Let’s say hello to the lovely Valerie!
1. First of all, what are your website and social media links?
2. How did you come up with your website name?
My blog was originally not a blog – it was supposed to be a web based magazine called “Valise Magazine.” I had come up with the name after brainstorming with some friends; we were trying to think of a good name for something related to “weekend travel,” and when we settled on the French word “valise,” meaning suitcase, but also back in the early 20th Century meaning “a small traveling bag or suitcase,” I knew we had found the ticket. It was so close to my name! When I realized I had no idea what I was doing for making a magazine, I switched the name and started thinking of it as a travel blog. It’s about me and my travels, thus “Valerie & Valise.” Other people tell me it’s a good name because it has a nice ring and alliteration to it.
3. What more can you tell us about your blog? What are your goals or intentions for it?
My goal with my blog is to find a way to monetize it without losing authenticity: I have a hard time with the idea that “you must do this and that to be a successful blogger,” which right now means writing ebooks and doing lots of affiliate marketing. The things which travel bloggers can to do make money change every few years, and I don’t want to fall prey to trends to try and sell things that I wouldn’t actually ask anyone to buy if I wasn’t just trying to make money (i.e. if I wouldn’t write an ebook normally, why write one just to make money?)
Over time, I’ve realized there’s a lot of value for my readers in sharing both my travels and the business of travel blogging – I write and share lots of content about social media, writing, creativity, community building, the nitty gritty of running a travel blog (how much it costs, etc.). I would ideally like to create a resource that appeals to people like me: those who love traveling, love writing, and who want to find out how to craft a lifestyle that includes both.
4. Can you provide us with a Throw Back Thursday picture of one of your favorite travel memories with an explanation?
The photo titled “TBT” is a photo from Irish Fest in Indianapolis in 2010. I have a thing for wearing funny hats – when I see them, I can’t help but try them on – and this is definitely one of the best ones I’ve taken! I loved that Indianapolis had so many cultural festivals that allowed you to immerse yourself, even if you couldn’t travel to the place itself.
5. Which are your favorite and least favorite cities you’ve traveled to? Why?
London will always be my favorite city to visit! It always feels like home – which makes sense more now as I spent 13 months living there in 2012-2013. I like most places I visit, but I was recently in Brussels and didn’t find it particularly interesting. I’d love to go back and see it in the summer, I have a feeling I would enjoy it more if it weren’t freezing cold and snowing!
6. What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten? Where?
I had beef tongue tacos in London – they were definitely not my favorite! I thought it would be interesting, but instead it just grossed me out.
7. Who are your travel idols?
Anthony Bourdain, hands down. I love his acerbic approach to telling stories about the world. I would also love to eat even 1/10th of the amazing things he’s tried in different places. I also admire Nellie from Wild Junket for her adventurous spirit, and Christy from Ordinary Traveler for her amazing photography!
8. What’s your best travel tip?
If you can’t carry it on your back (or shoulder, as is the case with my valise), don’t bring it. Wheelie bags are my nemesis; they encourage people to pack way more than they need and discourage the idea that travel is liberating in part because you leave your ordinary life behind – accessories and toiletries over 3oz included!
9. Which is your favorite post you’ve written? Please provide a link.
One of my favorite posts I’ve written was actually a pseudo-sponsored post, Mornings at Moon Palace (http://www.valisemag.com/mornings-moon-palace/). I went to TBEX in Cancun last September, and while nobody was obliging me to write a post about my experience, I felt like there were some perfect moments I wanted to capture. Luckily, they came out as well as I hoped!
10. What advice would you give to someone new to travel blogging?
I actually just wrote about this – The Case for a Simplified Social Media Strategy (http://www.valisemag.com/the-case-for-a-simplified-social-media-strategy/) — I think that too often, we early travel bloggers get wrapped up in trying to be awesome at everything. The reality is that by not only defining your special space within the travel blogging world, but also creating a strong community on the social media channel where that audience exists, you’ll have much more effective and successful campaigns.