The Cultureur is a mixture between luxury travel blog and online cultural magazine, which went live in summer 2012. As this site might be of interest to all global minds with a taste for the fine things in life, we have interviewed its globe-trotting founder and editor.
1) Please tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you originally from? What’s your background?
A little bit about myself… to start with, I’m from California, born and raised in Orange County. Up until last year, I was living abroad for the past seven years, moving around from London to New Delhi to Berlin to Paris, and loving every minute of it (looking forward to returning to expat life soon!).
I have a Master’s from the London School of Economics and I’m pursuing my JD/MBA in a few months. Talk to me about travel, social media, global cultures, good food and wine (cocktails definitely count!), international development, and/or fashion, and I’m all ears!
2) When and why did you decide to start blogging about your many experiences abroad?
I pretty much started The Cultureur on a whim in August 2012. On one hand, it seems like just yesterday I was buying the domain and pushing the “publish” button for my very first post, but on another note, it seems like I’ve been doing it forever! But either way, I’m loving the whole learning process, and I’m so grateful for the overwhelming response and support that I have received over the last seven months.
When I think about it, the creation of The Cultureur was a subconscious decision that had been brewing for many years. I’ve been freelance writing for various online and print publications for the past several years and have always wanted to start my own magazine, and in our self-publishing era, it’s as easy as ever now!
Another deciding factor was that I was always the travel consultant for friends and family, and I would always be asked about best hotels, restaurants, things to do/see, etc., so I figured it would be easier to direct everyone to one website that contained all my tips, stories, and ideas, instead of sending out emails every time someone had a question.
Once I got started, I began realizing things about my own travel style, and refining my goal for what I wanted to accomplish through this new venture. I wanted not only to chronicle my personal travels and share my stories and experiences with friends and family, but also to fuse my wide array of interests on one platform to inspire the greater public about all the gems and beauty the world has to offer.
As one to seek out the finer things in life, I didn’t want my website to be just another luxury travel blog that is all about the best hotels, restaurants, etc. of my travels. While you’ll find all that jazz, I also wanted to incorporate other areas of interest that included delving into the local culture and bringing light to pressing international social issues that you encounter along the way. It’s for this reason I refer to The Cultureur as a hybrid luxury travel blog and digital cultural magazine. Given the nature of the content, my mantra is to inform, inspire, and incite.
3) Which topics do you cover regularly? Is there one topic that is especially important to you, and why?
To be honest, I cover a wide variety of topics, all that interests me and all that is important to me, spanning ideas of classic luxury travel to international development to local culture. Like I mentioned earlier, The Cultureur is not just another luxury travel blog where you’ll only find the top hotels and restaurants around the world. My purpose through the site is to introduce a redefined idea of luxury that lies at the cusp of local culture and classic luxury travel, and to create a network of socially-conscious travelers that focus on the overall experience, rather than just the appearance of a destination.
I strongly refute the idea that staying at five-star hotels or dining at upscale restaurants makes you any less cultured or informed about the destination, as my travel style aims to combine the best of both worlds. While you’ll see me staying at Hôtel de Crillon in Paris and dining at Michelin-starred Alinea in Chicago, you will also find me teaching English in the slums of New Delhi, driving down unpaved roads on a safari in Uganda, and sampling some of the best street food Mexico City has to offer (even if it made me sick the next day!).
4) Do you have any favorite blog entries that you’d like to recommend to all new readers?
I’d say all of them! Ha. I can be an out of control perfectionist sometimes, meaning I’ll fret over every single word, comma, and idea before I publish my posts. For that reason, it is my hope that through every post, the overwhelming passion for travel and all that it brings radiates through every written word.
5) In which countries have you lived for a longer time? Did you enjoy a particular destination most, and why?
I’ve lived in the United States, United Kingdom, India, France, and Germany for extended periods of time and in multiple capacities—work, studying abroad in college, Master’s degree, volunteering, etc. And to be honest, I’ve loved all my experiences!
From studying abroad in New Delhi to being a Fulbright journalism scholar in Berlin to working at the U.S. Mission to UNESCO in Paris, each adventure has been wildly unique and incredibly memorable. Not only has every experience given me a bank of insider tips on the local culture, but it has also given me an incredible opportunity to probe different facets of my personality and to uncover new interests, passions, and aspirations.
6) What are your favorite travel destinations? Do you have a couple of insider tips for them?
Having been to more than 40 different countries, this is a question I’m asked often, and one that I always find a bit troubling because every place has its unique beauty and dose of fabulousness, if you just allow yourself to see it. With that said, if I absolutely had to choose my top destinations that would never cease to pique my interest, London and Paris would most definitely top the list.
Considering both cities are wildly popular and almost always on the mainstream radar of travelers, my advice is to not just see famous Paris/London, but to create your own Paris/London. Look beyond the clichéd itineraries and venture off the beaten path to find hidden gems that even your guidebook would be envious of. Both cities are buzzing with eclectic personalities and interesting styles, making them both prime destinations to people-watch and soak up the local culture. So indulge!
7) What’s your dream journey that you haven’t got around to making yet?
I don’t know why, but my dream destination is Iceland. I’ve been fascinated by the country ever since I learned about it in geography class in school. I have tried to make that trip happen three times now, and every time I’ve had to cancel, either because of volcano eruptions or personal emergencies. I realize this could be a sign from the heavens, but I’m determined as hell to go one day. The Blue Lagoon is calling my name—I can hear it! Fourth time’s a charm, right? 😉
8) Last but not least: what’s the most important thing that you have learned while abroad?
Better question is what haven’t I learned from traveling? It’s the constant discovery about the world we live in and the high level of introspection that accompanies each experience that fuels my globetrotting drive. After my first expat experience, I quickly learned that travel was not just a hobby, but a lifestyle for me.
(Photocredit: Nyssa@The Cultureur.com 1) The editor herself 2) Guzzling down tacos in Mexico City 3) Berlin Fashion Week)