For our Travel Blogger Thursday interview series, we talked to Natalie of Cosmos Mariners about travel and blogging. It’s very fitting that she’s a travel blogger as she loves both writing and traveling! She’s a part-time traveler based in Charleston, South Carolina who travels as much as possible. Cosmos Mariners focuses on the history of a place, as well as the culture, the literature, and the arts. I’m a big fan of learning while I travel, so I adore this aspect of travel writing! Let’s learn more about Natalie!
What inspires you to travel and what do you enjoy most about traveling?
Since I was very young, I’ve loved going to see new places and meet new people. We moved around a lot when I was a child because of my dad’s job in banking, so I was used to making friends at new schools and finding a space for myself in a brand new town. Throughout my childhood, my parents also put a huge emphasis on family trips: one year, we drove from South Carolina to Pennsylvania, and another summer, we drove from New York City to Prince Edward Island. We were always on the move, and, now, as an adult, I get restless if I don’t travel regularly.
What I love most about traveling is the opportunities that it gives me to learn. I tried very hard to be a professional student and went to school for 22 straight years (a journey that included a year of law school and a British Literature M.A. program) before I decided I better graduate and actually do something with all of the things that I’d learned. Visiting cultural sites, reading about the history of the places I see, and engaging with the people who shape those areas give me such a layered way to learn more about the world continually.
Where is your favourite destination and why?
I will always have a deep love for London: I’ve been several times, and I fall more deeply in love with it during every visit. It was the first place that I visited during my first trip to Europe, and it was my home for four months when I studied abroad during college. It was where I discovered that I adored British Literature—a decision that would later lead me to complete a graduate program and go into teaching college English. London’s present and past are interwoven in this amazing quilt that’s unlike any other place I’ve visited so far.
When did you start to travel, and where did you first visit?
My first trip was to Walt Disney World when I was two, and, according to my parents, I screamed during the entire seven hour car ride. Luckily, I figured out how to be a much better travel buddy in a short amount of time! The first trip that I remember was to California when I was 5, where I rode on an airplane for the first time, petted stingrays at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, experienced my first (and only so far!) minor earthquake, and toured the Hearst Mansion.
Why did you start your blog, and what do you enjoy most about blogging?
I started my blog right after I was married in 2010 as a way to keep our family and friends updated on our new lives; it was more of a casual journal, and I wasn’t very consistent in my tone, focus, or postings. In November 2013, I decided to revamp my blog with its new name, Cosmos Mariners: Destination Unknown, and more regular posts. Then, in May 2014, I decided to drop all of the other lifestyle stuff I’d been writing about and focus exclusively on my true love: traveling!
I know it sounds cheesy, but I’ve made some great friends on my blog: they live all across the world, which I think is incredibly indicative of the global age in which we live. Besides the relationships that have been made possible by my blog, my other favorite thing about blogging is the space it allows me to be creative. I adore writing, reading, and traveling, and to have a little corner of the internet where I get to combine all of those things is a dream come true.
What do you like to bring back from the places you’ve visited?
My favorite souvenirs are pictures—lots and lots of pictures! Beyond that, I like gathering up koozies for my Diet Cokes (I’m addicted) and patches (which I sew onto tote bags). My guilty pleasure is purchasing books of local myths, legends, and ghost stories: I’m obsessed with the ways that different cultures and regions discuss the supernatural and share their collective fears.
You travel with an extreme allergy to shellfish. What tips do you have for anyone traveling with an allergy or a dietary restriction?
My biggest advice would be to know when to walk away. I’m so allergic to seafood that simply drinking after or using the napkin of someone who’s eaten lobster, crab, or shrimp can cause me to break out in hives or get violently sick. I avoid seafood in its whole forms, but I have to be super careful about places that use the same oil to fry shellfish, chicken, and vegetables, or the same space to cut all of their items. I always ask about their cooking set up, and, if I don’t like the answer, I get up and leave. It’s so awkward to walk out of a restaurant with people staring, but I’d rather be embarrassed than have to go to the hospital.
If you have a particular dietary restriction or allergy, never, ever be afraid to ask questions about the preparation and cooking procedures. Don’t be shy because it’s your body that will ultimately be affected.
Where do you plan on visiting next?
I’m really hoping to go to New Orleans, Louisiana, and St. Augustine, Florida, this spring. Then, later this year, I’m headed to Jamaica, Mexico, Haiti, and the Grand Caymans in May, and to Germany, Austria, France, and Luxembourg in October. I’m so excited to see where else my 2015 travels will take me!
Thanks so much for the awesome interview, Natalie! You can visit Natalie’s blog, Cosmos Mariners, and follow along on social media:
On Thursdays, we feature a fellow travel blogger and highlight their journeys around the world. If you’re a travel blogger and would like to be interviewed for this weekly series, please contact us.