Alex and his wife Bell are the married duo behind the hugely successful Wanderlust Marriage.
Writer and travel consultant, Alex, co-founded Wanderlust Marriage Travel in 2012. He previously worked in the academic health sector as an editor and writer, including at Trinity College Dublin.
Bell’s a scientist who earned her PhD from the University of Amsterdam. She also edits photos for the Wanderlust Marriage website and social media channels. The pair currently reside in Washington, D.C. Head to their IQPlanner profile page to find out more.
Why did you start travel blogging? How long have you been doing it?
I started travel blogging 5 years ago. We’d recently moved to Dublin after living in Amsterdam for 3 and a half years.
At that point, we’d already travelled to over 35 countries and had lived together in Australia, the US, Holland and Ireland. We felt like we had a lot of tips and stories to share for travellers and expats.
Name your top 3 most memorable places?
Brugge, Belgium. This is where my wife and I first met at the Bauhaus hostel. We were both travelling solo just after finishing college. Brugge is a beautiful town packed with great chocolate, beer and food!
Bangkok. After not seeing each other for 2 and a half years, we reunited at Bangkok Airport. We timed our flights to come in around the same time. Bell flew directly from Australia, and I stopped over in Seoul for a few days flying from the US. Bangkok's energy is crazy with all the tuk-tuks, water taxis and street vendors. Beautiful temples and wonderful food too.
Chania, Greece. They say the people make a place, and Chania has some of the friendliest and most hospitable people. The old Venetian colony has a wonderful harbour dotted with colourful buildings and great places to eat. It’s one of the foodie capitals of Greece, with great beaches nearby and a vibrant nightlife.
The narrow streets of the lovely and historic old town ooze charm and romance. Stay in a small privately-run hotel in the old town during off-peak season like we did (early November 2016) and you’ll fall in love with the place.
What’s the best thing about being a travel blogger?
It’s wonderful to share interesting travel stories and to help spread the good word about other cultures and different places. It’s nice to be part of a bridge, as opposed to a barrier between people.
It’s also great to have creative flexibility. You can be your own publishing outlet, and have control over the stories you want to share — as opposed to always having to answer to someone.
When you start making money, you’ll have people to answer to, but you have the freedom to say no to things you aren’t comfortable with.
And the worst?! (if there is one)
Friends and family get jealous sometimes so it can cause issues in relationships. Many travel bloggers throw around quotes like 'travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer.' I find that a little judgemental because everyone has a different journey.
And imagine if everyone wanted to travel? It’s already packed in the most popular places! I sometimes feel guilty posting beautiful photos when I know some people are having a rough time just paying their bills. Also, for most travel bloggers, the money isn’t very good and images can over-romanticise their life experience.
Give your top tip to a blogger starting out
Find the travel niche you’re most passionate about and focus on that. Strive to become an expert in that niche.
Hotel freebies: take ‘em’ or leave ‘em’?
As travel blogging usually doesn’t pay very well, it’s nice to get hosted stays on occasion. We have to be careful using the word 'free' though because there’s usually an expectation of a blog post write up and social media coverage.
What’s at the top of your list for destinations this year?
We travelled a lot the first part of the year between 2 weeks in Mexico and a road trip around the southeast of the US from Florida to Washington, DC.
Greece is a big trip coming up! We’re planning a family trip in October and I’m in charge of the itinerary. We’re going to meet my dad and brother over there. I’m thinking to start putting together a guide to Greek food.
Why should people subscribe to your page?
We’ve now been to 50 countries and lived in 7 cities together over our 12+ year marriage. So, our readers get great info and cultural insight from around the world.
We also occasionally do prize giveaways and always strive to offer great value for our readers!
What’s the most unusual thing you’ve eaten on your travels?
Probably grasshoppers in Mexico City. Our friend that lives there encouraged us to try them, saying they were crunchy and slightly nutty.
We’d always previously passed on eating bugs- most notably in cities like Bangkok and Beijing (there was no way we were touching those scorpions on a stick!). We’d eat the grasshoppers again though — they actually work well as a garnish.
Name a place, city, or country where you feel happiest?
Pretty much anyplace along the Mediterranean Sea in Europe. We love Spain, south of France, Italy, Croatia and Greece.
There are so many beautiful towns in this region with wonderful food and a laid-back lifestyle. It’s always a wonderful break from the rat race of big cities.
Where’s your next adventure?
The next one planned is Greece…again!
A trip high on our list is Helsinki, Tallinn, Estonia and a ferry to St. Petersburg. If you go by ferry to St. Petersburg you can stay for 72 hours on a free visa, and avoid the expense and hassle of obtaining a Russian visa.
Last year we visited China on a free 72-hour transit visa multiple times — it’s a great money saving travel hacking tip when you can swing it!
As we’re big foodies, Sicily remains very high on our list. Palermo is regarded as one of the world’s best cities for street food, and Sicily in general is one of the foodie capitals of Italy.
There’s also great ruins, volcanoes and the sea- seems like a perfect place for a vacation!
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