We Got Liebster’d! 10 Questions Answered + Our 5 Nominees

Liebster Award on North to South

Well my, my… what do we have here? Looks like a Liebster Award nomination from the fantastic Tomy and Marina of Made in Moments. To the two of you: Thanks for nominating us! We shall accept and continue the Liebster tradition by passing the torch to 5 other bloggers (see who we’ve nominated below).

To our readers: You’re probably wondering just what exactly a Liebster Award is… In short, it’s a way for bloggers to support other bloggers by calling them out on their own blog and challenging them to answer a list of questions. Why should you read this post? It’s a great way for you to get to know us a little better, from our answers to the 10 questions Made in Moments has set forth for us! (Plus I’ve forced Ian to answer the questions, too, so you’ll be hearing thoughts directly from him for the first time EVER on this here blog.)

Read on for some fun facts about Ian and me, plus our list of Liebster nominees. 

Q&A

1. What motivates you to travel?

Diana: The freedom we feel from not being tied down, curiosity about other cultures and places, the excitement of uncertainty in an unknown place, the sense of adventure… my list is really endless.

Ian: The people. Everywhere we’ve been we have met amazingly friendly and interesting people. Even when the language barrier is thick and difficult, some of the most rewarding experiences have been sharing time with the people of the places we visit.

meeting new people in Lake Tahoe

We were invited to dinner earlier this year by an awesome couple in Lake Tahoe.

2. What’s your favorite form of transportation and why?

Diana: I’m not a fan of turbulence, so I can’t say planes, and trains make me nervous (I always feel like they’ll easily become derailed). Though it’s impractical when we’re traveling far from home, overall I like to travel by car. I can go where I want when I want… if there’s no traffic, that is. Abroad I appreciate a well-connected, on-schedule subway system.

Ian: I would say bikes. I think there is something liberating and just plain fun about bikes. If I could I would want to travel everywhere by bicycle. That said, the reality of the world is that not everywhere is the most bike friendly. Many places around the world are improving in their bike friendliness and I think that’s a positive sign for the future of humanity and the world.

Yaris at Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada, USA

Our little red Yaris on the open road at Valley of Fire State Park last summer

3. How do you deal with homesickness while on the road?

Diana: I’ve got Ian with me, so me feeling homesick is rare. But Facebook, email, Skype, and WhatsApp help me keep in touch with the people I want to talk to — no matter where we are in the world.

Ian: I think part of long term travel is finding home wherever you are. I always have Diana with me and many of the most welcoming friends we meet on our travels end up becoming our slice of home away from home. I think I usually miss home the most on two occasions: right after I leave for a new place when the unfamiliarity of the country is a little overwhelming and then right before I’m set to return home, mostly in the wave of anticipation. I’ll always love returning to America after an extended trip abroad. There’s really no place quite like it.

my dog Tiger

We’re always happy to return home to this guy!

4. How do you finance your travels? Feel free to ramble, this is the good stuff.

By working for us… and ONLY us. We’re living the dream! Blog affiliate sales, Skillshare class enrollments, site donations, and Airbnb referrals… probably in that order.

5. Do you have a daily/weekly/monthly budget and how do you keep up with it?

Yes! We do our best to stick to our monthly travel budget, and then if extra money comes in we’ll allow ourselves to splurge on pricier tours, new clothes, and nice dinners.

10 mil Costa Rican colones: Diana's favorite money in the world... Can you guess why?

10 mil Costa Rican colones: Diana’s favorite money in the world… Can you guess why?

6. Have you ever experienced culture shock? Let’s hear the juicy details.

Diana: I think I realized pretty young that cultures are vastly different around the world, so it’s difficult to “shock” me. And the Internet always allows us to prepare in advance (at least somewhat) for what we’ll find in any given country. I can say that I have found myself extremely overwhelmed before, by locals eager to meet tourists and sell them things. That happened during some of my encounters with the Red Dao women of Vietnam a few years back. But aside from their sales tactics, the Red Dao culture had me in awe rather than shock. They seem to live wonderfully fulfilled, simple lives farming the terraced rice fields on the hills outside Sa Pa, Vietnam. Their lives are so different from ours, but we made friends with them anyway.

I think directly encountering and learning about other cultures is one of the most beautiful, fulfilling things about travel. The more you travel, the more open your mind becomes, and the harder it is to find yourself “shocked.”

