Today’s interview is with female travel blogger and TV star La Carmina.
What is your name?
Which country do you come from/call home?
Proud to be Canadian, although I’m constantly on the road these days.
Are you a backpacker/long term traveller/business traveller/live and work abroad?
I travel at least once a month for my work as a professional blogger (at http://www.lacarmina.com/blog), journalist and TV host.
How do you fund your travel (savings/work whilst travelling/other)?
My trips are sponsored by tourism boards or travel companies, or are part of my work in television. For example, I’m often in Japan to be in TV programs.
What is the first trip you remember taking and how old were you?
I don’t remember my first trip – I went to Hong Kong with my family at age one. We went almost every year when I was a child. My first strong travel memory was going to Disneyland Anaheim around age five. I was mesmerized by the Chip & Dale human-size mascots!
Have you been anywhere which turned out to be totally different to how you imagined? If so, how?
I scouted out quirky places in Milwaukee for my AOL travel video series “Coolhunting Wisconsin”, and was pleasantly surprised by what I found. Locations included a spy bar, cheese castle, House on the Rock, and a kitsch love hotel. You can see my travel TV episodes on my Huff Post page:
Have you had any bad experiences whilst travelling?
Getting lost in the Dubai desert, and being slowly roasted to death on a train with non-functioning air conditioning… However, it’s all part of the experience. I’m lucky to be able to travel with my friends (who double as film makers), and we always find the best in every situation.
Do you have any funny travel stories?
Too many to recount. This year alone, I danced with Star Wars storm troopers in the streets of Tokyo, pretended to be a pirate in the Maldives, and posed with a giant inflated duck in Hong Kong.
Which is the worst place you’ve been to and why?
I can’t say I’ve traveled anywhere that I’ve disliked. Some destinations are more exhilarating than others, but with friends and a willingness to explore local subcultures, I’ve found gems in every place I’ve visited.
Where is your favourite place in the world?
Hard to name only one, but I never tire of going to Tokyo, Japan. The underground fashion, clubs, culture, food and people are unbeatable. I’m fortunate to be here several times a year for my TV hosting jobs.
Do you have a bucket list? If so what is on it?
It’s a rather Gothic list. I’d love to visit Egypt (when it’s safe), Morocco, Istanbul, New Orleans, see more of Asia and South America… and go to dark events like Whitby Gothic Weekend in the UK.
Can you imagine life without travel?
I’ve never experienced life without travel (I’ve been doing long-haul flights since I was a year old). Even if I were bound to one place, I’d be making road trips and quick getaways. Everyone can make travel a part of life.
If you were not travelling what would you be doing instead?
Snuggling my Scottish Fold cat, Basil Farrow. (http://www.lacarmina.com/basilfarrow)
What is the name of your travel blog and the url?
La Carmina blog, http://www.lacarmina.com/blog/
When did you begin your website?
Ages ago, September 2007. La Carmina is rather old in blog-years.
You have a love of fashion and music concerts. Can you make the two work well with your travel plans?
Often, I plan press trips or video shoots around music and style events. I’ve covered NY Fashion Week, Luisaviaroma Firenze4Ever in Florence, Wave Gotik Treffen (Goth music gathering) in Leipzig, Montreal Festival Kinetik, and more. It’s a great way to focus your travel reports. In addition to these events, I also report on other alternative attractions in each destination, such as steampunk stores and fetish bars.
Please tell us about your work as a Travel TV host?
My blog led to work as a TV presenter and local production coordinator, or fixer. Producers found my site and invited me to be a guest expert on various shows, usually about Asia. To date, my travel television work includes World’s Weirdest Restaurants (Food Network), Bizarre Foods (Travel Channel), Oddities (Discovery) and Taboo (National Geographic). I also travel constantly with a 2-person professional film crew; we produce 3-5 minute videos about international destinations including the Maldives, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Hong Kong, Japan, Maui and more. These are published on Business Insider, Huffington Post Travel and my own site.
You say that you have a love of underground youth travel. Please explain what “underground youth travel” is and why it appeals to you?
Many of my readers are young like me (age teens to 30s) and identify with subcultures such as Goth, Industrial, Harajuku. Since La Carmina Blog is a personal chronicle of my travels, my posts are naturally geared towards their interests. Popular posts include visiting Japanese Victorian designers in Harajuku, celebrating Day of the Dead in Mexico, and dancing at an Italo Disco club in Milan.
How did you get involved with a team from The Amazing Race?
The Amazing Race Goth duo, Kent and Vyxsin, are part of the LA Goth scene and we have many mutual friends. We actually met at a Gothic clothing booth at Magic tradeshow in Las Vegas, a few years ago. Obviously, we share a love of spooky things and traveling, and have been close ever since. We
also collaborated on a video about how to pack effectively (they’re the experts, after all!)
Why do you write (for money/connecting with people/therapeutic/fun)?
I was a writer long before I started blogging, and have several books published (available at http://www.lacarmina.com/books.php). I started my
blog as a creative outlet; I enjoyed sharing photos and stories, especially about alt lifestyle and culture. I didn’t think this hobby would lead anywhere, but blogging took off and led to opportunities I never imagined — including international travel.
Do you have any products or services to offer?
I run “La Carmina & The Pirates” – http://www.lacarmina.com/pirates – a TV
fixing and coordination company. Since I run a popular blog about Tokyo fashion and food, I kept getting emails from producers, asking me to arrange shows and host shows about these subjects. My First Mate Naomi and I began this production company to offer these services, and we’ve been
working nonstop since. Some people call us coolhunters, as we give insight and access to underground cultures, and film TV shows in Japan and worldwide. You can see my travel television clips at http://www.lacarmina.com/bio.php; they include The Doctors, The Today Show, Food Network, Fuel TV.
What has been your most successful blog post to date and what was it about?
My Tokyo shopping guide is especially popular:
It includes photos, addresses, maps and info about Gothic Lolita Punk boutiques and department stores in Harajuku, Shibuya, Shinjuku and more.
What has been your favourite article to write either for your blog or another publication?
My Japan nightlife stories are always fun to tell, especially since the outfits and fetish culture is wild. The best Tokyo Goth clubs and bars are complied in this post:
What is your favourite mode of transport? (plane/train/boat/car)
Teleportation would be nice, but I don’t mind any of these forms of transportation. Although of course, the more luxurious the arrangement, the better.
Do you have any advice or tips for aspiring travellers?
Many people are put off by the costs, but there are many ways to travel on a budget, such as by renting apartments instead of hotel rooms. I encourage travelers to start small — try a road trip or weekend getaway. Wanderlust is contagious, so surround yourself with fellow travel enthusiasts; network
at events, and share connections. Finally, if you don’t have much experience, consider joining a tour (such as one geared to younger people) to get your feet wet.
What has travel taught you?
Patience, storytelling, planning, flexibility, courage, inspiration.
Quick fire questions:-
Favourite airline? I had a great experience with Emirates.
Favourite country? In terms of living, my home of Canada.
Favourite city? Tokyo is hard to beat.
Favourite beach? Gili Lankanfushi resort’s private beach in the Maldives.
Favourite food? Seafood in its many forms, all around the world.
Favourite language? Italian.
Please provide the following:-
Website url? http://www.lacarmina.com
Twitter handle? http://www.twitter.com/lacarmina
Facebook page? http://www.facebook.com/lacarminaofficial
Google+ profile/page? https://plus.google.com/115943635120771772548?%20