Hello everyone and welcome to today’s live chat! You’ll have me all to yourself in the first hour and have a treat for you in the second hour (6pm-8pm US EST). Joining us from Mexico will be guests Daniel Noll and Audrey Scott who write the popular travel blog Uncornered Market and have traveled to over 60 countries in the last 4 years.
Click here to jump right into the chat happening for the next 3 hours!
The Live Chat is only open from 5pm-8pm US EST; 10pm-1am London GMT; 7am-10am Tokyo JST).
Thanks for a wonderful chat everyone! My next chat will be Thursday, March 2nd; times to be determined.
Let’s talk travel – a few of you had questions about my upcoming vacation, my advice for new travel bloggers, and what camera gear I carry. Plus I’ve got the best comments from January for you too. We’ll keep the keyboards warm for Audrey and Dan.
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a Dan and Audrey in person several times over the last few years. If you’ve ever been curious about traveling in Iran, Tajikistan, or why laundry service in Oaxaca, Mexico doesn’t accept underwear now’s your chance to find out… Click here to jump into the comments and join the chat!
Hello everyone and welcome to today’s chat! As I mentioned above, I’ve got a treat for you coming up in an hour or so. I’ll be joined by travelers, photographers, and bloggers of Uncornered Market who will be talking about their recent trip to Iran and taking your questions.
But first, some of the best comments on the site from this past January.
Julia predicts in 2012 we’ll see a continued rise in travel to Turkey. I, of course, hope so and we’ll check how that prediction turns out early next year.
And if you’re looking for a good traveler’s security strategy, The Modern Nomad has a straightforward tactic you should check out.
Now, on to the chat!
Hi Anil, harsh winter seems to be wreaking havoc in Eastern Europe, including Turkey these days. Have you ever experienced any winter-related difficulties in your travels?
Hello Taclan(ovski) 🙂 If you mean difficulties as in “extreme discomfort due to my lack of traveling with a decent jacket” then yes 🙂
Although in a week or two I think I’ll need to invest in good winter clothes…finally!
Traveling light is my goal too, but extreme lightness can be hazardous to your health 🙂
Absolutely true – I don’t want to be the first travel blogger to die of cold exposure!
Hey guys! I just wanted to stop by and say a quick hello from frigid Bucharest and to tell Audrey and Dan how jealous I am that they are in lovely Oaxaca right now. Hopefully you’ve tried the chapulines??
Hi Earl, since I’m going to be headed to that part of the world soon it seems – guess I’m really going to need a jacket this time!
Hey Earl! Just came back from the market and some great tamales. Thanks so much for the suggestion to come to Oaxaca!
I think we’re all jealous of the weather you’re experiencing there!
The weather here in Oaxaca is pretty close to immaculate. I think we felt three raindrops last night. Outside of that, it’s been clear sailing.
I’m working on sourcing the best grasshoppers for a grasshopper salad this weekend 🙂
I can’t wait to see the pictures. The greener the better or do they have to ripen first? 😉
Please do bring a jacket and some thermals! And just so you know, it’s been much colder in Bulgaria than here. Only -18 C here, – 29 C in many parts of Bulgaria apparently.
haha, well balmy Romania it may be then!
When we were looking to buy a home in Bulgaria, all the property photos in the estate agent windows had snow in them. I think that’s one of the reasons we ended up in Turkey. (It’s freezing here too, though).
😀 My family has scared me away from Turkey right now due to the weather! It’s funny how many people I’ve come across think Turkey is hot year round… hope you’re staying warm!
I’m sat in a sleeping bag. A lot of people do seem to think Turkey is warm all year round. Still, it’s warmer than my previous home in Wales, I’m sure.
I recall when I was in the UK about 8 years ago with a thin jean jacket; only to experience what I was told a very freak snow storm in March 🙂
Glad you’re staying warm – last year I spent much of the winter months in Fethiye, now those the kind of winters perfect for me. (Although it did snow very near by there too! Another “freak” occurrence 😉
Hello Anil! 😀 How are you going to pass the time during your vacation since you won’t be spending hours online/writing/working? Do you think it will be hard to adjust? :))
I’ve already got some anxiety about it – I don’t know what to do with myself 😛 I’ll probably keep busy though with a few other projects that just aren’t immediately visible on the blog.
if you need any pointers on what to do with your free time, I’ve had a lot of it in the past year so I can help you out 😀
LOL, I need a course in staying offline. I wonder what the withdrawal will be like…
oh, I would have severe withdrawals…maybe I’m not the best person to give advice on this topic. Take my iPhone away for a few hours and I get grouchy.