Red Dao women's welcome at Topas Ecolodge, Sa Pa, Vietnam

I may be smiling here, but I’m reaching my limit…

Ian: Being half-Vietnamese I think it’s ironic that my first case of culture shock was on my first family trip to Vietnam. I was 16. Just the taxi ride from the airport to our hotel in downtown Saigon was an eye opening and jarring experience. The roads were absolutely packed with cars, trucks and motorbikes and it seemed like there was no rhyme or reason for how everybody moved about. There were bikes with entire families on them weaving in and out of traffic, cars driving on the wrong side of the road and semi-trucks making passes that were all too close for comfort. I never felt comfortable in any moment of that car ride and in a few moments during the trip became seriously concerned for my life.  But somehow it all worked out, nobody crashed into us, and we made it to the hotel.

I spent the better part of that afternoon doing nothing but sitting on the balcony of our hotel room looking out at the road and intersection below, mesmerized for what seemed like hours by how the traffic flowed through that smaller artery of the city. I think I’ve more-or-less gotten over the shock of foreign traffic, but it’s something that I still approach with a bit of hesitation in a new place, until I’ve familiarized myself with the habits of its drivers.

7. If you had to choose just one country to live in for the next five years, where would you go?

Diana: FIVE years!??! Jesus. That’s too long. I’d probably say the U.S. if I had to choose. Traveling abroad has made me realize just how beautiful our home country is, and there’s still so much of it we want to explore! But if I wanted to be more adventurous and pick a foreign country, I’d probably choose Costa Rica… or maybe Norway. Wherever we could hang out with the nicest people.

Ian: I would have to agree with Diana in that I probably wouldn’t choose to stay in one place for five years. That said, I would want a country that could offer a wide variety of geographic locales and sections of culture that could align with and complement our way of life. Singapore, for example, would be way too small and restricting and much too “metro” to spend a whole five years in. My itch for remote places would keep me in a country with plenty of open natural places accessible to the public. I think that the Nordic countries like Norway, Finland, and Sweden, particularly with their diverse natural beauty and their brilliant “Allemannsrett” or “Everyman’s Right” laws for access to the countryside, create an environment that perfectly complements our lifestyle. So yeah, I think I’d pick somewhere in Scandinavia.

camping on BLM land in the U.S.

Diana and Ian camping for free on BLM land in the U.S.

8. Do you cook while traveling? What do you eat?

Diana: DEFINITELY. As budget travelers, we cook most of our meals. We generally eat a healthy version of what the locals eat (emphasis on generally). Lately that’s meant more meat than I normally prefer to eat (we’re in Mexico, what can I say?). But no matter where we are, our diet is largely based on local veggies and beans… and dessert!

Ian: Even before we started traveling full-time, Diana and I did a lot of cooking together. All the long-term Airbnb listings we book have access to a kitchen, and sometimes I relish the idea of concocting some sort of brilliant culinary masterpiece, often incorporating whatever foods are most abundant in the country where we are staying. Like Diana said, we rarely cook meat and love to find local veggies, but that doesn’t stop us from grabbing some Longaniza tacos while we’re out on the streets of Mexico City.

5 Healthy Camping Meals with 6 Ingredients or Less on northtosouth.us

Speaking of cooking… months after its publishing date, this is still one of our most popular blog posts!

9. How do you deal with being together 24 hours a day? Do you ever get annoyed?

Diana: We love each other. That’s how! We like to do the same things, we motivate each other, we support each other… it’s a good deal through and through. I think traveling well together is one of the best indicators that two people are right for each other. And yes, I get annoyed. Ian slurps his pasta too loudly, he uses his phone WAY too much, and he’s a little less tidy and organized than I am. But rather than keeping our annoyances to ourselves, we speak up, and that always helps to make it go away.

Ian: I think speaking up and compromising are two of the most important things. Sometimes I just want to make sure Diana is happy, even if what she wants to do differs completely from what I want to do, and I know that she does the same for me.  That and remembering to eat. When we work too hard or skip a meal I think we both become “hangry,” and nobody wants to be on either side of that. So: talk about it, compromise and eat well.

10. What are your plans after travel? Or is there an “after travel”?

Diana: I don’t think we’ll ever have an “after travel,” though at some point we may want to spend extended periods of time at home in the U.S. But we’ll never go back to a debt-filled, traditional American life. You’ll never find us with a mortgage! For now and the future, our plans are to continue to enjoy having the freedom to be wherever we want to be… whether that’s at home or abroad.

Ian: I think I’ve experienced too many positive things in our time traveling to ever want to give it up. I think there are places that I’ll forever be fond of and may want to spend extended time there, but I think I will always feel the itch for visiting new and foreign places. Ultimately I think that wherever I want to be is where Diana wants to be and I know she feels the same way.

Diana and Ian at Berliner Dom, Berlin, Germany

a year ago in Berlin, Germany // As long as we’re together, we’re happy.


And now, for our nominees!

