Frequently Asked Questions

The Basics

Why travel?

As a child, I always dreamed of far off lands and bucket list-type adventures, but they stayed stories in books or movies until I went to college and had the opportunity to go to Russia for university. From that point on, I made it my life's mission to see every possible sight I could. I mix my personal style of mainstream and off-the-beaten-path travel with popular locales and hidden gems. In 2009, I married my now husband and gained a +1 on my travels. In 2011, we had our daughter and now I have a +2 everywhere we go. We also often bring a friend or family member or two as we experience the world in our unique way. I focus on history and culture, photography and food, and once-in-a-lifetime adventures. Geek Girl Travel is my opportunity to show you the world through my eyes.

Why photography?

I was given my first camera at 5 years old during my first trip (of many) to Walt Disney World. My grandmother tells stories of my photographs coming out leagues better than her photographs. But, really, that was the spark of something truly special: my love of documenting and memorializing. Being able to create a snapshot of a memory, a moment in time, is something I never want to take for granted. During high school, I learned to develop my own film and spent as much time in the dark room as possible. Over the years, the equipment I use has changed but my passion stays the same. I've dabbled in portrait, lifestyle, sports, and now landscape and astrophotography. I am always excited to learn something new and push the boundaries of my own creativity and skills. Geek Girl Travel lets me share that with more than just me -- and that's scary and amazing and exciting.

Why fashion?

Fashion has always been my first passion. I absolutely love expressing myself through my clothing. I also love studying fashion of other cultures (especially while traveling). While packing, people generally use the "form vs function" debate. To me, though, there is more to it than that. You can pack efficiently and still represent who you are through your sense of fashion. I want to use this platform to help people do just that, as well as share my secrets to creating versatile looks while still having room for souvenirs. I also want to showcase fashion from my travels, tell you the best place to grab something local (as a souvenir, but also as a usable closet staple), and share more than just food and beautiful sights (which I love) -- delve into the culture. And, let's be real, I'm a green-haired, tattooed, sea witch and geek who stands out most places I go. My unique sense of style is definitely a factor when I travel and will be showcased here.

Why food?

Food has always played an important part in my life. Conversations around the dinner table, Saturday family dinner, Sunday breakfast -- it is a huge part of who I am. I grew up in a family that greatly valued celebrating life, successes, our own history and that of different cultures through cuisine. I fondly remember my Nanny going through phases where we'd only eat one type of cuisine -- her French phase, Chinese phase. Or my mom perfecting the perfect bite from each part of the world. When I travel, I search for that perfect bite, too. On top of that, my husband is an accomplished cook so, collectively, the foodie is strong with us. I am also diagnosed with lupus and Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, which means traveling and eating can be challenging. If you're a lupie like me, on a strict AIP diet, have other dietary concerns related to thyroid issues, I'll post my food hacks, favorite places to eat, snacks I travel with and more!

Why Geek Girl Travel?

I'm not your typical travel blogger. I'm traveling with my family, including my young daughter who has been able to see so much of the world already. So many people ask me how we do it? How do we travel the world and hike glaciers, dogsled, dive into 25 feet deep springs, climb up ruins, search for hidden waterfalls in the rain forest... all while with a kiddo, all while dealing with a chronic illness? This is where I share those tips and tricks. Additionally, as someone who is history and food obsessed, as well as a photographer, you'll get to see the world through these geeky eyes. I'm looking for beautiful locales, hidden gems, delicious bites, and amazing people.


Photography

Who takes your photos?

Most of my photos are taken by me, especially all the landscape photos, wildlife photos, and portraits of my daughter. Some of the photos of me are taken with the help of a tripod and remote or timer. Some are taken by my husband or travel buddies. On the rare occasion, I put my photographic trust in an absolute stranger.

How do you edit your photos?

All in Lightroom. Very rarely, I’ll edit it Photoshop. I create my own presets in Lightroom to make editing easier. You can check out some of my Presets here.

What gear do you use?

When it comes to gear, desired end result will always be key. I am a lifestyle, portrait, and landscape photographer which means sometimes my needs are very specific. In general, I’ll usually bring 2-3 lens and 1-2 camera bodies with me on most trips.