Does this apply to Internet addictions as well?
HAR HAR HAR. Four words: RED WINE AND SHISHA.
Same video applies 😉
By the way, pretty much the only jacket I’ve been using for years:
It might be interesting to see if you can survive a month in an Eastern Europe winter with just that jacket…maybe you could try and find creative ways to stay warm. I just learned that during WWII soldiers would put hot sauerkraut in their shoes to keep warm while walking in the coldest regions.
I’m up for the challenge! I wonder what people will think of my sauerkraut shoes, or smell 🙂 Interesting though; and in many ways winter weather is what changed the course of that war.
The Art Of War has good and still relevant advice about not fighting nature. I like that aspect of weather though, keeps our place in the world in perspective.
It certainly does which is perhaps why I am actually enjoying my first winter in a while more than I would have ever imagined. I may complain but there is something calming about going outside into such freezing temperatures and being forced to just accept nature as it is.
I also read they sometimes put hot potatoes in their shoes as well during the war 🙂
Earl, you’re just full of good ideas.
Maybe the soldiers just didn’t like German food?
That could be true. You might want to read this: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/15/19-weirdest-products-to-keep-warm_n_1095194.html#s464934&title=The_Best_Heated
Hmmm Deniz…I’ve been warned about your sarcasm streak. But I do like your thinking as shisha tends to be my first thought when I have free to kill as well.
Sarcastic? Me? Never!
Hola! Greetings from Oaxaca! Just signing on now and happy to take any and all questions re: Iran or anything else!
Hi Audrey! Thank you for spending some time with us all 🙂
I’ll start things off and ask about visas, as a US citizen traveling to Iran, what was the process like?
US citizens require a private guide or to join a tour group in order to get a tourist visa. So the first step is finding the right company to sponsor your visa/book the tour. We went with G Adventures for the first 2 weeks and a private guide the 3rd week. They apply for you at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where you wait about a month for an “authorization number.” Once you have that number, you can go to an Iranian embassy and get the visa in about 2-3 days.
Lots more details on the process and what to expect here: http://www.uncorneredmarket.com/2011/12/american-travel-iran/
I should also probably add that in order to not have a heart attack waiting for your visa, be sure to get the process started 2-3 months in advance. Tourist visas last 15-20 days (same price – €70). We picked our visa up in Istanbul which was a painless process.
I think many people, especially in the US, are apprehensive about traveling to the Middle East in general and probably especially so about Iran. Your posts on Iran are especially enlightening and a good read for anyone considering travel there:
With the current/continued political tensions, would you recommend anyone to visit? What were your favorite experiences?
One of our goals with our trip to Iran was to try and get past the media hype, to see another side of the country and people. We’re glad our posts reflect that and hope it convinces others to visit as well.
We were in touch with an American journalist in Tehran last week and he’s close friends with a tour company there. Apparently, the Americans visiting now have had no issues and they are still welcomed like we were. We also know a Danish guy who went to Tehran recently on a conference and had no problems.
But, I do understand how people might feel anxious with the current rhetoric. Best thing to do is to try and connect with someone in the country and see what the situation is like on the ground.
As for favorite places/things to do.
We loved Shiraz – both the Disco Ball mosque (http://www.uncorneredmarket.com/2011/12/shah-cheragh-mosque-shiraz-panorama/) and Pink Mosque (http://www.uncorneredmarket.com/2011/11/pink-mosque-shiraz-panorama/). Persepolis – the MacDaddy of Ancient Persia – is also right near by. And, the people there are super friendly.
Esfahan is also beautiful – could spend days on the main square and Friday Mosque.
Yazd had a nice desert feel to it – loved the zoroastrian cemetery on the outskirts.
