The spotlight is on Yaz.
It’s only right we sit down with our founder following the re-design of ‘The Strawberry Snaps’. Result? The lowdown on everything from how the hell Yaz came up with the blog name, to her most controversial travel takes. Oh, and the secret to flying out frequently with a full-time job? It’s all getting discussed here, and it’s not as ‘secret’ as you might think.
Now, let’s set the scene. A few loved ones with notebooks and snacks ready to grill Yaz. The interview was recorded, but in the blog version we’ve taken out the endless laughter and cuss words to turn it into a permanent feature. Just know there were many ‘ahhhh f*ck’ moments. Ready for the full story?
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The Travel + Lifestyle Questions You Asked? Yaz Answered.
‘Yaz, give us a quick summary’
I have a default answer in my head whenever anyone asks me this during ice-breakers – I’m Yaz but you might know me better as the face behind The Strawberry Snaps. That sounds like a YouTube tagline! In all seriousness though, I’m a first-generation British travel blogger in the latter end of my twenties. For anyone curious, my parents were born in Ukraine and Turkey but I was raised in the East Anglia region of the UK.
Blog Name Origins:
‘Do you ever get asked about your blog name?’
I do, and it’s such a ridiculous story honestly. When I was a kid, people used to playfully joke that my face was shaped like a strawberry and the snaps part is like snapping pics, so it kind of stuck. Although it’s such a weird feeling when people call me ‘The Strawberry Snaps’ in person, because I forget that’s me for a moment. It’s like when someone calls you your IG or Twitter handle! How do you react to that? Although, I have no regrets that the blog name doesn’t feature a travel-related keyword. It’s like a surprise when you click onto the page I guess.
The Message Of It All:
‘What’s The Strawberry Snaps all about then?’
This blog is for spontaneous souls who thrive off unexpected adventures. Oh, and readers are at the forefront. That’s key for me, and is the reason why I decided to remove ads for the time being. I want the site to be an enjoyable space for everyone without multiple pop-ups. However, I also want ‘The Strawberry Snaps’ to be ‘inspo’ for lack of a better word, to anyone who works full-time in non-remote roles. This blog is for us.
Back To The Basics:
‘A question that came up a fair few times, did you pursue blog-related career choices?’
I didn’t study anything related to writing at university, as my academic expertise falls under law and American history, but you don’t need any qualifications to get into blogging. You do need genuine interest to keep you going though, because writing isn’t lucrative to start with. Interestingly, my experience came from writing horror stories at a young age. R.L. Stine’s work in ‘Goosebumps’ was the inspiration at the time. Remember those books?
And That Fashion Blog?
‘Your very first followers might remember a certain fashion blog…’
Yes! I used to have a fashion blog about 7 years ago, and funnily enough it gained traffic much faster than travel. For a while, I ran two blogs but that was overly ambitious so I merged fashion and travel together. Not directly, as ‘The Strawberry Snaps’ rarely features fashion posts, but through my branding as an overdressed backpacker. It’s very much reflective of how I am as a person.
Balancing A Full-Time 9-5 With Full-Time Content Creation:
‘Probably the most frequent question following your poll was what do you do, and how does travel come into it’
Broadly speaking, I work in legal management and run the Spanish network for my organisation. It’s a lot of responsibility, and I still get imposter syndrome but I feel rewarded. My role isn’t fully remote though, which I hope makes the concept of ‘The Strawberry Snaps’ even more inspiring. You don’t need a nomadic lifestyle to travel often.
Travel comes down to priorities, so I squeeze in whatever I can through a combination of weekend motives, annual leave requests, and quick 24-hour trips. Weekend flights might seem more expensive, but if you pick locations which aren’t in current demand, you’ll be fine. Just from tweaking the season, I’ve been on 2-day trips to Poland for £9, and spent 3 days in Lanzarote for £25.
