Travel on A Budget – Interview with the Shoestring Travelers


The primary reason that we travelers wanders into great places because of curiosity. We want to experience first hand what it feels like to be in that place and not just to hear about it from our friends.

Another primary reason is exchange of cultures, meaning the fact that we travel to new places, learn and exchange information’s about other cultures.

For Leo and Nina, apart from those reason, they also want to share and motivate people that they do not need to spend extravagantly to enjoy travel. Hence, they started the Shoestring Traveler.

Let’s learn more about the couple and the adventures that they had so far…

The Shoestring Travelers

shoestring bloggers travelers

Hi Leo, Nina. Thanks for this opportunity to interview you and ask you questions about your blog and your travel adventures.

What made you start your travel/travel blogging and when?

Nina: We started in 2011. It’s just a creative outlet for our writing and photography (for Leo in particular).

Some friends have been encouraging Leo to write about our work and travel experiences for some time.

We also felt we could share some adventures and travel tips to friends and the online community in general.

Who designs your blog? (is it wordpress?)

Leo: We actually have 2 sites which we developed and maintain ourselves. The first is not really a blog but a conventional website ( It’s a Drupal-powered site which is more flexible than WordPress;

Drupal allows us to tinker around with the site more than WP. But just last year we launched a WordPress blog ( which is linked from the Drupal site and which might be the way we would go forward.

Any favorite post you’ve published so far? What’s the one with most interaction/visits?

Leo: The ones with the most visits from the Drupal site is an article about Puting Buhangin in Pagbilao, Quezon but lately the articles on Cuatro Islas (in Leyte) and Subic Beach in Matnog have been getting a lot of visits.

Our favorite post is probably the one about Cuatro Islas and we’ve also gotten a lot of traffic on our Facebook page about it as well.

I see you’ve listed your favorite travels in the blog. From the list of favorites, what you’re most favorite or most memorable? What makes it the best?

Leo/Nina: That favorites list needs to be updated.

Shoestring travelersHard to say which is more memorable because there are so many but we would single out (again) Cuatro Islas, Subic Beach and Tikling Island in Matnog, Sorsogon and Biliran.

These are some of the more pristine beach/island locations we’ve come across and they’re not so well-known yet.

For our international travels we would select the article about Peshawar and the Khyber Pass in Pakistan and the Highway 395 drive in the U.S. The Khyber Pass/Peshawar article was most memorable for the sense of adventure in a dangerous land (Leo who was without Nina on this trip and needed to have police escort; the Taiban was then very active in the area).

The Highway 395 drive was another highlight because it is a seldom-used route that takes you through some of the most impressive scenery in California.

Are you or the blog member of any travel blogger community? Facebook group or online groups where other budding travel blogger can interact with you?

Unfortunately, we are not a member of any blogger community. We do most of our interactions via social media. Have been thinking about joining a blogging community but never got around to doing so.

Where are you able to learn new language/dialects.. or did it take you a while to learn it?

Leo: Nina learned Bisayan while she was working in Davao; this was before we got married. We also reviewed our Spanish (we both learned it in college) when we were living in San Diego, CA from 2006-2008 but other than that we did not learn any other languages.

Was there any scary moment in your adventures? What was the moment that happens that almost stopped your from traveling again?

Nina: Two scariest moments: Leo’s trip through the Khyber Pass took him through Pashtun country where civilians with AK47s were all over the place.

The scarier aspect of this trip was having some Americans with him – which could put a bull’s eye on his group as potential kidnap victims.

But he later realized the people were quite friendly, actually hospitable. Even the Taliban left them alone (this was in 2000 though and some things have changed since then).

The other scary moment was when the plane we were riding on back to Manila from Bangkok hit an air pocket (that the pilot obviously did not detect on his instruments) and suddenly plunged down several score feet.

We thought the plane would go down. It also happened while they were serving lunch aboard so you can imagine the mess it created.

We guess no scary moment could ever stop us from traveling…

For every trip you’ve made, were you able to taste their local food? Any strange thing you ate  that’s memorable?

Leo/Nina: Tasting local food is part of every journey we take and something we always look forward to experiencing. We didn’t really taste a lot of strange things on our trips (at least they weren’t strange for us).

The strangest food probably were fried grasshoppers in Thailand, dog rendang in Indonesia, champoy juice in Vietnam and some indescribable Pakistani version of betel quid (nga-nga in Pilipino) that our giggling Pakistani hosts wouldn’t tell us what they’re actually made up of.

Nina: Interestingly they have balut in Vietnam and Cambodia (Leo who is from Pateros says his ancestors from Southern China were the ones who actually brought it to the Philippines and obviously reached Indochina as well) and Leo got to taste quail egg balut in Vietnam.

What place is still on the top of your bucket list you have yet to crossed out?

The islands off Carles in northern Iloilo – the Isla Gigantes group of islands – although we’ve already booked flights going there later this year.

After that are the Dinagat Islands in Mindanao. For international trips it’s Santorini in Greece and Baltistan, Pakistan with its alpine scenery.

Is there any particular place you’ve visited that you feel so at home that you were open in moving to that place?

Leo: Locally: Easily Dumaguete City. We were so in love with this place.

Internationally: New York City. For some strange reason we felt so much at home there. Maybe it’s because of the crowded, chaotic nature of the city that we’ve grown so accustomed to although we are not considering moving there if given the chance.

Questions? Comments? Reach Out!

There you have it! A lot of amazing and cool information from Leo and Nina of the Shoestring Travelers!

Is there any other information you would like to know about them? Comment below or follow them on their social media networks!

You can Like and follow them on their Facebook page.

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