In our series of interviews with travel blogger and influencers across the globe, we 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 Iris From A Fork On The Road blog.
An Interview With Iris C. Permuy From A Fork On The Road
Tell us a bit about yourself
I am a half French half Spanish unapologetic foodie defined by wanderlust since before my birth (for my first flight, I was in my mother’s belly). So I chose the perfect career path for someone like me: I am a food and travel journalist, a tourism and gastronomy translator, and a subtitling and audio-description specialist. That means I spend my days creating and recreating, describing colors and shapes and tastes and scents, and helping other people understand what they can’t, traveling through words. Moreover, I can work from wherever there is Wi-Fi, so I can actually roam full-time and experience the world and its food first-hand… well, I could until the lockdown anyway.
When I was living in the United States, I cooked a whole Thanksgiving meal for some of my friends. There and then I realized I had been to over thirty countries, learned some of their gastronomy, and tried every bite I could for over a decade… and kept it all for myself and my loved ones! How selfish! That’s how my blog started.
At first it was a simple hobby and I didn’t feed it (pun intended) as much as I should have, but recently I started to take it more seriously. A Fork of the Road is a travel diary, an international recipe book and a travel guide all at once. Usually, I share a recipe that triggers a specific memory for me. Other times, I come back from my travels and have restaurant recommendations that will make any wanderer foodie truly happy. Very soon, I’ll share interviews with intriguing cooks and travelers I’ve met along the way because I want my readers to sort of meet them too. Sometimes, I am so at awe about a place that I design what I think are the best itineraries for all to enjoy the way I did.
With a mix of humor and intimacy (or so I hope), I take my readers around the globe without leaving the comfort of their couch, by sharing easy recipes for them to have a taste of my nomadic lifestyle, while also trying to inspire them to do the same and taste first hand the dishes I honestly recommend.
What’s your biggest achievement as a Travel Blogger?
As I said, I haven’t really been taken myself seriously as a blogger, so I am not very ambitious as far as blogger achievements is concerned. But there is something that makes me intensely happy, and that is when someone writes to tell me they tried my recipe and loved it, or they read the book I recommended and enjoyed it, or they ate at that restaurant I suggested and it was delicious. That’s truly all I aim for.
You have an unlimited travel budget for 24 hours. Give me your itinerary.
Well, I don’t know if this is allowed, but if I had unlimited travel budget for 24 hours I would just spend the whole day booking flights and hotel rooms for the years to come! Technically, I would have spent it all in one day, but I would get to enjoy it for a long, long time!
How do you fund your travel?
That’s easy: I work. I am lucky enough to have a remote job I adore, so my intention was never to monetize the blog to get to travel for free or earn a ton of passive income. My blog is my side hustle, that’s how I keep it honest and virtually add-free.
I never get bored at work because what I do is very varied: I translate gastronomy, tourism and marketing texts from English and French into Spanish; now I’m also translating two travel novels; I also do audiovisual translation, meaning voice-over and subtitling, as well as captioning for the Deaf and audio description for the blind; I write content about food and travel for several websites… It’s very fulfilling, and it fits perfectly into my location independent life.
What is the single most effective strategy that a blogger can use to bring traffic to a blog?
Just two words: great content. Of course SEO is important, promotion is key… but to create a long-lasting community truly engaged the only thing that matters is content. Having a voice, speaking about the things you actually care and know about, paying attention to what your readers want and expect and keeping true to yourself. Then, yes, don’t forget to implement search engine optimization and join as many groups and threads you can, but the basis is what you give to your readership.
What tools do you use to monetize your blog? Which works best for you?
As I mentioned above, my case is a little particular because monetizing my blog is not my priority. I love my job, I’m my own boss and that gives me the freedom and fulfillment I need, so I’m not planning on quitting anytime soon. That being said, I drop affiliate links here and there, when they absolutely make sense and only for products I personally tried and believe in (usually books). I also have a couple of banners down at the bottom of my page, one, again, for books, and the other one for a travel company whose concept I enjoy a lot. But only one person ever clicked in the book banner once, making me a commission of a little fortune of under two euros. Don’t pity me, I’m not in this for the money!
What is the first trip you remember taking and how old were you?
Yes, so I obviously don’t remember traveling from Galicia to Murcia in my mother’s belly. I think my first travel memory, maybe my first memory ever if my parents got the dates right, was when I was three years and a half old. We were traveling through Spain by car, we stopped in the country side, and my father piggybacked me to show me a beautiful orange and pink sunset.
Have you been anywhere which turned out to be totally different to how you imagined? If so, how?
I tend not to go anywhere with set expectations, that allows me to truly experience where I’m at instead of rearranging my previous thoughts. However, I must say Myanmar and Bolivia stole my heart in a way I didn’t think they could. They were way more beautiful and interesting that I had anticipated, and I feel head over hills for the people and the food of the former, and the nature of the latter. And, of course, but that I already knew, their architecture and history.
Have you had any bad experiences whilst travelling?
Of course. I have been lost in not so nice neighborhoods, I’ve been cold to the point of pain, I’ve been exhausted to the point of crying, I have been slightly scammed, I have had flights canceled last minute with no explanation or alternatives, I had problems with my passport and almost deported from two countries at the same time, I’ve had altitude sickness, I have been sexually harassed, I have been pickpocketed, I got broken up with via text message, I got cheated on while away, I have slept in a park bench and train stations and airports, and just recently I had to be repatriated due to the COVID-19 situation. But, you know what? It doesn’t matter. I would go through all of it again if that guaranteed me another decade of traveling.
The only thing I regret is having been half way across the world when my grandmother died. Even though I was able to say goodbye to her a month before and it was a work trip and not pleasure, it was really sad and lonely.
Where is your favourite place in the world?
That’s a truly hard one. Japan was one of the best trips I’ve ever taken, and even before taking my return flight I was already looking forward to going back there. And I frequently find myself thrown to the United States, where I have lived for over two years (first Pennsylvania, then Arkansas, then upstate New York).
Do you have a bucket list? If so what is on it?
Wow, it would be quicker to tell you what’s not in that list. But on the top of my head, I would say: Vietnam (I was just there, but my trip got cut short), Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Belize, Greenland, Iran, Jordan, Egypt, Kenya, Madagascar…
If you were not travelling what would you be doing instead?
Well, I guess nobody is traveling right now… But if you mean in general, I would have the same job and work from home, but I would probably be also teaching at some university, as I did in both Murcia and Barcelona before becoming a full-time traveler.
What has travel taught you?
Many things. How to be independent. How being lonely and being alone are not synonyms. How to be proactive, resolute, decisive, bold. How to make friends wherever I go, even when there are important language barriers. How not to be so Euro-centric, but more open and understanding. How to value what I have and to incorporate better culture approaches when needed. How to follow my instincts. How, sometimes, a bench in a park can be more comfortable than a bed in the Hilton. How to budget smartly. How to ask for help when necessary. And, of course, how to cook delicious international cuisines!
Who, in your opinion, is the most successful travel blogger? Why do you think that is?
Here we should first define what success is, and I believe that’s different for everybody. For me, the most successful are the ones who try to make an impact with their blogs, a true impact, whether it is giving voice to underrepresented or silenced communities, or to promote sustainable travel. For me success is not just getting tons of followers and likes and brand deals. Don’t get me wrong, I know it takes a lot of work, commitment and strategy to achieve those goals; I’m just saying that for me success looks differently.
As a traveler striving to lead a more inclusive and sustainable lifestyle, I admire and respect deeply, for instance, the job of The Invisible Tourist, Nada Incluido, Travel for Difference, and How Not to Travel Like a Basic Bitch.