What is Gotta Keep Movin’?

Gotta Keep Movin’ (GKM) is a travel website, podcast, and print journal that focuses on one region of the world at a time. At GKM we champion the art of slow travel and encourage digging into the layers of a place. We aim to report back to our readers and listeners with unusual things to see and do, along with local stories and insider advice.

So far, we’ve covered the U.K., Ireland, and Portugal. I started the site back in 2010, and it’s morphed from a personal blog into what you see now, with my passion for in-depth travel leading the way.

Where did the idea for the year-long travel journals come from?

At the end of 2014, I returned to the U.K. (where I’m from) after living in Thailand. Before that, I had traveled to more than 30 countries over five years. I was exhausted. I’d started out — as most people do — with whistle-stop tours of countries, hopping through Europe and spending just a few days in each city, whipping around South America on the backpacker trail. While I don’t regret any of that, by the time I came back to the U.K., I was ready to slow down.

I also wanted to discover my own country through the eyes of an experienced traveler. Add to that my overwhelming desire to create a print publication to complement my website, and I had the beginning of the first issue, A Year in the U.K. & Ireland. What followed was the best travel experience of my life, even though sometimes I was only a couple of hours from home.  

I really wanted GKM to be something more, and the travel journals gave me a specific mission. I envisioned the project as a resource for a limited amount of places, rather than an all-a-rounder that tried to cover the globe based on a few days’ time in one place. I think that produces a particularly skewed view of a destination, so I wanted GKM to be the remedy.

Why did you choose Portugal as your second destination? What were the details of your stay there?

While I would love to say it was a tactical decision in tune to the latest travel trends, I just went with my gut and chose a place where I would personally like to spend a long time.

Portugal spoke to me because it sees significantly fewer tourists than Spain. People rave about Spanish and French food, but not about Portuguese cuisine. It felt like this little forgotten slice of Europe in the shadow of one of the continent’s major players, and I wanted to explore the reason for that. I have a thing for underdogs.

I was actually down in the Algarve, which, as someone trying to find something new, was crazy because it’s one of the most visited areas in Portugal. Circumstances led me there and I stayed for the whole year, though that wasn’t the original plan.

Even though that was my base, I spent a lot of time traveling around the country. I wouldn’t say I had a schedule — I just moved as feelings took me, followed interesting story leads when I found them, and let things happen organically. That’s how I functioned while I was in the U.K. and Ireland, and it felt natural doing so a second time. I didn’t want to force anything because the end results  (the stories in the journal) would feel forced, too.

 

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What were your expectations for the year in Portugal? How did reality match up to those expectations?

I try to go in with as few expectations as possible so I can approach something with fresh eyes, but that’s almost impossible in our digital age. I expected whitewashed villages, dreamy beaches, fresh seafood, amazing eggs tarts (pastéis de nata) everywhere, and laid-back people. That’s exactly what I got because they’re all clichés for a reason. But I also got so much more I have fallen head over heels for Portugal.

What did you learn about Portugal?

That its cuisine is rich, varied, and wildly underrated; that there are hidden communities of people living up in the far northeast; that almost no one bothers to go to the beaches in the Alentejo, but far too many flock to the Algarve; that the people are warm, friendly, and will help a stranger in need whenever they can; that Portugal’s only national park is, surprisingly, one of its hidden gems; that there are basically no rules on the road. And you can park pretty much wherever you want — including on the sidewalk.

What is special about Portugal?

It’s such a magical place that I could spend another two, three, or four years exploring. For western Europe it is hugely undiscovered, and you can very easily find a place where very few tourists set foot. For a continent teeming with travelers, that’s incredibly special. The tourist numbers in Lisbon, Porto, and the Algarve are rising constantly, so go now.

What can readers expect from A Year in Portugal?

A Year in Portugal is a collection of long-form travel narratives and photography essays that take you across the country in a unique way. The “changing perspective” theme runs throughout the journey, and like most things we do at GKM, we either tell you about a new place you’ve never heard of before, or give you an entirely new spin on a well-heeled destination. I personally think we’ve executed that better in A Year in Portugal than ever before. This collection of stories, for me, throws back the curtain on Portugal and takes you away from the guidebook version of this country.

It’s all about extra context. We have a feature about Ria Formosa Natural Park in the Algarve, a handful of islands home to some of the most undisturbed beaches in the region. While it’s undoubtedly beautiful, our feature dives into a darker side of Ria Formosa and how the government is tearing down the homes of the people living on these islands, changing their lives drastically. Angles like this allow our readers to go to that destination with a greater understanding and insight into what it is like to live there. In that sense, A Year in Portugal is for the discerning traveler who craves more than just average tales of travel.

Where will Gotta Keep Movin’ be next?

Good question! And one I can’t reveal the answer to yet. It’s a major toss-up for me and always such a hard decision, but I have a few destinations in mind. Let’s just say it will be further east. Stay tuned!

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