In this edition of Celebrity Travel Addicts, we speak with Alex Waltner, the full-time world traveler and photographer behind the popular travel blog Swedish Nomad. We chat with him about what sparked his curiosity about the world and made him want to travel, his passion for responsible tourism, his favorite things to do in one of his top destinations, and much more! Check out his best travel advice and find out where he’s headed next!
How did your passion for travel get started?
I watched a lot of documentaries as a kid about the Inca and Aztec empires as well as Ancient Egypt. That along with documentaries about animals and dinosaurs sparked my wanderlust and curiosity for the world.
How many days/weeks are you traveling in any given year? What are the types of places you like to visit?
In the last 4 years I’ve been traveling at least 300 days per year, but this year I slowed things down a bit and found myself a base in Cyprus. I like to visit a mix of places, ranging from capitals to off-the-beaten-path as well as nature experiences.
You’re from southern Sweden. What makes this area of the country such a great travel destination? What should people do when they visit?
It’s quite small but has everything from the best beaches in Sweden to old viking sites and charming towns and beautiful castles. The best thing to do is really renting a car and just drive around the countryside and visit small towns and wander the historic castles.
The Canola fields are also very famous and when they’re in bloom, almost all of southern Sweden will be yellow.
You run a popular travel blog called Swedish Nomad. Can you please tell us a little about it? What makes it stand out from all the other travel content out there?
My main focus is to help other travelers by sharing my own experience and tips rather than just telling them what I did. A lot of travel blogs are more in the form of a diary, although more bloggers seem to follow the trend of sharing more general information.
One of the key things about my site is the easy-to-read structure without too many personal anecdotes in the text.
Something you’re very passionate about is responsible tourism. Can you please break down what that means? What are some ways we can all be more responsible when we travel?
It basically means that you’re aware of what your travels does to your surroundings, including the environment and local communities. A responsible traveler will have as little negative impact as possible on all aspects, and have as many positive contributions from the trip as possible.
It includes not taking advantage of minorities, supporting illegal works or harming animals and the local ecosystem. Some easy examples is to just be mindful, don’t leave trash behind, respect local customs and laws, don’t support animal exploitation, such as elephant riding, petting tigers, camel riding, etc.
What do you want audiences to gain and learn from your work?
That it doesn’t have to be hard or expensive to explore our world. And that it isn’t as scary as media likes to portray it. Most people are actually kind and welcoming, and we have a lot more in common with people globally than we might think.
I also want to teach how to travel smarter and be more thoughtful about your choices while traveling because they can have an immense impact on the local communities.
What are the top three destinations you’ve visited?
Tokyo, Dolomites, and the Greek islands
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.
Tokyo is one of my favorite places on Earth, simply because it has such a lovely mix of the ancient and modern society. If you’re visiting for the first time, I highly recommend exploring Asakusa 1 hour before sunset and stay until Senso-ji temple gets lit up along with Nakamise dori street.
Akihabara, famous for its Anime shops and arcades as well as maid cafes. Even if you don’t have any interest in anime, this will be a fun place to spend a few hours.
Genki Sushi in Shibuya, my favorite place to get Sushi in Japan. 2 pieces of delicious and freshly made sushi costs just 108 yen here.
Shibuya and Harajuku are also fun areas to explore with plenty of everything, including fun and trendy shops and themed cafes.
At last I would recommend visiting the Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku as well as having some food at Omoido Yokocho.
How many countries have you visited so far?
I’ve visited 59 countries so far, and will likely travel to #60 later this year.
What are your top 3 favorite cuisines?
Spanish, Japanese, and Thai in no particular order.
What is your favorite restaurant in the world? What dish do you recommend there?
Nessun Dorma in Cinque Terre, it has the most amazing view of the postcard village Manarola and the ocean. Have their Pesto bruschettas and Aperol Spritz, it’s amazing!
What is your favorite travel movie?
I really enjoyed the movie called Wild. But there are many good travel movies!
What is your favorite international airport?
I really like Copenhagen Airport. Of course I’m a little biased since it has been my home airport to Southern Sweden until I moved abroad. It’s very convenient, has everything you need, lots of seating area, lounges, tax-free shops, and everything just works great, including the security check.
Which city had the friendliest people?
I would say Osaka in Japan.
Who is your favorite travel companion?
My girlfriend Christine, which is also a travel blogger. We always travel together and share the same pace and way of thinking while traveling, and then we also share the work aspect of traveling as well.
What is the best way to kill time while traveling?
Sitting down at a local cafe, get yourself something to drink and small talk with a local. It can spark some interesting conversations and time will fly by when that happens.
What is the most exotic place your career has taken you?
Hearing the word exotic makes me think of islands in the Philippines or the Maldives, which are both fantastic places my career has taken me.
However, I will say the islands of Okinawa in Japan as well as Jeju Island in South Korea. Mainly because these aren’t your typical destinations as a European. Maldives was a dream place that I never thought I would be able to see with my own eyes, but my travel blogging career made this possible.
What is your best bit of travel advice for someone who wants to, or is about to, embark on a life of travel?
Have a safety budget and a loose plan of where, when and why you’re traveling. You don’t need to plan everything, but traveling can be stressful if things don’t go as you had imagined, and then it’s good to have a backup plan.
What are 4 things you could never travel without?
My Laptop, Camera, Phone, and a travel adapter. However, this is mostly due to my work, if I wasn’t a travel blogger or had a passion for photography I could travel without any of these.
What is your ultimate dream destination?
Antarctica or Bolivia.
What is your favorite travel quote?
a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
Where are you headed next?
Romania and the Netherlands.
Alex Waltner is a professional travel blogger & photographer from Sweden who’ve been to more than 50 countries in the last 4 years. He travels the world full-time with his girlfriend Christine.