Interview with Michael Figueiredo of StruxTravel.com

Michael Figueiredo refers to himself as a “newly minted” travel writer, but having been to 36 countries and territories on five continents around the world, I’d say he’s earned his stripes as a bona fide nomad!

Michael is based in Southern California, and when he isn’t traveling the world, he’s relaxing under sunny Socal skies and enjoying a laid back lifestyle.  He has made it a goal to see at least one new country every year and is hoping to visit Cuba next. Michael started StruxTravel.com last summer because he wanted to share his love for travel and his personal perspectives on the places he has been to.  He uses the website to offer travel tips as well as exhibit his photography

I got the chance to ask Michael a few questions about his experiences as a traveler, a writer, and a blogger.

Justin Jones: What prompted you to start your travel blog?

Michael Figueiredo: I started my blog, StruxTravel, last summer on a whim. I had zero experience with blogging or travel writing, and the only thing I knew about social media was updating my Facebook page. I figured since I love traveling so much, why not share my perspectives on places I’ve been, exhibit my photography, and offer tips from my adventures to others?

Justin Jones: Strux Travel is a unique name – Where did it come from?

Michael Figueiredo: When I was younger I wanted to be an architect and “strux” was sort of a variation of the word “structure.” I’ve also done some DJ work under that pseudonym too. When I started my blog, I couldn’t think of anything on the spot so just came up with StruxTravel. Someday I may change it, but for now I kind of like it.

I’d rather forego those $10 martinis every week at a trendy L.A. bar and use that money toward a trip halfway around the world instead.

What was your first experience with traveling?

I was pretty sheltered growing up. My family did some camping and traveling around California when I was a kid, and then when I was a teenager, we went to Hawaii and on a cruise to Mexico.

So the idea of travel was planted when you were young, but was this when you’d say you Became a Traveler?

No, I’d say I really “Became a Traveler” after graduating college. I did what so many others do— I bought a Eurail Pass and backpacked across Europe. My three-month long adventure was truly a life-changing experience for me. Ever since then I’ve had an insatiable passion for traveling, learning about other cultures, geography, and world history.

What do you currently do for a living, and how does your career allow you to travel?

I work in TV post production, and for many years I have had the opportunity to travel during “hiatus”–the time off between shows (i.e.: when I’m unemployed.)

So, what is your favorite thing about traveling – why do you love it?

I love traveling because I enjoy learning about different cultures from around the world, meeting new people, and seeing things for myself that I’ve read about or seen in movies. Plus, I like getting passport stamps too!

Many people who don’t travel always think they can’t afford it.  What would you say to someone with that mindset?

I think there are many levels to travel. After college I did the whole hosteling thing– which was awesome because I met people from all over the world who wanted to experience new things too. I’m not sure if I’d share a room with 8 people anymore, but I’m perfectly fine staying in a clean, 2-star hotel if it means I can extend my trip by a day or more with the money I’d save. I don’t need to stay at the Ritz, although it’s always nice to pamper yourself every once in a while. Some of my friends and colleagues are always amazed when I show them photos of my vacations, wondering how I can afford it. I tell them that you just need to make a budget and be smart about your spending. Also, when I’m at home, I’d rather forego those $10 martinis every week at a trendy L.A. bar and use that money toward a trip halfway around the world instead.

Excellent point!  So, when you do travel, do you prefer to travel alone or with a friend, group of friends, partner?

I’ve done all of these, but I think it’s best to travel with a partner so you can share in the experience with someone. I backpacked alone for a bit in Europe once, which was great, but I think I liked it better when I met up with people or was with my friends.

And how does your travel style affect what you get out of your journey?

Traveling with a group can be difficult because everyone has different ideas of what a vacation is. I’m generally the one who wants to do and see everything possible. Some people prefer a much more relaxed travel experience than me. That being said, I have nothing against lying out at the beach all day– as long as there’s still time to visit the sights, go to a museum, and experience the way the locals really live too.

If you weren’t a traveler, how would your life be different? i.e. what would you be doing if you weren’t always on the road?

I think there are people who like to travel and people who like to remain “secure” in their own environment. I don’t think I could be happy if I didn’t travel. In fact, if I could, I’d travel a lot more than I currently do. I’m hoping that someday I’ll have enough time and money to take a long, extended trip around the world.

What was the most grueling adventure?

I don’t think I’ve done anything too grueling (at least not yet.) I’ve had several canceled flights that have left me stranded and wondering how I’m going to get to my next destination, without spending a fortune. I’m planning on hiking the Inca Trail with my sister in 2012, so that could be challenging.

