Its my pleasure to interview Elena Sergeeva on my blog, She writes for two of her blogs Passion for Greece and Passion for Dubai. I first met her at Arabian Travel Market‘s Blogger Speed Networking event. Since then I am a regular reader of her blog and love to learn read her travel adventures. Its always fascinating to hear from blogger about their travel stories and experiences. Lets see what Elena has to share with us in today’s interview..
Tell us a little about yourself and what you do?
I come from a hospitality background. I completed my first degree in Hotel Management from Alpine Centre The Swiss Business School for International Hotel & Tourism Management Education and hold a masters degree in International Hospitality and Tourism Leadership from the University of Wales. For over a decade I worked for the Sales and Marketing departments of luxury Greek hotel chains. My last role was as Director of Admissions and Career & Placement at Alpine Centre. In the end of 2012 I decided to quit my corporate career and to pursue my passions and to become an entrepreneur. Today I run my own Marketing consulting business and I am also a full time travel blogger. I publish several travel blogs, two of which are destination blogs — Passion for Greece and Passion for Dubai and Passion for Hospitality where I cover all the rest of the destinations which I visit. I have also been invited as a keynote speaker at Medical Tourism Conferences in Greece, Dubai and Jordan to address on the subject of storytelling in marketing a health tourism destination.
How you started with travel blogging?
In 2011 when I was completing my dissertation for my Master’s on the use of Social Media in Luxury Hotels in Greece, I realised the potential and future of blogging. I was fascinated by the achievements of some of the top fashion bloggers in the world, there was clearly a market for travel blogging too. I was always into marketing. Of course back in the days when I was working as a Marketing Executive the focus was more on the traditional media, but trends have changed and the social presence is a vital component of a successful marketing strategy.
What’s your travel style?
My travel style was always mostly about luxury travel and because of my hotelier background I made it a priority to visit and experience some of the best addresses, whenever it was possible. Even if I was not staying in a specific hotel I would go there for a dinner or a drink. I love hotels and I am always fascinated to experience the level of service and attention to detail. I have stayed a few times in an Airbnb, it all depends on the trip. Other times I stay in budget hotels, it all depends on the duration and the type of trip.
What are your favorite travel experiences so far?
I would say that every travel experience is unique in its own way. Every trip that I have taken has enriched me. One of my favorite cities is New York, there is something about the energy that excites me. From catching a musical on Broadway to the fantastic performances at the MET, shopping, the diverse cultures and the dining scene. New York is definitely special. My trip to Thailand for TBEX Asia was also a unique experience, I fell in love with the culture and look forward to going back. The hospitality in Thailand was fantastic. Another memorable trip was the one to Stockholm last summer to attend TBEX Europe, hiking on rooftops and the adventurous RIB cruise through the Stockholm Archipelago definitely is on my list of the top experiences. Petra in Jordan that’s also one of my favourite experiences. It’s hard to choose as I love to travel and every trip which I have taken is unique.
Talking about favorite experiences what was your worst experience ?
My worst experience was being stuck in Koh Samui for an extra day as funny as it may sound because of weather conditions and all flights were cancelled. We didn’t know if we would fly out the next day either so we were on standby from the morning. But then again we cannot blame Mother Nature can we. This resulted in having to pay extra to change my return to Athens, Greece and an extra night in a hotel but that’s a lesson learned. Sometimes unexpected costs come up, that’s the beauty of travel.
Can one make a living out of blogging?
We travel bloggers get asked this question all the time. How do you make money blogging? Most successful travel bloggers out there would agree that you can’t put all your eggs in one basket and income comes from various sources. Some publish travel books or guides, online courses, write for other publications and work on various collaborative projects. Everyone chooses what works best for them and depending on their individual talent.
Why did you start traveling? What made you fall in love with it?
I have been travelling since I was little with my parents. So I guess I got the travel bug from a young age. Travel makes me happy, that feeling of meeting new cultures and people, tasting different foods and just going to a new environment. It breaks that ordinary routine and makes life extraordinary.
Honestly how do you manage expenses? Can you give me a practical day to day example of your costs involved?
I used to be terrible at managing expenses and instead splurge on shopping. Once you start managing your own business and when you start blogging (and you are not making millions lol ) you have to be careful with money and basically evaluate what’s important. Our income is not always stable. Its all about priories and everyones priorities are different. It all comes down to choice. When people say they can’t afford to travel but they go out and spend hundreds of Euros on drinks in one night or other stuff well that’s just choices. You can get a ticket to another country and pay less than you would on a casual night out. I prefer to invest in experiences now rather than in material stuff, because the best investments I have made are the trips that I have taken.
Do you have travel insurance? how did you pick one?
No, I don’t just a private health insurance. I am not sure which travel insurance is the best as I haven’t looked into it.
How do you manage to get perks/upgrades/etc based on your traveling lifestyle?
I was late at signing up for all the loyalty programs, trying to get more organized now. But sometimes I just email the hotel and ask for a possibility of an upgrade. Sometimes it works. I guess if you don’t ask you don’t get.
Have you ever fallen in love on the roads? Tell me about it?
Some years ago I did and it changed me in many ways. It’s the kind of love that pushed me out of my comfort zone to quit my job and to pursue my passions. It didn’t work out though in the end but good things came out of it.
Have you ever come face to face with some extra-ordinary experience? What was it ?
I am scared of heights and last summer my friend and business partner signed us up on a rooftop hiking tour in Stockholm. I still can’t believe how I managed to do that. But I am a firm believer that we must face our fears.
Do you feel burnt out by constant traveling? Yes, then how do you deal with it? No, then how do you go about it?
There was a time that I felt exhausted as I was travelling non-stop for a couple of months. My base is in Athens so there are days when I just arrive for a change of suitcase and hit the road again. We must understand that we need to give our bodies a break, that’s why I have given myself a short break from travelling this summer to catch up on all the work that has piled up. That’s why slow travel is great and now I understand why some of my travel blogger friends follow this kind of routine or spending longer time at a destination. Otherwise it just gets too much and you can burn out easily. Being creative, productive and on the move 24/7 isn’t easy and as glamorous as it might seem.
Some traveling hacks, which is generally not known by people?
I don’t really consider myself a travel hack guru, but I use Skyscanner to check flights. Or generally its best to book things online, like museums and other attractions in order to avoid queues.
How many times a year you go on travel trips?
The past year feels like I have been on a constant trip. Pretty much a trip or two every month, sometime more.
What’s your advice for those aspiring travel bloggers who want to start blogging?
As glamorous as it may seem, travel blogging is hard work and it’s not all about free trips. It’s more work than one can imagine and it never stops. Those who have made blogging their career have given up on something else. You sacrifice a lot of personal time and relationships as well, because not everyone you have known will support your chosen career path. It can get lonely, frustrating and stressful. It’s a full time commitment. It’s one thing to start a blog and another to maintain it. Oh and it helps to have great blogger friends, because they are the only ones who will understand your blogger problems.