Get to know one of our Travel Insurance Master Affiliates, Ketti. Ketti shares her extensive knowledge about sustainability, travel, living abroad, and more, on her blog, TiltedMap.com.
Ketti, where are you located?
That’s a complicated question! In the past three years, I’ve been based in France, Italy, Chicago and Montana, which is where I grew up. And now I’m moving to Boston! So I get around a lot.
When did you start your blog?
I started blogging when I first moved abroad – to China in 2014.
Walk me through how or why you started?
I had just graduated with a degree in Journalism, and was working as a university English teacher while doing lots of freelance travel writing.
So I started the blog just to share lots of fun little stories about life as an expat in China (a totally clueless expat, at least at the start!). It was a lot of fun, and it took several years, a masters degree in Sustainable Business & Energy, and lots of dabbling in other careers to realize that I could actually blog as my full-time job! So I eventually rebuilt my site as TiltedMap.com, and evolved into focusing on travel, culture and food culture, as well as sustainability.
Do you feature a specific type of travel or area?
Definitely – sustainability and Italy!
I focus on sustainable travel (and sustainability in general, including reviews of plastic-free products, for example). But I don’t want “sustainable travel” to be limited to just “eco-lodges,” you know? Instead, I write about how to make any kind of travel more eco-friendly.
And I focus a lot on destinations abroad, expat living (and how to move abroad) and specifically on Italy.
I grew up just living in Montana, but I’ve moved around a lot since college and lived in five different countries – the longest being three years in Italy. I learned fluent Italian, got married there and went to grad school there, so I love writing about Italian culture – which definitely includes a lot about food and even a few Italian recipes! (Mostly meatless ones.)
What is your favorite part about being a blogger?
I was a writer and journalist before I was a blogger, and I made the switch because I love getting to be the gate-keeper. I love being able to write posts that aren’t necessarily on the most popular topics, but I write them anyway because I know at least some of my readers will enjoy them and find them really useful.
I’m naturally very analytical and a big researcher, so I love knowing that my super-detailed blog posts will actually help someone who’s looking for an answer.
What is your favorite or dream destination?
I love places that are as different as possible from what I’m used to. I’ve been wanting to travel to Iran for years. And despite having lived in Asia for more than a year, I’ve never been to Japan! So that’s high on my list, too.
Some of my favorite destinations that I’ve already been are Mexico and Southern Italy, because I love the intensity of the food traditions and the enthusiasm people have for sharing them.
What is your favorite travel tip?
Don’t expect things to be the same as they are at home.
That may sound obvious, but I see people getting frustrated on their travels all the time for reasons that essentially boil down to, “why doesn’t this work the way I’m used to?” (I’m not immune to this either.)
The whole point of travel – more than to get great Instagram shots – is to see places and experience ways of living that are different from what we know. You have to really make a conscious effort to be open to that, even when it feels uncomfortable.
What other suggestions do you have for travelers?
People always ask me what the most sustainable travel destination is, and I always say it all depends on the traveler. Here are some easy ways to make any trip more sustainable:
First, if you have to fly, choose a destination that you can take a direct flight to – especially for shorter trips. Take-off and landing burn the most fuel, so taking fewer flights reduces your total emissions even more than staying physically closer to home but having a lay-over.
Wherever you go, stay in locally-owned accommodations and eat at local restaurants. They keep much more of the profits local than the big chains do, and a community that thrives economically is much more able to protect their local environment.
Next, use travel as an opportunity to do all the things you mean to do (but maybe forget to do) at home:
- Take a canvas bag for your shopping.
- Use shampoo bars, deodorant in cardboard tubes, and plastic-free toothpaste tablets for your toiletries (I’ve reviewed lots of these on the blog! They’re more eco-friendly, plus easier to pack and won’t get you stopped by the TSA.)
- Pack a filtering water bottle instead of buying bottled.
- Order the veggie option! Producing meat the way we do now, at industrial scale, is very polluting. If you’re not already vegan/vegetarian or (like me) just avoiding most meat, use travel as a chance to try something new.
There are a million small changes like these that add up, and I’m a big believer in making the most of these opportunities, both at home and on the road.
What suggestions do you have for bloggers or what has been the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome with your blog?
For me, time management is the biggest hurdle in blogging. When you’re juggling research, writing, editing, photography, communicating with readers, reaching out to brands, and all the back-end stuff (from accounting, to website development, to dealing with analytics and optimization), PLUS actually traveling... it can get to be a lot! But that’s also what I love about the job. No two work days are the same!
So my advice to bloggers to figure out a way to filter out the noise, and focus on creating great content. That has to be your number one priority.
How can our readers follow your travels?
I’m happy to connect on other social media, too, but email is the most dependable way to catch new posts (and I only send emails once or twice a month, so I’m not spammy!)
Anything else you would like to share?
I love questions from readers about any of the areas I cover, and I often end up turning my answers into full blog posts. So if you have any burning questions about sustainable products, or travel or living abroad, especially in Italy, feel free to get in touch!