Kyoto, Japan

An Interview with Ivy from Kollecting Koordinates

Maximizing one’s time to travel while still working a full-time job is a reality for most people, as taking long periods of time off from working is not always practical. Not only is vacation time limited, but so are finances.

But maximizing that time to travel is something that Ivy Ko has mastered. With her husband, she has traveled to a long list of dream destinations around the world while still maintaining her full time career at home. And her website is proof, as she is the mastermind behind Kollecting Koordinates, a travel blog full of inspiration, stories, and beautiful photography.

We wanted to get to know Ivy a little more (and so should you), so we asked her for an interview. Here’s what she had to say about travel, life, and the world.

Nungnung Waterfall
Ivy at Nungnung Waterfall, Bali, Indonesia

So, Ivy, tell us about yourself…

Hello, I’m Ivy! I’m the content creator behind Kollecting Koordinates, a Canadian blog highlighting the beauty and ease of travel within a limited time frame. My husband and I both work full-time so our mission is to inspire others – that they don’t have to give up their day jobs in order to experience the world. We both grew up and live in Vancouver, Canada. Vancouver is an expensive (but amazing!) city to live in but we wouldn’t trade it for anywhere else. This is why we’ll never quit our 9-5 to travel because the bills ain’t gonna pay themselves!

Where have you been recently, and where are you going? 

We’ve checked off a couple of a destinations but still have a lot more to go! Given our limited vacation days, we can only do local trips on the weekend and take 2-3 big trips (2-3 weeks in length) every year. We try to squeeze as many places in our itinerary as we can. In 2 months we’ll be going to Slovenia, Montenegro, Austria, and Italy!

What motivated you to start traveling? 

I was born in Taiwan so we’re lucky to have 2 places to call home- one in North America and another in Asia. We prioritize destinations based on activities we’re interested in and level of physical difficulty. We’re thinking of having a baby in the next year or two, so right now we’re trying to cross off destinations and activities that are easier to accomplish without a baby in tow. The number one thing on my bucket list is to go on a safari in Tanzania!

Arashiyama bamboo grove
The bamboo grove at Arashiyama, Kyoto, Japan

How did you go about planning your travels? What was your overall planning process like? And how did it work out for you?

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The first thing to do is deciding when to go. Traveling in shoulder/non-peak seasons is not only cheaper but also less crowded. I then shortlist a few destinations based on the sights I want to see and expand from there (i.e. I really wanted to visit Plitvice Lakes so we did a road trip down Croatia). Flights are the biggest expense in travel budgeting – once I know the countries of interest I’d start comparing prices.

Because I’m picky with airlines, I found that the few airlines we’d fly long-haul with are the cheapest when booking super early.  Our trips are usually booked a year in advance. Last minute seat sales are unrealistic for us because we need to give our work notice.

I used to plan everything out in detail where I time stamped every activity but that drove my husband nuts. Now I leave room for spontaneity.

Do you have any advice for other travelers with regards to planning trips? 

Follow Secret Flying on Facebook! They share dozens of flight deals every day from cities across the world.  And do your research. ALWAYS check reviews, especially for accommodation  and airlines. It’ll save you from unpleasant surprises (unless you’re into that sorta thing).

How did you plan the budget for your trip? Do you have any advice for other travelers around planning a trip budget? 

I’m OBSESSED with spreadsheets; I calculate everything down to the last cent. My biggest challenge is being indecisive. Sunk costs are a tough pill to swallow but they’re a reality when I change my mind on where I want to go after I’ve already paid for things. My advice is to take your time and consider all options before you decide on (or pay for) something.

Saving money is not easy when we have a mortgage and bills to pay, but it’s possible. We never eat out unless it’s a friend’s birthday – and even then, we’d ‘pre-eat’ at home so we don’t have to order as much. I’m amazed at how much money people burn from dining out! I don’t like going out because going out means spending money. Without much of a social life and entertainment I end up hermiting at home a lot. This kind of lifestyle isn’t for everyone but it’s perfect for me because it frees up not only money but also time to work on my blog and cook/bake (my other hobbies). I find more value in the travel experiences we spend money on rather than an expensive bag or a Friday night out that I won’t remember months from now.

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Have you had anything happen on a trip that didn’t go according to the plan? What happened, and how did you adapt?

Ugh, Aeromexico. We were supposed to fly from Vancouver to Guatemala with a layover in Mexcio, via Aeromexico. Our flight was delayed by more than an hour, which is fine because things happen. When all the passengers finally boarded we just sat in the cabin for a good 3 hours, in the freezing cold with no blankets, no water, and no updates from the crew. I only found out the flight was canceled because I Googled the flight status. They eventually told everyone to get off the plane and come back the next morning. I was livid because they wouldn’t even tell us what was going to happen with our connecting flight! I spent a few hours on the phone getting us on another flight, canceling and rebooking accommodation, and shuffling our entire itinerary. We were lucky (and grateful) that Delta was able to put us on the next flight out.

Lake Atilan, Guatemala
Ivy and her husband, and their guide, at Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

What are the best places you’ve been that perhaps not many others have visited? Any “undiscovered” locations that you want to share?

Crete is a really underrated destination. Everyone flocks to Santorini and Mykonos when they think of Greece, but I personally enjoyed Crete a lot more. Elafonissi and Balos Lagoon are two of the most beautiful beaches we’ve ever seen!

And of course, Taiwan (shameless plug)! I hope more travelers visit Taiwan and check out the countryside, not just Taipei. It’s a beautiful country with amazing food and people.

How did you get started with your blog? Any tips for other aspiring travel bloggers?

My blog started as a testing ground for my love of web and graphics design. I learned how to code and use photo editing software when I was in Grade 8, and only got back into it a few years ago. After we traveled to a few places we’d have friends and family ask for tips. I began documenting our experiences so that we can just point them to my blog whenever they have questions. It’s not easy, especially with a full-time job, but it feels great to help others and it’s extremely rewarding when people say you’re an inspiration to them!

Ask yourself, why do you want to be a travel blogger?  If you’re in it for money you’re doing it wrong.  It’s a LOT of hard work – not only creating content but also managing all the different social media platforms.  Put yourself in your readers’ shoes and ask why they’d find your content helpful. You have to really enjoy what you’re doing – find out what you’re good at and don’t half-ass it!

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Thanks, Ivy, and happy travels!

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