Summer’s almost done? That was awesome, hope the fall offers us some exciting surprises. Funsherpa catches up with April Thompson, travel blogger and cupcake connoisseur, to discover amazing places to travel to, tricks to fund the lifestyle and some cupcake secrets. Go April! Good luck on getting your open water certification – should be a great way to discover a less chartered part of the world.
Can you talk to us a bit more on how the Philippines influenced your passion for travel? What was it like growing up there?
My dad served in the United States Air Force and got orders to the Philippines when I was about 2. We lived at Clark Air Force just outside of Angeles City. While I don’t remember much from the experience, I do credit it for being the catalyst behind my wanderlust. While living there I was apparently able to communicate quite well in Tagalog, the language of the Philippines, and got along well with the local as well as military children. Growing up in military towns weather stateside or abroad was a great way to get exposed to people who were from or had been exposed to various cultures. In my immediate circle, I had friends who had Filipino, Korean and German parentage and had traveled all over the globe.
Favorite city you’ve traveled to so far? What makes it amazing?
There are so many places I have let to experience and I’m sure this answer will change the more I’m able to visit new places, but to date, I credit Durban, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa as my favorite city to date. It’s been way too long since my visit, but I spent two weeks in Durban (out of 6 in South Africa) exploring the city as a graduate student on an independent research project. I was there to investigate educational programs in place to prepare students to pursue engineering degree, but gained so much more. In between meetings with students, faculty and staff, I explored every inch of the city I could. I fell in love with the unique blend of Indian and African culture, exploring the mosques and markets and stuff my face with everything imaginable. Durban is on the coast and stayed in apartments across from the beach — it was heaven. Being in South Africa felt like home and I’m very anxious to return for another extended trip.
You are a cupcake connoisseur – what’s an amazing recipe you can share with our readers?
Yes, I Looooovvvvvveeee cupcakes. Eating them more so than making them. I’d have to say my favorite is a good red velvet with cream cheese icing. It HAS to be done right, and not everyone does it justice. Though red velvet is my fave, I’m an equal opportunist when it comes to cupcakes. They have to be moist and have just the right amount of icing. I’ve tasted a few fruit infused flavors (kiwi starawberry) and savory (think bacon topped) that were great as well. I also try to seek out great cupcake spots when I’m on the road. My favorite abroad so far has been Tease Bakery in Lisbon, Portugal and in the US, Cami Cakes.
Can you share some tips on how to fund an amazing travel focused lifestyle? You seem to be able to manage it quite well.
Well, I’m not like most travel bloggers. I didn’t sell all of my possessions and quit my job to backpack around the world. I did sell quite a few things and rented out my condo, but I still have a job and a ton less expenses so that means more money for travel. I’m also a freelance writer and provide marketing services at times to clients. And last, I’m a points and miles junkie. I’ve been able to rack up on frequently flier miles and hotel loyalty points that have resulted in free flights and stays around the world. I have the flexibility to splurge at times on nicer hotels, vacation rentals, nice meals and other events that may not be an option if I were just doing freelance work. I’m currently writing an e-book that goes into more detail about how I’ve been able to do all of this. Please sign up here for notification when it become available.
What countries would you like to visit next? Why?
The better question would probably be where DON’T I want to go next! LOL I’ve been to a handful of places, but so many more are on my “list”. I’m excited to explore more of Africa, especially Ethiopia. It’s the birthplace of civilization and has some amazing colorful festivals. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told that I look like I’m Ethiopian. I recently completed the National Geographic Genographic project and would love to explore other regions that could possibly be the home of my ancestors.
I’ve spent a lot of time in Jamaica, but really want to explore more of the other Caribbean islands especially Dominica, Trinidad, Barbados and Martinique.
I also have a huge fascination with India and want to do a language immersion in a Spanish speaking country, maybe Cuba?
What’s in your bucket list?
I tried making a travel bucket list, my 30 by 30 travel challenge, but that was stopped once I realized I really enjoyed slower travel and really exploring a destination. There are tons of designation I am excited to visit, especially though out S. and Central America, Africa and Asia. that list is seems to be never ending! In addition to visiting new places, I want to finally complete the PADI certification, become fluent in Spanish through in country language immersion and live for 1-6 months in a new country every year. Other than that, I just want to live my best life and stay open to all of the opportunities and possibilities out there and encouraging others along the way!