The Inca Trail is definitely on my list too! One of my favorite parts of travel is connecting with the people I meet along the way, both locals and other travelers.  Can you tell us about one of your most cherished travel connections?

I can think of a recent example– last May we were on the island of Hvar, Croatia and a friendly Australian woman offered to take a photo of us so we wouldn’t have one of each of us on our own. We ended up hanging out with her and her friend that day and sharing a taxi to the ferry back to the mainland. We’ve kept in contact through Facebook, and now they’re coming to Los Angeles in April so we’re going to be tour guides for them.

What advice would you give to first-time travelers?

I’d say to cherish every moment you have while you’re in a place because you never know if or when you’ll return. Don’t miss out on once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. You don’t want to return home thinking “I wish I had done that.”

What advice would you give to struggling travel writers?

I’m still a struggling travel writer myself! I think the biggest thing is to be patient. Sometimes I get anxious about how many page views or followers, etc. I get. I think it’s important to concentrate why I’m doing it in the first place–because I enjoy it–and not to make big money or anything like that. Eventually my blog will grow, everything takes time.

Any final words of wisdom?

My favorite travel quote is by St. Augustine who famously said, “The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”

Great!  Thanks for your time!

Thanks to Michael Figueiredo for taking the time to share some of his traveler’s insight with us.  Be sure to check out his blog at Struxtravel.com, follow him on twitter @StruxTravel and LIKE his Facebook page at Facebook.com/StruxTravel!

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  • http://www.travelingwithsweeney.com Cathy Sweeney

    Love this interview with Michael! I am a devoted StruxTravel fan. I always enjoy getting his perspective on different places and his adventures. Such a cool experience staying in touch with the Australians he met in Croatia. Of course, Michael seems like the kind of person that people like to know and stay in touch with.

    Great interview questions, Justin. Thanks for letting us get to know Michael better.

  • http://www.travelingwithsweeney.com Cathy Sweeney

    Love this interview with Michael! I am a devoted StruxTravel fan. I always enjoy getting his perspective on different places and his adventures. Such a cool experience staying in touch with the Australians he met in Croatia. Of course, Michael seems like the kind of person that people like to know and stay in touch with.

    Great interview questions, Justin. Thanks for letting us get to know Michael better.

  • http://www.facebook.com/JustinWasHere Justin Jones

    Thanks Cathy! I’d love to interview you too!

  • http://mikefullersblog.lisaoverman.com Lisa

    I enjoyed the interview with Michael. He has a great website!

  • Anonymous

    great to learn more about michael here! great interview justin! :)

  • http://twitter.com/adventureswben Ben Reed

    Great interview. While being unemployed stinks, at least you get a lot of “vacation time” to travel?

  • http://www.budgettraveladventures.com/ Jeremy B

    Great interview with Michael! It’s nice to learn a little more about his personal side. I think we have a lot in common and like to travel in much the same way.

  • http://www.globotreks.com Norbert

    Nice interview Justin and Michael. Ha, I’ve always wondered where the Strux came from. Pretty cool to know it’s from “structure”. :) Michael, you will have such a great time doing the Inca Trail next year. It is challenging, but so worth it!

  • Aviewtoathrill

    I really enjoyed this interview! Great job, Justin. It’s always good to get inside the heads of our fellow travel writers and just as I suspected, Mike is an all around great guy! I love his attitude about sacrificing in the now in order to benefit in the future. I was a bit flummoxed about the Strux name too…it was the travel equivalent of the riddle of the sphinx.

  • http://myexpatgermany.com/traveling-the-world Laurel

    Great interview! So nice to learn more about Michael. I really enjoy StruxTravel as well. I really liked the comment about forgoing the $10 martinis for travel since it’s true that all those little things do add up.

  • http://www.facebook.com/JustinWasHere Justin Jones

    Sphinx! lol :D

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=724279306 Michael Figueiredo

    Thanks for taking the time to interview me, Justin. And thanks to everyone for all the kind words too! :-D

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=724279306 Michael Figueiredo

    Unfortunately I have a job now so can’t travel right now…. but I’ve got BIG plans for the future!! :)

  • http://www.manonthelam.com manonthelam

    I’m with you on forgoing the $10 martinis as well. It’s so easy to get sucked into the “brunch” lifestyle while at home. $15 for eggs? C’mon! I’d rather spend a day in SE Asia!

  • http://www.europeantravelista.com Debbie Beardsley

    Thanks for the interview. I find these type of posts very interesting as they give us readers a glimpse into other bloggers. It is true about the fact that everyone can travel. It is all about giving and taking. You might have to give up thos $10 martinis to see the Eiffel Tower!