Dani Heinrich, along with her then partner Jessica, established the travel blog, GlobetrotterGirls.com in the year 2010. From climbing volcanoes to swimming with sharks and from spending time with Buddhist monks to deep caving into sacred Mayan caves, Dani has a long list of adventures which she has shared with readers through her blogs. She shares her experiences through personal accounts as well as photographs.
The blog covers a variety of other travel related issues, and provides valuable information on topics such as LGBT and budget travel, food, accommodation etc.
Her nomadic adventures started with a trip to the U.S., followed by several months in Mexico and Central America. She has also travelled throughout Europe and Canada. Dani has spent a significant amount of time in South East Asia and India as well. The blogger is also known for her extensive house-sitting experience across the globe.
Dani Heinrich has found mention in several reputable online and other forums. Moreover, GlobetrotterGirls.com has been rated among the best travel blogs by Google, Easyjet Holidays and 101 Holidays.
You have been on the road for a long time. How have you grown as a traveller?
I have definitely grown as a traveller. I used to be a notorious overpacker, filling up a 20 kilo suitcase for a 2-week trip, and while I still tend to pack too much, I've learned that I don't need a T-shirt for every single day.
I've also learned to plan much less and to go with the flow. I used to plan out my trips meticulously, but I've gotten more relaxed about planning - I usually find out about places worth visiting along the way, from other travellers or locals, and often find these recommendations more interesting than the tips in my guidebook.
What inspired you to write 'Please Don't Go' and 'Go Beyond' series? Are there any plans to resume these series?
'Go Beyond' goes with what I said above: guidebooks usually only cover the best known tourist sights, but rarely go beyond that. I don't need to write another 'Top Things To Do In New York City' post, there are thousands of them already out there. So I try to introduce my readers to less known things that I feel are worth checking out. In the 'Go Beyond' series, I look beyond the typical 'Top 5' lists and give my readers a closer look at a more real side of a destination, and how much there is to discover on even the most well-worn paths in various destinations around the globe. Everybody goes to Manhattan for example, but only few visitors venture beyond that. But going to Bushwick, for example, is getting to know a completely different side of New York, with a massive Latin population, most signs in Spanish, a park that could come straight out of a small town in Mexico - complete with a granizado vendor - and Cuban coffee shops. Hearing and reading Spanish everywhere makes you forget you're actually in New York!
The 'Please don't go to...' series covers places that win my heart over so much, that I never want to see them change...which is why I ask my readers to please (wink wink) not visit my favorite little gems
You have done house-sitting all over the world. What was the most pleasant house-sitting experience for you?
Oh this is like picking a favourite child! I have had so many amazing housesitting experiences, and none was like the other. Of course it was extremely pleasant to look after a luxury apartment in New York City but I loved living off-the-grid on a private Caribbean beach in Mexico just as much, even though the living conditions were basic and there were lots of responsibilities involved. Being able to walk into the ocean straight from my bed every morning to snorkel along the Mesoamerican reef (the second longest reef in the world) made it worth it though. Other amazing housesitting experiences include living in a farmhouse in Tuscany, a housesit in a desert home in Arizona (I've returned three more times - so far!), and a luxury condo in Santiago de Chile, complete with swimming pool, doorman and two adorable dogs.
For which part of the world were you able to find budget holiday deals most easily? Also, please share some of your money-saving tips with our readers.
I keep recommending South East Asia. The value for money there is just amazing. The quality of 4* and 5* hotels you can book for little money in Thailand or Cambodia is just outstanding. Traveling within the country is cheap, too - I recently paid $17.50 for a flight from Bangkok to Krabi and $22.50 for the flight back. I recommend researching which budget airlines operate at your destination because most of them donâ€™t show up in the search results of flight comparison websites. In Thailand, there are for example Nok Air, Thai Lion Air, Bangkok Airways and Air Asia. One of them always has a sale. With regards to accommodation, I usually use sites like Expedia, Agoda or Booking and I make sure to compare prices because sometimes one of those sites has a sale on. The best time to get a great deal on accommodation in South East Asia is during shoulder season - in late October when the rainy season ends or just before rainy season starts mid to late April. That way, the weather is already (or still) very good but hotels don't charge high season prices anymore. Long-distance flights are also cheaper in shoulder or low season.
