East Coast Contessas is a food, travel and lifestyle publication based in New York City and Washington D.C. founded by best friends and foodies, Karen Hopkins and Alex Booze.
While East Coast Contessas strives to bring a new and inspiring perspective on the world, they haven’t been everywhere — but it’s definitely on their list. To find out more about this best friend blogging duo, check out their IQPlanner profile.
Through their partnerships with more than 200 hotels, restaurants, tourism boards, and consumer brands across 9 countries and dozens of US cities since October 2015, they have experienced countless once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
For the duo, blogging isn’t always about luxury, grandiose gestures, or expensive gifts or meals: it’s about the relationships.
These relationships not only teach them about other cultures, beliefs, and ways of life, but also teaches them how to be more compassionate and more open-minded human beings.
Their hope is that their adventures, in some small way, spark that very same passion in their readers.
Why did you start travel blogging? How long have you been doing it?
We’re best friends from college and were tired of the ‘same ole same ole’ in our last jobs. We were chatting (complaining) via Gchat one day in the spring of 2015, and realised we had 2 more things in common: we loved food and travel, and we were bored!
We needed something new in our lives to shake things up. We started out by sharing photos of every meal on Instagram: the ones we cooked at home, weekend brunch, Starbucks cups (lots of Starbucks!), and pastries from local bakeries.
One day, we came to the realisation that we could take it a step further and form partnerships with the restaurants and business we highlighted on our social media platforms, treating our posts as advertisements. Almost 2 years later, the rest as they say, is history.
Name your top 3 most memorable places?
There are so many! If we had to choose:
Rome, Italy: the food and Roman ruins. Standing in the middle of the Colosseum was surreal!
Prague, Czech Republic: the people, the culture, the fried cheese squares....oh, and the pilsner!
Toronto, Ontario, Canada (Eva's original chimney cones — check them out if you’re unfamiliar, the CN Tower, and sailing on Lake Ontario on an old pirate ship.
What’s the best thing about being a travel blogger?
All the wonderful and inspiring people we meet!
Whether we’re grabbing dinner at the local dive bar to feature their newest fried pickle/flaming grilled cheese doughnut concoction, or travelling halfway around the world to stay at the best 5-star hotel, everything is an adventure!
We’re grateful that we can experience every single one.
And the worst?! (if there is one)
To be honest, there aren’t many ‘downsides’ to being a blogger. However, if we had to pick one, we’d probably say jet lag!
Long flights and cramped spaces mean we’ll more than likely be exhausted (and a bit irritable) when we finally arrive at our destination.
We don't let this stop us, though. We just grab a cup of our favorite coffee or an extra-large gelato cone and hit the streets. We have a world to explore, folks!
Give your top tip to a blogger starting out
Never give up! It might seem difficult to establish a following and a name for yourself at first, but that's because it is!
In the beginning, meet as many people as you can, and never think you're above writing that review for the tiny bakery next door or posting an ad for the strange looking kombucha beverage that shows up on your doorstep (we have done both).
Besides, nothing worth having ever comes easy, right?
Hotel freebies: take ‘em’ or leave ‘em’?
We always take advantage of hotel freebies! Who doesn’t love free things? We’ve even made baskets in our bathrooms at home filled with all the travel size toiletries collected from the various hotels we’ve partnered with.
They’re super convenient to have on hand when guests come visit. Plus, they save us money on having to buy more travel-sized toiletries when we fly!
What’s at the top of your list for destinations this year?
We’ve been bitten by the travel bug and don’t think our thirst for adventure is going anywhere anytime soon.
Everywhere is on our list, but if we had to pick, our top 3 destinations to travel in 2017 would be Croatia, Ireland and Tulum, Mexico.
Why should people subscribe to your page?
People should subscribe to our blog because when they do, they'll get their hands on an exclusive pre-travel packing check list for free! Yes, free.
Our travel checklist is essential and comes in handy for anyone who gets easily stressed when preparing for a trip.
We also love to share a number of fun and ‘off the beaten path’ travel guides to each of the cities we visit, along with fun, realistic vlogs (including bloopers).
When followers subscribe, we recommend they do so on an empty stomach: a significant portion of our blog pertains to restaurant reviews and homemade recipes!
What’s the most unusual thing you’ve eaten on your travels?
Fried Conch Shell Fritters during our time in the Bahamas last Thanksgiving. We discovered that conch meat is a delicacy in the Caribbean, and all of the locals swore that we couldn’t leave the island until we tried a basket at the local dive bar. We can’t wait to go back for more someday!
Surprisingly, many will find that they don't need to leave the comfort of their own home (or city) to get their hands on unusual food.
In the heart of the Big Apple, we let our adventurous side take over, as we ate a chicken heart from a Brazilian pop-up restaurant called Selvaged.
To be honest, it wasn’t the most appealing dish we’ve ever had...and don’t think we’ll have it again! Oh, the beauty of blogging.
Name a place, city, or country where you feel happiest?
This might be different for both of us. For Karen, Rome’s the city where she feels the happiest. She was swept away by the charm and the rich history of the ancient city.
Rome’s also a foodie’s paradise — nothing beats authentic hand-crafted Italian food with fresh baked bread and olive oil!
Alex feels happiest in Prague, Czech Republic. The cobblestoned streets, the red clay roofs on top of colourful town homes, and the fact that it's the only city in Europe that wasn't devastated by World War II transports travellers back in time to a real life fairytale!
Alex is also a huge fan of the traditional ‘smažený sýr’, a dish of deep-fried cheese served with french fries. They’re life changing!
Where’s your next adventure?
At the time of writing, our next adventure will take place in Orlando and Tampa, Florida at the end of June. We'll be a completing a press trip for the official tourism board of the Sunshine State, VisitFL.
Then we’re off on an 8-day cruise throughout the Netherlands Antilles to the South American coast of Venezuela in late August. We’re also in the process of planning a trip to Tulum, Mexico in October.
As you can see, we’re all about the tropics this year!
Follow up on East Coast Contessas next adventures by clicking on any of the links below.