In the hunt for more inspiring personalities to feature, we got in touch with Renee Blodgett. She is founder and managing editor of We Blog the World, an online luxury travel and lifestyle magazine focused on Trans-formative Travel, at the juncture of where nature, wellness and spirituality meet. She is also the founder of branding and communications consultancy Magic Sauce Media, which is dedicated to helping companies and individuals get ahead through smart go-to-market strategies. Known globally as a master of storytelling for the lifestyle, travel and technology industries, she was selected as a top social media influencer by Forbes and a top Bay Area digital influencer by the United Nations. She has also authored five photo books on travel, including Rome, the Galapagos Islands, Urban Scapes, London and South Africa. Prolific on social media, you can follow her @magicsaucemedia, @weblogtheworld and @luxuryfoodies on Twitter and Instagram.
1.What was the major driving factor behind starting “We Blog The World”?
I started We Blog the World to cross pollinate ideas and stories across the globe with the hope of providing a deeper understanding of cultures foreign to our own. Increased awareness not only helps us develop empathy and compassion for other people’s worlds, but can enlighten us in ways we never imagined and ultimately transform our lives. The site has morphed since WBTW’s beginning – while storytelling is still at its core, its tagline Trans-formative Travel, is about living a purposeful life and traveling from that mindset. Showing up present when you’re in a new destination and making choices that support life balance is core to my and WBTW’s values. With balance in mind, core areas of editorial focus include wellness travel, nature and adventure, luxury travel, family travel, food and wine, events and festivals and unique experiences you’d be hard pressed to find on a traditional vacation. You’ll also find guides on health, wellness, destinations and food, learn about the latest in technology innovation and be introduced to the awesome stuff we try or experience, whether that be fashion, useful gear or lifestyle products that make your life a little easier or simply more fun. I aspire to connect you to a world of rich experiences with the goal of ultimately transforming how you view the world and yourself, the best possible result from a journey away from home.
2. What has been your favorite memory on the roads so far?
This is a difficult question because there have been so many fond memories and at the end of the day, while attractions, UNESCO sites and the wonders of the world are exciting to see, it’s almost always about the people and nature, not about a particular site at all. A few that come to mind include meeting up with gorillas in the wild in Uganda, riding through long grassy fields on an elephant in northern India, driving the Garden Route in South Africa, watching elephants trunks sway back and forth in unison for hours in the African bush and diving in the Great Barrier Reef.
3. As we can see you often write on health and wellness too, How do you manage to maintain a healthy lifestyle whilst travelling?
Wellness and spirituality are core to the site’s raison d’etre. When we’re not holistically well, we not only won’t have a great travel experience, but we won’t be present when we do. Being in alignment and healthy means emotional health as well, which so often gets discarded. I’d argue that we are at a major crossroads in the world today – in the west, we live in a culture that applauds a rushed and hectic lifestyle rather a life with balance. At some point, everyone will crash and need to take a step backwards, re-evaluate our core values and what matters most. Staying healthy for me is a matter of balance – this includes making sure exercise and meditative moments are part of each and every day and getting time in nature, even if it’s for ten minutes. Let’s remember that most cities have parks and we can get to them with ease if we make it a priority. I also have a 80/20% rule when it comes to food. Because we review restaurants and I eat most things (in other words, I am not a vegan) I eat healthy/organic and farm-to-table 80% of the time and the other 20% I try to enjoy the foods that each culture has to offer including some of the sinful ones we all love – after all, a little dark chocolate is good for the soul every now and then. That said, I avoid processed foods and high sugar cakes and cookies that can cause a lot of inflammation in the body and wear our tissues down.
4. Where was your most recent trip to?
We went to Mexico over the holidays – it was the second time I had been to Cancun and would love to return when there’s ample time to really explore the spiritual wonders of Tulum and the ancient ruins there. While most of my trips are a blend of adventure and culture, this past trip was focused on beach, sun and reading – it really was a R&R trip. I was also in New York City in January for the annual New York Times Travel Show, where we are a media partner every year. We’re huge fans and it’s a great opportunity to discover some of the destination gems, cruises, safaris and tours around the world.
5. What kind of traveler are you? Do you believe travelling under a budget or luxury traveling?
I spent many years as a budget traveler and while I no longer would consider myself a shoestring traveler, it doesn’t mean that I’m not mindful of costs. Traveling on a budget when you’re young, teaches you a lot about yourself – how to be resilient, practical, mindful and present. It teaches you gratitude and confidence. And, if you shop right, you can experience things you may not have been able to otherwise because of prohibitive costs. For example, I once went on a safari in my twenties and spent $800 less than another person on the very same tour who booked it from the states. Bear in mind that when we are younger and less ‘hinged’ to responsibilities, family and/or running businesses, there’s often more time available to hunt for bargains. Because I had time on the ground in East Africa, I was able to bargain hunt and barter for days. The majority of our hotel reviews are on unique luxury properties, but we also review wellness properties, spas, spiritual events and things like yoga retreats. Luxury is a mindset and for me, it’s not just about a 5 star property – it’s how the place and people where you are, make you feel. It’s always about that – the fine touches. It’s not just about silk sheets and butler service.
