Welcome to another installment of my travel blogger interview series! Today, I’m happy to introduce you to Alexandra from East Coast Contessa!
Alexandra Booze is the editor of the travel and lifestyle blog, East Coast Contessa. Since 2016, she has worked with nearly 500 brands and visited 33 countries. Originally from the United States, for the past two years, Alex has lived abroad in Prague and currently, in La Rioja, Spain.
How long have you been blogging for? Why’d you decide to start a travel blog?
I have been blogging since 2010, but my blogging journey with East Coast Contessa began in 2015. I was living in Washington, DC at the time, which is one of the top cities for foodies in the nation. So many new restaurants were popping up at the time and one of my favorite past times was to check out new local spots for brunch. Me and my now former blog partner loved sharing photos of new dishes and highlighting up and coming small businesses. The East Coast Contessa account originally began solely sharing food and recipes, and really evolved into the travel and lifestyle-focused brand it is today a couple of years ago. I realised that food is also a major factor in why people travel, so I thought it made sense to marry the two together.
Do you have any tips for new travel bloggers/aspiring travel bloggers?
I have a lot of advice for aspiring travel bloggers! Be prepared for ups and downs. Some days, months, and years will be better than others. Be patient in growing your platform. It will take time but it will happen, I promise. Don’t compare yourself to other bloggers in the industry. Everyone is at a different stage in their journeys as creators. Support other bloggers, especially females. There is no room in this industry for cattiness and competitiveness (I’ve been the victim of both, sadly). And lastly, have fun! Remember who your audience is and why you became a blogger in the first place — for them! 🙂
What’s one thing you wish you knew before you started traveling?
How addictive it is! If someone had told me that after my first trip abroad that I would be moving overseas two years later, I would have laughed. Most people love travel in their own way, of course. But true travel addicts feel a connection to it in their soul. If they go too long without it, they feel like a piece of them is missing. I am one of those people for sure.
Why do you love to travel?
I get a rush every time I step into a country or place I have never visited before. I love experimenting with new foods, meeting new people, and discovering off the beaten path places. Travel provides me with memories and experiences that nothing else can, and it’s provided me with countless new friends that I now have scattered all over the world.
What’s your best and worst travel experience?
Best travel experience was in Berlin. It was my second time traveling solo and I stayed at the best hostel in the city. I spent time at the hostel bar, danced, talked with new people, and even went out sightseeing the following day with a new friend. I also met a guy who I ended up dating (it didn’t work out long term), but it was a very memorable experience.
My worst travel experience was in Iceland. I went on an excursion through South Iceland which included a hike behind the Seljalandfoss waterfall. I had a thick coat on and hiking boots, but the tour company forgot to tell us we would be visiting this site, which is an extremely wet and slippery area that requires waterproof gear. In freezing temperatures, I left drenched and freezing cold for a three hour tour. I caught pneumonia two days later and ended up in the Emergency Room in Reykjavik.
Do you prefer solo travel or traveling with other people? Why?
I prefer solo travel (and I actually just wrote a piece on this on my website explaining why)! Solo travel makes me a stronger and more confident person, especially as a female. It allows me to overcome a lot of doubts and fears I have about myself, and introduces me to new people that often become friends!
What’s your favorite place you’ve ever been to? Why?
My favorite place I’ve ever been to is a tough question to answer since I have been to so many places that I love! However, I am going to answer Tel Aviv, Israel. First, the atmosphere is simply magical. Beaches, palm trees, the sound of daily prayer from mosques, and the smell of fresh pita bread baking…I could go on and on! The people are also warm and welcoming, and will tell you anything you want to know about the city and the best local spots. Everyone just seems to be in the best mood.
What’s your biggest travel tip?
My biggest travel tip is to always double check that your hotel or hostel is open for late check in. There have been many times that I have arrived in a new city late at night or early in the moring alone only to find my hotel or hostel is pitch black inside. To make sure this doesn’t happen, share your flight information with the hosts or owners so they can make arrangements as needed, or leave a key somewhere safe. Being a female, I prefer having someone meet me in person to make sure I get into my sleeping quarters safely.
Is there one specific thing you like to do, see, or buy in every place that you visit?
I am a magnet fanatic! In each city I visit, I always have to buy at least two magnets. One magnet will represent the city or country, and another will represent my favorite experience or site I visited. I have more than 200 magnets on my fridge and in storage.
Is there one particular food that you’ve tried while traveling that you loved? What food was it and why do you love it so much?
There are so many foods that I have tried during my travels that I still make on my own to this day (not as good, obviously). But the first one that comes to my mind is the Shakshuka that I ate in Israel. For those who are not familiar with Shakshuka, it is a skillet of crushed tomatoes, red and green peppers, white onions, and baked eggs. The tomato and vegetable mixture is stewed with spices for 20-30 minutes, before the eggs are cracked into little nests and baked. Paired with crusty bread or pita, it’s so flavourful, filling, and delicious!
Plane or train? I love trains! Even though travel time is longer on them, I love looking out the window and seeing the world whiz by. I also love getting up and going into the little cafe cars to buy coffee or snacks.
Hotel or hostel? I have stayed in both, but I love a good fancy hotel! It’s like a treat for me since I mostly stay in hostels or budget hotels during my travels to save money if I’m not participating in a press stay.
City or nature? I am a city gal though and through! I love beaches and nice walks around a place I am visiting, but I’m not a huge fan of being out in the woods. Bugs and dirt and me don’t mix!
Popular site or off the beaten path? I like a little of both but I prefer off the beaten path. Less tourists, and I get to introduce my followers something completely different!
Suitcase or backpack? I want to say backpack because it’s more sustainable, but I am known to overpack on most of my trips (eeek). Even for a two or three day trip, I at least bring a carry on.
Fast travel or slow travel? I prefer slow travel. I feel like I am able to really experience more of what a city or town as to offer if I take my time. When I do fast travel, I always feel a need to go back and visit a place again.
Professional camera or iPhone photography? DSLR all the way. I don’t mind using my iPhone for Instagram stories or for photos I send to my friends, but anything that is posted on my IG, Facebook wall, or Pinterest graphics is from my Canon DSLR.
Warm or cold weather? Warm weather 100 percent! I’ve grown up in cold weather climates most of my life and struggled with asthma a lot (snow and cold rain really mess with me!), so I prefer tropical or dry climates.
All photos used throughout this post are courtesy of Alexandra from East Coast Contessa.