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The Guestbooks is a father and daughter collaboration stemming out of a passion for all things travel. Although based in different countries, with Kate being in Singapore and Chris (the father half of The Guestbooks) in the UK, they still manage to work together remotely on the blog. The Guestbooks covers a broad range of destinations but focuses primarily on Dubai (where Kate used to live), Barbados in the Caribbean (Chris’s favourite destination), and closer to home in both the UK and Singapore. As well as a sprinkling of other favourites along the way! Latterly it’s also broadened to include family travel with the arrival of Kate’s baby daughter Jess, the youngest member of The Guestbooks.
“From a young age, I can remember trips to new places taking twice as long as planned so my Dad could look at the menus in every restaurant along the way.
Like father like daughter must ring true and slowly Kate’s interest and enthusiasm for travel and all things travel-related has grown. From reading the odd copy of her Dad’s travel magazines to getting subscriptions for her birthday and reading it cover to cover, it’s fair to say Kate quickly caught the bug.
“If I’m not travelling, I’m reading about travel or planning a future trip!”, says Kate.
“We’d always joked about buying my Dad a domain – The Guestbooks – as our family name is Guest. For various reasons it never actually got further than an idea.”
This changed in 2016 when Kate and her husband, Josh, relocated to Dubai.
“In between settling in and applying for jobs, I kept thinking about travelling but also writing about where I’d been, not for any financial reward but simply because I love it. My Mum always used to say I should write a journal of all the countries I’ve visited because you forget and it’s true. However, when you start to write about them, they all come back to life again. I’ve never really had time to stop and write (although there’s no excuse), so I thought I’d give it a go and share my travels and hopefully it might be useful for others planning their next trip or looking for travel inspiration.”
But she couldn’t do a blog without her original inspiration – her Dad!
“Having retired my Dad suddenly had no excuse either, so it was very much a joint effort. We’ve visited lots of different places so we can hopefully share insights and tips and if nothing else at least we’ve given it a go. As the saying goes, better late than never!”
“I’ve been based in Singapore throughout COVID after having to sadly cancel a trip back to the UK to see my Dad and family.”
Chris has also had to cancel trips to Portugal, as well as shorter breaks planned in the UK and has been based in North Wales throughout COVID.
“We’ve been using the time to work on the blog and switched our focus to shining a spotlight on local businesses.”
Kate produced content on local restaurants and bars offering a takeaway service throughout lockdown in Singapore to try and support their business.
“It’s a tough time for everyone, and the food and beverage industry definitely suffers more than most. There were so many local restaurants who were quickly trying to respond and offer delivery options but struggling to get their message out there. I thought blog coverage on their offers could be my way of supporting them, as well as buying their food of course!”
Kate has also been tutoring remotely throughout COVID as part of her role as a part time tutor for English and Maths students. “Luckily, I was able to quickly switch from face to face lessons to online and maintain my client base. I’ve also taken the time to expand my writing experience and undertaken some freelance work for other blogs and websites which I’ve really enjoyed. I’ve even had a go at poetry, something I never thought I’d be saying if you’d asked me at the beginning of the year!”
“On a personal level, the hardest part is being separated from family and friends”, explains Kate. “Now that circumstances in Europe are improving in the sense that things are opening, we are hopeful that a reunion might be on the cards at some stage. However, it’s unlikely that Singapore will allow leisure travel this year so we will have to plan for 2021.”
Despite this wait, both Kate and Chris have tried to see some silver linings in these tricky and unprecedented times, and they agree that COVID has made them appreciate their own homes and neighbourhoods so much more.
“I’ve seen more of my local area and appreciated how lucky I am to live here so much more than I would have done before COVID. My Dad is the same. He’s lived in his neighbourhood for over 30 years and it’s taken COVID for him to discover new walks and areas that he never knew existed. We are both definitely appreciating the great outdoors and natural beauty a lot more too.”
“I think sometimes we are so caught up in needing to travel far away for a change or a break, that we forget what’s on our doorstep. I really want to keep reminding myself of this learning and try to appreciate the small things a lot more.”
“It’s given a lot of food for thought and I’m not sure travel will ever be travel in the same way again. I’m hopeful that linked to the above, we can all appreciate places a little bit more and not take things as a given. Air travel is one. I’m a guilty party being an expat due to my reliance on air travel to get home to see family and friends, but I want to try and offset this with continuing to explore destinations closer to home alongside further afield. I think cost will be a factor too, I foresee that air travel will become more expensive which might decide travel for us to some degree.”
The Guestbooks believe that the digital nomad industry will increase. COVID has radically changed how we define the workplace and there’s going to be big questions for the future of how and where we work. Are offices in their traditional sense a thing of the past?
“I think COVID has highlighted that working remotely is not only possible but can be beneficial for both organisations and of course individuals. I’m hopeful that digital nomads will become more of an accepted option post COVID.”
Their advice to other digital nomads is to “Do it! Living abroad is a must!”
Although there are challenges, these are hugely offset by the rewards of living in a new country. From exploring new places to understanding different cultures and customs, there’s so many amazing experiences to take advantage of.
“We’ve been lucky enough to welcome our daughter Jess into the world when we were in Dubai. Although Jess isn’t even two yet I’m a strong believer that the exposure to living in different countries is a positive one. She’s already been able to travel and see so much, as well as meeting children from all over the world.”
They managed to sneak a long weekend to Bangkok back in January just before lockdown and loved their time there.
“I was a bit nervous taking a toddler to such a busy city, but she loved it! We’ve also visited Phuket, Koh Phi Phi and Krabi on a separate trip and fell in love with Thailand so we definitely want to add it to our list of destinations for the future.”
Kate’s Dad is also keen to visit too and it’s very much on his wish list.
“He loves Thai food so he can’t wait to sample authentic cuisine either.”