This is the first installment in a recurring interview series on the Flat Circle devoted to calling attention to Philadelphia-area bloggers. The first interview is with Tina at Traveleidoscope, a travel blog filled with trip ideas and dining tips. Tina is a member of the North American Travel Journalists Association and has visited over seventy countries and territories. Tina discusses how she started blogging and lists some of her favorite places to visit in Philadelphia.
Flat Circle: When did you become interested in blogging?
Tina: It was by accident, frankly. People would ask where I was headed to next. Then it evolved into people asking where they should go on their vacations and for travel advice. I thought, if people actually are asking me for travel advice, maybe I should start a blog about all things travel – budgeting, planning, hacks, sports equipment, travel news, etc. One of my favorite tips is the video I did on how to put on a wetsuit with a plastic bag.
FC: When did you first discover your enthusiasm for travel?
T: I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t interested in traveling. As a kid, I used to watch Jacques Cousteau, and Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom and thought, “I wanna go there, see that and do that.” I’m also really into sports – cycling, scuba diving, skiing, hiking, kayaking, name it. So my love of sports was a natural way for me to feed my desire to travel.
FC: Your blog, Traveleidoscope, has been online since 2016. What are some of the challenges that you have encountered as a travel blogger?
T: There’s always some challenge, but for me, the biggest one is figuring out the technology end of blogging. It’s not intuitive for me, so I really struggle with it. I’m getting better-ish at it, but for me, the learning curve for me is like scaling Mount Everest every day.
FC: You have been to seventy different countries and territories. Where are your favorite places to travel?
T: Wow, that’s a really difficult question to answer. I like different places for different reasons. I used to live in France, so that’s always a very comfortable place for me to go. My absolute favorite place to scuba dive is Saba, in the Caribbean. There’s nothing to do, but eat, sleep, dive, which is just fine with me. I looove New Zealand – it’s the epicenter for every adventure sport imaginable and the scenery is unreal. I also really enjoyed Taiwan. It’s completely underrated as a destination, but there’s great food, beautiful scenery – from historic sights to incredible parks – awesome art and it’s spotlessly clean.
FC: What is your top bucket list travel destination?
T: I just scratched Glacier National Park in Montana off my list and I’m really glad – there are wild fires out there right now and part of the park has been closed. As for international travel – Bhutan. It’s been on high on my list for a very long time, but I’m trying to make it happen for 2020. I would love to cycle it, but I’m not a mountain goat and I live at sea level, so it would be a really big challenge. That said, I’d take any trip to Bhutan, just for the adventure aspect.
FC: What are some of the resources you use to plan a vacation?
T: I read…a lot…whenever I’m planning a vacation. That may include reading local newspapers to find out current events (I’m fortunate to be able to speak a couple different languages at varying levels), cookbooks on the country’s cuisine (It’s helpful to know when you’re about to mistakenly order grilled sheep’s eyes if your’e say, a vegetarian). Oh yeah, and other blogs, too. For airfare, I may use Kayak, Skyscanner or AirTreks as starting points. I also rely on the State Department website and am enrolled in STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program). You can register your international trips with the nearest embassy or consulate through STEP. The State Department will then send notifications if there’s anything that you might need to be aware of at your destination.
FC: You live in New Jersey and attended graduate school in Philadelphia. What are some of the places you like to visit in the area?
T: Another great question. As an outdoor space, I really like Rittenhouse Square because there’s always activity. I also like the Schuylkill River Trail, although I’ve yet to do the whole thing (hmmm, bucket list item?). I love the Barnes Museum, not just because of the awesome art, but also because of the fascinating backstory behind the museum. And broadly, I love the great restaurants that Philly has to offer.
FC: If you are traveling and find yourself marooned on a desert island, what book, movie or TV box set, and luxury item are you taking with you?
T: As an avid reader, I’d have a hard time narrowing it down to one book or one author, but if I’m on a desert island, I’d want something entertaining. I’d take any book from Jo Nesbo (Norwegian), Camilla Lackberg (Swedish) because they’re suspenseful in a dark, Scandinavian way (think Girl With the Dragon Tattoo). I’ll read anything from Stephen King or Joe Hill because they’re creepy in a psychological way. As for movies, I couldn’t choose just one, but assuming a power source, I’d watch any of the following on a continual loop – Citizen Kane, The Deer Hunter, Network, The Conversation, Downhill Racer, Indochine (French), Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Tropic Thunder…and Horrible Bosses.
As for a luxury item, well, it’s not really a luxury item, but I’d take a pillow. How many times have you been somewhere and you don’t get any sleep because the pillows are totally uncomfortable? If I’m gonna be stranded somewhere, I might as well be as comfy as possible, right?
To read more about Tina and her posts on travel, you can visit Traveleidoscope by clicking here.