Ladies We Love is an interview series with women from around the world that provide us inspiration through their travels and their personal stories. This week we got to know Vanessa Rivers, Co-Founder/Editor of We Are Travel Girls.
For our regular readers you probably already know who Vanessa Rivers is, but for new visitors to our site then let us tell you a bit about Vanessa. Vanessa is a California girl, living in London with her family. She has just had her first child, a little travel girl named Sadie who recently turned 4 months old. Vanessa is pretty busy with getting used to motherhood, but still finds time for all her entrepreneurial ventures – an eco swimwear line Summerlove Swimwear, a travel blog Glitter and Mud and of course being the co-founder of We Are Travel Girls. This week, Vanessa took some time to share what motivates her to keep working, her favourite travel destinations and experiences and tips on how to travel with a new baby!
1) For our readers who don’t already know you, can you tell us a bit about yourself. Where you are from, your family, your passions and travel style?
I’m a small town California girl. I grew up on a farm on the Central Coast of California and went to College at UC Santa Barbara where I fell in love with surfing. My husband loves to travel so we have gone on a lot of adventures together including moving to London. I’ve been living here now for five years and while I miss the beach every day I do have to say you can’t beat living in Europe where it is easy to hop on a weekend flight to so many amazing places. I also have a new baby girl who was born in May so she is keeping me very busy these days!
2) You have been blogging at GlitterandMud.com for several years, can you tell us about how you got started travel blogging and some of the important things you learnt along the way.
I couldn’t really afford to travel much in my younger years but I always found a way to go on little surf trips, usually staying in surf hostels or sleeping in my surfboard bag on the beach! It’s funny but I really miss those days! I was so carefree! After college I started traveling a lot with my then boyfriend, now husband, Steve. Steve loves going to fun party places like St Tropez and Miami, so I decided to start documenting our adventures on GlitterandMud.com. What began as a hobby eventually turned into a full-time job and then led me to become a founder of WATG. If you love something enough you can always figure out a way to make it your life!
3) As well as your blog, and being a co-founder of We Are Travel Girls, you also have an eco swimwear line. Can you tell us how you stay motivated and juggle all of these entrepreneurial pursuits?
I’ve always been an entrepreneur at heart. I started my first little business in grade school making puff paint t-shirts and selling them to my friends. Then I started raising Guinea Pigs and selling them to pet stores. And in college I started my first real company giving private surf lessons. As a surfer I saw a lack of cute eco-friendly suits on the market so of course then I had to start a sustainable bikini line. Being an entrepreneur is just part of who I am. Life is short and you only get this one chance to change the world for the better so you just have to go for it and try anything and everything that you feel strongly about. You might not succeed at everything, in fact you will fail more times than you succeed, but at least you will be able to look back on your life without regret.
4) Why was creating a swimwear line that is eco friendly important to you?
I was raised on a solar powered eco ranch. We had the first electric car in our county. My dad Todd is an amazing advocate for sustainable living and instilled in a deep desire in me to try to do something to help the earth and leave the planet a better place. I started SUMMERLOVE SWIMWEAR because it was hard to find cute eco bikinis and I wanted to show people that you can make beautiful products with a significantly smaller carbon footprint. All my eco bikinis are made from ECONYL, an eco fiber made which is made from recycled materials such as fishing nets that are collected from the sea. So with every bikini purchase you are helping to clean up our oceans and protect the earth for future generations.
5) Tell us about you favourite travel experience to date and why?
Being invited to visit and review of Nihiwatu was hands down my favorite travel experience thus far. Nihiwatu was voted #1 hotel in the world in 2016 and 2017 and I got to surf at their private break with only two other people out. DREAM. COME. TRUE.
6) We know that you love to surf and have surfed in many destinations around the world. Tell us about your favourite surf destinations for beginner and experienced surfers.
My favorite surf spot for beginners is Mondos just south of Santa Barbara. People call it the Waikiki of California because it’s a super mellow, long sand break – perfect for learning! I also love Barbados for fun beginner beach breaks. Toiny Beach in St Barths has a surprisingly good left break for more advanced surfers and of course Nihiwatu.
7) You recently had a daughter, Sadie. Congratulations! How has having a child changed the way that you travel?
I am going to be doing a lot of family travel now that I have Sadie. Right now it’s very hard for me to leave her because I am nursing and when she gets older I will still want to take her places with me, so I will be spending a lot more time researching, visiting and writing about kid friendly destinations. I took Sadie on her first trip to Paris when she was just 6 weeks old, and on her first flight at to Ireland when she was 12 weeks old and she did great on both trips, so we officially have a little travel girl in the making!
8) What advice would you give to new mothers who are planning their first trip with their baby?
When I went on my first trip with my daughter I realized pretty quickly I had no clue how to travel with a baby! Babies require SO much stuff to travel and it is very stressful being a new mom not knowing what to bring and what to do! So I recently wrote a blog post called 12 Things You Should Know Before Traveling With A Baby, which has some great tips for new moms, like call ahead and ask your hotel if they provide baby cots (many hotels do).
9) Whats on your lifetime experience bucketlist?
Surf trip to the Maldives with my hubby and I want to take my daughter to Pig Island in the Exumas to swim with the piggies, and also to stay at the Giraffe Manor in Kenya. And I would love to go back to Thailand at some point. I love Thailand!
10) What are the biggest lessons you have learnt during your blogging career, that would help others who want to start their own travel blog?
Invest time and/or money into creating a beautifully designed, functional blog and then be consistent. Publish at least one story per week (I have not had time to do this lately with my daughter which is really bad!) and keep your social networks updated with engaging content. Don’t just tell people about your trip like you are writing in your journal. Write your posts to help people. Always include as many useful tips as you can! Beautiful photos are just as important as great writing. If you are interested, also learn how to create travel videos, which will help set you apart from other bloggers. And networking is very important too! Be part of a travel community like WATG which will help you meet and connect with travel girls all around the world!
11) What tips would you share with our readers to help them pursue their own entrepreneurial, blogging, travel and life goals?
Budget travel and luxury travel are each fun in their own ways. Don’t let a lack of money stop you from turning your life into a great adventure! Go camping if that is all you can afford and say yes! to as many opportunities as you can, especially when you are young and have less responsibilities.
12) As you know we always like to end on a fun question, asking our interviewees who they prefer Ryan Reynolds or Ryan Gosling?!
Ryan Reynolds all the way! He’s SO hot!