For camera bodies, I’m a Nikon fan. I’ve been using Nikons since I first learned how to develop my own film. Of course, now I mainly shoot digital. My main cameras are the Nikon D750, D850, Z6 and Z7ii. The D750 is my main landscape and astrophotography camera. The D850 is my main wildlife camera. The Z6 is my all purpose and lifestyle camera. The Z7ii is my preferred portrait and macro camera. That being said, if I had to use one camera for everything, it would probably be the D750. It’s the most versatile.

For underwater, I love my GoPro Hero10. It’s just a great little camera. I will also use the Olympus Tough TG-6 Waterproof camera on occasion, as well. I don’t currently have an underwater housing for my pro cameras since I don’t focus enough on underwater photography, but I’d like to change that.

For video, the Nikon Z6 is really amazing for video recording. I also love the Insta360 One X2 for a fun 360 recording experience. Especially when doing a lot of outdoor adventuring.

What lenses do you recommend for travel?

Lens use will definitely depend on the type of photography I’m doing. While I focus of lifestyle, portrait, and landscape photography, I really love to explore many different types of photography. I tend to travel with 2-3 lenses depending on the photography I’m hoping to achieve, and also how much cross-functionality I can find with the lenses I’m bringing without reducing the quality of the image.

Here are the lenses I use depending on the situation:

  • Landscape: My Tamron 15-30 is my go to for landscape photography. Crisp, rich, and color accurate images with a small bit of focal flexibility. Primarily on my Nikon D750.
  • Lifestyle: The Sigma Art 35mm is my most commonly used lens for lifestyle photography. It almost never leaves my Nikon Z6.
  • Portrait: The Sigma Art 50mm is probably one of the best all-around lenses out there and produces stunning portraits. I also have a Nikkor 105mm that is a bit of a beast but takes amazing portrait photographs. The Nikon Z7ii or D750 are my go to camera bodies depending on the lens. My 105mm lens doesn’t work on my Z7ii.
  • Astrophotography: My Tamron 15-30mm will often be a go to since I use that for landscape photography, too, so it is dual purpose, but that being said, the Sigma Art 24mm is also a stellar astro lens. Primarily used on my Nikon D750.
  • Wildlife: Depending on the terrain and the wildlife, I’ll either use my Sigma 150-600mm or my Nikkon 70-200mm. Both are super quick and produce beautiful photos. The biggest difference is really proximity. The D850 is a great camera body for wildlife photography.
  • All-Purpose: Depending on the shooting circumstances, I’ll either use my Nikkor 24-200mm or my Nikkor 70-200mm. If I’m looking for landscape, portrait, lifestyle and some wildlife, the 24-200mm is great as long as I have good light conditions and relatively stationary or slower moving subjects. If I’m focusing more on portraits, lifestyle, and faster moving wildlife, the 70-200mm is king. Nikon Z6 is a favorite to use for all-purpose because it is the lightest camera I own.
What phone do you use?

As of right now (June 2022), I use the Samsung S22 Ultra. I am a big fan on Samsung phones. I feel they offer the best combination of phone functionality, organizational efficiency, photography and videography.

Most of my Instagram stories and some of my feed posts are photos taken with my phone and edited via Lightroom Mobile using my presets.

What do you use for vlogging?

Truth be told, I don’t really vlog much at all. I want to, but it’s really a bandwidth thing. That being said, the Nikon Z6 is an excellent mirrorless camera to use for video recording. And truly, so many people just use their phones. Start vlogging, figure out your rhythm and what you want to accomplish and then you can determine if you need an equipment upgrade. Thinking about buying everything you need at once can be overwhelming. Start with the basics and then add to your kit as needed.

Do you use a drone when you travel?

So, yes, we do use a drone when we travel, but only when we’re authorized to use it. We use the DJI Mini 2 because it is less than 249g which means we’re allowed to use it in more places.


Travel

Do you have to be rich to travel the world?

So, let's be honest and say that there is financial and passport privilege weaved into the travel industry. With money and "the right" passport, more doors open up to you. That being said, I am definitely not rich, nor do I make much money off of traveling. I prioritize funding travel over other things like eating out, entertainment while at home and not traveling, drinking, etc. I am also a very budget conscious and savvy shopper and traveler. I look for deals and travel off peak almost exclusively. I also pay attention to not just the cost of the flight, but everything else. Some destinations are deceptively expensive and some are surprisingly inexpensive. Figure out your budget and then plan an adventure.

