Featured Blogger: Natalie from Cosmos Mariners!

Hi guys! This week I’ve got Natalie from Cosmos Mariners!


1. Website and social media links

Cosmos Mariners: Destination Unknown (http://www.cosmosmariners.com)

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/cosmosmariners

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/cosmosmariners

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/cosmosmariners

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/cosmosmariners

2. How did you come up with your website name?

In the process of rebranding my site 2 years ago, I was looking for a name that combined some sort of literary reference, a nod to my Southern heritage, and my love of travel, which was not an easy task. I wanted to create a travel blog that focused on culture, literature, arts, and history, and I was really struggling to find a name that reflected all of that. By chance, I found it in a cemetery of all places!

While visiting the Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, Georgia, I came across the grave of author Conrad Aiken. His tombstone reads “Cosmos Mariner: Destination Unknown,” which I thought was an incredible image. Aiken actually discovered the name on the side of a ship that was coming into the Savannah harbor: the Cosmos Mariner. When he went to read the ship’s log, it said “Cosmos Mariner: Destination Unknown,” which he thought described the journey that we must all take through life.

Since the blog focuses on my adventures with my family (my husband and toddler), I decided to change the name to the plural, and thus, Cosmos Mariners: Destination Unknown, my newly rebranded travel blog, was born!

3. What more can you tell us about your blog? What are your goals or intentions for it?

My blog focuses on the cultural aspects of the places that I visit, so you’ll often read about visits to authors’ homes, museums, plays, and the like. In addition, I love sharing off-the-beaten path destinations, so those get throw in there as well. My goal for my blog is to serve as a place where fellow travelers can come for inspiration on travel and to learn. The blog is such a fun way to meet others and share my passion, and I am so excited to see how it continues to grow in the coming years.

4. Can you provide us with a Throw Back Thursday picture of one of your favorite travel memories with an explanation?

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My sister (on the right) and I are testing out the stocks on a trip to Salem, Massachussetts, in the mid-90s here! I love this picture because it shows how much fun we had on those trips with our family, and I hope to instill the same desire to travel and learn in my own daughter as she grows.

5. Which are your favorite and least favorite cities you’ve traveled to? Why?

My favorite city of all time is London—it was the first city that I visited in Europe, and it captured my heart in a way that nowhere else has since. I’ve been back several times since that first trip, including a study abroad session in 2005 that was one of the high points in my college career.

My least favorite city is Paris; I know this is an unpopular choice, but I found it to be quite dirty and the people were not at all friendly. We were also pretty violently mugged on the Metro one day, which was terrifying. I enjoyed seeing all of the museums and history there, but everything else we experienced left me with a sour taste in my mouth.

6. What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten? Where?

I am severely allergic to shellfish, so I have to be very careful about what I eat both at home and abroad. Because of that, I don’t get to try really crazy stuff like scorpions or spiders since they could potentially land me in the hospital, which is what I want to avoid on vacation (or any time!). I did try haggis when I was in Scotland, and it reminded me a lot of the liver puddings that are popular in my home state of South Carolina.

7. Who are your travel idols?

My parents both grew up in rural areas of South Carolina and didn’t go out of the country until they were married and in their 30s. They scrimped and pinched to make their first European trip happen in 1981, but they still talk about what a great decision it was all of these years later. They’re my travel idols since they showed my sister and I that travel is a possibility even for families with little kids; because of their insistence on regular road trips and vacations, I adore traveling—and everything that comes with it—today.

Another of my travel idols is my uncle. He’s a biologist and has found ways to combine travel with his desire for conservation and educational research. As a kid, I was amazed at the pictures of him holding a sedated bear in the Pisgah National Forest as a part of a research trip; more recently, he’s been a part of a bird conservation program in Ecuador, and, in his mid-70s, he still makes the trip down there twice a year to do research with his team. My Uncle Larry is always up for something new, whether it’s riding a camel in Egypt or studying migratory patterns in birds in Ecuador.

8. What’s your best travel tip?

Do your research before you go—but then be prepared for nothing to go to plan. I love having a set itinerary on which to fall back, but I’ve learned not to panic (too much) when things don’t go according to my itinerary!

9. Which is your favorite post you’ve written?

This is SUCH a hard question since I get super attached to all of my blog posts! I do love this post that I wrote earlier this year about some of the incredible history places that my husband and I saw while we were visiting southern Scotland: http://www.cosmosmariners.com/2015/03/5-historic-southern-scottish-places-you.html. Who doesn’t love a post that’s filled with ruins and castles?!

10. What advice would you give someone new to travel blogging?

Be patient! This is the hardest part of blogging for me, period, since I like to see results quickly. Blogging feels like shouting out into the abyss for a while when you first start, but you will find an audience and your blog will grow in time. My second piece of advice would be to reach out to other travel bloggers through Facebook communities, guest posts, conferences, and collaborative posts. These are all great ways to increase your readership while learning about blogging and finding new friends!

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