Squashing Budget Travel:
‘Do you feel like your travel style has changed since the student years’
As a student, I was travelling abroad on 50£ because I was so desperate to see the world. I wasn’t born into wealth, so rapidly adopted the mentality that if I wanted something I’d have to find a way. Crisps, cake and water fuelled my stomach during the university years yet I didn’t care because, in my eyes, I was walking down the streets of places I could only dream of.
Now, with a full-time role, I don’t need to budget as heavily. I rent my apartment, don’t have a car, have no kids, have no pets and don’t have many material possessions, so besides bills, food and website maintenance, I can support a percentage of savings going towards travel. When I settle down, it will probably be a different story but for now if I need to travel abroad for a concert, I’m going to do it. It’s an investment into my core memories! Tomorrow is never promised.
However, travel doesn’t need to be expensive. Not too long ago I completed a whole experiment on how to do Barcelona for less than 150 euros, and that was with a hotel. I’d urge everyone to have a browse.
A Typical Blog Day:
‘What does a full day of blogging look like?’
Typically, a blog post takes me 1-2 days to write as there’s a lot which occurs behind the scenes. For example, today I’m finding initial topics, validating all the research, preparing the launch for socials, and finding relevant pictures. That’s before I actually start writing. You know what, I’m guilty of only really showing the final product on my IG feed, but I document the chaos on stories. It’s my outlet where all the entertainment is. IG stories >>> the main feed.
Recently, I put on paper all of the best tips I’ve picked up from 8 years of exploring. It’s nice to share this stuff, because it makes travel more accessible, more affordable and more enjoyable for everyone.
‘Let’s talk perks. Is it all hotel stays and free flights?’
It can be. The thing is though, I reject most collaboration opportunities that come my way. I’m not impressed by generic templates which are sent around to multiple contacts, because how do I know the sender wants to work with me? I’m a bit stubborn like that. When you land a collaboration you love, it’s such a blessed feeling. However, I don’t think it’s my biggest perk. Instead, it’s seeing the world when I never thought I could, and connecting with people on the other end of the globe. I think about my online friends all the time, and try to include them in my daily life as much as possible.
A Pinch Me Moment:
‘The first time you felt proud of yourself?’
I nearly collapsed when a group of girls at the airport said they used one of my travel guides, so I’d say that. I also celebrate every blog anniversary more than my birthday. That’s quite lame if you think about it. I’ll forever tell everyone to appreciate every milestone in life though, no matter how small it might seem.
The Craziest Experience:
‘Now, over the years you’ve documented some shocking experiences…’
Oh, this is throwing it back to the early days! The craziest? Alright I’ve got one that I’ll never be able to forget from my first solo trip. Someone was denied boarding for literally trying to put their ‘meat’ onto me in the line for the plane. Yup, you heard that right. Luckily, cabin crew dealt with it so seriously. The general public also rushed to help, and were able to translate what was happening when security arrived. God forbid anyone ever experiences something like that.
The Strawberry Snaps Stress Point:
‘The most challenging element of running a blog?’
Without a doubt, the logistics when you switch to a self-hosted site. You’re now responsible for fixing software issues, learning how to code, and installing plug-ins. It’s sickening to me haha.
Life Without Blogging:
‘What’s life like when you aren’t blogging or working?’
When I’m at home I still like to keep busy. I’m an early-riser, and probably don’t value sleep as much as I should. The moment I wake up, it’s all Spotify. I love singing so music is constantly on loop in my apartment. Other than that, I don’t really get up to much outside of the ordinary. I might test out a few recipes here and there, or have a full day of pampering with every face mask I can find.
Most Controversial Travel Takes:
‘Tell us about some of your most controversial travel takes’.
Gladly. The first being the concept of ‘Slum Tourism’. It doesn’t sit right with me, as visitors gasp and stare at people living in distressing conditions without doing anything to help. I can’t bring myself to visit certain historical landmarks for this reason, as it would contradict my morals. Also, I’m undecided whether I like the idea of country counting. You know, like displaying how many countries you’ve visited in your bio. Is there anything more to it than being a personal flex? I’m not convinced. Experiences aren’t measured by how many countries you tick off, you know?
