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Liebster Award – aka Interview with House to Laos

May 22, 2015

We’ve been nominated for a Liebster Award! It came as a complete surprise. We are so honored to be included on this list of new(ish) travel bloggers whom the community thinks deserve recognition. I did a bit of digging and discovered that Liebster is a German word, which translates as lovely, pleasant, beloved or kind. How nice! The Liebster award has no known origins, but has been around for a while as way for travel bloggers to recognize other travel bloggers. The recognition is then passed on to others deserving of a nomination. Basically, this is an awesome way to discover new blogs and learn a bit more about the people running the sites.


Who nominated htL

We were nominated by Anne from Traveling the World for Less. Anne started her travel blog in April 2015 (but has been traveling for way longer), and has already received the award! Clearly she is doing something right, so you should head over and check out her advice on traveling more, with less stress. Thank you Anne so much for nominating us. We’ve enjoyed reading your Q&A, and we hope you – and others – enjoy ours. Three cheers to travel!

house to laos Liebster Award interview

Jenia and Sergey at Angkor Wat, CambdoiaExploring Angkor Wat, Cambodia. 

Why did you start a travel blog?

We started a travel blog as a way to document a year long travel adventure, primarily for ourselves. We also wanted to share with family and friends. We took a video every day, of what ended up being a 14-month long trip, so our loved ones always knew where we were, and what we were up to! We still write posts to record our trip memories and reflections, but now for a slightly wider audience of fellow travelers and wanderlusters.

What is your best tip for growing your travel blog audience?

We’ve had the most success by sharing our content via social platforms; facebook is our number one driver of traffic, but pinterest, twitter, and stumbleupon all give us a fair amount of exposure.

What are your favorite 3 countries and why?

That’s a tough one. Jenia loved Thailand, because it truly is a land of smiles, and because travel there is low stress, but still exotic and beautiful. Sergey loved Vietnam because of the people we’ve met there, and the diverse and interesting culture and history of the country. We are currently exploring the US, and even though we call it home, it still fascinates us to learn more about American cities and amazing national nature reserves and parks.

month14_housetolaos_20141029_013Cape Giradeau a town on the Mississippi River, Missouri. 

What is the country you would most like to visit but cannot due to security issues?

We were actually really interested in going to Cuba, and as of right now the travel restrictions – rather than security issues – are a problem for us, as holders of US passports. We hope that soon travel will be open entirely, and we can visit the island.

What is your worst travel experience and why?

It feels dishonest to say, but we haven’t had a bad travel experience. About the worst thing that has happened to us, is we’ve lost two iPhones in a span of a year. That was expensive and unpleasant, but far from the worst ever. Jenia had pretty bad delhi belly in India, and that was not fun – but again, it could have been so much worse! In general, we’ve found something to like about every place we’ve been, and nothing terrible has happened to us – knock on wood!

What is the best travel advice you have received and why?

Carry a knife taped around your ankle. Haha – that one was from our neighbohor, who’s a travel writer and has been to some crazy locations and on a slew of amazing adventures all around the world.

PhuYen_housetolaos_023Unexpected encounters in Song La nature reserve in Vietnam.

The one advice that took a little longer to take to heart was travel pace. Slow and steady is such a treat; there is no need to squeeze as many sites and places as you can, but focus on quality of every-day living among the people in one local or another. While it is important to visit well known bits, we’ve come to realize that some of our favorite memories come from unexpected adventures and interactions.

What advice would you give to a new visitor to your home town?

Ah, Washington DC! We truly love it here, so it’s hard to pick just one suggestion or advice. I guess what I would say is that DC has amazing tourist attractions, but the actual local pulse of the city is concentrated pretty far away from all of the monuments. If you want a slice of real life in DC, spend a day in Shaw and Bloomingdale neighborhoods, which is where we live, walking around or discovering hidden parks or having an iced coffee!

snowday_in_march_vib_0039Bloomingdale neighborhood during a snowstorm, Washington, DC.

What is your favorite mode of transport and why?

Trains! So much more comfortable than pretty much any other mode of transport, between the leg room, the great views, and spacious berths that enable you to stretch out, Jenia is 5’5”, and get a decent night’s sleep – you really can’t beat the train. Trains are also GREAT for socializing – we have had conversations, from chitchat with oil men coming home after 45-day stint at the rig in Russia, to students going to spend time at home in China, to policemen “just taking the train” in Myanmar, to other travelers partying all night on their way from Bangkok to Surat Thani, Thailand (that was one hell of a party with strobe lights and all) that could only take place on a train. Train stations tend to be in central locations, making transport into and out of the city a breeze.

Second best is, naturally, a motorcycle. 🙂

bestof_housetolaos02_trainJourneyInRussiaTraveling the Transsiberian route across Russia, Mongolia and China. 

What was your first overseas trip, with whom and what is your strongest memory of that trip?

Well, we were both born in Russia. So Jenia’s first trip was actually to the US, at the age of 11. The most memorable moment was the first impression – I just kept comparing everything to the movie scenes I had seen about America, just to double check that this is what it really was like (funny, but Sergey has the same memory from when he first arrived in the States at the age of 16). Sergey’s first trip was to Estonia, at the ripe age of 5! His parents took him to Tallinn by an overnight train. It was a first time he has seen a sandy beach and had on demand ice cream cones.

How would you describe British people in 3 words?

Tricky! Not the people, the question… We do our best to shy away from broad generalizations. Mainly due to the fact that we’ve heard them applied to Americans and Russians all the time, and don’t really find them very accurate. Perhaps we are different? We will say though that we’ve met quite an assortment of Brits while traveling, so there must be quite the wanderlust gene amongst a good portion of British people. Hi Martyn!

GreatWall_housetolaos_007Our British (!) travel friend Martyn on the Great Wall of China.

And the Nomination Goes to


1. What are your top 3 reasons why you travel?

2. What was your most recent adventure?

3. Define: nomad

4. Are you the type to just get up and go, or do you sift through guidebooks, consult maps, and seek out advice in advance of your travels?

5. What is one thing that you absolutely must pack?

6. What are your top three favorite travel destinations?

7. What are your top two places that you don’t see yourself visiting and why?

8. How do you record your trip memories?

9. What is your favorite bit about travel blogging?

10. Your next destination:


The purpose of the Liebster is to recognize the blog that nominated you, and pass the award onto other bloggers deserving of recognition. Pretty simple, right? To break it down into steps:

  • Link back to the blog that nominated you, answer their 10 questions, and also leave a comment letting them know that you’ve answered their questions.
  • Formulate your own 10 questions, and nominate up to 10 travel bloggers for the Liebster Award.  Tweet to the bloggers that they have been nominated!

That’s it! It’s been so fun, thank you again Anne for thinking of us!

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