This week’s guest post comes from La Carmina. La Carmina is an alternative fashion, travel and culture blogger, international TV host (Travel Channel, NBC, Food Network, National Geographic, Discovery), author of 3 books (for Penguin USA and Random House), and travel journalist at Business Insider, CNN Travel, Yahoo Travel and AOL / Huffington Post. She was awarded the Best Blog of the Year award in 2017.
1. What is your name and where do you come from?
I’m La Carmina, originally from Vancouver, Canada. I travel to over a dozen destinations per year, in search of Gothic and alternative/youth culture stories, which I share with readers on my La Carmina blog. I also work as a travel journalist and author, and I’ve been to over 60 countries for blogging, TV and influencer jobs. Highlights include appearing on Travel Channel programs, speaking at conferences in Romania and Turkey, and visiting famous Goth destinations such as Dracula’s Castle, Highgate Cemetery, HR Giger bar and Japanese underground parties.
2. What sort of traveller are you? Full time / part time / business / backpacker etc?
I alternate a few weeks of travel, followed by time back at home. My trips are often three weeks long, in multiple cities and countries – for example, I did Spain-Morocco-Portugal with Eurail, and Slovenia-Finland-Estonia-Sweden-Denmark with a hotel group. All my trips are in collaboration with a tourism board, hotel, TV show, tour/transport company or other work partner. My La Carmina blog is about both travel and fashion, and outfits play a big part in the stories, so I’m certainly not a backpacker! I always bring one checked suitcase with me, and a carry-on backpack. I tend to travel with one or two photographers/videographers, as visuals are key to our content. For accommodations, we mostly partner with boutique hotels or rental apartments.
3. How do you fund your travelling?
I’m very open about our travel partnerships, which make the trips possible. My film team and I usually partner with hotels that host our stay in return for coverage (blog articles, photos, links, social media). We only collaborate with boutique, artistic places that are a great fit for my readers. Similarly, we’ve worked with tourism boards on individualized press trips, and had transport expenses covered by airlines, train companies, and tour groups (but we will only agree to a partnership if it is organic). Essentially, all our expenses are covered, and we also are paid for the work that we’re hired to do, such as creating videos and articles for a resort.
4. Where is the best place you have ever been and why?
Japan remains one of my favorite countries on this planet. I’ve been coming to Tokyo since childhood, and I always have a wonderful time here. There’s always something new and exciting to discover — new theme hotels, bizarre cafes, underground fashion, and amazing Japanese food. I encourage any type of traveler to visit, since there’s something for everyone to enjoy, and the culture is very beautiful.
5. Where is the worst place you have ever been and why?
I don’t want to name the particular place, as it could have just been bad timing and luck – but I went somewhere that was really polluted, and wound up with an eye infection. I didn’t find much to enjoy in that place, and I wouldn’t be keen to go back. At the same time, I do want to keep an open mind because other friends had better experiences there, and things can always change. I don’t want to entirely close the door on any destination, as it has so many facets.
6. Do you have a Bucket List? If so where are the 3 top places on it?
I’m keen to visit South America, especially Rio and Easter Island. I also want to see Egypt as soon as it feels safe enough, or the right opportunity arises.
7. What 3 things (apart from the essentials – food/water etc) do you always travel with?
Mints are key, especially after a long flight. And I don’t go anywhere without sunscreen (even in winter), and giant sunglasses.
8. What makes you happy and why?
Recently, I’ve been appreciating time with my closest friends, especially after some have gone through hard times. I’m grateful I am able to be mobile, and see them often or at least stay in close touch online. It makes me happy to know we’ve maintained a close connection even after many years, or time apart.
9. How long have you been blogging and why did you start?
I started my LaCarmina site as a hobby, without any expectations, in September 2007. I saw blogs begin to pop up, and wanted to be part of the conversation, especially from an alternative / Goth perspective. I ended up loving the medium, and everything took off gradually – and today, I still look forward to putting up new posts.
10. What makes your blog unique and why should people read it?
My site has a unique focus on youth subcultures around the world, including Gothic and Harajuku. Some of my most meaningful stories have been about punk rockers in Myanmar, drag queens in Israel, extreme body modifications in Japan, and hijra (third gender) in India. If you’re looking for an underground, offbeat perspective on travel worldwide, I invite you to join my adventures.