In this edition of Celebrity Travel Addicts, we have a chat with Nathalie Basha, the award-winning travel journalist behind The Travel Muse! We discuss what sparked her love of travel, a powerful story she covered that reaffirmed why exploring the world is so important, the goal of The Travel Muse, and much more. Check out her favorite travel destinations and find out where her next adventures will take her!
How did your passion for travel get started?
My passion for travel started when my parents took me to Europe at 21 years old – to Paris, Rome, and Greece. I met my fiancé in Greece, and after that we went together to Tanzania. That solidified it!
How many days/weeks are you traveling in any given year?
This depends on my work schedule. There was a period of two years where I was sent on a reporting trip nearly every month. But the company I worked for as a journalist recently folded, so my traveling has slowed way down. Now, all I have is two international trips on the horizon – this is the nature of journalism! It’s erratic.
What are the types of places you like to visit?
Depends on my mood! I went to Asia for about seven years straight, so now I’m on a Europe kick. I can get down with anything if I’m in the mood for it – jungles, beaches, cities. One of my favorite trips of all time (not a work reporting trip, for vacation) was to the French countryside, where I even stayed in a 17th century chateau. It was ah-mazing!
What is The Travel Muse all about, and what makes it unique to all the other travel content out there?
The Travel Muse is a narrative account of my life as a travel journalist. I take my audience with me on my professional reporting trips, personal trips, share with them my travel inspirations and tips, and lessons I learned along the way. My journey is what’s unique – I stared as a traditional TV reporter, and made the successful jump to a digital travel journalist at 31 years old. There’s something fresh in my take on traveling, coming from my background. I have been on both sides of the travel journalism game – as a struggling self proclaimed travel vlogger, to an on-staff travel journalist with a major digital company.
On your YouTube channel, you share a raw and honest look at the highs and lows of your journey to becoming a travel journalist. What is the most important lesson you took away from your fight to get to where you are now?
Oh man! So many lessons there. Stay true to yourself, believe in yourself, and be super duper clear in your goals. You can’t manifest anything if you don’t know what it looks, feels, sounds, smells like. Also – ask for the things you want. I got my job as a travel journalist because I pitched the role to the company that wanted to hire me as a regular journalist. I have a career video on my Youtube page that breaks this down!
You have covered incredible stories as a travel journalist, including award-winning pieces about the dark side of elephant tourism and your visit to a women’s prison in Cartagena. Which of your stories has had the biggest impact on you and why?
I did a story on the culture of Hawaiian hula dance, and how the application of it in San Quentin State Prison helped reform a man serving a sentence for murder. His name was Upu. I will never forget our interview and how transparent and open he was, and how much he respected the culture of hula. It reaffirmed my belief that exposure to other cultures and mindsets is so healing, because it humanizes everything. To this day, the story is among my favorites.
What do you want audiences to gain and learn from your work?
I want my work to spark a desire to learn more about the world. I want someone to watch one of my stories and come away wanting to know more, then get online and start digging to teach themselves. And if that pushes them to then buy a plane ticket and get firsthand learning experiences about other people, cultures, and places – I have done my job well.
What are the top three destinations you’ve visited?
Easy 🙂 Spain, Turkey, France! All incredible countries in their own ways.
Give us your ‘Top 5’ list for one of your top 3 destinations. Like a mini-guide or a to-do list of sorts. It can be anything from your favorite hotel, best place to have lunch, best sightseeing, etc.
I talk about Spain A LOT on my platforms. Here are my top 5 tips for Spain:
- Get out of Barcelona. Spain is much, much more diverse than just that city.
- Definitely go to the Andalucia region – Use Seville as your home base, and day trip to Granada, Cordoba, Ronda, Málaga, etc.
- Stay at Las Casas De La Juderia in Seville and Córdoba
- If you’re visiting during summer, or when the weather is hot, order a Tinto de Verano – a cheap red wine mixed with sparkling lemonade of sorts. It’s so refreshing on a hot day!
How many countries have you visited so far?
I’ve never counted – 30? I care less about the number and more about the connections I make with the culture. I’d rather visit way less countries but have a deeper understanding and spend more time in the few I’ve visited.
What are your top 3 favorite cuisines?
Anything Middle Eastern (Lebanese food!), Italian, and Thai…so good.
What is your favorite restaurant in the world? What dish do you recommend there?
In Bordeaux, France, I went to Michelin starred restaurant Logis de la Cadène. It was so absurdly delicious, my friends and I started laughing mid-meal.
What is your favorite travel movie?
Oh my GOD I have to pick one?! Raiders of the Lost Arc is the ultimate, although I also adore Chocolat and Midnight in Paris.
What is your favorite international airport?
Istanbul is pretty gorgeous, and I had a lovely layover in Doha! Holy shopping.
Which city had the friendliest people?
Hands down, New Zealand. Queenstown and Auckland. I love them.
Who is your favorite travel companion?
My fiance, Evan!
What is the best way to kill time while traveling?
Watching movies and reading books. I could not do long haul traveling without them. My kindle is my lifesaver because I can do both in one device.
What is the most exotic place your career has taken you?
Georgia (the country). Whoa, that was an experience! I was so uneducated on that culture and the people before I went there. It is so steeped in culture and history – did you know modern wine making was born in Georgia, 8,000 years ago? Neither did I, till I went there and met the winemakers.
What is your best bit of travel advice for someone who wants to, or is about to, embark on a life of travel?
Travel is the most enriching experience of your life. Document the hell out of it, but then put down your phone and take it in. Also, remain flexible and practice deep breathing – something WILL go wrong, and you’ll have to pivot. Travel is a great lesson in learning how to roll with the punches.
What are 4 things you could never travel without?
Great walking shoes (Clarks consistently makes my favorite), my Kindle, sleeping pills (lol honest truth), and my camera.
What is your ultimate dream destination?
Oh lord. This is so hard to narrow down. Dying to do Morocco, Cuba, Buenos Aires, and the south of France….
What is your favorite travel quote?
“Traveling leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta
Where are you headed next?
Hopefully – if all pans out – Jordan and Peru!
I’m The Travel Muse! I’m a professional travel journalist who followed my passion after an unfulfilling life in TV reporting. You can find my travels, professional work, behind the scenes, and life story on my website: www.nathaliebasha.com