As the founder of her travel blog Glitter&Mud, her swimwear brand SummerLoveSwimwear and of We Are Travel Girls, her popular female travel community, Vanessa Rivers hopes to make a positive difference in the world, in as many ways as she can. Through her stories, she hopes to inspire others to travel more, see the beauty in the world, laugh more, love more, and believe that anything is possible.
1. What experience first sparked your passion for travelling?
My first international trip was to Mexico with a friend when I was 15. I surfed for the first time on that trip and was instantly hooked. In search of waves, I later started travelling on a shoestring budget around the world staying in hostels and sometimes in my surfboard bag on the beach. After college, I started a surf lesson company teaching private surf lessons in Santa Barbara and Malibu and continued to travel in search of waves. So really it was my love of surfing that sparked my passion for travel and also led me to start my travel blog Glitter&Mud.
2. When did you start capturing your travels in a more stylized way?
I started my first travel blog Glitter&Mud in my twenties. At first, it was just a fun way to document my adventures but it started to gain traction and soon became one of the ways I drove traffic to my eco swimwear line. Around this time I was living in London and met my now business partner Becky van Dijk and we then came together to create our popular female travel community We Are Travel Girls. We began with publishing five stories per week every week ob our blog written by myself and Becky as well as female travel writers from all around the world. We then expanded to host events and Travel Girls Getaways around the world, and last year we launched the charitable branch of our company Travel Girls Giving.
3. Do you have any tips or tricks for capturing a captivating landscape photo?
To me, great photos are all about lighting. If you want to capture a captivating landscape photo try shooting at sunrise or sunset when lighting is optimal.
4. What is one of the most memorable places that you’ve been to?
This is such a tough question – I love so many places! I love visiting the small town of Waterville, Ireland. It has the most amazing energy and the people there are so welcoming, happy and fun. Since I’m a surfer having the opportunity to stay at Nihi Sumba Sumba Island, one of the most luxurious surf hotels in the world, was a huge treat! Even though it is touristy now I absolutely love Positano! And after hosting two Travel Girls Getaways Malawi Safari & Charity Trips I have fallen in love with the underrated African country of Malawi – Malawi is beautiful, the people are kind and welcoming and it is not yet touristy and still affordable.
5. How do you decide where to go, eat etc. when you get to a new destination?
I read travel blogs and reviews online and use recommendations from friends.
6. What’s the most off the beaten path spot you’ve been to?
During our Malawi Safari & Charity Trip, we spend two days of community service work volunteering and mentoring students in the village of Mangochi. Mangochi is a small, remote fishing village that very few tourists have ever been to let alone heard about. Most people in Malawi live on less than $1 a day so our charity efforts go far here and working with the students in Mangochi is life-changing because you see first hand how happy they are despite being one of the poorest communities in one of the poorest countries in the world.
7. How did you discover it?
Our partner company, The Responsible Safari Company, reached out to us to ask us if we had ever thought about running trips in Malawi. To be honest, at the time I didn’t even know where Malawi was and had to look it up on a map!
8. What’s a valuable lesson you’ve learned through your travels?
Kindness is a universal language.
9. What places are on your bucket list?
I want to go on a luxury surf trip to the Maldives, visit Antarctica, Switzerland and Japan, and take my daughter to stay at the Giraffe Manor in Nairobi.
10. What culture have you experienced that’s left a lasting impression on you?
I love the culture in Thailand. The people are so welcoming and warm, the service is impeccable and their food is amazing! After visiting Thailand it is easy to see why it is called “The Land of a Thousand Smiles.”
Location-Specific Travel Tips:
What’s your favourite spot that you travelled to last year?
If someone had 24- hours there what would you recommend they do?
Jet over to Aspen and try to squeeze in a full day of skiing followed by an amazing dinner!
What area would you stay in?
Stay in Aspen Village at the base of the mountain. For hotels book at The Little Nell or The W Hotel or find an Airbnb walking distance the slopes.
Where would you eat breakfast, lunch and dinner?
Breakfast on Aspen Mountain at Bonnie’s is a must. For lunch or dinner try the French Alpine Bistro – Crêperie du Village. This is a cozy-chic spot with chalet feel & patio serving raclette, fondue & sweet & savoury crêpes.
What’s the best place to have a coffee?
The Little Nell Hotel – grab a coffee here in the lounge before heading out on the slopes. This is also a great spot to grab cocktails after skiing!
What activity would you choose to do for fun?
Going skiing or snowboarding and take photos from the top of Aspen mountain. Then visit the duck pond to feed all the ducks – There are literally hundreds of them! Check out this Instagram post and swipe to watch the videos of me and my daughter feeding the ducks to see what I mean! And go sledding!
What museum or art gallery would you go to?
Founded in 1979, the Aspen Art Museum is a contemporary art museum with exhibitions that include drawings, paintings, sculptures, multimedia installations, and electronic media. This is a great spot to spend a few hours roaming around.