Tabriz and the Armenian Monastery near the Azerbaijani border were also great.
If I had a list of 5 places I want to see next, Tabriz would easily be on it 🙂 I can’t wait…
We took the train from Tabriz to Istanbul and it was fantastic. A long journey – 2.5 days – but everyone was super friendly and it was a really nice train experience. So, consider taking the train from Istanbul to Tabriz 🙂
And, you wouldn’t have any issue with language as the majority of the city is Turkish/Azerbaijani speaking 🙂
Thank you for the recommendation – sounds like a route that’s my kind of journey 🙂 I’m hoping that I will make it to Azerbaijan/Iran this April.
I’ve put both countries off for some time, must be the syndrome that they’re so close to home!
Hi Audrey! I was wondering if traveling as a couple ever seems restricting? Are there times when the things you both want to see or do don’t align? And if so, is it easy to compromise?
Hi Deniz! Dan and my travel styles and interests are pretty similar so we both usually are interested in markets, walking the streets, street food, etc. However, if one of us does want to do something that the other doesn’t, we just part ways for a bit and then meet up later. It’s important to be open with communication so for us, it’s pretty easy to compromise.
More on the topic of traveling as a couple here: http://www.uncorneredmarket.com/2010/02/how-to-travel-the-world-together-without-killing-each-other/
Dan, Audrey, how long will you be in Mexico?
Not sure. We bought a one-way ticket 🙂
Our plan is to stay here for 1-2 months as part of our winter-avoidance strategy. We have a lot of work to catch up on and writing to do, so decided why not do it in a place that’s warm with tons of fresh fruit, good street food and is still pretty cheap. So far, no regrets!
Where are you headed next??
haha, I know the one-way ticket approach well! I’ll likely be heading to eastern Europe, deciding in the next day or two between Bulgaria and Romania; although -29C in Sofia right now might just push me to Bucharest 🙂 (My winter-avoidance strategy won’t hold up this year!)
From there I’ll go to Berlin for the PhoCusWright conference. One of my favorite cities and I know one of yours as well 🙂
-29 in Sofia would definitely push me towards Romania!!
Yes, Berlin is one of our favorite cities…been homesick for it recently 🙂
Hi Audrey and Dan,
When you left on your sabbatical, did you imagine you would still on the road all these years later?
Not really. We thought we would travel 12-18 months and go back to “real jobs”, but life has a funny way of going directions you never imagined. We picked up some freelance work early on and then realized if we continued to travel cheaply & earned money along the way we could extend the trip. Also, we learned quickly that the world is a big place…takes lots of time to really experience places we visit.
I’m curious if the work or travel load ever created tension or stress as they are both intense time commitments that can be difficult to balance between two people?
Relationships can be stressful, travel can be stressful, business can be stressful. Put all three together and there are moments. So, yes indeed. This lifestyle has its moments of glamour, but occasionally you gotta pay for it.
I don’t want to get all unBritish and talk too much about money, but do you make most of your living from freelancing (rather than direct advertising on your site)? And if so, how important a role does Uncornered Market play in landing your gigs?
When we began, freelancing played a big role. In fact, that was the tipping point for us to say “hey, we can do this.” Nowadays, everyone’s looking for free content. And the competitive landscape has driven down the price of everything. So, it’s a mix. About 50-50 these days between various projects and ads.
Uncornered Market plays a huge role these days. People find us this way. They also understand who we are and what we are capable of this way.
Both Anil and Earl were very helpful in convincing my girlfriend northern Iraq was a safe place to visit, though I suspect Iran is another country I’ll have to use my ‘but honey…’ voice.
I would be happy to head there now but, with the ratcheting up of war rhetoric and things looking like they may come to a crunch in July, would you still recommend travel there later this year?
Happy to hear our posts were of some help!
D doesn’t really get involved in the online side of things but, because of Iraq, you and Earl are the only two other travel bloggers she could name.
I’m just going to give this question a bump in case it got lost in the discussions…
From our discussion with our Iranian-American friend living in Tehran, things are still normal for American (and other ) tourists visiting right now. However, I can understand having to use an extra persuasive voice to convince your girlfriend that Iran is still safe. When you are thinking of going, get in touch with @jrezaian on Twitter -he’s on the ground in Tehran.