Some of these blogs I’ve been following for quite sometime, and a couple are recent discoveries. But rest assured, they’ve all got words worth reading and photos worth seeing. Hop on over via the links below. You’ll see what I mean.

1. A Globe Well Travelled // Ashlea — Her graphic design, travel photos and the voice of her blog are all awesome. I like her blog so much I asked her to write a couple of articles for my women’s travel blog over at Stylish Travel Girl. Check out her Etsy shop for her graphic design work, too!

2. Tea Was Here // Tea — I love her site design and quirky attitude, as witnessed in her recent Would You Rather post where she has a Q&A with… herself. You may also remember the story of our favorite passport stamp, from her Stamp This! post last month.

3. Camera & Carry On // Shannon + Michael — A fellow traveling/blogging/photographing couple, all about incorporating travel into everyday life. Read more about them here and check them out on Instagram, too.

4. 2 Travel Engineers // Sachi + Gurpreet — There are two of them. They’re travelers. They’re engineers. Thus the name of their blog. Find the latest from their pursuit for delicious food and adventure on their blog.

5. Stars on the Ceiling // Britany — Firstly because I totally had stars all over my ceiling when I was a kid, but also because it makes for a sweet blog theme overall. “Stars on the Ceiling began as the glowing constellations I left on the ceilings of bedrooms across the country while my family moved from place to place. Now, it’s the realization that home is where I make it, and the determination to keep experiencing both comfort and thrill, no matter where I am in the world.”

Nominees: Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to do what I did in this post here. Write a blog post, explaining your mission and answering the questions we’ve listed below. Then come up with questions of your own and pass them along to 5 new-ish bloggers of your choosing. Don’t forget to tag us in your post so we can share your answers here and on social media!

And our questions!

1. Why do you blog?
2. The coolest tour you’ve ever taken is….?
3. If you could teleport anywhere for a day, where would you go?
4. What’s the first thing you do when you arrive in a new place?
5. How much money did you spend on travel last month?
6. If you could give an amateur traveler one piece of advice, what would it be?
7. Cold weather or hot weather destinations?
8. If you were showing someone around your home city/town/country, where would you take them first?
9. How do you approach travel planning?
10. What’s your favorite quote about travel?

UPDATE: Their answers are rolling in! Check them out:


This post was handcrafted just for you during our travels in Mexico.

About the Author

Diana Southern
In March 2014, Diana called it quits on her traditional American working life and set out to explore the world with her partner in crime (and love of her life) Ian Norman. They now live a sustainable life of full time travel, working for themselves and seeking adventure at the same time. Here on North to South, Diana documents their journey in achieving and maintaining this "road less traveled" way of life.

10 Responses

  1. Alana April 17, 2015 / 12:43 am

    I love that you guys mentioned exploring the US more. That’s definitely in our plans for the next year as well. Now that we know we can camp long term as well I think it will be way more fun too! Great photo of you guys!

    • Diana Southern April 17, 2015 / 9:40 am

      Thanks Alana! We <3 camping. We're excited to get in some camping time very soon. Perhaps our paths will cross somewhere on our road trip adventures. Happy travels!

  2. Shannon April 17, 2015 / 8:11 am

    You guys… ♥ Thank you so much for thinking of us. I’m kind of obsessed with all you do from photographs to your sensational stories, and everything in between. It’s an honor to be nominated by such a talented duo! Happy travels and keep the goodness coming…

    • Diana Southern April 17, 2015 / 9:39 am

      Happy travels to you, too, Shannon! We’re looking forward to your answers and to see who you guys nominate!

    • Diana Southern April 20, 2015 / 6:55 pm

      Haha, happy to hear it Ashlea! I’m excited to read your answers and see who you decide to nominate. Happy travels! 🙂

  3. Shannon April 30, 2015 / 6:38 am

    THANK YOUUUU, you two cutie patooties! Have I mentioned how much we love North to South? Your site is the bees knees (seriously – have you seen some of the others out there???) and we adore your writing and quirky photos. > http://buff.ly/1bVifBs

    You’re the best! 🙂

    • Shannon April 30, 2015 / 6:44 am

      I think I forgot a crucial part of that comment above. Please insert: “And here is our Liebster post!” Haha. Thanks again 🙂

      • Diana Southern April 30, 2015 / 9:53 am

        😀

    • Diana Southern April 30, 2015 / 9:52 am

      Haha, thanks Shannon! You two aren’t so bad yourselves. Thus, the nomination. 😉

      Enjoyed reading your Liebster answers. Happy to see you passing along the blogger love. (You’ve given me a couple cool new bloggers to check out.) Stay awesome you guys!

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