Elizabeth Rose, based out of Portland, Oregon, travels throughout the West and beyond writing about destinations, accommodations, events, and local cuisine on her blog Travel Rants and Raves. As an expert in cultural tourism, her writing reflects that passion. She has won awards for her photography and accompanies her articles with her own images. She also provides photos for magazine covers, websites, and magazine articles. When not out exploring, she can be found in her garden or at Vancouver, Washington dog parks with her two coonhounds.
Read the full interview below.
TA: How many years have you been traveling and what got you hooked?
Elizabeth: I’ve been traveling all my life. I’ve been documenting my travel finds in writing and photography for over fifteen years. I got hooked from the backseat of my family car as a child when we’d go for Sunday drives to discover local attractions and historic sites.
TA: Do you specialize in a particular type of travel?
Elizabeth: I specialize in cultural travel and have a focus on the West. Food is part of culture and so I weave culinary traditions into my articles.
TA: What is the best vacation you’ve ever taken?
Elizabeth: The best vacation I’ve ever taken was moving to Santa Fe, New Mexico and experiencing the art, Native American and Hispanic traditions, architecture, cuisine, and fun people of Northern New Mexico for over two years.
TA: What’s one place you’ve always wanted to visit?
Elizabeth: I’d love to explore the Colonial towns of Mexico.
TA: What’s one thing you ALWAYS pack when you travel?
Elizabeth: Walking shoes!
TA: If you could only give a traveler one piece of advice, what would it be?
Elizabeth: Travel with an open mind and heart and you will be rewarded.
TA: What are some of your favorite travel blogs and communities?
Elizabeth: My favorite (I am biased) is Wander With Wonder. I also, love following the Small Town Washington site. As far as community, I attend an annual travel writers’ conference, Travel and Words, in the Pacific Northwest and love the networking with destination professionals and fellow writers.
TA: What are the top three websites you use for research/inspiration when planning a trip?
Elizabeth: I frequent TripAdvisor for travelers opinions, TripSavvy for more in-depth looks at places I’m considering, and Yelp for some bluntly honest reviews of attractions and restaurants. I usually then go to the destination or property website to look for deals, first.
TA: What would be your #1 recommendation for a place to travel in 2019?
Elizabeth: Take a Utah Mighty 5 National Park tour. The National Parks in Utah are varied in climate and terrain, yet all have such natural beauty visitors stand in awe at the viewpoints. Seeing the mist hanging in the cliffs of Zion National Park gave me chills. Hiking up to the weathered stone bridges at Natural Bridges National Monument and photographing the vast Canyonlands beyond, through the arch was a photographer’s dream. And seeing the snow as it started falling on the bright red hoodoo formations in Bryce was worth standing in the cold.
There are van tours such as with Southwest Adventure Tours that can take you to all five on a week’s vacation.
TA: Do you have any good airport or flight hacks for people traveling by plane?
Elizabeth: It’s pretty simple. TSA Pre-Check. The lines are quick, I don’t have to undress or take my shoes off and rarely have to have my electronics scanned separately. It’s $85 for a 5-year membership after you are checked and approved and it’s a good price to pay for convenience and reduced stress. (Apply for it here.)
TA: Is there something you think most travelers worry too much about?
Elizabeth: Travelers feel uncomfortable when in an unfamiliar culture. I’d suggest that travelers do more observing than talking, be respectful of the culture where you are visiting, and embrace the experience wholeheartedly. You’ll worry less if you prepare ahead by doing some reading, learn a few phrases in the language where you’ll be visiting, and prepare for things to be “different.”
TA: What is the most beautiful and affordable city you’ve ever visited?
Elizabeth: Little San Jose del Cabo, a colonial Mexican town just south of the resorts of Cabo San Lucas, has reasonably priced places to stay and dine while having the beauty of the Baja Sur beaches.
San Jose Del Cabo’s arts district is the place to walk during their Thursday evening art walks. Staying in the historic town center is ideal. You can walk down to the beach and the resorts if you want, but I preferred walking the cobblestone streets and checking out the city market, going to the glass blowing shop, and enjoying Christmas decorations in the Plaza.
Staying at beautiful boutique hotels like Casa Natalia and the El Encanto Inn nearby is affordable, especially with seasonal specials, and you’ll be within walking distance of charming restaurants and shops. As another plus, people new to visiting Mexico or solo travelers will feel safe in the historic section of this beautiful little town.
I stayed in San Jose del Cabo for four days after a more hectic resort experience and was so glad I did.
TA: Which underrated destination deserves to be more famous?
Elizabeth: Gallup, New Mexico is an undiscovered gem. It’s the Native American jewelry capital of the world and has traditional trading posts where the traders know the Navajo and Zuni families and have worked with them for years. Cultural traditions have grown around this trading relationship.
Gallup also has an amazing December hot air balloon festival where the balloons can be seen skipping across the red rock formations and dipping into canyons. Gallup is full of historical landmarks, like the Route 66 movie star hotel, El Rancho. Gallup is not luxurious but it’s a gem to be discovered for the adventurous, open-minded traveler.