When it comes to travel advice, you can do far worse than follow the words of Stuart Forster, the voice behind numerous National Geographic articles, Rough Guides, and his award-winning blog ‘Go Eat Do’. It is not only his work which has picked up attention over his career, as Stuart has bagged himself ‘Travel Blogger of the Year’ and ‘Journalist of the Year’, which is all in a days work for somebody who wants to make a name for themselves in the industry which they love. Likibu caught up with Stuart to hear about his most memorable travel stories, covering everything from accommodation in Rwanda to Canadian cuisine, and everything in-between…
Scroll through ‘Go Eat Do’, and it is safe to say that Stuart has got around. From a safari in Zimbabwe to scuba diving in the underwater kingdom of Sharm El-Sheikh, there isn’t much earth left unexplored by this north-eastern travel journalist. When asked to pick a favourite destination, however, Stuart struggles to choose, confessing: “It’s so difficult to choose one single destination as a favourite. In a way, I think it’s a little unfair, maybe even impossible. When I travel, I try to embrace the experiences that are open to me and take in impressions of the place that I’m in. I really don’t compare one destination to another when I travel; it’s probably counterproductive. I travel to do things, taste regional cuisine and meet local people”. Stuart then continues, referring to Canada, India and Zimbabwe as countries which particularly stand out: “Canada always makes me incredibly happy when I’m there. I think it’s got so much to offer travellers. The people tend to be incredibly warm and welcoming, the wildlife can be fascinating, and the landscapes are spectacular. In Canada the transport infrastructure is very good; it’s got something for every season. I love being there. I also thoroughly enjoy the thrill of never quite knowing what will happen while on the road in countries such as India and Bangladesh. They are genuinely exciting places to travel and, in the main, relatively affordable. Their cultural heritage, cuisines and colour make them rewarding places to visit. Zimbabwe is also a country that I have a big soft spot for. I’ve met some charming people there and had some almost spiritual wildlife experiences in the likes of Hwange National Park”.
‘Go Eat Do’ covers a range of categories, from food and drink tips to the most exciting attractions across the globe. Alongside this, Stuart takes accommodation seriously, and writes up trusted “recommendations for that all-important great night’s sleep”. Though, before he publishes anything, Stuart first needs to find and book accommodation which fits his budget and criteria, which priorities safety, and a bathtub, of course. When booking, Stuart shared: “I like to look for something out of the ordinary that represents good value. As a traveller, I want to be spending my money on doing things that I enjoy and experiencing the destination. I don’t want to spend too much if I’m only going to be in a room to recharge the batteries of my kit and my own through a good night’s sleep. If I’m going to be in a place for a few days, I think it’s important to be comfortable and, of course, safe. As a treat to myself, I enjoy a room with a bathtub and hotels that have spas. I tend to search online, view hotel websites and use comparison sites. I love design hotels when I can find rooms at reasonable rates”.
While on the subject of accommodation, we asked Stuart for any wild stories he might like to share from the countless holiday rentals and hotel rooms he has visited around the world. In response, Stuart shared the story of one of the most mystical experiences of his life, describing: “At Seal River Heritage Lodge in Manitoba, Canada, I remember eating breakfast and everyone moving to the windows when a polar bear lumbered past. Later that day, all of the guests were listening to a lecture on bear behaviour when one of the staff informed us the Northern Lights were dancing in the sky outside. That’s pretty special in just one day!” He then went on: “After a long day of walking in Rwanda I arrived at the Cormoran Lodge, overlooking Lake Kivu, after dark. I sat on the veranda and watched a truly spectacular electrical storm light up the night sky over the lake. Candelabras of fork lightning were flashing and crashing down. The rain smelt of the rich African earth. The next morning colourful birds were flitting onto the balcony and sitting within arm’s reach of me. It was a place that stays with me for those reasons”.
With Stuart’s name plastered over the likes of some of the finest magazines and papers in the industry, following his travel advice is the most sensible thing you can do when planning a trip. “I think it is an honour and a privilege that travel writing and photography is my career. I’m grateful to everybody who makes that possible. Contrary to what a lot of people imagine, there’s a lot of incredibly hard work goes into it. It’s not so much about the travel itself as producing features and photographs to strict deadlines”. Travelling for his career, Stuart recognises the anxieties surrounding travel and was keen to share how he stays safe while on the move. “Travel itself is a wonderful thing, and I think it’s important to embrace it rather than be anxious. Providing people travel with open minds and are aware of their surroundins it can be a great way of learning about the world and its cultural diversity. Of course, I think it’s important that people minimise the risks that they expose themselves to. Simple things like not flaunting valuables or looking lost – even if you are – can help travellers avoid problems. Prior to travel I might check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s advice about places. I think it’s important that travellers take responsibility for themselves and get travel insurance in case they fall sick or are injured”. You hear that, people! Travel instance is important!
In concluding the interview with Stuart, it is impossible not to congratulate him on being crowned ‘Travel Blogger of the Year’ and ‘Journalist of the Year’. Stuart revealed how much these prestigious titles mean to him, saying: It is a genuine honour to be presented with national awards for travel journalism and shortlisted for travel blogging awards over several years. It means a lot to me. There are a lot of very good writers and travel bloggers in the world, so to be recognised by people within the industry for consistently producing high-quality work means a great deal. It’s also a motivation for me to push the boundaries and to keep improving. I continually strive to deliver high-quality content on Go Eat Do and in the features that I write for newspapers and magazines. When I travel and experience things that strike me as fascinating, quirky or wonderful I want to convey how that strikes me to readers”.