Everyone has their favorite travel blog. The Pin the Map Project, aka one of best travel blogs out there today, was a huge inspiration in creating Caity in Wanderland. I randomly found Nikki’s site one day while I was stuck in the office wanderlusting for my next big adventure. I was instantly in awe, from her adventures solo traveling, to her mouthwatering (and not so edible-looking) food reviews. Not only is Nikki extremely talented, she is also super approachable and lovely to talk to. Here is my interview with Nikki about her travels and what inspires her:
Your blog has really had a lot of success within just its first year, what motivates you to continue to succeed? Could you offer 3 pieces of advice to fellow aspiring travel bloggers and journalists?
The Pin the Map Project is an ongoing endeavor that has definitely come far from when I first pressed publish on my free WordPress theme just a little over a year ago. In the past year, I have really just found that travel writing is my passion and that ultimately fuels my work with The Pin the Map Project. I am always looking for ways to improve the website, find content inspiration and partner with brands and it is really that passion that keeps me pouring so much effort, love and time into my travel blogging and writing. There is a ton of advice for bloggers and journalists just starting out (and I recommend visiting my website for some tips on both breaking into travel writing and starting a travel blog of your own) but 3 pieces of advice I’d definitely share here are:
- Look towards more established blogs and writers to see what worked for them. As a novice travel blogger, I used Bloglovin’ to see what other, successful travel bloggers were doing. I would take note on how they designed their website, the ways they were generating money from it (i.e. travel shops, affiliate networks they work with, etc.) and content they were writing and looked for how I could incorporate these ideas into my website. Similarly, I would look towards travel writers I admire and take note of publications they had been published in so I too could seek to pitch stories to those similar publications. At the end of the day, imitation is truly the highest form of flattery and it is smart to look at these bloggers and writers who pioneered the way for success and take note of what worked for them.
- Invest in your website. The fact is that if you want to be a successful travel blogger then you need to put your money where your words are and invest in your website. A well-designed website that is clean and easy to navigate speaks volumes over a free-theme website that is cluttered and looks amateur.
- Write about your passion. Seems easy enough but when I first started blogging years ago, I started out writing about fashion then restaurants and both topics lost my interest and fell to the wayside. It wasn’t until I landed on the topic of travel (specifically solo traveling and destination stories) did I really find the fire to write consistently and often.
I’ve read almost all of your features in your Traveler Series but I’d also like to know, what inspires you to travel?
Thanks for reading all my features; that’s incredibly flattering! What inspires me to travel is perspective. New York City can be such a bubble sometimes where a late subway is the end of the world, a $15 cocktail is cause for arguments and leaving the city feels like you’re falling off the planet. It’s all too easy to get caught up in our lives and wrapped up in the nuances of our routine; but when I travel I find that I find perspective that throws my world back into balance. Traveling exposes you to other cultures, other ways of living, to people with more or less than you and it ultimately leaves you humbled, reflective and thoughtful.
What is your favorite part about traveling?
Good question! My favorite part of traveling are the unforeseen, unplanned, serendipitous moments that make for stories you tell over and over again in years to come. When I travel I hardly plan my trips at all. I will book my flights, arrange my accommodations then take notes on places I’d like to see, but I love to wake up abroad and decide that very morning what I am going to do with my day. Traveling is about breaking routine and I don’t see the point of over planning a trip and squeezing the spontaneity out of it. I find that when a trip is left open; adventure truly comes knocking.
What do you enjoy writing about most?
I love writing about solo traveling because I don’t know if I will ever be able to truly capture just how much solo traveling in Argentina and Uruguay changed my life for the better. My entire life is different after having stepped outside my comfort zone, confronting myself and then making some major life changes that needed to be made back home. Solo traveling amongst women is a rising trend but there are still so many readers that are drawn to the idea of it but afraid to take that leap; it is for those readers that I love writing about this truly inspiring and empowering way of seeing the world.
What is the one thing you cannot travel without?
My Ghope Waterproof camera bag! I travel with my Nikon DSLR D3200, my camera lenses, my iPhone (I’m an Instagram addict), my journals, my pens and all of it is housed in this amazing camera bag.
How did you get into travel writing/photography?
I studied journalism and always had a love of writing but after graduating I ended up stumbling into the world of advertising and straying from that passion for the written word. My writing lived on the peripheral of my life in the form of a blog here, journal entry there–but it wasn’t until I decided to start my travel blog did I refocus on my writing. Once I founded The Pin the Map Project, I began freelance travel writing (which went hand in in hand with my photography) for multiple publications including FOOD & WINE, The Daily Meal, etc.
What’s next for you? What are your future travel plans? What are your goals for 2015?
I am headed to Colombia in two weeks on assignment for VICE, which I am beyond excited about! Then I have plans to solo travel to Morocco in collaboration with Top Deck Travels, then to Europe sometime in the late summer and then solo traveling to Vietnam with Contiki in September. My goals for 2015 is to just continue growing and evolving The Pin the Map Project and my freelance travel writing.
What do you like most about being in a new place?
I love discovering a new place by wandering around the city and its markets and trying the local street food. As I said before, travel is really about breaking routine and stepping outside your comfort zone so I love visiting a new place and having that sense of discovery and awe that around every corner is something new and unexpected.
What song is always on your travel playlist?
It’s not so much a song as it is a whole album! I am currently OBSESSED with the soundtrack from The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. The songs are just beautiful, calming and inspiring; they really resonate with me and I listen to the soundtrack every time I am on a flight.
What other hobbies do you have aside from travel and writing?
The Pin the Map Project takes up a lot of time as it is a constant effort to update it multiple times a week, build its traffic, maintain its social media and look for partnership opportunities with brands. Outside The Pin the Map Project and my freelancing, I enjoy watching documentaries with my boyfriend and going out to eat in New York City with him and friends!
All photos were provided by Nikki.