‘You’ve mentioned before you don’t like it when people call you an influencer…’
It’s true. Blogging leans into creation, whereas influencing is more about marketing/promoting. It’s not that I get offended when people call me an influencer, but it seems to overlook the fact I’m a writer to the very core. There are similarities though, as both influencers and bloggers are required to know their audience inside-out.
Best Part Of Being In The Travel Blog Industry:
‘What’s something you love about blogging then?’
Oh, definitely the friendships. I’m constantly in awe that social media allows us to connect with people we wouldn’t have known before. In fact, a few of these very individuals have shaped my WordPress blogging journey to the fullest. Rebecca and Brandon I hope you know how appreciated you both are!
+ The Worst:
The pressure to get material everywhere you go. That’s why content trips and holidays are so different. It’s not all about photos though. I need to note down the name of restaurants I’ve visited, the exact co-ordinates of roads, and the hidden gems. It’s like heartache when you find a place that bangs but don’t remember the name and neither does Google, as searches come back empty. In most cases, you can’t use that content as it’s not useful to your audience.
Getting Deep With Yaz:
‘Do you think you have the right balance between real-life and social media’
More than before. I’ve always been able to laugh at myself both online and in-person, however, only recently have I started to talk about my anxiety. It surprises people, because I can happily go to the other end of the world alone but get anxious with the smallest things, like collecting a parcel from the postman. Fortunately though, I’m no longer dependant on medication.
Anxiety within the travel blog community is still a niche conversation point, but I came across a blogger with such a great perspective on the topic. I’ll link Liam’s work here.
Least Favourite City:
‘Is there a place you’d never return?’
There’s a few but the worst city I’ve ever visited was Charleroi. I saw a flight for 20 and thought why not, surely it can’t be so bad? But, oh it was bad. There’s nothing there.
On The Flip Side, Best Place Travelled:
Toronto, as strangers welcomed me with open arms. We’ve all heard the stereotype that Canadians are some of the friendliest bunch of people you’ll ever meet, right? I found it to be accurate. The city itself is beautiful too, proper ‘cool girl’ vibes. I also really loved Milan, controversial I know!
Deciding Where To Go:
‘You’ve made it clear you don’t like planning, so how do you decide which country to visit?’
When it comes to travel within Europe, I’m easy. I just search up the most affordable flights per month, and go from there. It doesn’t bother me if the spot is unknown, as that’s where you’ll feel most like a local. This ended up happening when I visited Podgorica – a destination Google labels the ‘Worst Capital City In Europe’. For long-distance flights, I’m also pretty open-minded. I sign up to a lot of flight newsletters, so get inspired by any location which falls into my inbox.
If You Had A Pass To Instantly Pick Up A New Skill, What Would It Be?
‘A quick-fire for you’
Oh man, I’m torn between picking web developing, or full proficiency in piano. I’m going to say piano, because imagine the cool remixes you could come up with?
Something Everyone Should Do At Least Once:
‘You talk a lot about spontaneous plans, so what’s something you think everyone should try’
I think everyone should ask strangers for recommendations on their next trip. If you get aired, keep going. There will never be a better travel guide than the mind of a local.
Tips For Upcoming Bloggers:
‘You’ve done this whole gig a while. What are things you wish you knew before you started ‘The Strawberry Snaps?’
I’d say, to nail the structure of your blog from the get-go. It’s fine to feature different keywords, but stick within one topic branch. When I first started blogging my page had fashion posts, food posts, travel posts – it was a mess. Also, don’t write just for the sake of posting as the content turns out sloppy. That would be from a technical perspective. From a general point of view, the most fundamental thing is to add personality. Readers should know from the caption who the writer is. You’re more memorable if you stand out.
‘Finally, to wrap it all up, what’s coming?’
A big trip to Seoul in winter. In the next few months though, a 7th year blog anniversary celebration, Instagram meet-ups, and a trip to Lisbon with my best friend. I’m really trying to enjoy each day as it comes, as lately I’ve fallen back in love with life. The younger Yaz would be so proud.