly wrong. So remember: if things are looking really bad, you’ll almost always have a great story to tell later.
What’s the best travel advice you’ve found on TripAdvisor?
I was planning a trip to St. Lucia a few years back. Every bit of info – other travel reviews, blogs, etc. – that I could find on this particular resort (rather not say where) guaranteed that it was “the place to be!“. However, when I finally checked out TripAdvisor, there were dozens of reviews from people who’d been more recently and had markedly different (read: worse) experiences. The government had evidently taken up near-permanent residence just outside the property for some kind of new construction. And the noise levels were now almost unbearable. Plus, the property had recently undergone a change of management and staff … both clearly for the worse. That research saved me thousands of dollars on what likely would’ve been a disastrous vacation.
If someone was visiting your hometown, what would you recommend they do/see?
For dinner, the authentic gourmet Italian food on Federal Hill (Providence) can’t be beat. It’s unbelievably good and many of the restaurants feature menus that are far less expensive than they should be, considering the quality of the food.
One of the most gorgeous views in the whole of the state is from Beavertail in Jamestown. It’s a quick stopover that many people miss on their way to Newport. But I’ve been going there for years and it’s still one of my favorite (and relatively untouched) views of the ocean.
If you could go anywhere in the world on your next vacation, where would you go?
Antarctica, without hesitation. It’s been at the very top of my bucket list since I could spell T-R-A-V-E-L!