Lulu Escapes meets Latvian travel blogger & animal conservationist: Margarita
I have been following Margarita’s travel experiences on Instagram since I started travel blogging and we even got the chance to meet up a couple of times in London. She has an amazing outgoing and fun personality and I love that fact that she shares honest opinions about her experiences, whether good or bad. She also launched her blog MargVenture where she posts all of her adventures and focuses on sustainable travel. Margarita studied animal behaviour and conservation so she shares a lot of useful information on this subject in addition to participating in several animal conservation projects around the world.
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What do you like the most about travelling?
I am the best version of myself when I travel. I am open-minded, positive, sociable, the person who is always willing to learn, I have tons of energy to explore and make connections. I love how after every single trip I literally come back a new person because I learned and experienced something new.
What made you start your travel blog? How do you differentiate your blog from others?
I used to work on a cruise ship and started to post pictures on Instagram, my life looked very exciting, I was in a new city every day. Then I got a travel bug and never stopped traveling since. I was first a dirt cheap backpacker and was writing about my volunteering with animals, this is what got people's attention, I then started studying and was managing to travel as well and finally got more into the professional side of content creation and turned it into my job. I am different from others because I use my platform to speak about important environmental problems, to influence people to be responsible travelers, to inspire people to have more sustainable lives.
You focus on adventure travel - what's the biggest adventure you ever went on?
There are just too many and I can never pick one as every single one of them are special for me. Probably one of the craziest things was running away from a pack of wolves in the dark forests of Slovakia during the hike, that was a moment when I literally thought I would die. But it all turned out fine and now I can have a good laugh and pass onto to people that you should never turn your back or run away if you encounter wolves during your hike.
You studied Animal Behaviour and conservation in the UK - could you tell us more about this?
One day I signed up for a whale watching tour during my work on the cruise ship in Alaska. I met people who follow whales anywhere from Alaska to the Galapagos Islands and back to study their habitat, behaviour and vocalizations. They were doing what they love, waking up every morning surrounded by wild nature and contributing to a meaningful cause. I was inspired, to say the least, so decided that I want it to be my life. I applied to study Animal Behaviour and Conservation and got accepted. Now, I graduated and I my biggest goal is to have my very own travel/animal show, which I am hoping to launch this year.
How can people travel responsibly when it comes to activities related with animals?
ALWAYS read reviews about places you are planning to visit. TripAdvisor, Facebook, Instagram, I also search for location tags on Instagram to see what kind of photos people post, I specifically go to 1-star reviews on Trip Advisor to see why people didn't like the experience and if it had some mentions about welfare standards. DO NOT visit any places where animals are used as photo props or where they are made to perform unnatural behaviours. The best way to understand if the animal expereince is ethical is to portray all the actions as if they were happening to your dog. Would you want your dog to be in the cage in no shade, would you want thousands of people to touch your dog and take pictures of it without any break? No, then don't go to such places and try to report them. Always leave reviews for such kind of experiences.
If you could change something negative about travelling what would it be?
I would definitely ban all places that have performing animals, where people keep animals for shows and picture taking.
What are you main hobbies outside of blogging?
I actually quite enjoy cooking. People get surprised when they learn that I can cook, as they think because I travel so much I never have time or skill to prepare my food, but I actually bring a lot of spices, local ingredients from abroad for my cooking back home. One time I even brought avocados from Tanzania, because they were so good there :))
Do you enjoy living in London? Do you miss life back home in Latvia?
I do not miss Latvia at all, I try to go home once a year, but I prefer for my family and friends to visit me rather than going there. I love Latvia with all my heart and it is great to be at my parents house and eat pancakes all day, but I like more action when I travel :) I feel neutral about London, it’s a great place to be based in as I can travel anywhere in the world, but I love nature and London cannot offer any of that. Also it’s crazy expensive which is something that doesn't make sense for me when I realise that I pay rent in London when in reality I am not even here 50% of the time…
Do you travel solo or with someone in particular?
I used to travel the only solo, however, I haven't done a solo trip in at least 2 years, now I always go with either friends, boyfriend or fellow content creators.
What do you find to be the most struggling part when travelling and blogging at the same time?
That people always think that all the trips I get come easy. People don't realise that it’s hard work and I sometimes work so hard on those trips that I don't have time to properly enjoy the place. Also, I never have time to share the content that I create. Usually, I start sharing stories and photos only after I come back from the trip, as too many things are going on during the trip anyway.
What would be your top 3 tips for someone wanting to travel but who doesn't have a big budget?
Either travel with a group (4 people) you can share costs easily for food, car, Airbnb etc (use Splitwise to record all the spendings), or travel solo and use Couchsurfing it is always easier to get accepted when it is just one person.
Travel off season! I never go to Europe in the summer because it’s too crowded, hot and expensive. Fall and spring are much better and cheaper seasons for Europe trips.
Be flexible with your travel dates, it is always cheaper to fly during weekdays and to avoid peak holiday season.
If you could go anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would it be?
Australia and New Zealand, because they are so far away and expensive to get to that I would use this magic opportunity to go without thinking twice :)
How do you see your blog evolving over the next few years?
I just started focusing more on sustainability, eco-travel and animal conservation in my posts, so I am really hoping that this initiative will continue and attract readers who are passionate about it. I am also starting to make videos about volunteering, animal encounters, and environmental topics, so I am really hoping that this will go well in the future.