Most of your blogs on India focus on the country's rural and culturally rich destinations. Do you have plans to write about its urban centres like Mumbai or Delhi and what they can offer to tourists?
I will - as soon as I explore them. The furthest north I made it during my visit was Goa, and I have yet to explore all of Northern India. I can't wait to go back, since India has been one of the most fascinating places I've ever been to.
Which three American cities would you rate as a must-visit, and why?
Definitely New York, my favourite city in the world! I just love the international flair of New York - you don't have to leave the city limits and yet you can feel as if you're in a different country by going to South Williamsburg (home of the Orthodox Jews) or Flushing (the bigger Chinatown in NYC, much larger than the one in Manhattan) or Brighton Beach, home to a huge Russian community, where even the Starbucks coffee shops have their menus written in Russian. Plus, I love the dynamic vibe of the city and that you never run out of things to do. There's always something going on - food markets and flea markets, festivals, and in the summer things like free open air movies, free open air opera and philharmonics, even free kayaking. And you can eat food from just about any country in the world.
The other two cities I'd recommend are New Orleans, which doesn't feel like any other U.S. city and has some of the most beautiful architecture in the Garden District and the French Quarter, and Santa Fe, which doesn't even feel like the U.S., but more like Mexico (which it used to belong to) with its adobe houses. It's also a small city and a nice change from the giant cities everybody tends to visit, and is known for its amazing food (Mexican food with a local take). A visit to Santa Fe is also a good excuse for a South West road trip around New Mexico and Arizona.
You have multiple blog posts on Sri Lanka. You seem to love the beaches, the wildlife, the culture and the people of the country. But if you have to list down just one thing that makes Sri Lanka unique, what do you think it will be?
This is a difficult question because I think it's the variety of different things that makes Sri Lanka so unique. I can't think of another country where you can take a train through hills covered in tea and ride along the ocean a couple of hours later. For a country of such a small size, Sri Lanka is packed with cultural sites (8 UNESCO sites!), pristine beaches and wildlife accessible in the National Parks. I think it's this mix that makes a visit to Sri Lanka so special: spending a couple of days exploring World Heritage temples followed by a few days hiking through tea plantations before observing elephant herds in the wild and relaxing (or surfing, if you're more active) on the beach.
As a vegetarian, is it a challenge for you to find quality restaurants, especially when you are on the road all the time?
It depends on the country. In India, where vegetarianism is widely spread, it was extremely easy for example, and countries with Buddhist culture tend to be easy, too. Meat loving places like Brazil, China, Argentina or the Philippines are more difficult. When I travel in Western countries, it has become very easy, since the number of vegetarians and vegans is growing steadily.
Share few tips for those who want to travel around the world like you
My biggest piece of advice would be not to travel on a Round-the-world ticket. You'll find yourself wanting to linger in places, or leave other places quicker, and if you're bound to specific dates you don't have the freedom to do that. I don't only say that from my own experience, but that's what I hear from other travellers over and over again, too. I've met people who kept changing their dates (for a hefty fee) or others who thought they'd be traveling the world for 12 months only to find themselves still in Latin America 11 months after setting off on their trip. The less you plan, the more flexible you are. There are places that just suck you in. Don't rush and try to see as much as possible â€“ it will tire you out quickly and you won't even remember all of the places you visited on your trip, because you just rushed through them. Less is more sometimes.
My other tip would be to get over your fear. I was afraid to travel solo, but it turned out to be the best decision I made and I quickly realized that you're not really alone - you meet people all the time! Just get out there and travel - if you don't like it, you can always go back.
This interview with Dani Heinrich is a part of Travel Trolley's ongoing 'Best of the Travel Bloggers' series. We are interviewing popular travel bloggers who encourage and inspire people to travel. Check out all the bloggers we have interviewed and learn about their interesting experiences, adventures, travel stories as well as useful holiday tips.