Also, go on Lonely Planet Thorntree to ask if there are any travelers who have been there recently – first hand experience is the best advice. I hope you have a chance to visit – it’s a fascinating place!!
Thanks. We’re saving our pennies for Central America next winter but (should we not have enough pennies) Iran, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia are all neighbouring countries to us and might make a good plan B. They don’t look like good winter avoidence countries though so I shouldn’t think we would go until the following spring.
Hello again Dan & Audrey:) Have you two formed any traditions while traveling? What I mean is, is there something specific that you buy/see/do in every place that you visit?
Great question! There are a couple of things. We don’t really buy a lot of things, unless we happen to be somewhere unusual (Central Asia — Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, etc. had some different things worth buying). Virtually everywhere we go, we visit the local market (that’s how we orient ourselves), the post office (I send a postcard from every country to my niece and nephew), and I try to avail myself of a barber just about every country we visit these days…even if I don’t need a haircut.
postcards make the best surprises!
They do! I’m selfishly hoping they save them all so we can see them all together one day. It’s one of the few items that I’ve been exceptionally diligent about. (I’ve only forgotten Latvia, I think.)
Audrey, Dan, I was wondering if you’ll be attending any travel conferences this year?
…or Star Trek conventions…I’ll be at a few of those this year as well 😛
No Star Trek conventions on the list for this year 🙂 But, we’re hoping to attend TBU in Umbria in April and have our eyes set on a few other travel conferences in the year…but still sorting out those plans. Also just got tickets to WDS in July. Challenge now is how to be in 2 places at once 🙂
I have another question for the world travelers! What is the most unique (good/bad/both) cuisine you’ve come across?
For myself, outside of Turkey (as I’m exceptionally biased in that regard 🙂 I quite enjoyed Bulgarian food, Philippine sweets, and Ecuador’s version of ceviche which they say the Peruvians stole from them. Jokingly of course. Well, mostly jokingly 😉
Also, Chile was a place I was introduced to porotos granados, a bean dish I’m still craving 🙂
Oof, that’s tough. The thing about world cuisines is that they’ve all stolen from one another (Italian cuisine as we know it wouldn’t exist without Chinese noodles and new world tomatoes). I digress. Bad cuisine: Our Estonian friends are going to hurt, but their cuisine has historically been a little unimaginative. Most unique and some of our faves: Peruvian, Georgian (Republic of Georgia), Indian, Thai, Vietnamese.
I have often wondered what the Italians (and Turks actually) did before tomatoes came around to those parts of the world… 🙂
Me, too. A lot of bread and meat, I guess. Good things come to those who wait.
What would you say was the biggest stereotype that was debunked when you traveled to Iran?
That “Iranians are all terrorists.” Unfortunately, in some parts of the world, that’s a widely held view. Two links:
To bring you to tears, an Iranian woman and a poem/note she wrote to Audrey:
And this Iranian guy who said something to the order of “Because of my beard, I bet many Americans think I’m a terrorist.”
The guy on the right, here: http://www.uncorneredmarket.com/photos/picture/6449191507/
If I do nothing in this life, it’s but to chip away at the silly stereotypes that pollute this world.
I love this response and it’s a wonderful goal. Traveling really does make you realize how much more similar we all are than different.
I agree that is a widely held view, and it is so unfortunate. I wish more people could have the positive experience that you two had in Iran rather than believe everything they hear/see. Thanks to you both for answering all of my questions!
Thank you Deniz for some terrific questions!
I’m going to begin winding things down but wanted to thank Audrey and Dan for spending some time today in the chat and sharing your travel stories and knowledge with us all.
Those of you following this thread once the chat ends should absolutely check out Dan and Audrey’s wonderful blog (one of my favorites) Uncornered Market.
Thank you very much again everyone and hope we cross paths in person somewhere in the world!
Thanks for inviting us to the chat and for all the great questions! We enjoyed being able to answer more questions on Iran and other topics!
And yes, we hope our paths cross sometime this year. Maybe in Berlin later in the year 🙂