Those of you who are networked in the online travel sphere will be familiar with today’s travel guest. Amazingly, she got laid off from a great job at a very well-respected brand, and made the leap into making her name online. It’s a great story, but warning: do not read this interview while hungry! Don’t say I didn’t warn you. And with that, let’s meet Liz Borod Wright.
Can you introduce yourself?
I live in New York City with my husband. I’m one of the rare native New Yorkers — born and raised right in Manhattan. Aside from traveling and blogging, I like photography, art and skiing.
I launched my travel site, Travelogged.com in January 2009. I had just gotten laid off from my job as a senior web editor at Zagat and I decided that I wanted to create my own website. I immediately knew that it would be dedicated to my favorite subject: travel. I had worked at as a writer/editor at ABCNews.com, Fortune.com and other publications but the whole time I had dreamed about writing travel.
You used to be an editor at Zagat, so you must be a foodie! Any tips for the world’s best foodie destinations (or just foods that are worth travelling for)?
There’s never been a better time for eating – you can find great food in so many towns and cities these days as long as you do your research! Don’t just let yourself get hungry and stumble into the first place you see. (Although I will confess that blind luck was how we discovered the best gelateria in Italy.)
The research can be as simple as asking the front desk at your hotel for recommendations, or as in-depth as reading local publications or travel magazines weeks before you arrive at your destination to plot out your meals. No matter whose advice I’m considering – an esteemed critic, a guidebook, a concierge, a local you meet there or a friend who’s visited– I liked to check out reviews on the internet from real diners who have been there. For example, I’ve noticed that the quality of user reviews on Yelp.com has really increased throughout the years. It was through that kind of dedication that I found some incredible pizza in Park City, Utah.
Andy: I’m finding a lot of luck with Yelp and some of the review sites. It’s worth Googling around before you leave home. But nothing beats serendipity – well kept local secrets are well kept for a reason.
We’ve had lots of previous interview guests based in NYC. Care to tell us about your secret NYC tips?
Whenever I tell people who have never been to New York City that they have to come here at least once in their lives, I say it’s because they have to experience the energy, scale and vitality of the city. To me, that’s what distinguishes New York from the rest. Also, visitors should do their best to stay out of insanely crowded and touristy Times Square – I know I do. OK, you can go there if that’s where your Broadway theater is located, but you should get out ASAP.
When you go the Metropolitan Museum of Art – and I hope that all visitors to try to make it there – take some time to explore Central Park and the Upper East Side. This residential area is a piece of real New York, and it’s a great way to see how New Yorkers actually live. Well, you’ll mostly be seeing how the really rich live – especially from Fifth Ave to Park Ave. But it’s sure worth a stroll. If you walk further east, you’ll see how regular Manhattanites live. All in all, I think it’s a great window into city life – and one with beautiful architecture. The Whitney Museum, my absolute favorite, is a nice walk down Madison Ave. from the Met.
For a more hip experience (which is not hard to find when you’re comparing it to the Upper East Side), head to The High Line. This new outdoor space along the Hudson River has been built on defunct elevated train tracks – it’s really cool. It runs from the Meatpacking District to 34th Street, but you should exit in the low 20s so you can visit the galleries in Chelsea. Those streets are absolutely packed with them, you can just duck in and duck out and see some of the world’s best contemporary art for free.
If you go to Chinatown, eat at Joe’s Ginger. It has the exact same famous soup dumplings as Joe’s Shanghai, but you won’t have the long wait.
Andy: I did the Highline this summer on my visit. Highly recommend – especially on a sunny day, with a coffee in hand – fantastic!
You’ve been to so many amazing places. How do you choose your next travel destination?
There’s never been a rhyme or reason to how I choose my next destination. The list of where I want to go seems endless, and the more I travel the longer it gets. In many cases, it’s wherever I can convince my husband would be a great place for us to visit!
In the past year, I’ve had some terrific travel opportunities open up to me because I’m a blogger. It’s been really exciting to see my hard work pay off and to get to go to places that might have taken me years to get to otherwise, like Wales, Alaska and Grenada.
What’s been your most inspirational travel experience?
That’s a tough one because most places I see inspire me – I almost always feel reenergized from the experience of seeing someplace or something new. Two places with otherworldly natural beauty immediately come to mind – and they couldn’t be more different from each other. Just knowing that places like this exist keeps my travel flame lit.
This past summer, I went on a cruise and a land our in Alaska. Everything was incredible from start to finish, but for me it was the glaciers that stood out. Probably since I had been hearing about them since the third grade. Not only area they beautiful and like nothing I had ever seen before, but they’re disappearing. I had the chance to take a helicopter to a glacier near Denali National park and walk around on it. On the cruise, we spent a day sailing through Glacier Bay National Park, which has to be the most beautiful place I’ve ever been.
The summer before, I went to the Cappodocia region of Turkey. Unlike Alaska, I barely knew anything about it until I started researching it. I bought the Lonely Planet guidebook for Turkey knowing that I was going to Istanbul, and Cappodocia was the cover photo. I was like, I’m going there too! I absolutely loved it. The rock formations are so incredible, and but then when you see that homes and churches were carved out of them, it just brings it to whole other level.
If you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would it be?
Lately I’ve had Sweden on my mind and I’m pretty sure it’s because I just finished the third Steig Larsson novel. But if I could truly go absolutely anywhere in the world, I would do a trek through Bhutan.