When I moved back to the U.S. from Costa Rica, I was so worried that I wouldn’t have a place in the online travel community anymore. I’d found a job (or, it’d actually found me!), and I couldn’t take time off for six long months, the downside to returning to corporate life. One of the online travel pioneers who was a true inspiration to me was an old friend of mine, Liz, of @travelogged. Little known fact: Liz and I met no less than 12 years ago, when we were completing our masters in journalism at Columbia University. The recession eventually led to the loss of both of our jobs but, no surprise to me, Liz retaliated much more swiftly than I did, as you’ll learn from her interview below. After I returned from a month-long trip to Borneo, she asked me to write about it on her blog. Unemployed, slightly depressed, and stuck in the “old journalism” mentality, I had no idea what she was talking about. Fast forward two years, and look at me now!
As I just learned at the TBU travel bloggers conference, Liz and I are both “joggers,” journos who blog. Love us!
I hope you find her as inspiring as I do.
Liz: I didn’t do much traveling in my twenties, which is really too bad – I was too busy hopping around from job to job in the media, like you. I had so few vacation days, and the time off I did have was spent doing vacation-y things like beaches and skiing. But I’ve more than made up for it since then!
When I was turning 30, I said to my husband that we absolutely had to leave the country together (and that going to Canada to attend a wedding a few years back didn’t count). So we took a 10-day trip to Spain, one of the few countries in Europe that neither of us had been to. It was a fantastic trip, so the next summer we did a 10-day trip to Greece, which was also amazing.
A few months later, the economy tanked, and we were both out of a job. After working as an editor at various websites, I decided to launch a travel blog, because I loved thinking, reading and talking about travel. I didn’t even have any trips lined up at the time, but I convinced my husband that we needed to take advantage of our time off together by going to Costa Rica, Northern California, Turkey and Italy. This was a pretty dire time in the economy – especially in NYC – and a lot of people thought we were crazy for traveling, and well, for spending money. But we’re so glad we did it!
A few months ago, I had my first child. So that will certainly change the way I travel! The baby has already been on a plane – flew roundtrip to Florida at nine weeks. But that was just to stay with my parents, so I don’t think it really counts as traveling…
I have no idea where or when our first big family trip will be, but I’m excited for it. I feel so inspired by Jen Laceda of Folie a Deux because she manages to take trips despite having two children under the age of three. I’m also inspired by Beth Blair of The Vacation Gals, who has two children and travels both with her family and on her own. Also, I do plan to travel without the baby too.
Abby: What have been some of your favorite Tweet-ups or traveling with people you met on Twitter?
Liz: My greatest Twitter-related traveling experience also happens to be one of my greatest traveling experiences, period. In June, I went on an Alaska Twitter Press Trip #FollowMeAtSea with Princess Cruises – a one-week land tour followed by a one-week cruise. The trip was nothing short of amazing, from taking a helicopter to land on a glacier to going dog sledding. It was awesome to be among these Twitter travel all-stars, who also happen to be super-fun travelers: @theplanetd, @earthxplorer, @rickgriffin, @cruisebuzz, @orlandochris, @bethblair, @catherinebodry, @cruisejess.
Abby: Who are your favorite non-travel Twitter people?
Liz: Wait, there are people on Twitter who or not talking about travel?! Most of the people I follow are related to travel in some way. But because I’m a social media consultant, I also seek out tweeps who are tweeting just about social media. My favorite find is @MarkRaganCEO – Mark Ragan is the publisher of PR Daily and PR Daily Europe. And of course @Sree is one of the top social media tweeters – Sree Sreenivasan is a digital media professor at Columbia University, as you know, and I’ve been fortunate enough to be an adjunct for some of his courses.
Abby: Have you ever backpacked or lived as an expat?
Liz: I backpacked in Europe during the summer following college for a few weeks with three friends. We did the whole hostel and EuRail thing, and it’s still one of my greatest travel memories. There weren’t a lot of online travel communities in 1999, and I remember spending hours at my temp job during the weeks prior to the trip, reading the forums at Eurotrip.com, which I’m pleased to see is still around.
What’s funny is that during that trip, my friends and I raced around from country to country and city to city, and I feel like whenever I travel it’s always at that frantic pace! But I can’t help it – I always want to see everything. And if I actually leave myself enough time to explore a city or town in leisure, I’ll end up trying to squeeze in a day trip somewhere just to see one more thing.
I’ve never lived as an expat, but I hope to one day!
Liz: I launched my blog in January 2009, and I got involved with the online community a few months later. I am amazed by how much the online community has grown in the past two years. There are so many more blogs now, most of which seem to be written by people who are engaged in round-the-world travel or are at least traveling for extended periods of time.
The online travel community has also grown more cohesive, with new Twitter chats like #TTOT, TBEX events and active Facebook groups.
Abby: What’s the biggest misconception of travel?
Liz: I think the biggest misconception of travel is that you need to have a lot of time to do it. And there are so many blogs out there where people are traveling for months or years that it helps perpetuates that belief. But even if you have only a week, you can still travel somewhere exciting and have unforgettable experiences. Of course, the more time you have for your trip, the better.
Abby: What travel themes do you wish you read more about/got more attention?
Liz: Budget/backpack travel rules the web and luxury travel dominates the magazines, so I’d like to see more attention given to middle-of-the-road or “value” travel. There’s no sexy name for it, so maybe that’s why it doesn’t get enough attention! Essentially, there are a lot of great hotels, restaurants and experiences out there for people who don’t mind spending some money but who aren’t going to shell out the big bucks for the Four Seasons.
Abby: Anything else you’d like to talk about?
Liz: Because I have a new baby, I won’t be hitting the road for a little while. But I wanted to reassure my Travelogged.com readers (and future readers!) that I still have so much left to write about my trips over the past year that there will be plenty of content even if I’m temporarily homebound. Also, from the very beginning, part of the mission of my blog has been to write about other people’s trips, so I’ll be doing that as well.
I am dreaming about my next big trip though…
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