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Welcome to another installment of my travel blogger interview series! Today, I’m happy to introduce you to Alanna from Periodic Adventures!
My name is Alanna Koritzke and I’m the scientist, student, traveler, and hyper-planner behind Periodic Adventures, a travel blog to give you travel inspiration, detailed travel guides, budget tips, and fun travel stories. I am from the United States and I am currently a graduate student working on my PhD in Chemistry at the University of Georgia. I started my blog to help fellow broke students understand how to travel on a budget and to help everyone reduce the stress that comes with planning a trip.
How long have you been blogging for? Why’d you decide to start a travel blog?
I have been blogging for two years, and I decided to start blogging because I wanted to share my unique perspective.
I wear a couple of hats that make me a little different from other travel bloggers. First, I traveled as a kid with my family to 19 countries and numerous states.
I wanted to share those experiences since family travel blogs nowadays are coming from the perspective of parents. I wanted to incorporate how traveling changed my life as a kid and what it taught me.
I also am a nerdy chemistry graduate student, and as a student has traveled to 6 countries and 12 states over the last 7 years.
My goal is to share how I did it – financially and otherwise because being a student comes with a whole new set of challenges. Hopefully, by reading my blog, others will feel inspired and convinced that they too can travel as a broke AF college student.
Lastly, I am 100% a hyper-planner. I love planning trips and sharing my itineraries with all the nitty-gritty details in one place. I wanted to start Periodic Adventures to create a one-stop shop for travel inspiration, detailed guides, budget tips, and fun travel stories!
Do you have any tips for new travel bloggers/aspiring travel bloggers?
I want to say that there is always room for new bloggers. I think there is a misconception that the market is oversaturated and joining now is futile. There are multiple studies showing that there is more room now than ever and more opportunities because brands are recognizing the influence of bloggers!
And, don’t be afraid to mess up. You will learn so much on the way. I have been studying chemistry for my entire higher education.
I knew nothing about websites, social media, or how to garner an audience. It will be a rough learning curve if you start out with no prior knowledge, but it’s better to start imperfectly than never start.
What’s one thing you wish you knew before you started traveling?
Because I traveled so young, I never really had a “before.” I am so grateful for my upbringing. As an adult traveler, I definitely wish I knew how much it costs to travel.
It’s not cheap, but as a kid, I was totally oblivious to that. Had I known that in middle school and high school, I probably would have made it a higher priority to start saving money and learn about travel hacking, budgeting, and finances in general.
Why do you love to travel?
I love that the world constantly surprises me. I love visiting new places and feeling like no matter where I go, it will be a surprise. No matter how much I plan and research and obsess over photos of a place, going there and visiting is a whole new experience.
It’s a surprise every single time. I love discovering new foods and learning about new cultures. Traveling opens your world. It introduces you to a broader sense of yourself as a person on this planet. I know that sounds philosophical, but it’s true.
You really start to understand other people and appreciate what you have and what you are lacking.
For example, visiting Europe for the first time completely opens your eyes to a whole new level of history. In the United States, most of the oldest buildings are from the 1600s, but in Europe, they can date back to the BC era!
Another example is when I visited Japan I was 14 years old. The food in Japan dumbfounded me.
It was so incredibly different than anything I had ever had before. It made me appreciate different cultures and how food can define a culture. These are just some examples, but I still have those surprising revelations when I travel, and that’s what I love the most!
What’s your best and worst travel experience?
One of my absolute best travel experiences was visiting New Zealand in 2016 during my spring break. I was an undergraduate student, living with my boyfriend (of 8 years now!). In 2014, we started joint savings account for the sole purpose of travel. We had been saving money as students for 2 years.
We finally had enough to go somewhere, and we landed on New Zealand’s North Island for one week during our spring break, mostly because we really wanted to visit Hobbiton… as I said, I’m a nerd. It was the first time I planned an international trip as an adult without my parent’s help.
When we landed in Auckland and began our journey, it was the most satisfying feeling.
Years of fantasizing and planning trips we never went on. Years of living on the smallest budget possible to saving everything we could. Years of making travel our number one priority.
And, finally, we were there, in New Zealand, with money we had saved, on a trip I had planned. It was amazing!
I would say one of my worst travel experiences was honestly also one of my best, which sounds strange. In 2019, I visited the Dead Sea on my Birthright Israel trip.
It had been a dream of mine for ages to float in the water. Unfortunately, earlier in the day, my tour group hiked Masada, a huge mountain and ancient fort near the Dead Sea.
I was wearing ankle booties, which unbeknownst to me were creating tiny little micro cuts all over my ankles during the hike. I honestly didn’t notice until I entered the Dead Sea. The salt made me feel every single one of those cuts. It burned more than I knew was possible.
Combine that with the fact that the Dead Sea was choppy and windy (due to weather and the winter season), it made my dream Dead Sea trip into one of my worst, just because it was so painful.
When I emerged from the sea after 10-15 minutes, my ankles were swollen and bright red. Whoops. I guess I’ll need to go back and try again.
Do you prefer solo travel or traveling with other people? Why?
I prefer traveling with other people in a small group. Because I traveled with my family growing up, I never really experienced the “solo female travel” that has taken over. I really enjoy traveling with my boyfriend, brother, cousin, and mom!
I’ve traveled with friends a little bit as well, and that’s always fun. It can be tricky because I am a hyper-planner so I like to have an idea of things I want to do/see so sometimes I prefer traveling in smaller groups, so I don’t feel like I’m bossing people around to do things they don’t want to do.
What’s your favorite place you’ve ever been to? Why?
I really enjoy being able to relax by the ocean but also have access to adventures like zip-lining, exploring a town, or touring a historic site.
What’s your biggest travel tip?
My biggest tip for student travelers (and everyone, really) is that in order to travel part-time, you absolutely have to make travel your number one priority. It is not easy. But here’s what that looks like: It means getting comfortable saying no to a lot of things like dining out or going out with friends.
It also means you have to dedicate your time to learning about how to save your money in general and for traveling.
I know it’s scary, but without understanding the basics of finances and budgeting, traveling will always be a dream. Once you have a savings plan and the right mindset, traveling will happen.
Is there one specific thing you like to do, see, or buy in every place that you visit?
When I travel, I don’t love spending money on souvenirs because I would rather spend my money on experiences (or more travel). Instead, I’ll raise my food budget because that is one of my favorite travel experiences.
I’ll always try to ask locals for their favorite restaurants, and I’ll always make it a priority to try lots of new foods.
The one souvenir I do like to buy is a postcard that I put in shadowboxes with photos and other mementos. It’s also great because postcards are pretty cheap, plus you get a stamp as a souvenir too!
I’m also always on the lookout for aquariums. My favorite animal is a stingray, so I love visiting local aquariums!
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?
I don’t think I can possibly narrow this down because food is one of the top reasons I travel. I love cheesecake from New York (Sardi’s). There’s something about sitting outside under the lights of New York City at 1:00 am eating cheesecake.
I fell in love with shakshuka in Israel, which is a tomato and egg sauce that you dip fluffy, warm bread into. I had the most amazing stews in Ireland that were so filling, warm, and comforting, even in the summer!
Plane or train? Plane
Hotel or hostel? Hotel
City or nature? Nature
Popular site or off the beaten path? Off the beaten path
Suitcase or backpack? Suitcase
Fast travel or slow travel? Fast – student time is limited
Professional camera or iPhone photography? Professional camera (A digital camera was one of my first Christmas presents)
Warm or cold weather? Cold
All photos used throughout this post are courtesy of Alanna from Periodic Adventures.