6. What are the top 3 destinations that stands high on your bucket list and why?
Argentina – because I want to finally enjoy a real Argentina steak with a Malbec and explore their wine route. Antarctica – this wasn’t on my list until a year or so ago. After seeing some riveting photos of a cruise to Antarctica, it’s high on the list – the wildlife and photography opportunities are incredible. Bolivia because I want to walk on those infamous salt flats.
7. Let’s talk fashion, what has been your most stylish buy ever and from where?
Hard to say which has been my most stylish buy because I’ve had great purchases around the world and many of them have been found in markets. Markets are a great way to find local artisan who make jewelry, hats, jackets and tops you can’t find on a major shopping street. Places like Oxford Street and 5th Avenue mostly have luxury brands and rarely where I find my favorite things. I find the best jacket gems on the little side streets that branched off the main hill climb leading up to Montmartre and of course there is no shortage of amazing boutiques, jewelry and home designer shops in Le Marais as well. I love Paris for shopping – I did in my twenties and I still do today. I also love LA for chic bohemian style jeans and drapey sweaters.
8. What are some packing hacks that you swear by?
This isn’t a new or revolutionary hack, but I roll everything. I also put things in quadrants, i.e., shirts in one quadrant, dresses/skirts in another, pants in another, so it’s easy to access them when I ‘m in a rush. Regardless of where you go, bring a compact umbrella even if you don’t think it’s going to rain. I use umbrellas for high heat and sun (Japan or Africa in the summer is a great example) as well as for rain. I also always bring tea with me — when you’re not feeling great, how easy it is to find some boiling water somewhere and infuse a tea bag with natural herbs to make you feel better. It’s great for long flights as well.
9. What are your 5 must have travel essential items that you can’t travel without?
My Canon 7D, an assortment of herbal and healthy teas, sunglasses, my wide angle lens, a notebook for old fashioned writing, and a great novel or spiritual read. Sadly, I’d have to add my phone and laptop as much as it pains me to include them.
10. How do you manage to keep your skin healthy and fresh while traveling? What is your everyday beauty routine while travelling?
Natural remedies are always great when you’re on the road. Think beer or egg masks. Depending on where you’re traveling too, there are likely local clay or other natural ingredients you can buy inexpensively that can leave your skin feeling great. Papaya enzymes are a great example and avocado is wonderful. I also often travel with astringent pads when I’m heading to a hotter destination and I always bring sunscreen with me which is a newer thing. When I was younger, I would often forget to put on sunblock when heading out for the day. Needless to say, I regret doing that so it’s a must for trips I take today.
11. What has been the most delicious dish you have tasted and from where?
This is too tough of a question to ask a serial foodie and so I can’t really comment on what the MOST delicious dish was, however one that truly surprised me was one I nearly sent back: waffles, fried chicken and blueberry honey. Yes, really. We were doing a restaurant review in Nashville Tennessee and while we didn’t order this dish, the chef insisted we try it. Yuck, I remember thinking when it was shoved in front of us. After two bites, we devoured it and never looked back. Let’s just say I’m a huge fan of Fried chicken and waffle concoctions in the South. If you want to see some of our latest and greatest dishes however, be sure to check out @luxuryfoodies on Instagram, our sister “foodie” brand to We Blog the World and our Food/Wine section.
12. How do you manage travelling to new places, not knowing their local languages? Share any experience you faced because of communication gap.
This is a great question and one that I’m surprised doesn’t come up more. You’d be surprised at how often using your hands to describe things or how far knowing 10 words in a local language can take you. I always have a translator with me but try to remember a few basics before I head somewhere, i.e., a few numbers, where is the bathroom, train station and exit, yes, no, please, thank you and how to order a drink or basic meal. Often places have images of food when you go to a restaurant as well which helps. My toughest challenge was at the Shibuya station in Tokyo when I was late for a meeting. Armed with a Japanese map of the city adjacent next to the same map in English, I asked a local business man for help. While his English was very limited, a few circles on the map and pointing got me to where I needed to go. With a smile of course.
13. Let’s conclude off with a few favorites.
Place – Wine, cheese and a picnic along the Garden Route in South Africa. It’s hard to beat.
Cuisine – Sushi, Indian and mashed sweet potatoes with cinnamon – yum!
Brand – I am so not a brand person. I tend to go for artisan and local lesser known gems, often one of a kind that no one knows about. That said, I love Borlino leather bags and Epica leather journals/albums. I’m also a fan of Pikolino shoes, and let’s face it, and for clothing I’ll admit that I’m a big fan of Missoni, Save the Queen, BCBGMaxazria, Carmen Marc Valvo and Matti Mamane. For perfumes, I’m all over the map. My favorite right now is Si by Giorgio Armani and J’adore by Christian Dior. I also like an ancient one – Chanel No 5 and a lesser known all natural brand called Raw Spirit which has a wide array of fragrances from nature.
Accessory – I used to be a fan of silk scarves so have a ton of them but rarely wear them anymore. Colored leather gloves with soft fluffy insides are awesome for colder destinations, fun hats when you’re in a culturally minded city and plan to take in a lot of art and history and of course, there’s nothing like a really great leather belt with awesome silver buckles. Lately, I’ve been keen on wearing turquoise accessories, which is a new thing for me.
Adventure sport – I’m big on water sports, so love waterskiing and canoeing. Cycling is also up there as is sailing. Love being on the water.