What is one thing you always pack that isn't on everyone’s must pack list?

Ziploc bags. They are super multi-purpose and have always come in handy on every trip I’ve ever taken.

What’s it really like to be a travel blogger?

I have a full-time career that is outside of the travel industry, so I want to just make that clear upfront. I travel for fun and not as part of my career. I really believe in social responsibility and information sharing. So often, I see people gatekeeping valuable information because they believe they can monetize it. No shame in making your money, but also, not everyone has money to pay for your content. That creates inequality in the travel space that just doesn't sit well with me. I want to share content so I can hopefully help someone. That’s what it's like to be a travel blogger... for me.

What travel rewards credit card(s) do you recommend?

Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card is the best overall rewards card, in my opinion. Chase Freedom Unlimited is probably my favorite travel cash back card right now.

What's top of your bucket list right now?

I want to visit all 7 continents before July 2023. Which, if all goes well, is scheduled to happen for me in March 2023. My daughter and husband will hit 7 continents by July 2023.

What's the best city in the world?

Obviously, this is highly subjective. But you know this New Yorker is going to say New York City. It is still my absolute favorite city in the world. It has everything - history, museums, Broadway, delicious food, and, and, and. It's a helluva town.

Can I request a blog topic?

100% yes! Right now, I try to publish a blog or two a week. Really, when inspiration strikes. That being said, I'd love to make sure I'm putting together content you really want to read and think will be useful to you. Fill out this Blog Content Request Form and I'll add it to the queue.


Personal

How old are you?
I was born when National Lampoon’s Vacation debuted. Get to Googling!
Is travel your full-time job?

No, it’s not. It’s my full-time passion, though. I’m a sales, marketing and business development executive for a pop culture collectibles company.

How do you keep your hair so vibrant while traveling?

Truth be told, I don’t really wet wash my hair very often, so it stays really vibrant. That being said, when I need to wet wash my hair, I use oVertone, a color depositing conditioner. I have a blog about this you should definitely check out.

Where do you get your hair done?

Kenya Rynea (@kenya_rynea_phd) has been my longest hair professional relationship. She was the first person to ever dye my hair and truly, I absolutely adore her. She is a wizard and if you are in Houston, definitely look her up.

Currently, Danielle D’Allesio (@geeksgetglam) at Urban Hair Studio in Austin, TX is managing my vivid green. It’s a spellbinding mixture of Pulp Riot greens and Pravana and sorcery.

What was your first international trip?

I grew up fairly poor, so international travel really wasn’t in the cards. At least not with my family. My very first international trip was with Civil Air Patrol, a program I joined in high school. When I was 15, we took a trip to Canada as part of a cadet exchange program. I’m from New York City, so we didn’t travel a long distance but this trip just cemented my love of travel. It fueled my wanderlust. One day, ask me about my white jeans, though.

How often do you travel?

Since I have a full-time job that isn’t running this website, my social media or just traveling, I probably don’t travel as much as I’d like or as much as you think I do. I still have a child in school (and as of 2022, a husband in school), so my travel is a bit limited to that schedule. That being said, we typically try to travel during spring break, summer break and winter break at least, plus as many extended weekend trips as we can build into our schedule.

Where are you from?

New York. Not the answer you were expecting?

America. Also not the answer you were expecting?

Generally, people actually mean what race am I? Or what ethnicity? I am half Indonesian, half white (Irish). My biodad was born in Indonesia. My biomom was born in Brooklyn. I was born on Long Island, NY, USA.

Where do you shop?

For clothing, Elhoffer Design, Foxblood and Coquetry Clothing are my favorite shops. They are women owned and run which matters a lot to me. They are also either handmade or small batch manufactured here in the US. Also very important to me.

For shoes, I love my Demonia and Irregular Choice shoes of all shapes and sizes. My Teva sandals are a game changer for travel. I wear them on the plane, hiking, to the beach, everywhere. You’ll also find me in platform Crocs, as well.

For jewelry, I mainly shop with Foxtrot ATX, Lucky Roadrunner Silver, Kettle Black, as well as whatever antique estate beauties I can get my hand on.