The first time I saw Linda Matama’s Instagram’s page my jaw almost dropped. She had practically done everything in my bucket list and wasn’t about to stop.
A mix admiration, inspiration with tiny sprinkles of jealousy and envy had me visiting her page every so often to see where she had visited since the last time I checked. I think my biggest heartbreak was when I discovered she had even gone to Santorini in Greece!
If there is one person I wish to trade places with in matters travel then it has to be her! I caught up with Linda and she had this to tell us about herself and travels!
Who is Linda?
Linda is an open minded experience collector.
Why do you travel?
To feel alive, to breathe, to shock my senses, to have a story to tell and to inspire others to do it too.
Favorite thing about travel
The unexpected. Social media pictures always look like its all fun but in the background, a lot happens and they are not always good or comfortable. All these experiences shape me. I am always surprised at how I handle the different situations I come across.Also Hotel beds are so comfortable.
How many cities have you been to?
21 countries and 52 cities. I keep finding myself somewhere in Asia.
What factors do you consider before settling on a tourist destination?
For a while I based my travels on festivals, now I narrow down an activity and the rest of the sightseeing becomes an added bonus. For instance, top of my list was LaTomatina. From it I toured Europe with Friends. Lantern Festival was the basis of my Thailand trip. Call me a festival hunter. I went to Sabah, Malaysia because they have what is now the 2nd longest Island to Island Zipline in the world (It was first, got knocked off the food chain). Went to Macau because I wanted to dangle off a very tall tower because skydiving didn’t test my fear of heights enough. I went to Cape Town for Shark cage diving. I went to Sagana to jump off a waterfall. You get my drift. My travel mantra is: On every trip, do something that reminds you that you’re still alive.
What is your favorite airline?
Qatar Airways, I love their service, I love their food, I love the leg room, I love their very many discounts and special offers…but I’d like to give a special mention to Air Asia because they waited for me on the runway for about 15 minutes past departure time. My group and I were going for the Lantern Festival in Thailand from Hong Kong. We underestimated the size of that airport. Takes almost an hour to get to the boarding gate from check in. You need to get on a train, up and down several escalators, get on a bus that has to wait until it gets full before it takes you to another terminal, go up more escalators, get stuck behind people on security checkpoints who don’t believe that it is your name being called on the PA. Flights going to Chiang Mai for the festival had been sold out months before. The available ones were quadruple the price and very few. Those lovely people at Air Asia knew we couldn’t miss that flight. We met an air hostess holding a board with our names before we even got to the escalator taking us to our gate. We made eye contact and she took off running. Naturally we followed, chasing our names and our Lantern dreams. It was quite a sight. We entered the plane and the passengers started clapping. I didn’t notice, all I noticed was our luggage (which made it to the plane way earlier) was being returned on board because they’d almost given up on us. The Lantern festival turned out to be my most memorable experience to date. Grateful I didn’t miss it. Moral of the story, don’t underestimate the time required to get to the airport. Also, I need to follow my own advice because I have still missed flights after this.
Five things you can’t travel without?
Phone. I take a lot of my pictures with it. Which also means always walk with a power bank and a power bank for the power bank and a universal adapter
My favorite Blue sweater that can double as a scarf, from Vivo Active wear. All is right with the world when I wear it.
Comfortable walking shoes; even when they mismatch everything you are wearing. I generally walk a lot when I travel. That is how I shed off all the food I indulge in when not traveling.
Wet wipes or hand sanitizer because germs are everywhere.
Medical stuff like painkillers, tummy relief and bandages because I’m clumsy and like street food
How do you afford travel?
Save and personally plan the heck out of every detail, this helps save costs, oh and save. I don’t look at travel as leisure. It’s a necessity and I plan for it in my monthly expenses even when I’m not going anywhere. I have an account with a standing order and every month some travel money is put aside. I know its easier said, but you never spend money you don’t have. If its out of reach, you wont touch it.
How does Kenya compare to the different places you’ve been to?
Our weather can’t be compared. I’m convinced some countries like India have 2 suns, one on your left and on your right.
What is your worst travel experience
I have many, and as you experience them, they are the absolute worst…at that time. I have even sworn off some countries and airlines, but later when you think about it, it becomes an exciting story and you’d give anything to go back. Most recent was when the pilot told us to prepare for landing then minutes later said he can’t land because of bad weather and was not given landing clearance . Then he tells you not to worry because you have enough fuel to circle the skies for an hour. At that point you set a timer and start biting your nails. That experience is even worse when you have an hour to catch a connecting flight.
But that was not as bad as the time I lost my passport on my first solo trip. In a strange country, your passport is life. I did not realize I didn’t have it until I got to my hotel and needed it to check in. After emptying my entire suitcase on the hotel floor right at the check in counter(at that time shame is something you hear about but don’t really know), I knew I was in trouble. I’d landed at midnight. Airport was 45 minutes away. I made a few stops along the way, like stopping by a Mc Donalds because c’mon!! I can be bribed with food. Before I started traveling, I used to work for food. But I digress. So the hotel refused to let me store my luggage, I’d not checked in yet (even though they had my booking details…tsk). I walked out with my now messed up luggage, a bucket full of tears and a nervous breakdown. I had to retrace my steps, starting with the cab that dropped me from the airport. I didn’t have enough money because I was hoping to change local currency the next day and cabs don’t take credit cards and this was post Iber. My help came in the form of a cab guy parked outside with many others outside the hotel. While the others stared at a weird lost looking black girl, he came to ask if I needed help. He removed his taxi meter and helped me retrace my steps as a good Samaritan. Now I befriend cab guys in every place I go. Long story short I’d left the passport at the airport.
One country you’ve been to that is overrated?
I want to say Dubai but there are a lot of people who would want my hide for that. Maybe its because I have been there several times and its lost its appeal… or the fact that its not affordable. It’s affordable to go, and has gained a lot of popularity amongst travel agents, but once there anything worth doing (except the dancing fountains) cost money. A lot of it. So a lot of people end up spending their holiday walking around malls because its too hot to go outside.
Hotel or camping?
Hotel because the bedding accept me as one of their own and the hot showers wash away the stress at the end of a rough day.
Most important travel tip?
If you book hotels, activities, car hire by yourself always go online and see reviews before you make the bookings. Online vendors are not always honest and you can learn from other people’s experiences. Trip advisor is especially good for this. And after a trip, go there and leave your review, good or bad. It will help a lot of people you’ll never meet.
Have you ever missed your flight?
So many times, I am starting to wonder if I have a problem that needs to get checked. The silliest reason for missing one, was because I thought we had enough time to see a sunrise in Venice. Most of the time the airline can put you on another one of their flights, some for free if you have a good reason but if you are not lucky, you have to book another and it can be costly
What are your future travel plans?
I would really love to experience the Lantern festival again but I don’t have a set plan for it. What I plan to do though is visit a bit of the colder destinations. I have chased the sun too long and its time to get out of my comfort zone. First on that cold list is Canada and Iceland.
What is in your bucket list?
There is not enough space here to write down the list. Every day I discover and add something new. There is so much to do, it’s overwhelming. I have a travel bucket list and all round life bucket list.
Follow Linda on Instagram and get to see for yourself what travel is!