In my series of interviews with travel blogger, I look for travel bloggers and influencers with interesting lives who can share some inspiring stories and useful advice from their experience. This week we have Crystal Egan from Castaway with Crystal travel blog.
An Interview with Crystal from Castaway with Crystal
Tell us a bit about yourself
Passionate baby goat cuddler and part-time adventurer, I can often be found doing headstands on the edges of cliffs, taking photos of abandoned buildings or sleeping on deserted islands with dangerous criminals. I’m originally a wannabe film-maker with a TV background hailing from Sydney, Australia. My feet started itching shortly after university and my inability to sit still took over.
Now I just write, create, travel, repeat.
I am the writer and founder of the intrepid travel website, Castaway with Crystal; a travel blog that encourages people to travel more meaningfully (and more often) by going on budget, off-beat, unusual adventures. My site specialises in unique experiences, incredible accommodation and weird attractions. If it surprises, engages or changes someone’s life – we cover it!
The blog also places a strong emphasis on sustainable travel and caring for and appreciating the people and environment around us at home and on the road. The Castaway with Crystal brand was founded in 2016, born out of my passion for creating videos and photography that tells a story of the people and places I travel.
Since 2016, my photography has been displayed in National Geographic Magazine and her writing, travel videos and photography have been featured by Lonely Planet. I have also written for Atlas Obscura, The Broke Backpacker, HostelWorld, and has been named one of the ‘Top 30 Adventurers Under 30’ by Open World Magazine.
My savvy voice and sassy sense of humour keep our audience engaged while my SEO skills ensure our long, in-depth guides rank at the top of Google for the keywords we go for. Our readers get a kick from discovering bizarre, offbeat places and this blog is a direct reflection of our way of living… Fearless and alternative.
What’s your biggest achievement as a Travel Blogger?
I love getting questions from readers on my blog and then being about to give them one-on-one advice about their travels. I thrive on making the planning process for someone else’s travels clearer.
My biggest travel achievement so far has been buying a car in Mexico and driving it around with my partner. That was some brave travel. Now my posts on driving in Mexico help hundreds of other people do similar road trips and it makes me so happy that I am helping people achieve their dreams!
You have an unlimited travel budget for 24 hours. Give me your itinerary.
It will take that much time for me to get from Australia to pretty much anywhere. 🤣But I’ll give it my best shot!
24 hours in Vanuatu
6:00 AM: Touch down in Port Vila, Vanuatu, pick up the hire car
7:00 AM Drop in to eat super-ripe tropical fruit at a local market
8:00 AM Jump on a private yacht and go scuba diving near Hideaway island to visit the underwater Post Office and reefs
10:00 AM Head over to Ekasup Cultural Village to witness the locals walk on burning coals and see the way of life of the local tribes
11:00 AM Visit the lush scenery of the Blue Lagoon and play on the rope swings with local children
12:30 PM Catch a private jet to Espirito Santo Island to relax on the pristine white sands of Champagne Beach
13:30 Eat fresh seafood at a restaurant near Champagne Beach and get a seaside massage
16:00 Catch the private jet to Tanna Island in the South of Vanuatu
17:00 Get a helicopter over the Island to see inside the mouth of the active volcano Mt Yasur
18:00 Head to a luxury seaside resort and snorkel the reef in front of it
19:00 Relax on my veranda with a few cocktails and some good food while watching the sunset over Mt Yasur volcano
20:30 Get a room service massage in an expansive private suite
22:00 Bring a bottle of champagne to my private spa and read a book while listening to some of my favourite music
How do you fund your travel?
Mostly using savings that I have saved up from my job over a period of time before the travel. My travel blog also funds some travel but it is much less than what I put into it from savings.
What is the single most effective strategy that a blogger can use to bring traffic to a blog?
Give people what they want. Look at your Analytics – especially the search terms that are already bringing people to your site – and answer any questions people had that weren’t fully answered in your posts. Learn how to do proper keyword research, as that will give you the secret weapon of understanding what questions people have and then you can answer them all!
What tools do you use to monetize your blog? Which works best for you?
Mediavine Ads is my number one, and then affiliates such as Amazon and Booking bring in a little bit of play money as well.
What is the first trip you remember taking and how old were you?
I vaguely remember being dragged around Central Australia by my mum in a campervan when I was around 3. One time during the trip when my sister was about one year old, we were playing outside while mum cooked dinner inside the campervan. A dingo was sniffing my sister and looked like it was going to start dragging her away, so I started crying. Mum came out and chased the dingo away. So, I essentially saved my little sisters life that day.
Have you been anywhere which turned out to be totally different to how you imagined? If so, how?
I was told not to go to South America because it was too dangerous, but I went anyway and ended up having the time of my life. It’s the place that really installed the travel bug into me and after Latin America, I couldn’t stop! Still can’t, actually.
Have you had any bad experiences whilst travelling?
Many, but good experiences always weight out the bad. In Mexico, my girlfriend and I accidentally overstayed our visa – long story short we thought we had 6 months, when in fact we’d had 2 weeks. We were headed to Guatemala by overnight bus when immigration boarded the bus late at night in the middle of nowhere.
They took one look at our tourist card and told us to get off the bus. I was extremely confused because I believed we still had a few days left on our visa. We alighted the bus to be greeted by a bunch of immigration guards with AK47s who put us in the back of their caged van and transported us to the nearest immigration office. There, we were put in jail for 6 hours, minus our shoelaces in case we tried to neck ourselves. Thankfully, we were officially given two weeks to leave the country, but nothing more came of the matter and we weren’t even given a fine! We got the next overnight bus straight out of there and we have even been able to re-enter Mexico without any hassles since.
Where is your favourite place in the world?
Tulum in Mexico. The white-sand beaches, treehouse hotels, good food, warm weather, and surrounding sights are everything I could want in a destination! Tulum is also home to many of Mexico’s cenotes (underground rivers and sinkholes) which, to me, are like a gigantic natural swimming pool and fun park. Cenotes are some of my favourite things in the world! You can dive in them to see prehistoric bones and highly decorated caverns, snorkel in them with friendly fish and zipline into them. It’s heaven on Earth.
Do you have a bucket list? If so what is on it?
Tulum’s beaches are also breeding grounds for turtles in Mexico. Turtles are my favourite animal and seeing baby turtles hatch and run to the water is one of my life’s biggest bucket list achievements.
I also do a yearly bucket list game called “100 Things”, where we write down 100 cool things we want to do at the start of each year and try to tick off as many of them as possible throughout the year. Take a look at what’s on my 100 Things list this year.
If you were not travelling what would you be doing instead?
Saving for travel? Ha ha. I would most likely be working in the TV industry in Australia in some sort of behind the scenes technical role which is what I do when I’m saving for my next travel.
What has travel taught you?
Patience, kindness, and inspiration!
Who, in your opinion, is the most successful travel blogger? Why do you think that is?
Adventurous Kate, her audience love her because she’s down to Earth and she’s been around so long that everyone knows her name!
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